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Into the Toccoa
Prying my eyes open after a nap, I realize prying was worth it. The view outside the old rusted van is extraordinary and uncomparable. Rundown industrial buildings and Chick-fil-A’s swarm the sides of the Highway. In the background, almighty mountains rightfully sit like a King in his throne.
Listening to Florida Georgia Line, I see license plates with peaches on them. Clearing my head from the deep sleep, I come to realization - I just entered Georgia through the Florida Georgia line.
More hours of hilly road and bathroom breaks come to an end. I jump out of the old white rusted van onto the gravel road. Birds bicker and cicadas croak. The aroma is damp and natural. I taste the mildew in the air. My palms feel clammy.
Green and blue pigments surround me above, brown and gray rocks fall below. The sun beats down on my fragile skin. Two tiny pickup trucks and a Harley Davidson motorcycle fill the lot of the small restaurant across the street.
“Welcome to the Toccoa,” says an old native, who hands me a red and yellow tube. “When you see the crooked red tree, the river is shallow and you may get stuck.”
Excitement overcomes my nerves. Jumping into the Toccoa, the downward current takes hold: not only physically but sentimentally. The journey has just begun.
This is the scenery I’ve been waiting for: bright green ferns and shrubs line the Toccoa. The water is clear with white caps. Snakes poke above the water and minnows swim furiously. Deer run alongside the Toccoa and miniscule salamanders sit on rocks. My heart pounds with excitement and fear as the current picks up into what is considered the rough white water rafting.
Rocks stick out above the water. The crooked red tree, the tree the old man exclaimed to mark shallow water ahead, sits on an island in the middle of the river. Smiles appear across every face of my family except one. My aunt, deathly afraid of falling off her tube, sits with purple hands in the handles.
My mom is the first to hit the current, splitting herself from the rest of the group. The terrain ahead of her appears rough, so she attempts to paddle herself towards us. Unable to make any progress she has no other option but to buckle down. Within five seconds, her tube gets stuck on a protruding brown rock. Screaming with fear, she stands up, unaware the water below was shallow as she pulls her tube off the rock. A humorous family moment, we still laugh about to this day.
Continuing down the river an old sunburnt man sits on a wooden bench. Colorful fishing tacks and a pole rest beside him. A sudden wave of concern falls upon me as his eyes follow me flowing down the river. What is he doing here? Why is he watching us?
Whether it be fear, excitement, confusion, humor, or pure disbelief, nature never fails to provide emotion. Nothing can compare, as nature has a special aspect connecting me to endless possibilities. Nature brings my family together through humor and excitement. Nature gives me yearn for adventure and a focused lifestyle. Nature awards me hope. Nature continues to make me who I am today.