Nothing brings a couple closer than a romantic gondola ride through Venice's historic canals, except when a thrill-seeking gondolier straps on a helmet and tells the couple to "hold tight." Hold hands over troubled waters with today's Groupon: for $35, you get a whitewater-rafting trip (up to a $43.95 value) and a professional-quality photo CD (a $30 value) from Big Creek Expeditions in Hartford (up to a $73.95 total value). Groupon holders who prefer nondigital memories may substitute their photo CD for a T-shirt.
The guides at Big Creek Expeditions draw on years of experience as well as expertise in CPR and swift-water rescue to lead rafters on adrenaline-propelled tours down the Pigeon River. As the bluffs of Cherokee National Forest and the Smoky Mountains loom overhead, groups of adrenaline-seeking paddlers work together to steer their boat through more than 60 rapids in the upper-river course. Class III and IV rapids screen each group for witches as the guides help to navigate the thrilling, turbulent waves. Alternatively, the lower-river course gifts aquatic explorers ages 3 and older a day of paddling through panoramic landscapes as they hone their river-navigating skills during 90 minutes of class I and II rapids.
Departure times vary depending on the day and time of year, and no previous rafting experience is necessary to enjoy the trip or one's trip-mate's long-winded lectures on hydrodynamics. After the velocious voyage concludes, Big Creek Expeditions' experts give accomplished waternauts a CD with approximately 15 professional-quality photos capturing the most exciting moments of the trip, from splash-filled entries into the rapids to impromptu life-vest fashion shows.
Though Big Creek Expeditions sometimes offers a $10 discount online, this Groupon still represents the best deal available.
Big Creek Expeditions
As a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee's School of Architecture, Jon Felderman savored free time away from his office job in downtown Knoxville. Ditching his button-down shirt and tie, Jon headed to the Pigeon River on the weekends during the spring of 1996 to begin his training as a river-rafting guide. In just a year, Felderman's skill and enthusiasm had earned him promotions from river guide to trip leader and then to river manager—all while he maintained his full-time architecture job. Finally, in 2004, the inexorable draw of nature inspired a massive change: Jon abandoned the rigors of city life for good, founding his own rafting company, Big Creek Expeditions. Staffed by experienced guides who share Jon's love of the great outdoors, today the company leads trips down both the upper and lower Pigeon River and orchestrates rafting and camping packages for overnight expeditioners.