In her more adventurous moments—off campus and on summer break—Xavier University nursing professor Susan Namei finds herself navigating rugged whitewater rivers, surging northward through deep canyons. The rushing currents sweep and batter, plummet and rise. The unexpected seems to lurk around every crushing wave, or hovers behind every submerged boulder, obscured by the foamy rapids.

A veteran whitewater canoeist, Namei is just one of thousands of Cincinnatians who’ve discovered the natural wonders and adventurous waterways of North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky.

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