My children are already asking me to go ‘tubing’ with them. It is August so it is pretty warm…. Although the temperature was 48 degrees last night…. Brrr!! It is really not a difficult sport. The object is to get your butt balanced in an inner tube and float down the river at a leisurely pace. The most strenuous part really is watching the bank until you see the path that will lead you to the truck you parked (without going past it!) and climbing up the river bank carrying the inner tube and any other stuff that needs to come along too. (like the cooler, the sun block, the bug spray, the children’s inner tubes, their empty water bottles, their shoes, sunglasses, etc…. )
Between the hauling of the tubes to the river and that last, most strenuous part is the real joy of tubing. First, there is making sure everyone has a tube and can get on it. (It is very embarrassing when you aim your butt for the tube hole, miss and end up soaked up to your neck! … yes, that has happened to me. I try for the “I meant to do that” expression, but I don’t think anyone buys it) Then there is tying the tubes together so they float down the river as a group and no one gets left behind. With this, there is also the consideration of making sure that the kids are separated enough…. J gives them all paddles to help “push off the sides” but I think the oars are more for splashing then for any real functional purpose.
So, off we go. A lot of tubes floating at a really slow pace. Four adults and a whole lot of kids. The adults are trying to adjust their butts in the tube (dragging butt on river bottom= no fun!) The kids are all trying to thwack each other with their oars singing “99 bottles of pop on the wall”…. Oh, the joy!!
Going down the river to where the truck has been parked takes about two hours. However, that is going straight down the river without stopping. There are 2 problems here. First, we never go “straight” down the river in our tubes…. We zig zag. Just like a sailboat fighting a headwind, we bounce off one bank and zip across the river to bounce off the other one. The second problem is we stop. We stop to look at fish. We stop to see how deep the water is. We stop to let someone pee. We stop for a splash fight. We stop to switch tubes. We stop to see flowers, turtles, bugs, whatever else there might be there to see. After 4 hours of this cursed “relaxing” I am looking for the truck…. Any truck. I want out.
By this point, my sunblock has worn off so the parts out of the water are burnt and hot, the parts in the water are cold and getting wrinkled and pruny. My beverage is long gone, the bugs are biting and buzzing. I have been splashed and bounced off too many banks and my tube has gone under too many low hanging branches…. Many with big spider webs… ick.. I am starting to notice that the air in my tube does not seem to be as full as it was at the beginning of the trip and I fear I may be riding on the mini-titanic. We round a bend and the kids all start to cheer. I perk up, straining in the distance to see the bank we are approaching. I am expecting to see my beloved Chevy 4X4 Pick up truck. Instead, I see a rope dangling from a tree.
The kids all love this rope. For them, this is the highlight of the trip. They climb the tree, swing out over the river and they are instant Tarzans and Janes. Silently, I wonder how no parent has yet tied a noose in the end of that rope and ended all this suffering!!
Being the loving parent and good sport that I am…. I cheer as each child climbs the tree and swings out. I encourage the kids to take turns and I laugh with the other parents about how skilled the kids are. Meanwhile…. I try to find a little shade for my hot spots and a little warm breeze for my cold ones. I wonder silently if my butt cheeks will ever feel normal again. The only thing worse than having to stand in this 8 inches of water is knowing that I will have to remount that horrid tube again.
Well, summer is ending and I have once again survived ‘tubing’ season. I will always treasure the memories I have of seeing the kids having so much fun on the river. This may surprise you after reading this…. But when they ask me again next year if I will take them tubing…. And you know they will…. I’m gonna volunteer Pepper!! ☺
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