Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Down a lazy river

photo credit:  Beth Gauper
Last Friday at the family camp out the weather was hot, humid and overcast. We were all throwing out suggestions as to what activity we should do. After much discussion, it was decided that we would go tubing down the Root River. At $10/head for a 2 1/2 hour lazy ride, it seemed worth it on this hot day. Although it was overcast, weather forecasters were predicting zero percent chance of rain.

Now, for those of you who are longtime followers, you already know that I am not a fan of water. Well, I shower and everything like THAT, but I do NOT swim, and lakes scare me. But I DID go tubing once before on a family outing. We all tied our tubes together (there was about 15 of us floating down the river!)

On Friday, I made my family SWEAR that if it started to thunder and lightning that they would all hightail themselves around me and pull MY lily white butt out of the water because not only am I afraid of water, but I am also TERRIFIED of storms.

I know. I am a thrill to be around.

So everyone promised. We all scrambled to our prospective tents/campers to change into our suits and by the time we reassembled, it was raining cats and dogs.

So much for that zero percent of rain.

We debated about cancelling our plans, but then thought that we could either sit in the rain at the campground (well THEY could; I'd sit in my nice dry trailer), OR we could tube down the river. We were going to get wet anyway, right?

Okay! Tubing it was! The campground provided the tubes AND the ride to the river. My heart was pounding out of my chest all the way to the river as I thought about what I had signed up to do. Was I nucking futs?

We crammed into a couple of vans.

I asked the driver, "How deep is the river?"

"Aw, not too deep."

"Yeah, what does that mean?" I probed.

"Well, some places you hit bottom, others it's about 2 feet, and there are a couple of deep spots."

"See, Patty, that's not too bad," one of my relatives piped up from the back seat.

"How deep are the deep spots?" I had to know.

"About 9 feet."

"Oh GREAT! I shouldn't have asked!" My heart did double time.

He said, "I just tubed down the river yesterday, and I don't know how to swim. I was fine."

The rain had stopped by the time we arrived at the river. So that was good.

We jumped out of the van. Then we grabbed tubes from the truck and headed to the river. Walking down the slope to the riverbank was like walking the plank on a pirate ship.

photo credit: Laurarama
The inner tubes had two black handles; one on each side. I had to back into the tube and plop down into it.

I probably would have been okay by myself, but I was chicken and had Jim tie my tube to his. Also, he tied the tube with the cooler to the other side of his tube. So we were a threesome, or a menage-a-trois if you will.

The river moved very S-L-O-W-L-Y, and that was a good thing.

It was shallow in MOST spots. THAT was a good thing.

I didn't know where it was deep, and THAT was a good thing (except if someone jumped off their tube and went underwater).

The tubes were pretty uncomfortable. The last time we did this, the tubes seemed more comfortable. Granted, that was 15 years ago and I was a lot skinnier. BUT, even the skinny people said they were uncomfortable.

So what ended up happening was that I kept trying to hold myself up so by the end of the trip (AND the next day) my muscles really ached!

It was very peaceful on the river. We saw so many butterflies.

We passed under a beautiful old railroad bridge.

I wished I had a waterproof camera to take along our journey.

I heard so many birds singing.

A bald eagle flew right over the river!

There were a few "rapids" that we crossed. Rapids meaning that the water rushed faster, but they were tiny. Not enough to scare me, or make me go to shore and walk a little bit. (I have been known to do this.)

There were a few "islands" in the middle of the river, and we'd have to choose which side to pass it. Most times it wasn't a problem.

But the last one?

THAT was the problem.

I saw my nephew ahead of us. We were approaching an island. Joe chose to go left. Jim said, "Which way do you want to go?"

There were rapids on either side.

I chose to go right.

Which was, of course, the WRONG way.

The rapids moved us faster past the island. But up ahead was a fallen tree.

And we were headed straight for it.

My SIL, Karen, was ahead of us.


Jim tried to paddle us away from it, but a) the current was too strong, and b) with two tubes pulling alongside his, it was too hard.

We headed straight for the tree!

Jim jumped off his tube.He wanted to pull us out.

Too late.

The current was so strong that it knocked into my tube and tossed me.

I knew I was going down and screamed.

Luckily I took a deep breath.

It was only a couple of feet of water.

STILL! It was scary!  I didn't KNOW it was only that deep. I scraped my knee along the stoney bottom.

I have NEVER gone under water without holding my nose.

Guess what?

I survived!

My glasses stayed on my face, THANK GOD!

I was pretty shook up. Karen saw what happened. She had jumped up onto the shore and came back into the water to help us. I could barely stand because a) I had been on the tube for over 2 hours and my legs were shakey, b) I was scared shitless and c) I am afraid of water. Did I tell you that already?

"Don't worry, Patty, I'll get you out of here!" Karen reassurred me.

I got back on the tube. Jim pulled the front, Karen pushed the other side. The strong current was pushing from the back. I almost got knocked off again. The water got deeper as Jim made his way around the tree. I held on for dear life. FINALLY we were out of danger.


I was done.


Luckily the ride was just about over.

I needed a drink.

So out of the 13 people in our family who went tubing, ONE person fell off and hurt themselves.


And it was ME.

The one who can't SWIM and is afraid of water.

Go figure.

I am WOMAN, hear me WIMPER.


labbie1 said...

nucking futs!!!! OMG How funny!

I so enjoy your stories--and I am sorry you skinned your knee.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. good job being a great sport and holding it together under pressure too...way to go pat...and glad you fessed up to showering too...smiles.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I've taken swimming lessons several times - as an adult. I know how to do it but I just don't like it. And we live on a lake! Today I went in the water anyway because I didn't want my husband trying to manage 3 small grandchildren by himself. Thank goodness they all know they have to wear life jackets and don't protest. blessings, marlene

Rita said...

nucking futs! I've never heard that one before! When you are genuinely scared of something like that you must have really felt proud to have survived your ordeal--with the wounded knee to prove it! Congrats! Good for you! :)

Oh, and you tell a good tale, too. ;)

Lynda said...

Great narrative. It makes me want to go tubing because it was quite peaceful - - until the rapids. Take some Alleve for the sore muscles. I would end up very sunburned with drier skin than I already have.

Anonymous said...

as a fellow chicken of the water I say BRAVO for even going, I would have hidden untill everyone else had left for the river....

Great job friend

SUGAR MOON said...

Good story. Sounds like a lot of family fun and memories.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

lol - i'm with labbie! laughed my butt off. wish i could have seen that. hahaha! that would have been a blast.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

You are so much fun!! I rode that stupid banana float thing on a cruise with my sister. You know, they dragged a group behind the speed boat. I held on so tight, I used every muscle in my body and so tense that the next day I could barely walk!

Allen said...

I dont mean to laugh, but omg was that funny. I even choked on my hamburger. I guess next time you will go left instead of right?

Valerie said...

You are brave, BRAVE, I tell you. You wouldn't have caught me going in a tube in a river that had rapids... well, any river really. It's not that I'm scared of water but I like to be in control and ... well ... rapids.... RAPIDS... Oooooh No!

Ruth said...

Yes brave. But one thing. I bet you were cool when you got out?

It would be so fun to do this with you. Anything, really.

Bonnie said...

Yea, yea - but in the back of your mind I know you are relishing the comedic potential of the situation for your next post! ;)

I never heard of anyone putting a cooler of liquor in one of the tubes and dragging it along with them! Too funny.

Glad you survived to tell the tale Pat.

Donna said...

OhNoooooo!!!! SO happy you made it though!
I also do NOT like deep water! I was Right there With you Girlfriend!!!

Eva Gallant said...

I love tubing...haven't done much of it though. Sounds like you had quite an adventure! Kudos for being so brave!

Carola said...

Great way you told your story, really fun to read. Maybe I'm opposite to you in the case of water. I love swimming in the deep ocean. I enjoy floating down a river for some miles without any float. And it is fun.
You are so brave doing this. It's good to step over your shadow and then experience things like that. And you really have something to write about.