09:41:23 am on
Sunday 17 Nov 2019

Shooting the Rapids
AJ Robinson

In our recent vacation to Georgia, the kids, Damian and Rachel, very much wanted to go tubing down a lazy river. The mountains, of that region, have many rivers and streams, it was August and the idea of floating down a river held much appeal. Not more than a mile from our cabin was one such place, so Brian and I took the kids there.


No old-fashioned inner tubes for us.

The tubes we had were a little different from the old-fashioned inner tubes that we used before. There was no hole in the center; you know, like a donut or a tire. No, in these tubes the hole was covered, which was actually quite nice.

You see, although dunking ourselves in the water was cooling, the river had numerous sticks, logs and boulders just below the surface. Hanging out over the edge of a donut hole would be a rather risky method of traversing the river.

We got one tube for each of us; new water shoes; then gathered our gear and hiked on down to the edge of the water. The water temperature was bone chilling. The air temperature was close to one hundred, but the water was half that; very cold.

Once we were in the water, it felt good. There were few if any gnats or other bugs to bother us. The current was brisk, but not too fast and we lazily lolled along.

Brian and Rachel had a little trouble steering. I don’t think they’d been rafting before; they tended to end up running aground along the shoreline. Damian had some trouble, as well; I found him a good stout tree branch to use as a bunting pole, then he did well.

We got on the water mid-morning. The sun wasn’t too harsh and we just let ourselves drift with the current. Along the way, we saw deer, a flock of Canadian Geese, plenty of squirrels and, thankfully, no skunks.

We also saw a fair share of humans, as a number of them lived along the shore. At one point a sign on a dock read, “Breast Inspection Station, Whip ‘Em Out.” I did, as I was in my Black Dog tank top, it was easy. I tend to think I’m not the sort of person they were expecting or hoping to present for inspection. Ah well.

The river also had a number of small rapids. Nothing too dangerous, mind you, but, in a number of places, we tumbled down mini-waterfalls and careened over large boulders. Overall, these were exciting and fun, nothing more.


We came upon a bigger, rougher rapid.

Roughly, two hours into our journey, we reached a stretch of river that was a bit bigger and rougher. I think I was a little too top-heavy. For whatever the reason, my tube flipped over.

I went under, losing my hat and Damian’s shirt, which I was holding, before bobbing to the surface. As the current was quite swift in that section, of the river, Damian and the others swept along, but I banged into the rocks. My knees and shins bore the worst of it.

Fortunately, Brian was able to corral all the tubes behind a huge rock, which lay at the base of the rapids, were he waited for me. I tried to make my way through the stones; it was difficult. Between my throbbing legs and the force of the water, I couldn’t keep my footing.

It didn’t help that the river bottom was dark and featureless and the rocks likewise. As I walked, I couldn’t see the bottom and didn’t know if I was stepping into shallow or deep water. Thus, I made an end run around the situation; I headed for shore, walked along it until I was parallel with the others and then waded out to them.

Given the bruising to my legs, I was bleeding a bit, but not seriously; still, I didn’t want Damian to worry. All of these events were new experiences for him and the last thing he needed was something to scare him. I painted on a brave face, said I was fine and we continued.

Fortunately, the landing zone was only a half hour down the river. There, we were able to rest for a few minutes. The tubing place had a small bus to take us back to the starting point and our car.

Now, here was the truly amazing feature of this tubing ride: we were only three miles from the start point, at least measured along a road. The river had ambled and rambled through the countryside. It allowed us to lazily drift along for over two hours and yet come back to a point only three miles from where we’d entered the water.

Once back at our car, we did not change into dry clothes; we were just too tired. We covered the car seats with towels and drove back to the cabin, where I received a little medical attention. Jo Ann had brought a First Aid Kit.


Another priceless memory.

That was enough excitement for the day. I healed without incident. Damian and Rachel had yet another priceless memory to cherish. If I recall correctly, the entire day cost me less than a trip to the movies, with full drinks and popcorn. Considering the joy I saw in the eyes of Damian and Rachel, I’d call that a bargain.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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