October 05, 2012

Man Overboard

Thrown over by mom.  All is forgiven.

We like to keep our kids' immune systems strong, so some exposure to bacteria in river water every now and then keeps them healthy.

The last week of summer we had a young couple watch our two little ones and took the older three off for a river adventure down the Shenandoah.  It is an adventure that Alan and I did quite often before those others came along.  Instead of renting a cozy canoe for two this time, however, we rented the large raft for 6.  With 5 paddlers - that should allow us to reach the speed of a motor boat, right?  Well, the front person was paddling, another was paddling [backwards], another was swatting water bugs, another was on the floor of the raft with his swampy fingers digging in the bag of Cheetos and I was in back steering to make up for all of the other paddle commotion taking us adrift.  It made for a good 3-mile workout.

It was actually more like a 4-miler because we began by paddling up river to some fast moving shallows where we catch our own bait.  It is our secret spot stocked with hidden buried treasures of the most disgusting and juicy scorpion-like creatures called hellgrammites.  The bass eat them like candy and you can't hold your cast for more than 5 seconds without a bite.  They live under the rocks in the river and you catch them by placing your net under the fast flowing water and rapidly picking up and tossing the rocks in front of the net, which catches the bugs as the flow right into the net.  Eva was thoroughly fascinated, Sadie was equally freaked out.  Lance was mildly disgusted, not to be out-manned by his younger sister, however, he bravely held the bait bucket where we tossed them after netting them.

After we baited up we went off to fish and float.  Midway through the trip we told the kids to go cool off in the river.  Eva thought that was against the rules.  Whose rules that govern what I am not sure.  But after we satisfied her conscience, she jumped in.  Sadie, who is just as happy to be a rule-breaker if there were such restrictions on a person in a river, happily followed suit.  Lance. . . sweet, cautious, mild-gutted, Lance.  He wanted to just sweat it out in the raft.  No swimming for him in that cloudy green water.  That is, until I took charge from his blind spot and kicked him overboard.  He came to the surface completely stunned.  Then a smile took over his face and he loved every minute of being free floating in the beautiful, wild outdoors.

Alan and I lazily sunk down in the raft and took in the sun as the kids played around us in the water.  Complete bliss.  "This must be," he said, "what life is like for the other 99%."  I knew exactly what he was talking about.  Any activity we do is made incredibly complex and exhausting when performing it with a 50 pound 'special' cutie on wheels (I could write a whole blog post on all the challenging elements that are included under the title 'special'.)  We felt like a normal family for a brief moment - where mom and dad can enjoy the activity, can spare a moment to smile at the other kids and at each other, and can enjoy a  brief moment of being perfectly still.

We finished our long raft trip and the kids excitedly chose a souvenir tee from the canoe shop.  We headed out to have a fun lunch followed by frozen custard, of course, and headed to the cabin for the night.  The cabin is such a different place without Bridger.  He loves it there and asks to go there almost daily.  But to be there without him added a whole other layer of relaxation.  No screaming, no exhausting moments of hauling him to and fro', sleeping in. . . you picturing it?  We dined at a quaint restaurant that was the original log cabin built around the natural spring in town dating back to the 1800's.  Again, no screaming, no throwing food, no vomiting.  Just delightful juvenile conversation.

The next morning we slept in until the ripe ol' hour of 8:00 (which is drastically sleeping in for us) and returned home to our two little ones who were anxious for our return.

Raft rental:  $$
Souvenirs:  $
Meals:    $$
Child Care:  $$$
Time alone with our Rat Pack:  Priceless