Monday, June 8, 2015

Concan/San Antonio Vacation Day 2, Floating!

 Time to float! Pretty much the main reason for coming to the river is to float it. Andy's on River Road offers tube rental and shuttle service up to the drop place, so we opted to rent tubes from them. We gathered up supplies for the ride and stored them in our cooler, which we also rented a tube for. Rather than tie our tubes together, which is not recommended for safety reasons, we tied rope to the handles of each tube so we could hold on to each other and we could make sure we always had an adult holding on to a child. I did tie my tube to the cooler tube though, so I was in charge of keeping it in check all day.
 After an initial moment of freaking out by Logan, we convinced him to get on his tube and away we went. Jason and Nick were the only two with tubes that we open at the bottom. The rest of us had bottoms to our tubes, although mine and Heather's were mesh bottoms and the kids were solid bottoms. The shuttle took us to the 7 Bluffs drop off, which is the farthest point from the rental office but because of its distance from the King Arthur Crossing, it is the shortest float. We hopped on the 11 am shuttle, and by the time we got to the drop off point, unloaded, tied up, and had everyone ready to go, I'd say we set float around 11:30. It was about a two and a half hour trek to the point where we would get out of the river....and we returned to Andy's at 3 pm.
 The trip started out sort of swift, since it was right after the small dam that created the road you can drive across, but quickly things slowed down and at one point, the only way we could tell we were even moving was by looking at the trees on the banks. In fact, there was a time when a breeze picked up enough that I was going the wrong direction. This would usually prompt Jason to hop out of his tube and drag us all in a line down river until the current picked up again.
The first time Nick tried to hop out of his tube, which was wasn't all that long after we initially got in the river, he misjudged the river depth and jumped out into about 8 feet of water, losing his hat. We all got a big laugh out of it,but I don't think he was too pleased with going all the way under in a river. Since the water is so clear though, it makes it difficult at times to judge just how far down the rock bed is underneath you.
 We stopped along the way a couple of times to take water and snack breaks. At one point we had to stop because one of our ropes loosened and came untied. The kids played in the water while we rested, which gave them a nice break from the hot sun. All things considered though, we had enough of a partly cloudy sky that we weren't constantly being beaten down by the sun. That helped quite a bit.

We only had one scare on the river, but it was enough of a scare that I'm not sure that we will get Logan and Kate back out to float today. It was also a great lesson in why you don't tie your tubes together, because had they been tied together it could have been much worse. It was handy to be able to let go if you needed to so that you didn't drag someone's tube down or flip it over.

Since the river is still up, there are some places where there are huge cypress trees in the river that aren't normally an issue along the banks. The water creates quite a suction around those trees. One tube when one way around the tree, and the others went around the other side, but since we were all holding together (should have just let go immediately) and the current had really picked up in that area, we ended up separating and chaos ensued. Nick and Jason both flew off their tubes to try and grab the wayward kid, meanwhile random strangers were also piling up behind us because of this added suction and a few people were trying to help, which was making it worse. As I was floating away and couldn't do anything, I saw Kate go around the tree the wrong way, and Heather had her rope and one of the other kid's ropes. There was no pulling Kate back around. Then my tube turned around and all I could see was Nick trying to walk into the current to help but his tube was floating away, so I yelled "Grab your tube!" so he went after it. At that point I decided to jump out of my tube (mistake) and physically couldn't stop, despite my best efforts to get to the shore that was only a few feet away. But the waist deep water wasn't letting up, and somehow half of my water shoe had come off, so I ended up being stopped when I got to Nick, who had managed to get a foothold and was waiting to catch me. We were about 40 yards from the initial tree issue by now. Nick's tube headed to the bank thankfully so we grabbed it, and I turned back to see Jason's tube floating towards me, I yelled for the lady floating beside it to grab it, and she got it and pushed it towards me.

At this point Nick is already on shore and running back upstream because he had seen what happened and I (thankfully) had not. I got my tube, the cooler tube, and both Jason and Nick's tubes up on shore and headed back to everyone else. At that point Heather was holding a very upset Kate, who unbeknownst to me had managed to flip her tube in the chaos and Jason grabbed her from underneath it. So Kate is upset, Logan is hysterical, and I'm a bit numb from it all. Somewhere in between grabbing Kate and giving her to Heather, Jason also managed to run along the river bank, following Kate's tube, and dove into the river on top of it. Somehow through all of that, we didn't lose a single person or single tube. I'm not really sure how we managed but praise God, it was all ok.

It's kind of amazing how quickly everything happened. We began comparing stories of what we each saw happen to kind of throw together the events. When Nick initially jumped off his tube to grab Kate, he was literally standing right beside her although he didn't realize it, so Jason turned back to see that Heather still had the other kids. When Jason turned back around, Nick was 40 yards downstream (which is the point where I saw him) and Jason sprung to Kate to grab her. It all happened so fast! I think Nick was pretty hard on himself for being right there and not being able to grab her. In the end, everything was ok, Kate was a rockstar and made it through just fine. At this point in the float, we knew we were really close to the stopping point (literally about 5 minutes upstream) and we knew that if we didn't get both Kate and Logan back in the river they would always have an unhealthy fear of it. Respect for the river is one thing, but a crazy fear is another and we didn't want that. So we convinced them, and we adopted the one adult/one child only together float rather than a big clump of us. It worked out well and we were finished for the day. WE hadn't even had a proper lunch yet.

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