Okay, thank you.
Our little patch of riverbank on the Cheat River was a lovely. Slow current, shallow wade-able bank, and in the middle of the river, a swimming hole with about a 5 foot depth. Since my biggest vacation fear is always that my children will drown in dark, fast-moving waters, I was BEYOND THRILLED to find the river so mild. I mean, I was still a litle Nazi-ish about lifejacket wearing and constant supervising and such, but I could have been SO MUCH WORSE, you guys.
We got Henry one of those puddlejumper life jackets and he turned into a two-year old Micheal Phelps. He loved it! The river was a little cold for Maggie's taste, but she enjoyed riding along in the kayaks and munching on arrowroot teething cookies.
One day there were some murmerings about taking innertubes and rafts and floating down the river for a few miles. A team went out to assess, and they found a place to put in about 2 miles upstream so that we could just float for a couple of hours, and then arrive at our own patch of riverbank.
David was not going to join us (he had hurt his back the day before), and my Dad, Lauren, and Whit were going to stay behind also. Because I am a GENIUS, I decided to go on the float with everyone else and take both of my children. I dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
So, we drive down the road a couple miles, and wiggle down a pretty steep embankment to get the river. We bring with us one kayak, 10 floats, and a cooler with beer, soda, one sippy cup, and one bag of teething cookies. That's right, treats for everyone.
As we're about to jump in the river, we hear... wait for it... THUNDER. (Also, known as funder.) Now, more reasonable group of people may have just climbed back up the embankment and gone home, but, uhhhh, we didn't. Instead, my dad drove back to the house, checked the Viper weather forcast, and drove back to tell us that there was a thunderstorm, but it was moving the other way. HOORAY! We bid him farewell, and put in. Float On!
The first hour or so was awesome! Floating, chatting, little baby rapids (the water was super shallow, so we often just stood up and walked though parts), Maggie rode with Mumsie in the kayak, and Henry rode on my lap. Henry, for the record, was not too confident about the whole 'floating in an innertube' business. He repeatedly told me "Mama, I wowwied. Mama, I feeyl scawed." Eventually he stopped being 'wowwied' and started enjoying himself. However, about the time he STOPPED getting worried, I started.
Because, the thunder came back. And it kept coming. And it got louder and LOUDER. Now, normally, I am not afraid of a little rain. I like a good storm! But this was a THUNDERSTORM. And those usually come with LIGHTNING. And we were floating down a RIVER. With my CHILDREN. IN THE WATER.
You see the problem, right? There's not much to do in this situation, but keep on floatin'. And pray. You could also pray for deliverance.
So we floated! And the thunder kept coming! At one point, my brother Mark decided that things were getting too dodgy, and that we should try to get out and walk along the riverbank. So we did, but that was even slower than floating. And, um, it was starting to rain a little. Justin and Mark walked ahead of us a little ways and decided that it looked like we were really close, and that we should just get back in and go for it.
So we did! We floated. Thunder rumbled. A little more rain came. We had put Henry in the kayak with Mumsie (which would have been safe if lighting hit the river) and I was holding a sleeping Maggie. Just as we were discussing how far down the river an electrical current could travel IF INDEED lightining DID strike the river, we came around a bend, and saw a yellow kayak paddling towards us.
SALVATION! It was my Dad, coming to be sure we didn't get toasted into river soup! He assured us we were, indeed, very close, so we started paddling our rafts with greater force. (Which, does nothing, in case you were wondering. Innertubes just sort of move at their own pace.)
So, Justin grabbed the rope on mine & Maggie's tube and jogged us down the last stretch of river towards home. We got out of the river just as the rain really started coming down, and as I was walking up the steps to the porch, saw the first streak of lightning reach across the sky.
It just wouldn't be family vacation without at least one ill-advised, under-researched, and over-confident expedition, right?
Now, in conclusion, a bevy of photos depicting river frolicking and riverbank lounging, with nary a thundercloud in sight.