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Tubing or Not Tubing

June 27, 2011

Recently I went tubing down the Chattahoochee River in Helen, Georgia. This is not the ultra relaxing Florida tubing, designed for drinking a case of beer while luring alligators with the submerged portion of your butt. I’m talking about the freeze off your butt zits, moving way too fast, “OW! My ass is bruised from rock collisions,” kind.

Immediately after the two and a half hour journey, my family and I talked about the experience while I warmed myself over a big bowl of chili. The next day, that chili blessed me with a lot of opportunities to sit and think even more about the trip. In these meditations, I began to consider the other people who were traveling down the river rapids with me.

People who tried so hard to control every aspect of their trip down the river. When they hit a slow spot, they paddled faster, when they hit a fast part, they tried to anchor themselves by striking a stick into the bottom of the river bed. When they were headed down the left rapids, they frantically maneuvered right, and when they veered right, they attempted to correct left.

There were those who simply floated by themselves, letting the river do its will. Those guys were usually pushed aside, left to

Helen Georgia River Tubing

bob in a still pool till they realized they weren’t going anywhere. Sometimes they were so oblivious, that when the river parted, they weren’t prepared to choose a direction and simply got stuck against the rocks right in the middle of where the river diverted.

Many people tried to travel down the river tethered together. Groups of three, four, five tubes all strapped to the next. Their intent was to stay together no matter what, but whenever one of the group got stuck, they all got stuck. And when the river tried to take one of the group down a faster part of the rapids that would reward the individual with a more exciting experience, the tethered group was there to hold the person back.

People entered and exited the river at different points, some traveling along for only a little while, some for longer than myself. I heard some complain that the ride was too long, and I heard many complain that it was too short.

Great way to spend time with the family.

I thoroughly enjoyed the river, every part of it. My six-year-old daughter and I were tethered together while my wife and I joined hands or stuck a foot on the other’s tube to stay connected. Together, we were all able to enjoy the trip as a family, point out things we liked and people who made us laugh. Sometimes I would gently correct course if we began to move out of the current, or if I saw a better way that looked more fun. Sometimes I recognized an opportunity ahead and maneuvered to take advantage. Not every path, however, worked for all three of us. Those times my wife and I would get momentum from one another and push-off so that each of us could enjoy our separate adventures. Then we would reconnect a little ways down and continue on together.

Looking back, it really was a great trip down the river. I laughed a lot. Sometimes I got a little banged up, but mostly, I enjoyed the ride, and was so glad to have shared it with my family.

Click to watch the trip.

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