So...we compromised and decided the kids would shift canoes halfway through the adventure (which turned out to be about 1/3 of the way into the adventure, just by chance). Helen (predictably) lost steam a couple of miles into the canoe ride. I was glad to have her in my canoe, lest Ed feel the need to flip her over the edge and not look back!
First up was the hike. The somewhat strange thing about the hike was that it started at the top of the mountain, dipped down to a waterfall, and then we had to climb back up. Up is hard when it's hot and you haven't been hiking in a while. Ed tried to infuse a little levity into our hike by jumping over a tree branch that was blocking the path. I'm still shocked that he was able to jump over it AND Connor successfully jumped over it a few times as well. When we got close to the end, Ed let the rest of us stop early as he ran to get the car while we waited at a parking lot for him. I had already run 10+ miles that morning (in the heat!) so I didn't offer to get the car, though normally I would.
That night, we visited a restaurant that Ed and Connor had enjoyed on their previous Front Royal trip, and then in a great stroke of timing - Angry Birds was playing at the movie theater in town - and we arrived about 5 minutes before it started. Of course, it took forever and a day for the previews to play, and I don't even remember any of the movies being advertised. Strangest thing about the movie? The people behind us - adults without children - were complaining about the stupidity of the movie...loudly. What did they expect?
Helen and Connor made the movie completely endurable because they kept cracking up at the stupid humor, which made me laugh along with them. I think Ed felt a wee bit dumber at the end, but he has a few extra brain cells so all in all, I think he weathered it OK.
The next day was the big canoe trip. We hopped into a bus that took us upstream. So far, so good. We then began meandering down the river. Things learned that day include (1) how to blast water into the other canoe with a paddle; (2) how to paddle with your feet (something Helen made up during a stint of boredom); and (3) boys don't pay attention very well (OK, we already knew that). The crowning achievement of our canoe ride was tricking the boys into going through a very small rapid backwards. It provided enough laughter for Helen that she was able to soldier on to the end of the trip. The boys were intent on splashing us, but weren't paying attention to the river. As they maneuvered around into position, we lured them to the side of the river - and then we took off, leaving them backwards in bumpy water. They might have a different version of the story. They can start their own blog.
We ended the trip with milkshakes and still had Monday to do some deep cleaning and tossing out of stuff - something that has been a theme for too long in our home.