For years, Ed and I took an annual tubing trip up to Harper's Ferry. In fact, we used to combine the tubing with riding our bikes about 60 miles in the searing heat of summer, so we could meet friends who would drive our car for us. (The hill that ended the ride is one we will never forget - and I will also never forget the time we tried to ride on the towpath, which does not work well on a road bike.) After our ride, we would spend the day tubing down the river, camp that night, and then drive home with our bikes attached to the back of the car.
We have a lot of really fun memories from that annual trip.
Every year, we get an invitation for that trip. We have declined that invitation each year since I was pregnant with Connor. Although we often have a babysitter when Helen and Connor are sleeping, we don't tend to leave them with a babysitter during a non-work day. This year, we decided Helen and Connor were old enough to go along, so we accepted the invitation and our friends switched from the whitewater trip to the flatwater trip so we could join them. I'm so glad they did.
Helen and Connor were a bit apprehensive. Though both are confident swimmers at this point, they weren't sure what it would mean to be on a river in an inner tube. On top of that, we were required to watch a "safety video" which highlighted whitewater tubing, and the fact that if you stand up, you can get your ankle and foot caught in the rocks. This can be an extremely dangerous situation with the water pushing you forward and you unable to move. The only person who watched the movie was Helen. Her eyes were glued to the video, and as soon as it ended, she opted for the double tube rather than the single. If she was going down, she was going down with a parent.
We assured both Helen and Connor the trip would be awesome, and at the end of our first run down the river, both requested to go again. At the end of our second run down the river, Helen took Ed aside and let him know if he wanted to go once more, she was willing to go with him. That kid is always willing to make a sacrifice!
Our friend brought water guns which made for a lot of fun, and cruising down that river brought back a lot of great memories. Probably the most prominent thought I kept having was "Wow! My kids are old enough to enjoy things that I enjoy!". It's such a liberating thought. Next year, we're adding the camping back in - and possibly Connor will be able to go on the whitewater trip, while Helen and I cruise down the river on the flat water. Our friends are already scouting out a plan. When we said good-bye, Helen said "see you at the same time, next year". And indeed - that's definitely the plan!