They say that a happy person is the one who can laugh at themselves. Seeing as how I am always finding myself in a situation that personifies this statement, let me share with you my latest adventure…Hang on!
The title speaks for itself. Yes dear friends I went tubing. It sounded harmless… big yellow tubes, you and your extended family sharing an hour floating peacefully down a small mountain river. Sounds normal, right? Well I am sure that is what happens when ‘normal’ people go tubing, but it damn sure isn’t what happened when I went tubing!
To say that I was skeptical is an understatement and once I saw this ‘out house’ looking operation, I became even more so. But, being a mother, I realize that I don’t have forever to make memories with my kids, so I squeezed myself into a bathing suit, and said “You can do this Mag’s!” Pep talks when putting on a bathing suit are always a good thing…So are rose colored glasses and complete avoidance of mirrors.
When I say ‘Out House’ I am not kidding. This lovely business by the riverside was surrounded by a nice trading post and other cute shops, but the ‘shack’ from which the tubing operation was run, looked like an out house painted white. This should have been my first clue that all was not going to go according to plan. However the first bit of a tingle didn’t start until my family and I piled into the back of the transport van…Oh. My. God. This van had thick shag carpet from 1970-something and the fleas that called this lushness their home soon found their way to my ankles. These critters were apparently Yankees, hell bent on marching their way up legs like Sherman marching to the sea!
My ENTIRE body screamed at me to GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!
I tried to ‘scoot’ myself to the back of this van and off the lush carpet. Trying to do this in bathing suit with Crocs on left me looking somewhat like a dog dragging his ass across the grass. It was not a pretty sight, but I didn’t care, me and my ass were seeking refuge on the small space in the back that was ‘shag free’. However when I had almost scooted to my goal, the back doors of the van flew open and my brother-in-law and son began shoving a double-seater inner tube inside. I quickly tried to retreat from my derrière dragging position without success. Ever saw a dog try to ‘backup’ in that position? No, me either, at least not successfully. I went from upright to a position that looked like a beetle on its back. WHACK!! I had been hit with this monster inner tube…Magnolia down!!
My son and brother-in-law jumped in behind this monster tube and my brother-in-law looked down at me and said “What are you doing down there?” The answers that flew through my brain luckily did not come out of my mouth. There were small children present and I didn’t want to be quoted for the rest of my days by my niece and daughter who NEVER miss a bad word that is spoken. My rants, I have discovered, can be legendary, and at times, are reenacted by those who witnessed them. But I digress…
So after a ride in the ‘Mystery Machine’ that would make the most ardent of roller coaster fans throw up, we arrived at our destination in…wait for it…a corn field. Nothing but a field and large pile of yellow inner tubes stacked up beside what appeared to be a path down to the river. I thought to myself “Wait a damn minute! We don’t even rate an Out House at this end? Nobody is here to help us? What kind of ‘Cracker Jack’ operation are these people running?” I had my answer when the van flew out of the field and left us standing there staring at the tubes.
Lucky for me, my sister and brother-in-law had done this before. My brother-in-law quickly took charge and those that went into the water first, no doubt felt like they had been enlisted in tubing boot camp. To say he can be ‘intense’ is a bit of an understatement, but seeing as how I can be a wee bit intense myself, I let that slide. Not to mention the fact that I quickly realized that I would need him to help me get my butt on that big yellow inner tube. Private Mags reporting for duty!
I was super excited that I was able to not only get on my inner tube on the first try, but that I was short enough to hang my legs over and my rear not touch the water. Do you know how cold a mountain stream can be? DAMN COLD! So to say that I was excited not to have done more than wet my feet, is an understatement. My inner cheerleader was waving her pom poms and doing a happy dance. This was going to be a breeze!
However I soon realized that this was a folly on my part. Not having some center weight on that tube sent me straight into the fast moving current and smack into the rapids. Tranquil river my ass! Flags are flown at the beach to tell you when rip currents are too strong, apparently no such warning system exists for those of us who are not native to the hill country. I was in trouble. But I wasn’t the only one. The double seater tube that my parents were on, had run aground and become ensnared on a rock. Apparently Daddy had a bit too much drag on his side, where, for once, I didn’t have enough.
Now in my younger days…much younger…I was a Red Cross certified life guard. So I have always felt confident in the water. So, of course I thought it was my duty to come to my parents aide. I decided that maybe Daddy should take my inner tube and I would float down with Mama. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but, trust me, it wasn’t.
I can’t accurately describe the events that transpired trying to get my dad out of his tube and onto mine. I enlisted the help of my brother-in-law and we began trying to get my father out of the double tube and onto my single tube. Sounded simple enough, right? WRONG!
Everyone was trying to keep their footing on the slippery rocks in the rushing current AND hold on to their inner tubes. It was a TRAIN WRECK! And when I say wreck that is exactly what I mean.
My feet shot out from under me and I quickly found myself in beetle bug position again but this time in rushing water with one armed thrown over my yellow inner tube. My fall must have been providence, because the current swept me toward my father who had just lost his footing and was on his way down. SPLAT! Ouch! Damn! I was lodged behind my dad, and between him and the pillar of a cement bridge (yes, bridge).
I ended up with my head above water on one side of my dad and my feet sticking out on the other side of his head. It must have been quite the sight, because for a couple of beats my brother-in-law stood looking at us with this “Oh shit!” expression on his face. I would like to say that I was able to be of more help to my dad and our rescuer, but sadly, the only aide I provided was my ample butt wedged on the rocks preventing my dad from hitting his head. Thank God I am well padded in that area!
My sister grabbed our mother’s inner tube and held tight to her own as she tried to figure out a way to help us all. My dad made two attempts to stand and the first one didn’t take. SPLASH! Cuss..Splash…We were down again and this time I was not only wedged between Daddy and the bridge, but I had a river rock trying to wedge itself in the bottom of my bathing suit. Talk about being in a tight!!
On the second attempt my brother-in-law finally got my dad on my yellow tube, but Daddy instantly pronounced it to be uncomfortable. And as I recall he quickly stated that he would not be able to make the trip on that ##%$#$ thing.
At this point my heart sank, I had survived one round of this, but I had my doubts about round two…. I don’t really remember how, because by then the coldness of the water had numbed my limbs and my brain, my brother-in-law managed to get my dad back on the super tube with my mom and me back on my tube. Needless to say we had lost sight of all other family members. They were long gone.
But that wasn’t so bad, that left my sister and I bringing up the rear and having a laugh at our escapades. That’s when we noticed another group coming up behind us on their tubes, and they had bamboo sticks. The youngest of that crew was on his knees on top of his tube and kind of paddling and pushing off of the rocks with his stick.
I looked at my sister and said “Now why in the hell didn’t we think about getting a stick?” But seeing as how I had never seen anyone else tubing with sticks, I was dubious about really needing one. Well friends, that is before the current whisked me toward the bank of that little river and into a low hanging tree. I held out my arms and tried to grab the branch but none of that helped, WHAP right upside the head!
I then started using my feet to push off from rocks under the water or those just breaking the surface, making every effort to stay as far away from the bank as possible. I was beginning to look at that little kid and covet his bamboo stick. Ah youth! I felt like I was getting pretty good at pushing off rocks with one foot and was beginning to settle into my rhythm. Which is to say I was staying away from the bank and not snagging my ass on any rocks under the waters surface. Trust me, those river rocks are slippery suckers until you forget to lift your rear end out of the water when going over the rapids, that’s when they become sharp and invasive!
I was looking back and commuting to my sister about something, probably about our need for our own sticks, when I attempted to use my foot again to guide my path down the river. Only this time instead of my foot finding a rock, it slipped under the water and took me with it. Splash, I went in over my head and never found the bottom! I bobbed up like a cork, gasping from the cold, but reached my inner tube and held on for dear life.
My sister floated by asking if I was okay, and I waved her on, because I was too damn cold to find my voice. The kid on the tube with the stick floated up to me and said in a most knowledgeable voice “I think the river’s about fifteen feet deep right there.” In my head I was saying “No shit!” But I behaved and replied with “Yeah, that’d be about right.”
Bless his heart, just before bad thoughts entered my head of sweeping his tube from under him and stealing his stick, he came to my aide. He hopped down not two feet from me and said “It’s ankle deep here. You can get back on your tube.” Well, I’ll be damned, I guess I had managed to find the ONLY fifteen foot hole on our whole entire route.
As I swam for the safety of the shallows and the promise of getting my ass back on my tube and out of that ice cold water, I could tell I was losing control over my tongue. I could tell this because every time I hit a rock with my knee I was saying my most utilized swear word under my breath “Shit!”
When I finally reached the shallows, I dragged my giant yellow tube up with me and tried to pause to take a breath. If someone could have taken a picture of me, I am certain I was a sight to behold. Which is to say I was a hot mess! I had worn an old bathing suit I had brought just for this purpose and because of some recent weight loss, (not enough to be noteworthy) it was hanging a bit loose. By the time the river and the rocks had finished tugging on it, well, let’s just say ‘a bit loose’ felt like my ass was hanging out and my right boob needed to be tucked back inside. This had to be done ASAP before I turned that trip into an event that would send that poor kid with the tube straight to a shrink. I didn’t want to scar anyone for life, least of all such a young lad.
I would like to tell you that this is where I managed to get back on my tube and float blissfully down the river, but I can’t. Nope, after a lot of pulling, and tugging at my swimsuit, I tried to get back on my big yellow inner tube. But, I had not taken into account how slippery the ass end of my suit was, and I shot right off my tube and landed, once again, on my ass. I swore under my breath, and tried again to get on my tube. SPLAT! My ass once again met with the river rocks!
By this time I was openly swearing and leveling threats at both the river and my inner tube. This would have probably grown into a full blown hissy fit, if I had not heard my sisters laughter ringing out from below me. I looked up and God bless her sweet soul, she had grabbed onto a low hanging tree limb in an attempt to wait on me and make sure I was okay. But at that exact moment she was laughing so hard that her face was red, the tree brach was shaking, and she was dangerously close to falling out of her tube from laughter.
This made me cease mid swear, look around me and at myself. And then it came, the gut wrenching laughter that nearly sent me back into the river. I stood there holding onto my tube and just laughed till tears were rolling down my face. When I finally on the third attempt, lodged my butt back in that tube, my sister and I were both wiping tears.
We continued on our way and were making pretty good progress when we saw a mallard floating in a still pool of water below a big rock. My sister and I were amazed at this sight and were exclaiming to each other “Look at the duck!” About the time I passed by the duck, he hopped up on top of the rock and looked at my sister and I and I swear if ducks had facial expressions, his was saying “dumbasses!”
I couldn’t have agreed with our feathered friend more. I certainly felt like a dumbass!
Seriously! This had to be one of the dumbest things I had done in my adult life. Here I was on a river with no civilization in sight, cold, wet, and trying to ignore the sound of banjos every time we passed under a bridge. I kept thinking “Surely this can’t get any worse!”
Well, you can bet your sweet behind I will not ever think that again! Nope, not ever! Because just about the time I thought I was home free, I rounded a bend and my tube headed straight for a low hanging tree and a spider hanging out in its web. Now, I am not saying that Jesus saw a spider before He walked on water, but I AM SAYING that if I could have picked that tube up and walked on water I would have! Nothing scares me to the point of phobia like a spider! I nearly tore my arms from their sockets trying to paddle that yellow tube backwards. I didn’t care how this looked or the girly squeals that were coming from my mouth. I would have died of a heart attack right then and there if I had floated into that spider web with that spider. Judging from the laughter of my family, I was indeed making a spectacle of myself. When it comes to me and spiders, something has to give and getting in my way of a retreat, is not advised. I will hurt myself and others in an attempt to avoid eight legged creatures!
As if the spider wasn’t enough, I then discovered my brother-in-law”s sister stranded on her tube. My inner cheerleader was screaming “Keep your ass on this tube!” but my life saving skills kicked in and I decided I needed to help her out. Maybe it was my pride trying to come back from the spider fiasco, regardless, I left my tube.
Stupid move Mags! Stupid!!
No, I have NO IDEA why I thought this woman was in peril. Trust me, looking back on the situation, she was doing just fine on her own! But me being me, which I now think translates into me being a dumbass, I got off my tube and tried to reach her. I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. NEVER. I hadn’t taken two steps before I my right foot shot out from under me and slammed my ankle into the rocky bottom. I dropped to my knees and was drug along for a few yards by my tube. I just knew I had broken my ankle and I was helpless to get back on my tube.
This had ceased being funny and had gotten pretty damn real. My sister jumped off her tube, lifted me up and helped me back on my tube. All of this happened just in time for us to watch her sister-in-law push away from her trap with a stick. The woman had a STICK. WTH! I was trying to assist someone who had her own stick! I immediately broke one of the ten commandments and coveted her stick. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use it to get out of that God forsaken river or to beat myself senseless, but regardless, I wanted my own stick!
My parents were once again ensnared on a rock with my brother-in-law dislodging them. My mom grabbed my hand and we both watched as my ankle began to swell. I looked at my sweet, God fearing mother, whose face was full of concern and distress and said with the straightest of faces “Mama, I think I would be willing to squeal like a pig if someone would just get me the hell out of here!”
That broke up the prayer meeting over my ankle. My mother nearly died laughing as did my brother-in-law and sister. My mother said “Good Lord!” (insert more laughing) “You crazy thing!” This of course lead to my father who is hard of hearing but refuses to wear his hearing aides, looking at all of us like we were insane and said “Okay dammit, what did I miss?” This broke us up all over again as my brother-in-law patted him on the shoulder and said “Nothing Pops, you didn’t miss anything. Just one of your daughters acting crazy again.” To which my dad settled back and said “Oh, well, that’s not unusual.”
I just rolled my eyes and kept on floating. I kept thinking, surely to God this will be over soon.
Let me just say that that duck doesn’t have to worry about laying eyes on me again. I can assure you that Magnolia is better equipped for the Lazy River at a water park!
Magnolia’s tidbit on tubing…. “Always, and I mean always, keep your ass on the inner tube, or even better, the bank!”
Love & Hugs,