Saturday, September 19, 2009

We're Floating

As long as I've known Shawn's family, going on 17 years, they have talked about their 'Float Trips'. They had done it with family, church groups, and friends. There is even a Float Trip Bean recipe that everyone talks about.

The more I found out, the more I wanted to do it. We have been trying to plan one for...about 17 years. It finally worked out on Labor Day weekend. Luckily all the kiddos are the age where it would be fun for everyone.

Now, as a veteran rafter, and having done a trip just a few weeks before, I knew what to expect. I had the girls prepared just the same way and we were ready for anything that was coming our way.

When we got to the rafting place in Tahlequah and loaded the bus I noticed something-no guides. Every trip I'd taken before had a guide to help with the rowing (or do all of it) and to ensure the safety of everyone. I appeased myself by saying that they'd be at the river when we got there. When the bus dumped us off I still didn't see any. I also wondered why Mom had me fill my ice chest with drinks and had bagged up some snacks for us all. I don't remember having a snack time on our last trip. I believe we were surviving rapids and dodging rocks.

I slowly started figuring things out.

First off, I didn't see any rapids. The river looked really calm as far as I could see. A few tree branches, but no massive rocks.

I also noticed that most people had ice chests and rafts and canoes were being loaded with them. And our family was one of the only ones without beer necklaces.

I took it all in but didn't say anything yet.

This time I had taken my cell phone and put it in the water proof case I use when running so I could snap pictures.

One of Shawn's three brothers and his family didn't come but the rest of us were ready to go. The cousins were especially excited.There is one cousin missing from this picture but he won't speak to any of us or leave his mothers side so I knew not to hold my breath.

I had my life jacket cinched tight and we climbed in and took off. I started realizing that this was a leisurely trip. Row if you want, or just let the lazy current of the river take you along. With three rafts between our family we did both. Now I understood why Dad had come dressed in khakis, a button up shirt, and his leather shoes.There's not a lot of water intake into the rafts. I also now understood the ice chest and snack thing. This trip could take hours depending on how we wanted to make it work. I took off my life jacket and enjoyed the ride.

We were lucky enough that Rachel was in our raft. She is exactly six months younger than Reagan and they are so cute together.Her mother has tried to keep her from talking to anyone but her personality can't be thwarted. She's so much fun. She, Kennedy, and Reagan were our lovely hood ornaments.McKinley and I sat in the middle and rowed and the yahoo in the back rowed and helped direct us.Because the river is so calm when you see a place you'd like to stop; the shore or a sand bar, you just stop. We did this several times and snacked, took pictures, skipped rocks, climbed trees, caught frogs and crawdads, and dodged everyone else who was floating that day.The weather was perfect and that made the water perfect.Shawn's grandparents used to own property along the Illinois River and we actually floated by the estate. It was bittersweet as the family had sold it many years ago. I was surprised to see where property owners had done things for the people on the river. One place we stopped had a man sitting up on his property playing his electric guitar for everyone that was floating by. He entertained us for quite a while. We waved and clapped as we left that area.

Two other places had rope swings in the trees for anyone to use. The one we stopped at was at a very deep place and I couldn't get close enough to get better pictures. By the time I thought to get in the raft and row myself over there they were done. Everyone in my family tried though. Funny to find out that most of them don't have enough upper body strength to keep themselves up for long! I was highly entertained.After a few more stops we just relaxed and let the river and Shawn take us for a ride.We did let him take a few breaks though:)As we approached the end the girls started jumping off the raft and climbing back in to do it again. After a while they just decided to float along behind. Looking back now, I wish I'd don't that also. Sure looked like fun.Too soon for us, but just in time for Shawn, we came to the end. Mom had made a wonderful lunch for all of us of ribs, the famous beans, potato salad, and Dump Cake. I added Oklahoma Caviar and chips and some Cowboy Cookies.We feasted like kings!We talked and played a while longer and then loaded up and headed home.

So now I've rafted and floated a river. I don't think there's one I like over the other. I sure hope we don't have to wait another 17 years to do that again!

And one last picture, my favorite of the day. Two brothers, two very passionate college football fans. Just for the arch rival of each other! I wonder if they wore those just to bother the other...


Margaret Glyn said...

Loved to follow you on the trip! Of couse, just in my mind. I am so glad you have this memory in your Family Album!

Carol............. said...

What fun!

We went floating recently and did more walking and getting unstuck than actually floating! But it was fun just the same.....