Our babies, the twins, were 8 now, our son 10, and the older girls were 12 and 14. It was time to pay for a challenge, as if camping with five children wasn’t challenging enough.
My husband came back from the camp store office all excited, the younger kids trailing behind.
“I’ve got just the thing,” he told me, enthusiasm twinkling in his chocolate malt ball eyes.
“And that ‘thing’ would be,” I turned from washing the dishes with the older girls.
“Tubing down the rapids in the Great Smoky Mountains.” My husband’s smile was wider than the Appalachian Mountain Chain. The three younger kids were giggling.
“Wait!” I struggled to gain control of the excitement that erupted in the tent.
“It’s billed as a ‘family’ activity according to campground personnel,” he informed me.
“But our family’s from the north,” I reasoned. “We don’t have much experience with rapids in South Jersey.” I was breathing hard now.
“Well, you know how we always try what the locals do,” he said.
“But the children don’t know how to ride–or steer–an inner tube!”
“It’s a normal pastime in North Carolina, and our campround personnel said it was safe.”
“Safe,” I questioned, “safe for whom?” I started saying a rosary in my mind right away, for I couldn’t convince my husband or the children that I didn’t think we were quite ready for this…yet.
Well we found our first “challenge” when the bus dropped us off along with many other people and a huge pile of heavy, fully inflated truck tire tubes made with rump-saving wooden discs tied in the center at the lower part of the stream [Deep Creek]. While the other people just plucked a tire from the pile and lugged it up the path to the top of the section of rapids to be able to “ride” down, we just stared–dumbfounded–at the mountain of seven tires left behind.