Having grown up on the water, I’d like to think I can handle myself (with at least remedial success) around all sorts of vessels and water bodies. On the first stop of my family’s summer journey, we visited my mother and stepfather in eastern Tennessee. We were looking for water adventures, so my mom researched ahead of time to find a few family activities appropriate for a 5-year-old. We found our adventure in whitewater river rafting on the Hiwassee River.
Our trusty facilitators for this whitewater adventure were Webb Brothers Float Service, Inc., a company that has been in business in the same location since 1936. We were assured that the term “whitewater” was used vaguely and that our experience would be a fairly calm, 4-hour float down the river; I was as nervous about having a 5-year-old in a raft for that long as I was about the potential for rapids. True to their word, there was little whitewater, but I quickly learned that the water doesn’t have to look turbulent for there to be rocks just beneath the surface, threatening to your raft.
So let’s backtrack for a moment and review the human contents and experience on this river rafting adventure:
- Myself: My entire youth was spent on and in the water in the Bahamas, plus boating on the Intracoastal Waterway from Florida to Maine. I’ve seen my fair share of boating challenges and near disasters, and I have some degree of physical strength and flexibility, so I figure I’m of some use in paddling an inflatable raft.
- Randy: My husband was an avid sailor from the time he could walk, including competitive sailing. As he has been in the marine industry since realizing he would never make it through college, Randy is indispensable in operating a craft.
- Bill: My stepfather is a former Navy SEAL. Need I say more?
- Millie: My mother was with me in our family’s early years on the water, so she has an impressive resume as first mate.
- Penn: My daughter excelled as a boat ornament and cruise entertainment.
Despite the impressive Curriculum Vitae of this group, we were hopeless (and hapless) at reading the water ahead, determining where there would be sufficient depth to get through, and navigating our way through the obstacles. Ever-hopeful for a summer’s day nap on this river rafting adventure, I quickly realized that my dream would be thwarted. At just about every opportunity of water ripple, we got stuck on another lurking rock – it was a humbling and elucidating experience. Despite the periodic frustration, the lesson I received had me newly present to the range of learning there is to explore on different bodies of water.
Author: Kara Wood