Tubing down the Chattahoochee River

Tubing on the Chattahoochee

—–Last summer, I had the chance to participate in one my favorite summer activities—tubing down the Chattahoochee River. I would be meeting up with a group that had camped in the area and the tubing excursion was the last of the activities for the weekend. Like all back country adventures spotty cellphone service made it difficult to reach the group by phone so I would make the drive with the hope of meeting at the designated time. I left my house around 9 am to make the two-hour drive to the Chattahoochee River head waters. I arrived on time and found a parking spot right across from the outfitter. My group should have been there already, but they were nowhere in sight. As I waited, the line at the outfitter began to grow. It was now around noon and prime time to get in the water for the two hour ride down the river. I sent several text messages, but after no answer there was no way to know if they were on the way or if I had missed them. I decided it was best to get in line before it grew any longer. As I stood there, I kept looking for my group, but by the time I got my tube and boarded the bus, it was clear I’d have to go it alone.

—–The bus ride over to the launch site was filled with groups of friends and families casually laughing and joking as the bus maneuvered the busy streets. I was the only solo tuber and wondered if I should have waited a little while longer for my group. My previous tubing trip had been with a large group that decided to link their tubes and experience the length of the river together. It was lots of fun, but not without hang-ups, literally. Occasionally, someone would get snagged on rock or some other misfortune and as a result would have their link disconnected so the group could float on. We reached the site and I launched into the cool waters wondering what was in store. On the outset, there was an immediate traffic jam. All that could be seen for several feet ahead were neon green and pink tubes. The sun shined down brightly on my head and for relief I would dip my hand in the water and pat my face with the frigid waters. It wasn’t long before I settled in and the current began to swiftly take me down river. I laid back and let the sun warm my limbs and face. It had been a while since I had taken in this much sun. As I moved down the river, the trees overhead framed the sky and for moments on end my mind would float away and thoughts flowed in and out like the current of the river. When my attention came back into focus, my eyes would catch the view of fellow tubers enjoying the same experience. Groups tethered together would be run aground on the rocks which required someone getting out and ushering them around the obstacle. Unencumbered, I would float past these groups. After witnessing this scene over and over, it hit me that my solo experience on the river was vastly different from those around me. It was easier for me to see what was ahead and negotiate the obstacle with relative ease. For long stretches, I would drift down the river half asleep until my tube caught the edge of the river or tangled in some brush. I was unencumbered and worry free. My thoughts and priorities all my own.

—–My trip down the river paralleled my life in many ways. On many ventures planned with friends and partners circumstance forced me to go it alone. At first things were scary. I worried if I could handle it on my own. The first steps were filled with doubt, but as I made my way fear was replaced with empowerment. Uneasiness replaced with strength. My wings had spread. I had taken flight and my destination was in sight. I could trust my ideas. I could trust myself. Now, I approach life differently. I start out on my own and invite friends and partners once the foundation has been laid. If they join in I am excited. If not, then I go on my way. No expectation and no disappointment and my tube keeps floating down the river.


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