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It's just not summer until a river runs through it, and for our gang, that river is usually the Mohican or one of its tributaries. As I recall, we began last summer's float on the Clear Fork with a well-provisioned army of people and dogs, all afloat on a hodgepodge of tubes and rafts that I had frugally collected and carefully maintained over the years. We completed that journey with exactly half of our vessels still afloat. The rest -- fallen to tooth, claw and shallow river rock -- floundering behind us, tethered like a stringer of dead fish.
At the close of that adventure I had dutifully cleaned up and packed away the whole mess of them -- the good, the bad and the leaky -- to deal with "later." Unfortunately, later never arrived until I found myself futilely inflating tube after tube on the morning of this year's big adventure. This year's excursion, pared-down to just Kristin, our daughter, Sylvia, and myself, required just three tubes, yet when the compressor was silent and the last air-plug had been closed only a pair of somewhat undersized floats held firm. With the sun shining and clock ticking, I made the executive decision.
"We go with what we've got," I declared, pounding a determined fist on the picnic table.
"Wait, you're telling me that the three of us are going to float down the river on just two tubes?" said the skeptical wife.
"Listen here, skeptical wife," I said. "If George Washington could lead his army across an ice-choked river in a flotilla of tiny dinghies, then surely our family can navigate a creek through a campground just one raft shy of a full fleet!"
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" she said. "Can we really make it?"
"I cannot tell a lie," I said placing my right hand over my heart and raising my chin. "We will most certainly make it ... It might be ugly, but we'll make it."
Thus began our journey. We marched through the campground to our time-honored "put-in" spot, set the tubes in water and considered our fate.
"Looks like a lot more water than usual," Kristin said.
"I see that as a good thing," I said as I stretched out across the tube to find my center of gravity. "Once you climb on my back we'll probably ride a lot lower in the water."
I should have emphasized the word "climb" as I spoke, because nearly as soon as the words left my mouth Kristin more or less leaped on, plunging me under the water then rolling both of us onto our sides in the river. Sylvia, perched on her own tube, simply shook her head and waved goodbye as the current carried her away.
After numerous attempts and various iterations of trying to fit two grown fools onto one small tube, I resolved to float along behind while holding onto one or both of Kristin's feet, depending upon whether I had to guard my underbelly from the rocky bottom as the current swept us along. It was a long trip in that regard, but largely hilarious, and every bit the type of adventure we hope for when a river runs through our summer.