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  • Photo: Lindsey with a tropical looking sunset behind her, somewhere in Texas. Photo was taken by Antonio Contreras.

    . . .

    Lindsey and I were on a trip to attend a family reunion of the Jacob DeHaven clan. Hundreds of distant relatives would be there. There were six of us traveling with my sister JoAnn in her late model RV. We'd survived 100˚+F temperatures, climbing humidity and no air conditioning for about four days. The RV was held together with chewing gum and paper clips. Antonio and JoAnn had taken an RV repair class and had kept the mother ship going. It could be said we were a little worse for wear.

    My daughter was just three years old. Traveling in a RV with a three years old, can present a few challenges. All in all she was a trooper, as we braved tornadoes in Oklahoma and the rattle snake pits of Texas, bacterial infections, finally making our way to our destination in San Antonio, Texas. But not before a slight detour.

    The river was not the Rio Grande River, nor the Colorado River that borders California, this river runs through Austin, Texas, and is called the Colorado River. JoAnn pulled her late model RV over to the side of the road next to a sign that said river rafting. We had hit record temperatures since we left California. It was July, the temperature can grow closer to the 120˚F mark. With no air conditioning, and cramped quarters we were ready to stretch our legs. When we saw the signs advertising tube rafting on the river, it sounded absolutely wonderful. The river route was only 3 or 4 miles long and we’d be able to cool off.

    A parking lot was located at the base of the river where the river forks. We all piled into a bus to be taxied to the departure point. I would be floating with my three year old securely tucked in a life jacket with our arms and legs dangling out into the cool river water. I asked how wild was the ride on the river? All the people said it was harmless and it was just a good way to cool off. My daughter would be fine and there was just one little place where there were rapids, but they were mild. JoAnn, Antonio, Colleen and Danny went first and I watched as they were pushed out into the current. They were splashing about and laughing, then Lindsey and I climbed into our tube. It was hot, and the river water was cold and crisp and Lindsey’s little hand was splashing me with cool water.

    We drifted about one quarter of a mile and the river current started to catch speed. Rapidly approaching I see the rapids up ahead and I’m thinking to myself, I had better stay in the center. No sooner did I think that, I saw my sister in trouble up ahead. Her tube had become entangled in some brush on a median in the river. She was trying to free her tube from the debris. She yelled at me to stay towards the left, which I did and Lindsey and I tumbled down the rapids without incident into a rather wide channel and the river slowed. I turned around looking for my sister, I couldn’t find her.

    Up ahead I watched others in their tubes floating calmly down the river. Maybe about twelve tubes, and as I counted suddenly there were less tubes, only five tubes. Where’d they go? Someone on the shore line is yelling stay to the right or to the left. I’m watching the tubes disappear over the edge of the water. I don’t know how far a drop it is. We are about 150 feet from the edge of the drop and I could not have changed course now even if I wanted to. Pretty soon we were on the edge looking out to a ten to fifteen foot drop. I clung onto Lindsey and held the tube best I could and over we went. I was pumped up on adrenalin and Lindsey’s saying, I’m scared mommy. A steep fall. We came out of it laughing, I’m sure we both almost peed our pants. Up ahead I see the staging area and we floated down and were caught by people who had helped others out of their tubes.

    We were wet and the heat was the last thing on our mind. My sister was rescued by one of the rafting employees and met us back at the RV. She was a bit flustered, and I scolded myself for taking my baby girl onto a river in an inner tube. Lindsey was excited and had so much fun she wanted to go again. Why can’t we do it again, Mom?
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