When I was a young Princess-to-be, my family used to spend a lot of time camping at rivers and lakes in the summer.
More often than not, we spent at least one weekend braving the heat, sweat, bugs, and burnt food to camp in a remote park where we could jump in the river with innertubes and sufficiently bake ourselves to a crisp over the course of a two our float through snake infested waters. Can't get much more family friendly than that right? Well, if you knew my family, you'd know "family friendly" simply refers to any occasion where our relatives can gather on enough acreage to prevent physically killing each other.
Anyway, for the most part, our family gatherings managed to come and go without anyone being rushed to the emergency room due to accidental, or family-inflicted injuries. For the most part.
Keep in mind, during my childhood I had a huge family. It consisted of my 3 uncles, their wives, their seven children, their aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins kids. Not to mention half a dozen half-elderly people, about a dozen ex-spouses and random friends and extended family. What I'm trying to say here is that we never just pulled up to a campsite and pitched a few tents. It was more like pulling a mile-long convoy into a campground and establishing a full-sized compound of campers, vehicles, tents and a beer wagon! And I don't mean a couple small coolers of beer. I mean the Budwieser truck just parked himself at our campsite for the weekend and sold the load.
When I say my family tends to drink a little, I mean family members are seen walking around with liqour I.V.'s. I mean, they'll jump out to save the sinking beer-cooler while screaming at the drowning child, "Hold your breath kid, there's a sandbar just around the corner!!"
That being said, it will come as no surprise to you that when you gather my family together for too long, you are likely to have a case of wavering judgement before the weekend is over.
On one particular occasion, we were on our usual tube-the-river and act like jack-asses trip. We loaded up two pickups and a microbus with innertubes, drunken adults and children and hauled our asses 2 miles down the road to throw them in a murky, muddy, tetnus-spawning river. The first few minutes are taken to tether a raft for the beer cooler because lord knows that we cannot spend two hours without beer. And everyone knows that dingy water, hidden barbed wire, and a dozen young children are best served with alcohol.
Once everyone is tossed into the water, the float begins. Looking back, I am fully convinced that this two-hour trip was just a ploy for the adults to get plastered and act like idiots while the children were safely (another loose term) contained in the river. It was like free baby sitting. I mean, where are the kids going to go? No child is going to race out of his parents site to brave the poison ivy infested river bank and run away. If the kids disappear out of site of the parents, it's a sure bet they'll reappear beached on a sandbar in 60 seconds. For anyone who has never ridden an innertube down a shallow river, let me explain that half of the trip is spent dragging an innertube over sandbars and the other half is spent soaking in the cool water exhausted from lugging a tube as big as you over the sandbars.
By the time we returned to the campsite, my Grandparents usually had something prepared to eat (Gee, how'd they do that? They only had two hours of free time!) and our parents were sufficiently drunk enough to deal with the fact that they were stuck in the middle of nowhere with their children, spouses and other relatives they don't particularily like.
I probably took this tubing trip about 500 times in my life and nothing ever varied from the above description. Sure, every now and then an aunt would grab a tree branch only to discover it was a snake. And every now and then someone would slice half of their toes off with a broken bottle. But other than that, it never got much more exciting.
But all things change. You see, the powers that be tendto get bored with the same old activities of human life and every now and then they feel a desperate need to throw out a loophole just to see how the drunken idiots will react. That occasion finally took place at our quiet little campsite.
We woke one morning to find the river was unusually high. By unusually high, I mean that the water that was previously knee deep, was now shin deep. Apparently it had rained upstream the night before, and we simply could not pass up the opportunity to tube the river without being stuck on sandbars. So my grandfather loaded up the pickups (and the bus) and drove us back to our usualy drop off spot. Our parents had the intellect at this point (it was early, they hadn't finished their first case of beer yet!) to tie the two younger children's tubes (myself and my cousin) together so that one of our parents could watch us. Since my cousin's mother was not present, that duty fell on the shoulder of my mother. That's right! Leave the two "babies" with the one adult who CANNOT SWIM!!
Needless to say, we severely under-estimated the amount of rain they had recieved upstream. When I say severely, I mean that water that was ankle deep the day before, and shin deep when we left camp, was WAIST DEEP when we arrived back at camp. I mean, we got back to camp at the same time my grandfather got the trucks back to camp!!! I mean, trees... whole FUCKING trees!!... floated down the river with us. You see where this is going right?
Needless to say, when my mother jumped off her tube (stark white with concern) at the point where my uncle was waiting for the children, she disappeared! I don't mean she was swept off by the current and waved at us as she floated down the river. I mean she FUCKING DISAPPEARED!! The water which was normally waist deep on her, was over her head now. She pushed along the bottom of the river with her feet (still completely submerged) to get my cousin to my Uncle. She then let go of me!!! Can you believe that? She FUCKING LET GO OF ME!! That's right... sent me floating down the river live a baby in a basket!! Why? Well, I told you she can't swim and frankly, she was drowning!!
So my mother & me floated on down stream to where a sandbar should... emphasis on SHOULD... have been. There, my other Uncle scooped me up and removed me from the river. I imagine he left my mother to drown (just knowing him) but it was all good because the sandbar was not completely gone. It was just under 3 feet of water, so Mom was able to get her feet under her and drag her ass out of the river looking very much like a half drowned rat.
Other relatives had to be rescued around the next bend in the river where the bridge was. We might have lost a few that day. There were always so many of us it was hard to keep track. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I ever saw my Uncle Festus again! DAMN!! Guess he's probably shacked up somewhere down south.
Now anyone who is a parent can imagine what a terrifying moment this was for our family. They could have lost their babies in that river. Of course, terror has no lasting effects on the logic of my family. After a quick breakfast (and a few more beers) all of the adults decided to take the trip again! I know, it's amazing we all lived this long! Thankfully, at that particular moment, the radar went off in some of the elderly and the young children were ordered to stay at camp. Basically they told their children it was okay if they killed themselves in the damn river, but the grandbabies were going to live long enough to suffer further torture from the family!
That's right, my family is a permenant poster child for "HERE'S YOUR SIGN!!"