My second day of vacation started after a good night's sleep in the screened-in room, which was very comfortable. The only problem with a room surrounded by windows is that the sun comes in full blast in the morning! For someone who likes to sleep in on vacation, this can ruin that chance. But I digress.
We really didn't have anything planned for the day, so it was going to be an easy, no fuss day. My immediate family was charged with providing dinner that night, so the only item on our agenda was making a leisurely trip to the grocery store. After eating some breakfast and lounging for a little while, my parents decided to do just that. I loathe shopping at the grocery store, so I was looking for any excuse to get out of it. (Yes, I do work at a grocery store, so going shopping in one is something I'd rather skip. Especially when I'm not in charge of the shopping and have to go along with someone else's agenda.)
Luckily, a great excuse presented itself to me in the form of Aunt Cheryl. She had expressed interest in tubing the river as I did, so she brought it up to see if we would be interested on Monday. I was all ears, but others in our group were less enthusiastic. My brother, Ryan, was also interested, so that meant three of us. My grandfather was semi-interested, but decided instead to be our driver. That way we would be dropped off at a spot and not have to walk back afterward after baking in the sun for a couple hours. Also, since my grandmother had purchased some tubes (as luck would have it, exactly three), we wouldn't have to rent them, and could just put in the river wherever we had the chance without paying anything. Score!
Aunt Cheryl was staying in her trailer at a campground site about four miles from the river dwelling, and the site has its own dock to get into the river. We thought that would be the perfect site to set off, since we could just ride the Toccoa River from that point back to the house. Good plan, right? More on that a little later.
My grandfather dropped us off and we started at the campground dock. The water was freezing cold, but with it being July, the hot sun would quickly make that water feel refreshing. And so we set off. It was a comfortable ride at first, and almost seemed like we would only have a lazy river ride on our hands. Luckily that wasn't the case, and we soon found some more rapid-moving water. We had tied our tubes together so that we wouldn't lose each other, and by virtue of plastic baggies, we got to enjoy some music from Aunt Cheryl's phone. It's quite an experience to float down a river listening to "Party Rockers" and "Sexy and I Know It."
We went through several rocky areas with faster moving water, which was tons of fun! We encountered several groups of others tubing, and everyone seemed to be having a good time as well. The water was very refreshing, it was a comfortably warm day, and there was a great balance of rapids and smooth sailing (so to speak). But too much of a good thing can be bad too, and after a while, we were getting restless. Where is the house? Where are we anyway?
I should probably mention at this point that I was not fully prepared for this adventure; really none of us were. We didn't put on sunscreen before leaving, and I didn't realize how much we would actually be in the sun. After what must have been about two hours, I could feel that I was starting to burn. Putting my hands in the water gave me a strange tingling sensation on my skin, which I knew must have been bad. I tried to keep my legs and arms wet to decrease the burn, but it was started to set in that it wasn't helping. Lo and behold, our savior came to our rescue in the form of Grandpa!
We were starting to get tired and burned, and were longing to find the house on the banks of the river. It never came. But then we saw a familiar figure standing on a bridge that spanned the river in a narrow spot, only to find out that after 2.5 hours of tubing, we had only gone about half-way to the house. Only half-way! Thankfully he had driven to rescue us, so we got out when we had the chance to head back to the dwelling. (Who knows how badly we would have been burned if he hadn't shown up?!) As soon as I dried off, I could tell the full extent of my sunburn; it was really bad. It was hot to the touch and was fairly extensive on my legs and arms. The car ride back was agony for me, since we were holding onto the ropes that tied down the tubes on top of the car (my hands were on fire). I was so glad when the house finally came into view and we were done with the adventure.
After getting dried off and changed, I could definitely tell this was going to be a painful sunburn. Just the casual brush with clothes was painful. But I was intent on getting healed as soon as possible, and tried not to think about it if I could. We had a great dinner to think about which included grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, oven-fried potatoes, baked beans, and other condiments. Plus we had chocolate chip cookies for dessert, yum! All of this was brought to you by my immediate family, though I had almost no part in it except for some help with the cookies.
After more talking and TV watching, it was again time for bed. My brother had gone to the grocery store at some point to get some lotion for us burned folk, so I took the opportunity to rub some on my burned limbs with the hope it would help me sleep. Boy was I wrong! Climbing into bed was painful enough, but soon after I laid down, my whole body was on fire. Something about the formulation of that particular lotion made it feel like the heat was trapped into my skin, and it was excruciating. I have never been in so much pain in my life, and at one point thought it would be better if God just took me in my sleep. (It's kind of funny to write that now that I've gotten through it, but that's really what I was thinking.) I got up in the middle of the night to wash the lotion off, which did ease the pain somewhat. I was also able to get to sleep, which was a relief considering that a lack of sleep was almost as frustrating and exhausting as the burn itself.
And so ended Day 2 of my vacation! Stay tuned for Day 3.