Subourbon Mom

“Sin Beer” and Other Things I Learned While Rafting
June 19, 2013, 2:29 pm
Filed under: Parenting, Sports, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
The Family Rafting in Colorado

The Family Rafting in Colorado

Occasionally, no matter how much it pains me, I have to admit that Hubby was right about something; and sometimes, there are many parenting lessons that can be taught/learned in one single event—family trips are rife with both of these opportunities.

Last week during a family trip to Colorado, the girls and I agreed that white water rafting would be a great family adventure. Hubby was skeptical, but, the day before we had spent hours watching candy being made by hand in a factory and panning for gold at an abandoned mine.

Lesson #1: Children don’t need to have the mystique of where candy canes come from destroyed by bulky men in hairnets;


Lesson #2: Pointing out that panning for gold is a lot like washing dishes does not help your cause at home.

These excursions were fun, but we all realized that Colorado was an outdoor wonderland beckoning us east coast explorers.  So we picked up the white water rafting brochure and began discussing which trip we should take. There were two options: Beginners aged 5 and up, and a trip for Intermediates, or “Aggressive Beginners.” Since the last Beginner rafting trip Daughter #1 and Hubby took was like floating in a pool, Daughter #1 felt we were definitely ready for something more exciting.  Hubby was doubtful, and tried several times to persuade us that the Beginner level would be fine.

We didn’t listen.

So, we paid $60 bucks each to cling to a rubber tub in raging, 40-degree waters.

Lesson #3: When a brochure says wet suits and helmets are mandatory, it would be wise to consider the reasons for this, and that the brochure was made by 20-year-old college students who think they are invincible.

Suited up, we fell in with the other mostly middle-aged businessmen, looking like a bright yellow SWAT team on the way to a bumblebee convention.  Before the guides would let us put the raft into the water, there were cursory explanations about where to put your feet, and that each guide was required to pay “Sin Beer” for the multitude of rafting sins occurring during the trips, like guests falling overboard, missing stopping points, and losing oars. Volunteers for the front were solicited. Hubby bravely took one for the team and hopped in, having been informed that the front people have the greatest chance of falling out. I opted for the back, thinking the girls would be hemmed in by the others, and that I was closest to the guide, who could pull me in if I fell out.

Lesson #4:  Unlike the mini-van, the back seat is NOT the safest place to be in a raft.

Within minutes we realized we were WAY out of our depth. Spinning round and round, we plummeted into holes of water and bounced out again, only to begin the cycle over.  After bouncing out of my footholds twice, I finally lost my grip completely and tipped over backward into the swirling water, banging my hip on a rock.

Lesson #5: Panic can supersede parenting.

I would like to say I would have made Bear Grylls proud and hauled myself back in, but in reality, I panicked and grabbed Daughter #2, who is 90 pounds wet.  With the guide yelling at her to pull me in, she yelled back and tried not to be pulled in by her own mother. Somehow, the guide managed to steer the boat and haul me back in at the same time. I was clearly never going to be the hero I thought I was.  Cost:  1 12-pack of beer.

For the next half-hour, we struggled to keep the raft upright as we surfed, spun and tumbled in the Class 3 and 4 rapids. We lost another of our team in a Class 4+ rapid, plummeting into a hole that folded the raft in half. The young woman in front of Daughter #1 tumbled ass over elbow for a full minute in the frothing water (another 12-pack) and lost her paddle (another 6-pack), until hubby was finally able to pull her back in. She landed on top of him, in shock, and the only soul left rowing on that side was Daughter #1. I will never forget the look of panic on her face, which remained glued there until her feet touched dry land. We missed a mandatory eddy and had to continue on (another 6-pack).

Lesson #6: Remember to praise the bravery and outspoken nature of the children you have raised.

Daughter #2 made sure the guide knew she was in trouble when she couldn’t pull me in, and Daughter #1 never gave up, rowing for all she was worth, even when she was scared to death.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful (we even sang “Under the Boardwalk” while we paddled), until the final five minutes. Under dire warnings that if we missed the next eddy we would involuntarily go down the Advanced Rapids, we paddled for all we were worth toward the waiting rafts. We hauled heaved and shoved at the water, until we hit one last hole. In went Hubby (another 12-pack). Thankfully, he was close enough to shore that he could make his way to the other rafts and get hauled in.

Lesson #7: Sometimes it’s okay to let Hubby say “I told you so” as much as he wants after a day like that. He earned it!


As we waited to get on the bus, we stood in the sun and tried to warm ourselves by placing shaking hands on rocks and shedding our life jackets. Our legs trembled with fatigue from the waist down, and after several minutes, our eyeballs returned to normal size.  We paid our guide well in tip money and “Sin Beer” money (we figured we owed him for at least 2 cases of beer).

Lesson #8:  Show your children it is right to reward excellent service.


Without brave and “invincible” guides, we would never have made it—they earn their tips every time they step into that raft with a bunch of “Aggressive Beginners” like us.

Will we ever do it again?  Only Hubby and Daughter #2 say they will. She maintains it was fun, and has blown up a picture of her sister’s terrified face and now keeps it on her phone. Was it a priceless experience? Absolutely!

The Family Rafting in Colorado

11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

LOL, that’s awesome. One of those experiences that may have been horrifying during, but will always be a GREAT story, now that its over. Funny that your husband was weary in the beginning but is on the list of those who’ jump right back in! I’ve never done it, my wife went on a similar trip with a bunch of girlfriends once, had a blast, and yes a couple of them fell out… or in, however they describe it.


Comment by Brown Road Chronicles

It was definitely worth it–but I think next time I’ll do something tame like a rodeo…


Comment by libbyhall

Absolutely LOVE this. Good job Hubby on being a real Hero. This is something that you and your family will never forget. Tell daugher #1 I have got to see this picture of her sister!!!


Comment by stephaniehudnell

You know it!


Comment by libbyhall

Libby, you just keep getting better and better on your blog.  I was right there with ya?



Comment by Norm Armitage

Thanks! Had fun with this one!



Comment by libbyhall

Thanks! It reminded me of driving across country–I don’t think west coast vocab means the same thing as east coast…


Comment by libbyhall

I loved lesson #4, so true!


Comment by Dylan Hearn

I couldn’t believe we actually went back to minivan status. But it was a greta vehicle for the traveling. Glad you enjoyed it!


Comment by libbyhall

I’m really sorry that happened to you, but my God that story is hilarious! I love the idea of “sin beer”… I might have to implement that one at work. Or not.

My sister and I once climbed a waterfall. She fell off and got soaked and I had to pull her up. Fun times were not had, but I’d love to see her try to raft. Perhaps I’ll suggest it next time I see it offered…

Thanks so much for sharing, I’m glad you all lived to tell the tale.


Comment by Katie Renee

Nothing like traveling with family! You should definitely try it–but keep in mind left coast vocabulary doesn’t always mean the same thing as east coast…My chiropractor isn’t thrilled with me…he told me not yto do anything stupid until further notice… 🙂


Comment by libbyhall

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