Almost every time Sara and I visit Valdosta (which is where we are right now), we take the trip down to Lake City, FL to go tubing down the Ichetucknee River. Ichetuknee is Seminole for “Dang this water’s cold!” Once Sara and I knew we’d be in town this summer, we made plans for a float down the river. This summer, Titus has gone down the San Marcos three times, so we figured that this would be a great opportunity to introduce him to one of our favorites. Unfortunately, Titus was sick and spent 6 hours at the medical clinic with Sara and my mom (that’s another story), so the rest of the family drove down to Lake City.
Before leaving Valdosta, we checked the weather. As expected for Florida in the summer, afternoon storms were likely to move in at 4:00. We left in time to get our tubes, float down the river and be out before the storms moved in. When we got the the tube rental places, we learned that two of the longer drop in points were closed. That means our float would only last 45 minutes. If we didn’t get enough, we were free to do it again.
As we got to the park and walked our tubes to the drop in point, we looked at each other as we heard a distant rumble of thunder. “It’s only a 45 minute float and it’s only 2:30” we reasoned. So, in we went! Ten minutes into the trip, we we laughing, splashing and enjoying ourselves. Then the rain came. When I say rain… I mean torrential downpour. There was little to do but laugh. This was ridiculous. Then the thunder and lightening came. Not really that funny.
I remember learning when I was a kid that the formula for determining how far the lightening was away was to start counting as soon as you saw the flash and continue counting until you heard the thunder. I don’t really remember how many seconds equaled a mile. That didn’t really matter in our case as the thunder came nearly instantaneous with the lightening. That meant the lightening was right on top of us. There wasn’t anything we could do. We were in the middle of a swampy/wetland forest floating down a river. There were lots of places where we could get out, but it was in the middle of a forest and they say one of the worst places to be was near tall trees. The other option was to continue floating down the river. There’s a reason they make you get out of the pool in a storm. Being confronted with two really bad options, we all elected to just continue down the river. With only 30 more minutes until the end, we figured that the sooner we could get down the river, the sooner we’d be out of immediate danger, right?
Well, it was an adventure. Everyone was a little unnerved, but again, there was nothing we could do but just let the current take us downstream. Ultimately, I’m just glad that Sara and Titus missed out on this little adventure. It’s a trip we’ll never forget and we’ve all decided that next time we float the Ichetucknee, we’ll make sure there’s a zero percent chance of storms.
Enjoy the video I made after our safe return!