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After what seems to be months, I am back! (And to think I was only gone 2 weeks.) Can I just say it feels good writing again! (And for all my analytical readers it feels good typing again.) To anyone reading this, this is not my average travel blog. Since my blogs are all about my journey, I figured I would write about my latest journeys and what the last few weeks have looked like for me and my family.
I took the last 2 weeks off to focus on work since my workload tripled and making sure Leylah was ready as possible to start 3rd grade. I am thankful I recognized the week before she started that I needed to take some days off work and focus all my attention on her and what she needed physically and emotionally.
Leylah went back to school before a lot of other kids went back due to attending a charter school and the school district she is in. As nervous as she was about what this school year would look like, she is learning that she absolutely loves doing school from home. Honestly, in my own bias opinion, she is able to be herself 100% while in class because of that comfort feeling home gives to her. As the parent, I enjoy being able to hear her participate in class and teachers recognizing her for trying her very best. I can also keep up with every activity she does and hears what her schedule will look like for the day. For me as a parent, I feel way more involved with her school even from sitting across the hall in my office.
Now for anyone wondering if the first few days ran as smoothly as it seemed, let me share with you it was not smooth sailing. We were running into system issues like millions of other kids are experiencing starting school from home on day 1. By day 2 of school, I was such an emotional rollercoaster. By 8:30 am that morning I was already on my second meltdown and felt as if I was completely failing as a mom. At one point Leylah started crying with me because of feeling like she was causing all the stress on me. As much as I hate Leylah seeing me like that, I am grateful she did because it was a learning moment for both of us.
After we got our cry out, we talked about the emotions we were feeling and both of us agreed we felt trapped with little answers on how to resolve all the computer issues she was having. So we decided right then that we needed to get out of the house and get breakfast to bring our spirits up and step away from the chaos. BEST DECISION EVER! We went to a local bagel shop and had the best time. We laughed and laughed from playing games like arm wrestling and thumb war while waiting on our food. On the drive home, we talked about how we need to be there for each other and support each other with kind words when we notice something is off in one of us. When we walked back into the house from our time out, we felt refreshed, recharged, and ready to tackle anything that came our way. Even if that meant more system issues.
As I am writing this, we are on day 5 of school and the storm seems to be calming. We are getting into a routine and much of this is due to Leylah's amazing teacher. The amount of patience she has with her students is something I think we could all learn from. From day 1, she started creating a safe environment for the kids to feel as normal as possible while ensuring parents feel supported. As soon as Leylah logs into the video conference, her teacher has the kids engaging with each other and allows them to move all around when conducting schoolwork. Just this morning I walked by Leylah's room and saw she was standing in front of her big whiteboard working on math while having the laptop facing her. I mean think about it, Leylah is so used to working on schoolwork while sitting at her desk that she is able to learn her schoolwork in a way she feels comfortable. To say this is the year no one will ever forget is an understatement of the year, but it will be one that could also be changing her future for the better.
This month has been a busy one, but I have found time for us to relax in our own ways. One way we relax is by floating down a river surrounded by friends enjoying the nice breeze and sunny weather. I absolutely love tubing and would consider it one of the most relaxing things to do outdoors. If you have never been, please do a quick Google search for tubing areas in your state/country. For all my local readers, let me share where I have gone tubing and my experiences.
Catawba River in Rock Hill, South Carolina:
Sound familiar? Most people have heard of the Catawba River or about the restaurant on the river, Pump House. This river is a popular place for tubers because of how wide the river is which allows more room on the river for larger groups. There are little rapids (a fast-flowing and turbulent part of the course of a river) which is nice if taking little kids and for people looking to relax without worrying about rough waters.
Another highlight to mention about the Catawba River is that the entry and exit point to get on and off the river is super easy. To make this work, you need 2 cars so one can be left at the exit point of the river and the other stay parked at the entry point. The distance between the two points is roughly 3.5 miles which can take 3-4 hours. Some people enjoy pulling to the side of the river and swimming around some, if water permits, which can add extra time to the experience. For first-timers, this is a good river to start with.
To get into the water, park the car at 2541 New Gray Rock Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29708.
One of the exit points is at the Pump House where you would want to leave the 2nd car. (575 Herrons Ferry Road, Rock Hill, SC 29730)
New River in Boone, North Carolina
I have only tubed this river once and went through a company to shuttle us from their property to the drop off location to get into the water. Basically, they pulled over on the side of the road to let us out and get into the water. You can conduct a quick Google search to find out where entry and exit points are at. This river is more narrow and I could see it becoming a "problem" if there were a ton of people on the water. Thankfully for us, we went during a thunderstorm, so no one was out. (Also don't recommend any first timers going during a thunderstorm.) Now one thing this river has over Catawaba is the scene. I mean you are surrounded by the mountains the entire time. Such a sight to see!
However, depending on where you get in and out at will determine if you have to go under the death bridge. (It is not called that and one I just created writing this.) This is a bridge you have to go under with your tube to get past it and the bridge is not steady enough to try and go over it. Remember how I said we went during a thunderstorm well the water level was extremely high from it making it harder to get under the bridge. We had to basically lay down in the tube to get under this thing and we kept our eyes out for nails or anything that could pop our tubes. Not a place I would recommend to someone who has never been tubing before.
Items to pack when going tubing:
We use the dual tubes since there are two of us and use the cooler in the middle to keep anything we don't want to get wet in there. We do have a solo tube for Leylah, however, never used it before. When Leylah goes we use a 2 sitter inflatable boat for her, so she can stretch out and move around as an 8-year-old will do.
· Cooler tube
Highly recommend taking a cooler to keep your drinks ice cold and packing some food to snack on when floating down the river. Pack plenty of water as you could be sitting in the direct sun for hours.
This is not a necessary item, however, learning from past experiences this comes in handy when needing to steer away from sticks and rocks that can pop your tube. Paddling with your arm only gets you so far.
· Water Socks
For anyone who has never been tubing, be prepared to walk on rocks to either get into the river or out with a possibility of both. These socks will help to protect your feet and not get any cuts. (Can also find this on That Travel Deal's shop.)
Every tubing trip I have been on involves sitting in the sun for a few hours which can turn me into a lobster within an hour or less. This hat protects my face from the sun and does an amazing job of not letting any sun in. I also load the sunscreen up and take about 3 bottles with me while floating down the river.
(Can also find this on That Travel Deal's shop.)
Highly recommend thinking twice about what food you pack for snacks. The last time we made a Cesar Salad pasta and put them in a tall round-shaped tuber ware containers and was able to easily unscrew the lid off and enjoy our food without it getting soaked. (Don't forget about packing your forks.)
· Waterproof bag
This is important to have because this is where you can keep your keys and anything you don't want to get soaked in. For us, we keep this bag in the middle cooler between the two tubes because this part of the tube stays dry.
And there you have it, folks! It's been an eventful past few weeks, but thankful that hurdle is over and I am able to get back to writing blogs and journaling throughout the days. Tubing was my way of escaping the world for a few hours and sure I will be back a few times before the summer ends.
If you are local to North Carolina or the surrounding area and have a favorite tubing place, please head over to my Facebook page (@That Travel Deal) to share with me this destination. I love trying new places and who knows, it could turn into my favorite tubing place.