Two-Month U.S. Road Trip: Refreshing Float Down the Delaware River

I confess I’m one of those moms who wants my kids to learn while on vacation. They resist with the not-unreasonable reminder, “Mom, it’s SUMMER!” But I can’t help myself. When you are staying for a week in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, the spot where General George Washington crossed the Delaware into New Jersey for the decisive Battle of Trenton, it’s unavoidable. The locals haven’t forgotten; they reenact the crossing every December 25th, in a snowy, icy spectacle.

What luck for my boys that we are here in summer. The closest we will get to a reenactment is floating down the Delaware in innertubes, beginning in Frenchtown, New Jersey with Delaware River Tubing.

We Californians are admittedly spoiled when it comes to climate, so the river was a welcome place to be, although I must confess that the predictions of afternoon thunderstorms did worry me. But, as a born and bred Angelino, what do I know from thunderstorms? I figured the friendly kids at Delaware River Tubing wouldn’t send us into harm’s way. They gave us each an innertube, a smile, and a ride to the river.

Our floating parade began under sunny skies, moderated by clouds that kept us thankfully cool. The river was as lazy as they come, making me laugh at myself for thinking this might be a dangerous endeavor.

Then the thunderstorm caught up with us. Suddenly no one could remember whether it was safer to be exposed in the middle of the river, or sheltered near the river banks and all its trees. (We’d have to review Ben Franklin’s lessons on lightning when we were safely home.) We strenuously paddled to a happy medium, appreciating that the storm added drama to what otherwise would have been an uneventful pleasure ride. What better than a brush with danger to sear a memory into permanence.

The lightning especially caught Emmett’s attention. Tonight, safe at home, rejuvenated by warm baths, soft pajamas and a delicious dinner of New Jersey corn, tomatoes and chicken any locavore would love, Emmett stated his opinion of the day in simple but clear terms: “Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

FamilyGal Laura Diamond of Southern California is in the midst of a two-month adventure on the East Coast with her husband and two sons, ages 7 and 11. This is her second installment; here’s her first dispatch from Six Flags Wild Animal Safari in New Jersey.

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