We had a great time in the slow, shallow but still fairly powerful river. There were floaters and fishermen all around us in a variety of floating apparatuses, with group numbers between 2 and 10, all enjoying the Sunday afternoon activity of 'floating'. Partway down the river, the kids decided to tie themselves together and paddle ahead, while roped together and then Tim and Pete were tied together. All was going well until the first major bend in the river, Here in a sweeping right-hand turn and sitting in the middle of the river stood a steel pipe, a remnant of an old bridge piling. It was slow and safe enough to go to the right of it, or to go to the left of it. But, sadly, the kids not quite realising that they were roped together, made up their own minds and, you guessed it, one went on each side. The rope tightened, the kids swung towards the support and one child was stranded on each side of the column. Here they remained.....stuck!!! Everyone was fine, but the current was enough that they needed some assistance in order to relaunch themselves. Here, Uncle Pete and Tim looked at each other as they began to float past and since Tim was holding the chilly bin, Uncle Pete jumped off his tube and began to walk in the thigh deep water to help the kids. His shoes were only slip-ons and not proper sandals or anything that would stay on his feet, so they quickly came off, and, at Lily's urging, he tossed the first shoe to her, which she caught, and when he threw the second, she caught it as well
. Sadly, though, she had to drop the first slipper to catch the second and it floated away down the river and out of sight. Meanwhile, Tim had paddled to the shore about 50 metres downstream and he waited there until Pete and the kids had talked about where they went wrong and the three of them jumped on the remaining two tubes, Tim paddled out to join them, Eli transferred to the spare tube attached to Tim and on we floated.....We were back on top of our game and starting to approach Jess at the first possible take-out point and were due to either get out, or smile and wave as we went on to Pete's car which was parked at the second take-out point. Here, in the sneaky guise of beneficence, the second mishap ocurred... Tim shouted with joy and exhultation, "I see your shoe!" Sure enough, floating in the river just 15 feet away was the missing shoe, here was our chance at redemption and ending the trip no footwear down. What ensued was a funny 10 minutes of all trying to paddle ourselves over closer to the shoe and we passed it to the left, then to the right, then Eli nearly had it, then Lily, then Tim etc...We finally got the shoe and in the excitement of trying to pass it to Uncle Pete, it was dropped again and the rope that connected Eli to the group came undone as well and he began to pick up speed and drift away. Lily directed the team to untie her as she said "I will go and get E. Untie me and I will get him and you two get the shoe!" It sounded like a good idea so off she went in a paddle to Eli
. Uncle Pete and Tim once more fought the currents for 5 minutes and finally got the shoe just as we were approaching the bridge where Jess was sitting and waiting to see if we wanted to get out. As the sky was getting cloudy and the wind colder, we were ready to get out, but because the kids were so far ahead, we didn't have a chance to tell them to go to the left side of the river. They went right, successfully stuck together as they went around another bridge pillar (this time to the right) and we all smiled and waved at Jess and Uncle Pete and Dad paddled to catch up to the kids, reconnect and then float to Uncle Pete's car. Jess took photos as we drifted past and got in Odie to go back to Bozeman and an afternoon of shopping and peace and quiet. Not five minutes after she left, the kids got stuck again, Uncle Pete and Tim jumped off to go and help them, and when we caught up to them, they were cold, shivering and worried. It turned out that the effort and paddling that went into going around the second bridge support and being separated from Dad and Uncle had resulted in a bit of stress and anxiety so we stayed out and let them warm up. This meant that poor Uncle Pete had to walk/try to hitchike three miles to his car at the second take-out and Dad and the kids deflated the tubes and walked up to the road. Pete turned up, we got in the car, all nicely dry as the sun had come back out, the kids had stopped shaking and everyone was feeling brave enough to call it a grand adventure! We stopped for pizza on the way home which cheered everyone up and poor Uncle Pete had to go to work.
The Kiwi Heidmanns relaxed at home and when Uncle Pete came home we all walked out and across the street to Montana Aleworks. It is a fine restaurant that carries many fine beers, cooks some fine food and is quite a find when you realise it is only 300 feet from your front door. We had a tasty feed, all hung out and relaxed together and then we walked 5 minutes home again. Uncle Pete and Tim went out a little later for some brotherly pool and foosball competition and the fact that Tim won the games, capped off an adventurous and action-packed day in Bozeman.
Today we woke inspired and were on the move early. Uncle Pete had to go into work again, but we had time in the morning to float down the river. This is not simply a good idea, but also an incredibly popular past-time for the locals! It was mid-day by the time we made it to the river with our three new innertubes that we picked up at the local farm supply store. This is big business at this time of year as every store sells river tubes, single tubes, air mattresses and double tubes with a built in cooler in the middle of the rings; all at basement prices. Here is where we slowed down a little bit, for the first time today, as Uncle Pete and Tim expended all of their air and due to the size of the tires, we had to sit down as we got a bit dizzy at times. However, just past midday we were jumping on the river with our tubes, some drinks and some lollies to keep us going. Tim was connected to Eli and Lily to Uncle Pete and Jess was driving back down the road to meet us at the first take-out in case we had, by that point, had enough floating