Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tubing on the Shenandoah River

On Saturday, I organized a flat-water tubing trip on the Shenandoah River for my church. Overall: We had a great time floating down the river and the staff at River Riders were very friendly and easy-going.

We met up at 10 for our 10:30 reservation.

By the time we got done with the orientation and safety brief, got our life preservers, and got on the bus, it was 11:41.

They bring the tubes along in a trailer behind the bus.

Note: It's not advertised on their website, but they DO have double-tubes if you have a small child that you want to ride with you instead of letting them go off on independent ops.

The entry point was hard-pack dirt/mud and rocks. They recommend wearing some sort of water shoes or old sneakers, and I can see why.

As for me, I got to try out my new Keen Newport water-sandals. They were very nice, comfortable, and worked like a champ on the slippery rocks in the water.

YB and me in our double-tube.

It turns out that mesh-bottom in one of the holes of the double-tube was a pretty nice feature. It prevented us from losing a few things like YB's crocs.

Unfortunately, my wife's sunglasses slid off the back of her head and into the water. Plunk! Gone. We spent a while feeling around in the brown water, but weren't able to find them.

Last known photo of my wife's sunglasses.

The boys kept putting on their goggles and looking around underwater trying to find the sunglasses for Mommy.

YB had fun blowing bubbles while he was searching, too.

A couple of people in our group brought footballs along. That was actually a pretty-good idea. We had fun tossing the football back and forth. (See the green football airborne in the image above.)

YB got out of the tube and had fun swimming back and forth to retrieve the football and give it to people. He also took a break to just kick back and float down the river a while.

There were a couple of spots of very light rapids. This short video shows you about as fast as it got.

This orange tube nailed to the tree was the marker telling us where to get out. River Riders runs a bus here every 30 minutes to pick people up. You can either ride the bus back to the beginning and ride the river again, or you can ride the bus back to the River Riders HQ.

The boys looking back the way we came.

Here are a smattering of other notes about our trip:

Timing. River Riders advertises on their website that it takes on average 1.5 hours but anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on the current. According to my GPS, we got in the water at 12:10 and got out of the water at 1:30 p.m.

We were a little frustrated with the efficiency of the River Riders operation and our 10:30 reservation got us in the water at 12:10. By the time we got back to River Riders to eat "lunch" it was 2:55 p.m. Lesson learned: They rent tubes you can put a cooler in to float with you down the river. Next time, bring a cooler with snacks and drinks so you aren't starving for lunch.

Weather. Definitely wear sun screen. When we started it was mostly cloudy, but the clouds burned off and the sun came out during our trek down the river.

Water Temp. The water was very nice - I would guess about 75 degrees based on how it felt compared to Lake Winnipesaukee last week. It seemed like the water was never more than about waist deep. The few times I got out of my tube, I was able to stand up.

Bugs. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't really have any problem with bugs. We saw a lot of dragon flies while we were on the river, but that was it.

Shop. If you forget anything River Riders probably has it for sale in their shop. They seemed to have just about everything in there, including some cool t-shirts with things like, "Paddle Faster!" and "Dude, Where's My Paddle?"

Food. The Front Porch Cafe offered friendly service and pretty decent food, but had a little trouble keeping up with the demand. There wasn't a wait to place your order, but there was a bit of a wait for your food to come out of the kitchen from being cooked.

Today at church, I got a lot of positive feedback on the trip. Everyone seemed to have a good time and said they want to go again. I look forward to organizing a trip like this again.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Looks like a great day - something your kidlets will always remember fondly. What a colourful sight you must have been floating along.