Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tubing on the Shenandoah River

Friends at my church asked me to organize another tubing trip on the Shenandoah River like I did back in 2009.  We went with River Riders again in Harpers Ferry.  They were VERY busy, but they have a large staff that has been doing this for a while and somehow manage to get everybody through in a pretty well-orchestrated and efficient manner.  For anyone else trying to organize this as a group activity, River Riders has put together a very useful group-leader packet with all their gouge and recommendations how to make things go smoothly.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day.  
75F air temp, 77F water temp.

I used my last blog post as a guide for what to expect.  This time we brought lunches with us to put in the cooler tubes.  River Riders advertises that they have tubes to rent that will carry a cooler to bring lunch and refreshments with you on the river.  I emailed them a couple of times asking for the size of the cooler, but they didn't respond.  At the River Riders compound, you have to pay for the cooler tube rental, but they didn't have one there to actually SEE how big it was or how many we would need for our small coolers.  So for anybody else heading out to River Riders, here's how big the cooler tubes are:

Note, they have a large and a small cooler tube, but both cost the same price to rent.  I recommend chipping in and getting the large tube and sharing.

River Riders upgraded their standard tubes.  The new tubes have a built-in cup-holder.  I liked that, although the cup holder wasn't big enough for a Camelbak bottle.

In addition to bringing a few footballs and tennis balls to toss back and forth on the water, we also brought along some water cannons.  I told the group if they brought water guns, they had to FLOAT because I didn't want someone dropping their toy plastic water gun in the river, then it sinks and becomes a piece of trash in the river. 

So we brought a few of the water cannons made out of those foam noodles.  They shoot pretty far, and they float if you drop them.

Our trip went a lot quicker this time than it did last time.  Last time, we had a 10:30 reservation, we got on the water at 12:10, got off the water at 1:30, waited for the bus back to River Riders, and got back to River Riders after 2 p.m.  This time, we had the same 10:30 reservation, but we got on the water at 11:30 and got off the water at 12:30.  So the operation at River Riders was a little more efficient and the river was moving a little faster - 1 hour instead of 1 hour 20 minutes. 

We could have gotten on the water even sooner if I had been on-the-ball about the liability forms.  When I handed them our liability forms, they audited the stack and found several where the second page hadn't been initialed, or a birthdate was missing, or the child hadn't signed (even though the adult had signed).  Next time, I will make more of an effort to get the liability waivers filled out in advance, and I will audit them to make sure EVERY blank is filled in before I try to turn them in. 

Also, I had two people who emailed me they were coming, but I didn't have a phone number for them, so we waited for them to show up.  Next time, I'm going to make sure I have a phone number for everybody who signed up, so if someone doesn't show, I can call and find out where they are or if they weren't going to make it.  

If I had done those two things above, then we would have gotten on the water another 30 minutes sooner (at 11 instead of 11:30).

Last time we didn't bring food with us, so we were forced to go back to River Riders because we were starving.  This time, we brought our lunches, so we could easily have gone back and gone down the river again.

Overall though, it was another fun and relaxing float trip down the Shenandoah River.  I hope we get to do this again next summer.

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