One of the things I’ve wanted to do for years is float down a river in a tube. I imagined it being tranquil and relaxing. Well, in Steamboat, Colorado, I finally got the chance to give it a try.
A free transit bus picked us up at our campground and took us a few miles into town where we got off, confidently walked down to the river with our inflatables—the boys with a boat and oars, Gerry with an inner tube, and me with some sort of double tube/chair thingie that I suspect was designed to use up left over plastic at the factory.
We could hear the tubers on the Yampa river before we saw them. Mostly locals, hanging out on the rocky shores whooping and cheering on their friends as they did more boogey boarding than tubing.
We walked just in front of a bit of a rapid, put our inflatables in the water, and climbed in, ready to float along. Instead, we all got caught in the circular current coming off the rapids and started going backwards. We all frantically tried paddling our way out, but the locals soon grew tired of watching us silly tourists blocking their boogey boarding on the rapids, and one of them gave the kids a push out of the way. Not needing to worry about the boys, Gerry and I were able to make our way out right afterwards and settled in for a nice, relaxing ride down the river.
Or so we thought. Within a minute, we hit another rapid. My tube/chair/plastic collection flipped, taking me with it. Luckily, I managed to hold on to the tube, as well as my processor that was in a waterproof case around my neck. When I came up and made it to calmer waters, I realized I’d lost my second pair of sunglasses this trip. Sigh. Oh well.
With the initial excitement out of the way, the rest of the trip was relatively uneventful, save for a few large rocks that we rode right over and had to lift our bums in the air to avoid. The boys, best equipped for the ride in a sturdy boat and oars, managed to get way ahead of us, but we were super proud that they stopped at the giant sign saying “All tubers exit here” and held their boat and our supply bag there until Gerry and I caught up to them.
Unfortunately, when Gerry tried to stop himself in the same spot, he got a bit tangled up, was separated from his tube, and the current quickly snatched his tube away downriver.
This posed a slight problem, because contrary to the giant sign, we were actually planning to continue on down the river right back to our campsite, as the staff at the campground told us we could (the sign was mostly for the benefit of a touring company/shuttle bus). At this point, we were 2.5 km from the campground without enough inflatables to make it back.
Undeterred, we started walking and managed to find a bus stop about a kilometre down the road. After waiting a few minutes, the bus arrived and drove us right back to our campground where we made smoothies and collapsed into our lawn chairs to enjoy them.
It was awesome, though not quite as relaxing as I’d envisioned. Next time, I’m getting a better tube. And maybe leaving my sunglasses behind.