Tubing on a “lazy river”

My dear friend Bonnie had a milestone birthday last week, and she was supposed to be on an epic trip. That had to be postponed, of course, it being one of the strangest years we’ve ever experienced — so I tried to think of something adventurous we could do within the parameters we find ourselves in. That meant: a day trip, outdoors, distanced, fun.

And lo and behold, “tubing” presented itself.

This is, apparently, a thing people do. (Sam wrote about doing it a couple of years ago for her birthday; Nicole told me “I love tubing on that river!”). But I’d never even heard of it before. But someone mentioned it to me about a month ago, and then I saw someone posting about it on IG, and because neither Bonnie nor I have ever done it, it felt suitably adventurous.

The whole scenario is pretty simple: you fill out a million covid-related waivers; you show up, masked, at the end point with your own snacks; you sanitize your hands; they brief you on the map and rules; you take a (sanitized, masked) bus about 15 minutes to the launch point; they put you in a little rubber tube-boat with a paddle; and then you have hours to make your way about 11 km down a river, however quickly you want.

It was… blissful. It was a gorgeous day, and we had snacks, and it was the perfect blend between active movement (a little paddling, a little navigating) and total, blissful relaxation.

This was one of the few times I actually forgot about the pandemic for a little while. We found the little waterfall, and made our way through the rapids, and tried to figure out what the heck was happening when I saw a guy wearing a bathing suit and a bike helmet try to walk across the shallows holding up a kid who was also wearing a bike helmet. I had a hard time not interfering here (“do you not realize you need a PFD, not a bike helmet! if you fall you will drown in a bucket of water!”). I just … drifted.

The most complicated thing I had to do was bail my boat after a couple of major slooshes of water after a couple of rapids. I used a potato chip bag.

We had a magical time. Perfect weather, the kind of peaceful easy friendship that meant we talked and didn’t talk, drifted and paddled, ate gummy bears and pistachios. After the tubing, we changed in the parking lot, using lots of wipes, remasked and headed off to a dinner on a patio overlooking the river I’d booked in advance. The perfect day away.

There’s a big campaign this summer to find adventure in your own back yard. I’ve done a little bit of that, with cottage-going and running and riding on the trails near my house. But this day out — a new activity, being outside, chilling, celebrating my beloved Bonnie — it was blissful. And it reminded me once again what a glorious place we live.

This is where we went, near Paris, Ontario: I recommend them whole-heartedly.

What near-home adventures have you discovered this pandemic summer?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is always open to finding new things to play with.