As you know, Camp Berner starts on Wednesday. We planned this Camp last November and at the time, tubing on the Bitterroot River seemed like such a great thing to do in the afternoon when it was too hot to train dogs. It sounds so simple - get an inner tube, plop it in the river on a hot day and float - but as is true with most things in life, tubing is not really as simple as it seems.
I thought it important to "test drive" the tubing route to make sure it was suitable for our Campers. I asked around and based on input, decided on a route that I was told would take two hours and not be too scary. Jake and Cassie were here last weekend and they were willing to be pretend Campers so we figured out where to get tubes (Les Schwab Tire Store), left a car at the end point and had Dear Husband drive us to the launching site.
We were so excited!!! The water was not too cold and not deep and it was a lovely day last Saturday -- but we started to suspect we might be in trouble when it took about three days for us to float far enough to lose sight of where we put the tubes in the river -- sigh.
Four hours and twenty minutes later we arrived at the Stevensville Bridge where we had left the car -- only Cassie continued to say fun things about tubing at that point. As Jake correctly noted, it was a good thing we had done the test drive or we would have had a bunch of Unhappy Campers...
Back to the Drawing Board -- I asked around and decided on another, shorter route and so today Dear Husband and I did the test drive -- sigh. Again, it started off so pleasant and lovely -- the scenery is amazing from the river. When I went with Jake and Cassie we all regretted not having a camera so this time I was prepared -- I carefully wrapped my Blackberry in two zip lock bags and stuck it in my bra -- yes, I know that is strange but that part of me is above the water and it made the phone accessible!
Okay, so off we went floating gently on the Bitterroot River. I snapped some pictures and emailed them, and carefully wrapped the phone and put it away. We floated and floated and floated -- well, except when Kim crashed into a log snag and fell in, losing his sunglasses and banging his elbow, which just had the stitches out from his surgery three weeks ago. Oh well -- he recovered nicely and we continued on and on and on and on.
Tubing is very fun for the first 90 minutes and after that it is annoying -- this trip lasted 3.5 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH -- you know what this means? I have to find another route and test drive that -- or just buy a wading pool and let the Campers float in that!!!!
In spite of the excessive duration, we had fun and we saw two bald eagles! One was an adolescent and so not in full uniform (so to speak), and he caught a fish right in front of us! He was munching on it on a shallow sand bar in the middle of the river as we floated towards him, and literally I was maybe ten feet away before he tried to fly away with the fish, dropped it and went on.
Okay -- did you know I have a fish phobia? Like SERIOUS fish phobia -- worse then flying. Nobody who floated with me this week was allowed to even hint about fish in the river, because there aren't any I am certain. So, to have a very large fish (seven feet long I think) with pieces chomped out drop about eight feet away from me -- well, I imagine I will need some therapy about this... but the eagle was amazing.
And then we saw a pelican!!!!!!!! And of course I had to get out the camera/phone again, and I got some pictures of him and suddenly the water was going faster so I had to quickly stuff the phone back in the bag and into my bra.
And then we were at the bridge (FINALLY) and I went to get out -- and well, here are the pictures of the view, Dear Husband and I in our tubes, the bald eagle, and the pelican:
Yes, after floating without incident for what felt like four days, I fell in as I was getting to shore (in about three feet of water) -- and because I had hurriedly stuffed the phone in the unusual pocket without securing the bag -- well, tomorrow we will all need to pray that my phone recovers from a near drowning experience...
Dear Husband agrees that tubing is quite fun -- but not for 3.5 hours or when trying to outrun (outfloat) a thunderstorm. But other than all that -- we had a great time and I am sure the Campers will love the wading pool!
We came home and guess who came to visit???? GEORGE!!!!!
I am sure you will agree that he is the cutest fawn ever!!!! And the most curious :)
Life is not unlike tubing -- mostly kind of pleasant, occasional disasters, rare amazing wonders, and all just one big test drive with no idea of exactly how long it is going to last. Enjoy your float :)