You're a genius! I say that a lot to myself. Sadly, I don't hear it nearly as often from other people.
But during a recent visit to central Oregon's Metolius River, a place we come to regularly, a couple of fellow tubers noted how I'd made an addition to the River Run tube that they also had been using on the cold river (48 degrees at the spring-fed source; not a whole lot warmer downstream).
Genius, they told me. And I don't think it was just their beers-on-a-hot-day talking.
I've walked up and down the banks of the Metolius for many years, over fifteen for sure. During that time I've been surprised by how few people float down this National Wild and Scenic river.
Part of the reason is that wild and scenic rivers are, well, wild. When a tree falls across the Metolius, it stays there. No one cuts it up so boaters can get through. So scouting the river is a must before boating down it. Log jams can be really dangerous.
But another reason is that the water is freaking cold.
Realizing that, yet wanting to rediscover the joys of my childhood tubing on a swift mountain river (I grew up in Three Rivers, California, where the Kaweah River flows from snow melt in the Sierras), I pondered how to keep my 64-year old butt mostly out of the Metolius water.
Now, I'll admit that a friend suggested putting a smaller child-type tube in the middle of the large River Run tube. It was still my genius that recognized the wisdom of this suggestion.
And my VISA card that bought a Floatie swim ring, which plays nicely with the RIver Run. I made six runs down various stretches of the Metolius while I was there, during pleasingly (for an ex-Californian) 90 degree-plus hot weather.
My butt was mostly out of the water, though not entirely. Just enough to keep cool, not enough to, um, freeze my butt off.
The Floatie is well made. It can be easily blown up by mouth. It has two valves which don't let air escape when you stop blowing (need to squeeze the bottom of the valve to let air in). I like how the yellow Floatie matches the tubing paddle that I wisely decided to purchase along with the River Run.
Wisely, because the River Run is much larger than the inner tubes we Three Rivers kids used in the 50's and 60's. It is almost impossible to paddle with your hands or kick with your feet while sitting in the River Run.
So the paddle makes it possible to maneuver pretty well. I was able to alter course in the Metolius as needed, though an inner tube isn't a highly maneuverable water craft. Heck, much of the joy of tubing is being unable to control exactly where you're going.
I enjoyed bumping into a riverbank, spinning around, and then heading downstream again. I'd forgotten how much fun tubing down a wild mountain river can be. Old tubing feelings quickly returned while on the Metolius.
Note my blue life jacket. Never wore one as a kid, naturally.
Here in Oregon they aren't required for tubers, only for boaters. Which makes some sense. Also, some nonsense. A kayaker, who is required to have a life jacket or other flotation device, is going to be able to handle rapids and other swift currents better than a tuber.
Yet tubers don't have to wear a life jacket.
Explains why, every year, some tubers drown in Oregon. I wore one, in part because I've had someone who works for an area rafting company tell me that the Metolius is considered a more dangerous river than its rapids otherwise would class it as, because of the very cold water.
Turning to the River Run tube...I love it!
Handles make it easy to carry. On my run downstream from the Camp Sherman store to the stream gauge box upriver from the Allingham bridge (about 8/10 of a mile), I had no trouble carrying my inflated tube, paddle, and life jacket back up the riverside trail for another run.
Also: cup holders, back rest, rope around the outside. Sweet. Before buying my RIver Run i read some of the Amazon reviews. Almost all are highly positive. A few are hilarious. This is my favorite:
I HAD A GREAT TIME IN THIS TUBE
I was also admittedly drunk, but whatevs. The river was hella low, and i got stuck on some rocks several times, but this tube was like "AWW NAW HELL NAW" and i just scootched right over top of all them rocks and sticks and nonsense. The cupholders and handles were perfect for my can o' wine and my Nalgene o' Bootlegger. Not gonna lie, I threw up in the river, but I don't blame the tube. A few people had other brands of tubes, and their tubes popped, but luckily, i had brought an extra one of these already inflated. Ironically, these were the same people who were dissin on these vinyl tubes because "canvas wrapped is sooooo much better." WHERE IS YOUR CANVAS GOD NOW??
I don't know where the tubes are now, i think they might have gotten thrown into a bonfire, but if i ever feel like pukin in a river again, this will be my method of flotation. It inflated and deflated super fast, but it was bulky to carry back to the pick-up point.
Final word -- If you need a tube: BUY THIS JENK RIGHT HERE
UPDATE: May 20, 2013 --
I STILL STAND BY THIS WHOLE REVIEW.
Except for the Bootlegger. That was a mistake.
I still love these - I got another set of these same tubes after the first ones got burnt up and I will be pukin on the river again this summer.
Listen up, because this next bit is important: I didn't realize how truly amazing these Intex River Runs were until i went on an unplanned river day and had to BORROW a tube. It was one of those plain black jobbies. How pedestrian. AND IT WAS HORRIBLE (insert Grumpy Cat face). Those black tubes get sooooo hot. The backs of my thighs and elbows got burnt with the heat of a thousand suns everytime i shifted. I had no backrest so I actually had to HOLD MY OWN HEAD UP the entire trip.
That part might sound ridiculous, but compare it like this: lying on the couch vs sitting on one of those exercise ballsto watch TV. And the stupid nozzle groped me in inappropriate places. I don't know how many adult beverages I lost because i didn't have a cupholder or a mesh bottom. We had to hold onto each others shoes because we didn't have the ropes. Everytime we went through any kind of rapids i fell out of my tube because i had no handles. When I fell out one time, I scraped my b-hole on B-Hole Rock (nobody else calls it that, I started calling it that after i scraped my b-hole on it). It made me miss my Intex even more. My first river trip of the year is this coming weekend and I'M SO EXCITEDDDDD to use this tube again.
Intex River Run is still my Jam.