Monday, September 17, 2012

Tubin', tubin', tubin' on the river

Riding an inner tube down a reasonably quiet river has long been a time honored pastime of summer. Normally, I would be more interested in canoeing or kayaking, but there is something of a draw about knowing you won't be expected to produce any sort of effort to contribute to getting yourself down a river and can instead lay back and bask in the sun while being lazily transported by a gentle current. I have been tubing twice in my life that I can recall (on rivers, that is--I have been tubing on the lazy river at the Spashtown Waterpark of Spring, Texas more times than I can remember). The first was in the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. I was around six; I had an ear infection, and at some point on the river my tube was swept out from under me and I had to ride on my dad's lap the rest of the way. The second time was a bit better. It was on the Comal River near New Braunsfels, Texas. After prom, some friends and I traveled up to New Braunsfels where my prom date's mom had a house. Texan readers and those up on their "famous waterparks of the Southwest geography" will know New Braunsfels to be the home of Shittlerbahn (frequently voted one of the top water attractions in America). My prom date insisted it was closed while we were there and suggested we tube instead. Luckily tubing was quite fun or we would have been more annoyed when the river took us right by the theme park which was very clearly open. So ended my illustrious history of tubing...until this weekend.

Back in early May, when summer was just a glint in New York City's eye, some friends and I stumbled on a groupon deal for tubing on the Delaware River. We excitedly purchased the deal and then started planning when we would go. A series of weddings, weekend obligations, vacations, and rainy days ensued keeping us from using them until this past Saturday. We were a little concerned that the otherwise delightful nip of fall in the air would be a deterrent from tubing. In the end, while it was a bit chilly when the sun went behind a cloud, it was a gorgeous day, full of sun, and an almost empty river to enjoy. 

The Delaware River. We didn't want to bring cameras, so I had to find an image online, but trust me: we were on this bad boy. And we were on inner tubes.
We hit the river about 11 in the morning after a leisurely drive out from the city. It turns out there are actually some very lovely parts of New Jersey once you get away from the turnpike. It took us a bit to get our bearings and develop a proper tube steering technique, but soon we were tubing like pros. Our main need for steering was because the tubing reservation came with a free lunch at the Hot Dog Man. In addition to being already paid for, it was also the only food option along the river, so missing the Hot Dog Man meant not eating. We were told numerous times we would need to get over to the right side of a certain island in order to cash in our lunch wristbands. Given the number of signs and people in speedboats shouting instructions at us, (not to mention the name) we were all very excited to see the Hot Dog Man. I'm actually not a huge fan of hot dogs, but hamburgers were reportedly also an option.

Turns out there is no actual hot dog man. 
When we did reach the much ballyhooed Hot Dog Man, we were dismayed to discover he was actually just a few college kids operating a couple of camping stoves out of a boat. (To be fair, I think the Hot Dog Man is a larger scale operation during the busy mid-summer days.) There were no hamburgers (which is good because there was also no grill or other heat source that would be safe to heat raw meat on) to speak of. The hot dogs were warmed in a pot of boiling water and the other option was nachos (the kind with the yellow cheese you get in movie theaters). After a few hours on the river though, it all tasted delicious and almost like food.

It was a lovely way to spend a day, and it will go down in my book of tubing memories from over the years. And now that this one holdover from summer is out of the way, I can fully celebrate the coming of fall without any reservations. It's apple picking time! Bring it on, fall.


  1. OMG I was planning to go tubin' this weekend. Good times, good times.

  2. Those were the most delicious hot dogs ever... was suffering from sun stroke... that may have impaired my judgement slightly. regardless, it was a lot of fun.