Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tubing in a Thunderstorm - Rifle River Tubing Trip 2008 - Rifle River State Park

We spent the weekend having fun. Granted, it should have been huge amounts of fun, like in past years, but Mother Nature failed to cooperate. Nor did the Orange Barrel Authority, nor indeed, did much.

Let’s see…

Friday, we head out as I get out of work at about 3pm. Got as far as Auburn Hills on I75, before grinding to a halt. Left lanes closed. Orange barrels everywhere! Took about an hour to get through it all. Then on to the Zilawakee (or is that Zilwaukee?) bridge, which was still closed, so we got the I675 tour again of Saginaw.

Eventually we got there, got tent up, and relaxed. It was a beautiful evening, not too cold, so we thought it a good idea to leave the fly sheet off the tent, and watch the stars. ‘Twas nice – got a little cold, but nice. Until the morning when the clouds came over and the rain started to fall… PANIC! We got a tarp across the tent so no harm done – apart from wet clothes. Breakfast was had in the rain.

The rain passed but it was still cloudy, and there were rumbles of thunder in the distance. But, like the die-hard tubers (a potato?) we are, we battled on undeterred. We were going Thunder Tubing!

Go, off we goes to Troll Landing. It’s still not raining…. but the skies are gray. We drop off our coolers, and go to the end of their section of the river (you go there, park up, get taken in a bus to the start, get in a tube and float back to your car). So, after only a little wait, we get bussed to the start. We all get our tubes, tie the cooler tubes to ourselves, and start to float. Still gray skies, still no rain.

Then it started raining. Then there’s thunder rumbling. But hey, thunder never killed anyone. Right? And then the rain really started belting down, and it was c-o-l-d! So, I’m looking back up river, and there’s this HUGE bolt of lightning. And, almost instantaneously, one loud, loud thunderclap. We looked at each other, rounded a bend, and opted for the (marginally) less dangerous option of getting out of the water and taking a little shelter under a tree. At least we had an opportunity to eat a little lunch – soggy sandwiches.

Anyway, the rain eased up a bit, and a decision was taken to re-take to the water. One family had enough and ran away, deciding that hiking back to the Troll Landing by foot was better. But the rest of us, brave warriors that we are, took to the water.

The rain stopped, the sun came out and it was beautiful. Then the sun went away, and it rained again, but only for a little while.

The river seemed to be flowing a little deeper than last year, but still pretty bumpy. Overall, if the weather cooperated, it would have been an ideal trip. It took us 3 ½ hours, all told from getting in to getting out, and when most everyone got over the rain, storm, and cold, most people somewhat had fun.

From there it was back to the campsite (Rifle River State Park), where we had a huge camp fire meal, made bigger fires, smores, beer, and sleep.

Sunday was up, pack our wet tent, quick snack, and hit the road. After a brief stop at the Jerky Outlet (can’t pass a jerky outlet with the kids in the car), and another at Starbucks in Birch run, we were Detroit-bound.

Ahh…..Home.... Flushing toilets, hot showers. TV.

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