[do] How to Plan a Successful Float Trip
While the “staycation” has gone out of vogue, the idea of an inexpensive getaway is always appealing. To this end, I bring you the float trip – a chance to escape from real life, unplug your electronic gadgets, and pretend you’re on a backwoods episode of “Man vs. Wild” for a weekend – only with booze and inner tubes. You know, really roughing it, American style! There are many places within a few hours’ driving distance of ICT that will take a very modest fee for plopping you and your friends in the middle of a river. Most are very similar, so I’m going to give you the basics for making the most of your own float through Midwest paradise.
First, secure a truck or other large vehicle. SUVs, while not in “green” fashion, are preferred. And here’s why: It will rain. It’s just Murphy’s Law, kids. You’re out in the middle of nowhere with your spiffy new Eddie Bauer tent, and thunderstorms will invariably be attracted to your very location. You want to have the choice of sleeping horizontally in the back of a vehicle – if you drink all day on the river and sleep sitting up in the back of a Honda, you will get cankles. Don’t doubt me on this – I speak from experience.
Which brings us to the next essential for float trips: adult beverages. I’m quite sure that many people have endured their trek down the river without such libations, but I don’t have any experience with that kind of insanity, so we’ll go with my plan instead. Anything in cans or plastic bottles is acceptable. No glass is allowed (or, really, even smart). You can bring your own cooler on the river – I suggest getting one that will float when tied to your “vehicle” of choice. Also, pay the extra money for one that has some type of secure fastening lid. Again, Murphy’s Law comes into play. You will tip over, and your beer will float away from you, and chances are, you will cry.
Other essentials to pack in your cooler: water (and lots of it), sunscreen, aloe, Band-Aids, and a baggie or water-tight box with at least one form of communication inside. For this, I find a prepaid cell phone is perfect – you’re not trying to lose or drown your phone, but it could happen. However, if you’re in the middle of nowhere on a river, it’s good to be able to reach out and touch someone. And while we’re talking about safety, I’ll give you one more pointer: water shoes. Yes, you will look like a huge dork, and you might get a wicked tan line, but you will not be the person constantly fetching your flip-flops out of the water or going for stitches at the county hospital after you step on a sharp rock. Trust me when I say a float trip is not a fashion show. For this one weekend, give in and go with the flow. You will not make a more worthwhile purchase.
The next major decision you will make will be your choice of “vehicle” on which you will maneuver four to eight miles of seemingly benign river. Again, I have a little experience – let me help you make this trip as relaxing as it can be. I don’t mean to sound lazy, but really – get an inner tube. They offer canoes, which look like a great time until you’re trying to flip it right-side-up for the sixth time in the first quarter-mile and you’re seeing all of your worldly possessions enjoy a float down the river without you. On an inner tube, you simply lay back, relax, and try not to scrape your bum on the rocks when the water gets shallow. This is why we’re floating, friends – relaxation, not strenuous exercise. (If you want that kind of trip, you’re reading the wrong article.)
I hope my experiences in the wilderness of the Midwest have helped to prepare you for what will surely be an exciting, memorable, and perhaps now, well-prepared trip.