The tug of moving water is irresistible. Rather than burning gas to get somewhere, ride unencumbered downstream for a purely joyful experience.
Floating in a tube down rivers, creeks and streams is a perfect way to spend a lazy day.
With the Brandywine Creek located in our backyard, now is the perfect time to explore. The Brandywine is not officially called a river until it reaches Wilmington.
The perfect place to start that journey is at Northbrook Canoe Co. You are transported to a spot upstream in an old school bus. When was the last time you rode in one of those yellow buses made from sheet metal and pop rivets? And remember those horizontal windows? And did your bus have a roof hatch or rear door for emergencies?
There are very few man-made structures visible from the creek on the way downstream and back to the dock. You’ll likely see several birds, turtles and fish if you keep your eyes peeled.
It’s oh-so tranquil and quiet. Floating along you’ll feel like you took a step back 300 years.
Bucks County River Country also rents tubes on a bit bigger river — the Delaware. For one notable trip, years ago, on the Delaware, we could snack at a hotdog stand located on an island. Bring cash.
Decades ago, further up the Delaware near Milford, we rode in an aluminum canoe. Aluminum covered all the rocks thanks to paddlers who came before us and found more than just water.
We fished along the way and my sister landed a woman’s purse with bits and pieces of bills totaling $70. About one-tenth of a $10 bill had yet to completely disintegrate and we still received full credit for the bills, even without serial numbers, since we could verify where they came from.
A weeklong Boy Scout trip to the West Branch of the Susquehanna in Central Pennsylvania was an eye-opener.
We enjoyed paddling through fast rapids. It was bumpier than you would expect. Navigating rapids is like riding a roller coaster that you have control over and can steer.
We tied down, and wrapped tents, sleeping bags and food in plastic, just in case we tipped over. We dined on a rattlesnake that the scoutmaster had killed with a canoe paddle. Yes, it tasted like chicken.
On the Wisconsin River, we paddled kayaks for about ten miles. The river was wide and slow but still, we coasted along at a good clip. A bald eagle flew overhead and only a few times could we hear road noise. We didn’t see another person for hours. Quietly paddling was calming.
From Fitzwater Station restaurant, in Mont Clare near Phoenixville, you can rent a kayak and cruise a couple of miles up the Schuylkill Canal to Lock 60. The water is calm and the lock is still functioning.
Portage and drag your kayak for a hundred feet or so and then float down the Schuylkill with the current and back to your origin point at the Fitz. This trip only takes a couple of hours. You can stop in for a bite before or after the cruise.
Our Explorer post rafted the Cheat River in West Virginia. The rapids were intense. We bobbed around and got wet. At the final gentle rapids, we jumped in and floated with the help of our life jackets to the stopping point.
Man-made lazy rivers are fun too, although it’s preferable to see creek beds of trees and plants rather concrete. Splashing in a lazy river is a great way to cool off.
Just outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, we took a “gentle” raft ride on the Snake River. The Tetons towered high above us.
I was 13 and my brother was 11 for that raft trip in 1976. The guide had the two of us sit up front. He told us to press down and lean forward at a certain point. Expertly, the guide hit a huge ripple and soaked the two of us, much to the amusement of the rest of our family.
All that water to play in. There is little more refreshing than simply floating, whether it’s tubing, kayaking or canoeing, it’s all good. And you can always hop off and take a swim.
And going with others is a nice bonding experience. You can quietly chat as the water flows by. What a great way to cool off.
See you there.
Bill Rettew is a weekly columnist and Chester County native. He likes to get wet. The best way to contact him is at email@example.com