Life and Times

Life and Times from 2017

Life and Times from 2016

Life and Times from 2015

Life and Times from 2014

Life and Times from 2013

Life and Times from 2012

Life and Times from 2011

Life and Times from 2010

Life and Times from 2009

Life and Times from 2008

Life and Times from 2007

Life and Times from 2006

Life and Times from 2005

Life and Times from 2004

Life and Times from 2003

Life and Times from 2002

Life and Times from 2000

Tubing the Shenandoah River

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1

On July 25, 2009, a bunch of my coworkers and I went out to Luray, Virginia on our second annual Shenandoah River tubing trip.  I was unable to make the first tubing trip in 2008 due to a schedule conflict with the Over 9000 Anon March, but this time, my schedule was clear, and I was excited to go!  My coworkers are a joy to be with, and so I was really looking forward to a day with them, relaxing on the river with cheap beer.

My day started out with an errand.  I was asked to pick up some ice on the way in, and so I stopped by the 7-Eleven store next to Glenmont Metro and grabbed a bag.  Then from there, I drove the remaining ten miles or so to the office, which we had designated as our meeting point, making a side trip to pick up Meredith.  Arriving at the office, I found a good-sized group of my coworkers waiting, along with their friends and family members.  Since we weren’t ready to go just yet, and had paperwork to take care of, I parked the car in the alley between our building and the Embassy Building.  That turned out to be a less-than-wise decision, as I was nearly boxed in by construction vehicles there to renovate the Embassy Building into Scientology’s Ideal Org.

Once parked, Alex, who organized this trip, got the paperwork going.  We all had to sign a waiver which, in a nutshell, said that we go out on the river at our own risk, and that we agree not to sue Shenandoah River Outfitters, our hosts for this trip, if we are hurt or killed on the river.  I figuratively put on my Senior Office Manager hat for this one, and handled the waivers, distributing and collecting them, and making sure that the pens got around.

Then after a quick CVS run for drinks and extra sunscreen, we were off!  I had four passengers – Meredith, Adam, Caitlin, and Caitlin’s friend Ryan.  The route took us on I-66 to US 29, and then from there to US 211 at Warrenton.  We took US 211 nearly its entire length, from Warrenton through Fauquier CountyCulpeper CountyRappahannock County, through Shenandoah National Park and over Thornton Gap, and finally Page County and Luray.  From there, we took a number of local roads to reach Shenandoah River Outfitters.  The only big question was how to get from P Street to I-66.  I chose to take 16th Street to K Street, which links up with I-66 in Foggy Bottom.  Meanwhile, three of my passengers were from New York State, and were all “ooh” and “aah” when they saw a Wegmans along Route 29.  Meanwhile, I took criticism for the way I handled Thornton Gap – they claimed I took a few curves a tad too fast, though I didn’t think so.  But we made it in one piece, and that’s what counted in the end.  And then I only made one wrong turn throughout the whole run.  211 made a right turn in Warrenton that I wasn’t expecting, and so I was in the wrong lane for it.  Not to worry, though – it was a small oopsie, and I was back on the right course in about a minute or so.

And we made really good time, too.  Due to the CVS run in DC, we were the last ones to leave, but interestingly enough, out of about five cars, we were the second ones there.  So we got everything together.  We got the coolers out, we got the sunscreen out, and greased up.  After all, it was a sunny day, and so if we didn’t put on sunscreen, we would burn.  As Alex put it, we were “a very white group.”  Such is what happens when you spend all day in an office building, I suppose.  So we took adequate precautions, and I for one was quite liberal with the sunscreen, paying particular attention to my big, bald head.  I burned my head during the Nazi counter-protest last year, and that was quite painful.  I quickly learned not to let that happen again.  And I changed from flip flops into my Crocs.  I ended up going with the Crocs on the river, after my search for affordable aqua socks was unsuccessful.  But it worked out.  And of course, I had fresh batteries loaded into Duckie, my waterproof camera, to document the whole affair.  I warned the group, though – be careful when handling Duckie, because in the water, Duckie sinks.


Getting and putting on life jackets.

Getting and putting on life jackets.

Getting and putting on life jackets.


After we grabbed our life jackets, we boarded a bus.  Shenandoah River Outfitters uses old school buses to transport people between the river and their building, and so we rode Snapper to the place where we would join the river, at milepost 16.  Snapper was an old Blue Bird bus, formerly bus 74 for a company called “Donald G. Maring” from Woodbine, Maryland.  I hadn’t ridden a school bus since I was in high school, so it had been a good ten years or so since I was last on one of these.  You could tell that this bus was manufactured in the late 1980s or early 1990s because it had the tan interior with brown seats.  Immediately prior to that, school buses had a greenish interior, with dark green seats, sometimes alternating with orange.


Interior of Snapper.  The last few rows of seats had been removed to create space to store coolers and such.  Interior of Snapper.  The last few rows of seats had been removed to create space to store coolers and such.

Interior of Snapper.  The last few rows of seats had been removed to create space to store coolers and such.


Door controls and driver's area.  Too bad that the controls for the lights no longer go to anything, though.  When the bus was converted following its service as a school bus, the lights and stop sign were removed.  Door controls and driver's area.  Too bad that the controls for the lights no longer go to anything, though.  When the bus was converted following its service as a school bus, the lights and stop sign were removed.

Door controls and driver’s area.  Too bad that the controls for the lights no longer go to anything, though.  When the bus was converted following its service as a school bus, the lights and stop sign were removed.


Everyone is on the bus, and we are ready to go!

Everyone is on the bus, and we are ready to go!


The driver takes the bus up the road to milepost 16, the beginning of our tubing run.

The driver takes the bus up the road to milepost 16, the beginning of our tubing run.


The road to the tubing location was fairly narrow, and somewhat curvy.

The road to the tubing location was fairly narrow, and somewhat curvy.


The bus driver explains how to handle a section of rapids that occur roughly halfway through the run.  He explained that if we lost our tube through that section, we should float feet first until we were clear.

The bus driver explains how to handle a section of rapids that occur roughly halfway through the run.  He explained that if we lost our tube through that section, we should float feet first until we were clear.


Arriving at milepost 16, we got our tubes, got the cooler tubes loaded up, and we were in the river.  One thing that surprised me about tubing the Shenandoah River was how shallow the river was – only about a foot deep in the area where we started.  I’d been on a number of other river tubing trips in the late 1990s, tubing the James River in Rockbridge County in those cases, and the river was always a few feet deep – never this shallow.


Unloading the coolers and departing Snapper following our arrival at milepost 16.

Unloading the coolers and departing Snapper following our arrival at milepost 16.


Staff members unload tubes from the trailer for our use.

Staff members unload tubes from the trailer for our use.


Getting in the river, getting in the tubes, and getting things situated.

Getting in the river, getting in the tubes, and getting things situated.

Getting in the river, getting in the tubes, and getting things situated.

Getting in the river, getting in the tubes, and getting things situated.

Getting in the river, getting in the tubes, and getting things situated.


But nonetheless, we were officially underway.  We quickly figured out how to handle the tubes, tied the cooler tubes to other tubes, and a few people broke out the beer.  I didn’t drink – I was driving that day, and even though one or two beers early on would likely have gone completely through my system well before it was time to hit the road, I wasn’t about to chance it.

Once on the river, people got settled.  The beer started flowing, and some people broke out their lunches.  Finger food was highly recommended, since we would indeed be eating our lunch in a tube.


Caitlin is all smiles as we begin our tubing adventure.

Caitlin is all smiles as we begin our tubing adventure.


Christina got settled into her tube, with her own waterproof camera at the ready.

Christina got settled into her tube, with her own waterproof camera at the ready.


Underneath the water at this point, the river was not only shallow, but had a lot of grasses growing on the bottom. The grasses were only present in the first part of the course.

Underneath the water at this point, the river was not only shallow, but had a lot of grasses growing on the bottom. The grasses were only present in the first part of the course.


Tim gives the thumbs-up while enjoying a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Tim gives the thumbs-up while enjoying a Pabst Blue Ribbon.


Quite a few people enjoyed beers on the river, as Renee (top left), Mary (top right), Joe (bottom left), and Meredith (bottom right) demonstrate.  Renee and Mary both had Pabst, Joe had Red Stripe, and Meredith had Peak Organic.  Quite a few people enjoyed beers on the river, as Renee (top left), Mary (top right), Joe (bottom left), and Meredith (bottom right) demonstrate.  Renee and Mary both had Pabst, Joe had Red Stripe, and Meredith had Peak Organic.

Quite a few people enjoyed beers on the river, as Renee (top left), Mary (top right), Joe (bottom left), and Meredith (bottom right) demonstrate.  Renee and Mary both had Pabst, Joe had Red Stripe, and Meredith had Peak Organic.

Quite a few people enjoyed beers on the river, as Renee (top left), Mary (top right), Joe (bottom left), and Meredith (bottom right) demonstrate.  Renee and Mary both had Pabst, Joe had Red Stripe, and Meredith had Peak Organic.  Quite a few people enjoyed beers on the river, as Renee (top left), Mary (top right), Joe (bottom left), and Meredith (bottom right) demonstrate.  Renee and Mary both had Pabst, Joe had Red Stripe, and Meredith had Peak Organic.


Christina reaches into one of the coolers in order to fish out her lunch.

Christina reaches into one of the coolers in order to fish out her lunch.


Bethany was one of the keepers of the coolers.  A few coolers, including my own, were in the cooler tube, which was lashed to her regular tube.

Bethany was one of the keepers of the coolers.  A few coolers, including my own, were in the cooler tube, which was lashed to her regular tube.

Bethany was one of the keepers of the coolers.  A few coolers, including my own, were in the cooler tube, which was lashed to her regular tube.


Bethany has lunch while floating in her tube.

Bethany has lunch while floating in her tube.


Jorge was another one of our designated cooler-tube carriers.

Jorge was another one of our designated cooler-tube carriers.


Hanna and Emily smile for a photo.

Hanna and Emily smile for a photo.


Becca and Jordan paddle along in the water.

Becca and Jordan paddle along in the water.


Beauchamp is definitely in relaxation mode, as seen here.

Beauchamp is definitely in relaxation mode, as seen here.


Christina multitasks, holding her sandwich, her beer, and her digital camera as she lines up a shot.

Christina multitasks, holding her sandwich, her beer, and her digital camera as she lines up a shot.


Relaxing on the river...

Relaxing on the river…

Relaxing on the river...


A chair sits discarded along the river.  That was one of a few what-the-crap kind of moments, just wondering how such a thing might have managed to get there.

A chair sits discarded along the river.  That was one of a few what-the-crap kind of moments, just wondering how such a thing might have managed to get there.


Cattle in the water - another what-the-crap moment.  I was somewhat concerned that the cattle would try to come over and check us out, but thankfully, they stayed over there.

Cattle in the water – another what-the-crap moment.  I was somewhat concerned that the cattle would try to come over and check us out, but thankfully, they stayed over there.


Becca enjoys a Bud Light Lime, and later demonstrates that she has finished it.  Becca enjoys a Bud Light Lime, and later demonstrates that she has finished it.

Becca enjoys a Bud Light Lime, and later demonstrates that she has finished it.

Comments are closed.

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1