On the weekend I went to the South Mountain Swamp Rock Opera with the Hupman and Dungaree Brothers, and tubing on the Gaspereau. A great good time. In between was a late night campfire and G&Ts at a friend's place.
Last time I went tubing on the Gaspereau was in the 70's, a good three decades ago. As I recall I was not all that sober at the time. However this time we went on a Sunday morning and aside from the rum in the fruit compote at breakfast, I think we were all quite sober.
The Gaspereau is a shallow rocky river that runs into the sea, named for its fish (in other parts of the world they are called shad or alewives, here they are gaspereaux). There's quite a little fishing industry on that river, using these great counterbalanced nets that are lowered into the river from streamside. The river runs through hardwood forest and pastureland for dairy cows, at one point you pass a ford in the river where the cows are driven from a pasture on one side to the barn on the other. There's a precarious suspended walkway over the river by the ford, the cows walk through the river and their human drivers walk over it.
The river is dammed by Nova Scotia Light and Power for hydro-electricity, and for tubing you put into the river just below the dam. The Hydro controls the water level in the river, and generally it's a good idea to go tubing before July when they leave the water fairly high. After mid-July it is lowered quite a bit.
You rent your tube from one of several homes near the put-in and take-out points. We rented ours from The King of the River (KOTR). Some folks who had already been down the river called out to us that it was good tubing today, the river was high. And it was.
My memory of that first trip down the river back in the '70s involved a lot of bum-scraping. This time I hardly touched bottom at all. The high water also made it faster flowing, and sections of rapids were kind of exciting. We'd see some fast water and rocks ahead and try to remember which side was the better side to be on. Some times we guessed right, some times we didn't.
Sometimes we floated down alone, sometimes we rafted together, four of us. It was delightful.
Peter told us about one of his sons who put together a Pirate Tube. He had a styrofoam cooler full of beer duct-taped to his tube, and a waterproof plastic container on the other side for storing cigarettes for the ladies he encountered. And of course a pirate flag on a broomstick. Once someone paid him $50 to rent his Pirate Tube for a trip down the Gaspereau.
The take-out point is at the bridge in the town of Gaspereau. People park their cars here and also at the put-in point, it's a long way to walk between. So we had one car in each place and when we got out at the end we piled our tubes on the top of the car there and tied them down for the drive back to the other car at the dam. It was so hot that we were pretty much dry by the time we got back.
The Swamp Rock Opera was good too. Let's just say that it was a very South Mountain affair, raucous, rock-y and bantering.No swamps no opera, but a lot of rock.
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