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Tubers take to the Yampa

Ben Bulkeley

Getting down the Yampa River is easy.

It involves a cheap rubber tube and two to three hours of free time to gently float to Loudy-Simpson Park.

Getting to Pebble Beach isn’t as simple.

The directions – go past Yampa Valley Golf Course, find the unmarked service road, travel down a pothole-infested dirt road that actually criss-crosses the golf course, and, suddenly, the river appears.

On Friday, tubers had no problem finding the launching pad for a popular summer spot.

Cars and trucks were parked on the rocky banks where the rain-swollen river raged less than two months ago.

Cousins Jaymie Jensen, 15, and Jessica Johns, 13, kicked off from Pebble Beach for the 3.2-mile float at about noon.

For Johns, it was her maiden voyage down the river.

“It’s fun,” Johns said. “I liked going over the rapids.”

Jensen was the more seasoned tuber.

“I just float to get a tan,” Jensen said. “I’m out on the river every day trying to get tan.”

Sitting on a tube as it ambles down the river also gets her out of the house, Jensen said.

“Otherwise, I’d just sit inside everyday and watch TV,” she said.

All that’s needed is a trip to a department store to pick out a $5 tube, or in Kaleigh Cutler and Emma Attolini’s case, an inflatable bed.

“This is my first time going out this year,” Cutler said. “I haven’t had time to get out. I just got back from Europe, and now it’s time to tube.”

Cutler said now that she is back in Craig she would try to tube everyday.

“It’s relaxing,” she said. “You just have to float and watch the clouds. It’s definitely better than being indoors.”

Attolini said she tries to tube down the river twice a week.

“I try to get out as much as possible,” she said. “It just depends on my friends and the number of tubes. If they’re too sunburned, they won’t want to go.”

Paul James and Trevor Davis joined Cutler and Attolini on Friday as temperatures approached 90 degrees.

“This is actually my first time going down this year,” James said. “I’ve just been too busy. I try to go four times a week normally.”

Davis said he’s had no problem getting to Pebble Beach.

“I’ve gone a couple times this year,” he said. “It’s relaxing, and it gives you something to do.”

After the soak is done, tubers have a couple of choices.

If they’ve left a car at Loudy-Simpson Park, getting back is as simple as piling tubes in the back, and squeezing in.

If there was only one car to begin with, it gets a little trickier.

“Sometimes you have to hitchhike,” Attolini said. “That’s what we had to do last time.”

It isn’t always just tubes making their way down the river.

Gabriel and Kalicia MacGregor, 4 and 5, respectively, captained a 6-foot inflatable boat.

“This is my second time on the boat,” Kalicia said. “I like swimming more.”

Kalicia and Gabriel’s father said he tries to get his kids to go down the river as much as possible.

“The river’s safe, and it’s low and calm today,” Ryan said. “It’s a great way to spend a lazy hot afternoon. From 1 to 3 p.m,. when it’s 80, 85, you can just cool down on the river.”

With the return of the dog days of summer, the river is an attractive option, Ryan said.

“It’s free; you just need to buy the tubes once, and you can go whenever you want,” he said. “Buying all the tubes is cheaper than taking all the kids to the movies, and you get to be outside and you can go as many times as you like.”

Bringing his kids down the river is much less of an investment than taking them out of town, Ryan said.

“It’s a lot less than taking them to Steamboat and down the alpine slide,” he said. “Floating the river is entertaining, and you can spend as little as possible.”


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