Tubing down the Floyd more than a dream

2012-07-26T00:00:00Z 2012-07-26T09:10:45Z Tubing down the Floyd more than a dreamEarl Horlyk Sioux City Journal
July 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

If you build it, they will float.

That was the "pipe dream" of Brandon Bradshaw, who often thought of converting his land in rural Hinton into a camping site and tubing facilities.

"The first two years were a struggle," he said of Pipe Dream Camping and Tubing's four years of existence. "Late last summer, things began to turn around and, this year, things have been going like gangbusters."

Sure enough, Bradshaw's 4-and-a-half mile stretch of the Floyd River was teeming with tubers, anxious to beat 100 degree heat on a recent weekday afternoon.

OK, we know what you're asking. What the hell does "tubing" entail?

Well, "tubing" is short for inner tubing, as in an inner tube meant for a vehicle. Yup, people (i.e. drunk college kids) enjoy going downstream in a used tire as a floatation device.

A little trashy, right?

Bradshaw doesn't dispute the "party on the river" aspects of this aquatic "sport." In fact, he remembers the fun times he had free floating down Nebraska's Elkhorn River when he was in his teens and early 20s.

"It was awesome," he said. "There's nothing more relaxing than being alone with your thoughts, watching life float on by."

That's actually reflected in the slogan of Pipe Dream: "Boats are expensive, so you might as well float."

And it might be noted that Bradshaw has something of a monopoly on tubing in Siouxland. Though other Iowa cities -- such as Marshalltown and Boone -- boast similar facilities, Pipe Dream's piece of the Floyd is the only place tubers can float in Northwestern Iowa.

In addition to camping and tubing, Bradshaw's land is also the site for such summertime activities as concerts, mud runs, even mud volleyball tournaments.

And Pipe Dream's easy-going aesthetics is reflected in it's more-or-less permanent structures, which includes a "party beach" as well as a "Gilligan's Island"-like shanty inhabited by more shirtless good ol' boys than in a Kenny Chesney music video.

Which indicates there is, indeed, a method in Bradshaw's madness.

When drunken co-eds reach the end of their two hour adventures in rafting, they are picked up -- via a wagon attached to a farm tractor -- and returned to the starting point by these half-dressed drivers.

Noting that both interaction with college chicks as well as a work attire consisting solely of swim trunks and a pair of flip-flops greatly appealed to me, I asked Bradshaw if he would consider hiring me for a day or two.

"Nah, you gotta know how to drive a tractor," he said, dashing the hopes of a writer-turned-shirtless-tractor-driving-tuber-dude-wannabe.

But that doesn't mean Pipe Dream's sole audience is made up of barely legal bikini babes. Nope, not by a long shot.

Bradshaw said the sport of tubing also attracts families who are looking for inexpensive entertainment as well as thrill-seeking seniors anxious to test their mettle against relatively calm waves.

"Not too long ago, we booked a party for an 80-year-old's birthday," he said with a smile. "The oldest member of that party was 86."

The reason for this wide net, according to Bradshaw, is due to the fact that tubing isn't especially strenuous.

"The only tip that I can give tubers is to find a tube that fits your butt," he said. "Besides watching out for low-hanging tree branches and possible sand bars, that's pretty much all one needs to know about the sport."

It's apparent that tubers are taking Bradshaw's tips to heart, choosing large tubes in which to float and even larger tubes to carry cooler with appropriate "sea-worthy" beverages.

From the vantage point of a dirty pickup truck, Bradshaw grins as another group of tubers take to the water.

A full-time construction worker with a wife, a 2-year-old and a baby on the way, he's happy that his "stream of dreams" has finally taken off.

"It's amazing," Bradshaw noted. "I own this place but I've only gone tubing once this summer."

As the weather forecast continues to call for unusual high temps, we have a suspicion that he'll make time to do a lil' tubing before the summer ends.








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