I don’t understand the geology behind it but Missouri is home to hundreds of springs. They range from tiny seepers that most people never notice to Big Spring, a behemoth that spews out, on average, 286 million gallons of water a day in what may be, and what certainly sounds like, the world’s largest jacuzzi.
These springs, all of which are located south of I-70 which connects St. Louis to Kansas City, feed into a network of shallow creeks and rivers that flow swiftly or slowly, depending on the weather. Because they are relatively shallow, these streams are perfect for what is variously called “tubing” or “float” trips. Unlike whitewater rafting, where the adrenaline rush is the goal, tubing is about taking things easy – literally going with the flow – and smelling the roses, or the honeysuckle and privets, along the way. The object of tubing isn’t to get to the finish line first. It’s to get to the finish line eventually.
When I went to St. Louis in June to see my son and his wife, I went on a float trip with them and about 30 of their co-workers from the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University. We put our canoes, tubes, and rafts into Courtois Creek (pronounced core-ta-way), and floated for the next 7 hours. Because it was the weekend before the 4th of July, there were hundreds of others on the creek that day. We probably could have made it back to our starting point quickly, but why? It was more fun to stop at gravel bars along the way to party hardy with everyone else.
Float trips are a ritual in Missouri and I’m looking forward to being invited back again next summer.