Posts Tagged ‘floating tent’

Photo: Cleveland.com.
Floating tents in the Great Miami River, part of Float Troy in Troy, Ohio.

As many of us say good-bye to summer haunts and head back to our year-round routines, I can’t help thinking about vacation activities that might be fun to try another year. Susan Glaser at Cleveland.com describes one that makes up in curiosity for what it lacks in practicality.

“I’ve hiked to hotels, biked to inns,” she says, “but this was the first time I’ve traveled by raft to my overnight accommodation. My destination for the evening: one of 10 floating tents, anchored along a quiet stretch of the Great Miami River in Troy, about 20 miles north of Dayton.

“Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive about this adventure, given that I’m not much of a camper: How well would I sleep on the water? Were these tents comfortable? And, perhaps most importantly, what if I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night?

“I needn’t have worried. The tent was surprisingly cushy, I slept unexpectedly well and — spoiler alert — I didn’t need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. But I would have been OK if I did.

“Matt Clifton, who coordinates the Float Troy program for the city, said Troy is the only place in the world where travelers can spend the night in a floating tent. …

“Purchased by the city several years ago with grant money from a local foundation, the tents were used first by students in a University of Dayton environmental program. They’re part of a broader effort to improve access to the Great Miami River, which runs 160 miles through Southwest Ohio before joining with the Ohio River near Cincinnati. …

“The public tourism initiative launched last year, but on a small scale because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the floating tents are proving to be a major draw, attracting media attention and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. …

“Joining me on the river during my one-night stay last month: a pair of sisters, ages 20 and 17, from Alliance; two 70-something friends from Columbus and Springfield; and a family from nearby Sidney.

“The tents are spread over a wide stretch of river, perhaps 200 feet across. They’re tethered to the ground, as well as to each other, spaced about 25 feet apart. …

“It’s not a particularly remote location. I could hear the low hum of traffic from nearby Interstate 75, and a siren disturbed the peace as I was getting ready for bed. I could also hear crickets and frogs and the wind rustling outside. …

“The park also has a small bathhouse, with two toilets and two sinks, open all night. There is no shower, though Clifton said he is hoping to add one next year.

“The 75-mile Great Miami River Trail multi-use path runs alongside the park, a popular destination for cyclists. The primary mode of transportation on this trip, however, wasn’t intended to be two wheels, but two paddles, as well as a 10-foot-long rubber raft.

“Clifton went over a few instructions when we arrived, showing us how to connect our raft to our tent using carabiner clips. Once attached, it was relatively easy to maneuver from raft to tent.

‘If you fall in, just stand up,’ he said. ‘The river is only about 3 feet deep.’

“Clifton was initially concerned about the wind during our visit, with gusts predicted as high as to 35 mph. He recommended against using one of three floating fire pits.

“ ‘The worst thing that might happen is that the wind will blow you closer together,’ he said. ‘The tents might bump into one another.’ …

“We checked in just after 5 p.m., then moved some of our stuff to the tent, about a 5-minute paddle from shore. These rafts – also made by SmithFly – were simple to maneuver, and easily held a couple of sleeping bags, pillows, a small overnight bag, lantern and a complimentary drybag provided by Float Troy. …

“SmithFly describes its shoal tent as a raft with a tent topper. The base doubles as an extra-firm air mattress and was surprisingly comfortable. It felt like a 1970s-era waterbed every time I rolled over, gently bobbing on the water. I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, though the horns from numerous passing trains in town woke me up way too early.

“So I rose with the sun, paddled to shore and used the restroom. … The bathroom issue was clearly top of mind for many of the people I talked to. Both before and after my stay, I had numerous people – women, mostly – ask me about using the bathroom in the middle of the night.

“Fellow campers Reatha Collinsworth and Cindy Gibbons told me they had a friend who declined an invitation to join them on the water because of concerns she would need to paddle to shore in the middle of the night.

“Indeed, Collinsworth said she stopped drinking water early in the evening to avert the problem. As for why the two signed up for the adventure, Gibbons said, ‘It was something different. We like doing different things.’ ”

For great photos and some details about cost and places to eat, check out Cleveland.com, here.

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