Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Place to Be

I first heard of Snow Tubing when I was subbing at a school in the northeast part of the Twin Cities about three years ago. A bunch of kids in one of my classes said they were going after school, and I asked what it was. They told me, and I thought it sounded like one of the most enjoyable activities that could be done on a winter's down-covered hill.

Fast forward to a month ago when some friends of ours came over to deliver some Christmas cookies. They mentioned Snow Tubing, and it all came back to me: I wanted to try this strange, quirky, Minnesota winter activity. So last night my wife and I bundled up, each with several pairs of pants, a couple of shirts, winter boots, winter coats, and the like, and met up with our friends at Green Acres, the Snow Tubing facility nestled comfortably off a short beaten path near Highway 36 on the northeast side of the Cities.

Now, I went skiing last year, but I have to say that Snow Tubing was probably just as much fun and, as a bonus, involves, in a very direct manner, all of your friends at once. Here's how it works:

There are two hills, a bunny hill and the big hill, the latter of which ends on a small pond, which helps you coast for hundreds of feet after leaving the hill itself. There are piles of black vulcanized inner tubes, the big kind you might find in semi trucks, and you choose one (preferably one that's hard and well-inflated). Then comes the fun part. You walk over to the cycling tow rope, jump on your tube, and let the rope carry instrument and rider, while the rider desperately grips the rope, a hundred yards to the top of the hill. Once at the top you find a good place to launch yourself (or a group of people, with arms and legs intertwined) down the two-tier hill.

The hill itself is extremely slick, having been padded down by thousands of tubers over the course of the winter. It hurtles you at near-breakneck speeds down one tier, then levels off, and finally down an even steeper tier which finally launches you out across the pond.

What makes it so much fun, though, is the shared experience of it all. Riding down in groups or chains of people, pushing your friends at the top to give them a faster ride, spinning your friends before they leave the lip of the's just enjoyable, man. And the hill is crazy fast, but never so speedy that you are in danger of leaving the tube and flying off.

We spent two hours there, and came home to a couple mugs of of hot chocolate and an episode of The West Wing. If that's not living, I don't know what is.


Thomas said...

My goodness, they seem to be able to come up with all sorts of winter fun up there. I think they need to come down to Nebraska and teach us a thing or two about what to do durring winter to keep the fun levels up.

Mom said...

Isn't snow tubing what you do at Camp Moses Merrill also, but without the tow ropes etc.