BY RORY ANDREWS
You seem stressed, and why wouldn’t you be? There’s wealth inequality, nuclear weapons, antibiotic resistant diseases, discrimination, reverse discrimination, contagious Tasmanian Devil face cancer, gluten allergies, and whatever that mess is south of the border. You have every right to be stressed. But let me ask you a question: how bad can life really be when you can tube down the Margaree River all day for 25 bucks?
Live Life in Tents (clearly targeting the pun demographic) is an adventure tourism company out of Margaree that aims to make Cape Breton’s west coast adventures accessible to anybody with a day off. Want to try camping without the $500 gear investment? Call Live Life in Tents. Want to kayak around Cape Breton and hike some unknown trails without getting yourself killed? Call Live Life in Tents. I just wanted to float down a river for a bit, so I called Live Life in Tents. (902) 452-1600 if you’re wondering. They also have a great website: livelifeintents.com
And did I call on the right day! It was the day of Margaree’s annual “Anything that Floats Race,” which is kind of like an “Anything But Clothes Party,” where you see everyday items being used for things they are clearly not intended for. There was a floating playground built out of two kayaks, complete with slide, a seaworthy tank built mostly out of cardboard (not the best building material for a river), and a bunch of kids with goat masks on that kept yelling “Go Team Goat!” They were from The Dancing Goat cafe, so I was naturally a big fan of Team Goat.
The race started at Tanner’s Run, a local launch site you won’t find on any map. This is where I met Lee, the co-owner of Live Life in Tents with his brother, Liam. Lee also has two of the coolest jobs I’ve ever come across. During the Summer months, Lee lives in Margaree facilitating and creating adventures for anyone looking to explore the west coast of the island, where he was born and raised. It makes sense that Lee would want a summer job that allows him to explore wide open spaces, because during the winter months, he’s a deep-water welder. So deep, in fact, that he has to live in barometric pressurized chambers weeks in advance of the dive, to avoid the unpleasant side effects of deep-water-welding, like death.
So Lee’s got stuff pretty figured out. He rents out the tubes at Tanner’s Run, and picks you up in his Rav4 down the river at Doyle’s Bridge. He told me he regularly switches up the section of the river based upon the clientele. It seems he likes variety. Also, he drove me around town after I realized I lost my car keys in the river. Customer service!
We launched at 2:00pm, with all the unwieldy floating contraptions going in first. Even though this was an “Anything that Floats Race,” most of the flotation devices drifting down the river that day were tubes, canoes and kayaks, carrying people down a beautiful river on a Saturday afternoon. Even calling the occasion a race is a bit of a misnomer. I didn’t see anyone actively trying to win. It’s times like this I think Cape Bretoners just aren’t the most competitive people in the world, and a calm river on a gorgeous day really doesn’t bring out the bloodlust, need-to-win-attitude in your average Caper. This was less of a race, and more a group of people who just wanted to watch the verdant scenery of Margaree crawl by. Granted, the experience wasn’t completely subdued. There were the odd rocks to avoid and swift moving sections to break the monotony of green hills, clear blue skies, fresh air, and cool water, but calling this a race rely defies the atmosphere of the situation.
It was an occasion for the entire town of Margaree to float down a river together. It was also an occasion for me to get stranded in Margaree alone, with absolutely no way to get home. Cool.
The sun was warm, the river was cool, the water was clear, and the skies were blue. Not bad for $25.
August is here, the days are getting shorter, and as the end of summer approaches, Cape Bretoners are looking for any way they we can to squeeze the last warmth of the season before winter comes and attempts to kill us all again. Spending a day floating down one of Cape Breton’s most beautiful rivers is just one way to reserve our sanity for the dark months to come.