The long weekend is actually where my story starts... I went down to the States for the long weekend, including a stop in Fargo on Friday and Saturday (beautiful downtown in Fargo if you've never been) and then back up to Grand Forks to spend Saturday and Sunday nights. The reason for Grand Forks vs. Fargo on the Saturday night, even though hotels in Fargo seem to be cheaper was that we wanted to head to Red Lake Falls on Sunday morning for a day of tubing down the river.
If you have never been before, let me tell you, it is one heck of a good time. You could basically look up "quintessential perfect summer day" in the dictionary and get a picture of Voyageur's View in Red Lake Falls, MN. You rent tubes for people ($12 each) and for your cooler ($8) and then take one of their converted school buses up the road about 5 minutes where they drop you off at a riverside landing. Before you hit the water you lash yourselves together with the provided twine so that you can float en masse down the river. They are no slouches when it comes to trying to make sure that tubers don't use the river as their own personal garbage dump - drink containers are counted when you start the day and then again at the end when you return your tubes. You also can't bring any styrofoam or glass on the river - this includes styrofoam coolers - handy heads up, if you were as ill-prepared in the cooler department as we were, they rent coolers (we bought a styrofoam one on the way to the town, not knowing the rule) for $5. Also, if you plan to imbibe in adult beverages while floating down the river, note that Minnesota does not seem to sell liquor on Sunday so if you are heading from N. Dakota stock up there, although you will have to wait until noon for the liquor stores to open.
Ah, alcohol, this is where the situation get embarrassing for Winnipeg.
After speaking with two of the three siblings that now run Voyageur's View, I was told that the August long weekend is by far their busiest and rowdiest weekend. With all of the insanity and mayhem that was around, I give extreme kudos to them for being quite so gracious with regards to the hundreds of young Winnipeggers that were going out of their way to seemingly damage as much as possible while breaking every rule that was out there. Taking a walk through the campground you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in Manitoba - probably 95% of the cars sported Manitoba plates.
I don't know if I can paint the picture accurately enough, but I'll try. For those of you around my age (30's) who remember the sh*t-show that Oktoberfest turned into - the extreme drunkeness, the fights the everything - it's like that but half or more naked and involving a potentially dangerous body of water. I would peg most of the campers to be middle class, university students, so certainly not a hopeless uneducated bunch in the ways of social norms, yet there they were, drunk and belligerent (and that was at lunch-time) swearing and throwing things.
Now, I am not at all against the idea of a few cold adult beverages, especially on a nice summer day, but I like to think that getting drunk while floating down a river, a river, not a swimming pool with a lifeguard that can save your sorry ass (not that that is the best idea either), is not the best plan of action. The level of drunkeness is by no means accidental, these kids (dear lord, I'm getting old) binge drink like they're seasoned alcoholics told that today is the last day that booze will ever exist. Basically, most of them seem to have crossed the line from having a good time over to the dark side.
Now, back to the two owners that I met (and before I realized they were the owners) - while in line for our first float down the river, the brother that I met took the time to ask our group if we had been down before, and since I suppose it was obvious that we weren't part of "that crowd" he even apologized for their behaviour. His sister was our bus driver for our second departure of the day, and again, she took the time to ask us if we were familiar with the process. Voyageur's View had dozens of staff on, including security staff with a no-nonsense behaviour and yet these horrible over-privileged young adults from Winnipeg were doing everything they could to make their lives difficult. The end of the run down the river is at a landing just under a bridge that is next to the campground, and the bridge itself has more than your usual guardrail - it actually has about an 8ft. fence to keep stupid people from jumping off the bridge into the river below, yet while we were there, we witnessed one guy climb OVER the fence so he could possibly break his neck jumping into the shallow river.
Basically, the whole thing makes me so mad I can barely get my words to make sense. These stupid kids are who ruin things for the rest of society. People have been floating down that river for years and years (Voyageur's View has been around for 27 years) and most people are smart enough to remember that they are in a river, that has currents and rocks and whatever else might be unknown and they take appropriate precautions and follow the rules that have been outlined for their safety however I have a sneaky suspicion that drunk twenty-somethings are going to get this sort of idyllic summer activity outlawed. Apparently last year two friends drowned (drunk, of course) and the families have their knickers in a twist because they think Voyageur's View should be held responsible. What ever happened to personal responsibility? It reminds me of the knee-jerk reaction of creating minimum pricing for liquor in Manitoba because some idiot drank too much and wandered into the river.
Ok, rant mostly over. So, I'm not sure how many of you are parents of people who went down to Red Lake Falls on the long weekend, and even though they are very likely an adult, in theory capable of making their own decisions, it might be a good idea to have a chat about what constitutes acceptable adult behaviour. And if you haven't been to Red Lake Falls - go! It's such a great way to spend a day, and with this awesome summer we've been having it's pretty much a must-do.