May 9, 201203:12 AM
Getting Around Greater New Orleans and Beyond
The "Bog-uh Chit-uh": A How-Tube Article
New Orleans' infamous summer heat comes licking at the heels of festival season.
In the hospitality industry, we’ve been talking about this all month. This is what we call “the dead season,” because this is when the exodus from the city begins.
Though the number of bodies meandering up and down Oak Street has been slowly dwindling, and I’ll inevitably feel the lightness of that in my pocket for the next couple of months, this is still my favorite time of year.
Yet it doesn’t matter how much you romanticize summer in New Orleans - combatting the sun here is a real thing.
Good news is that on any given day there’s the possibility of making the most out of the heat by going tubing on the dark waters of the Bogue Chitto.
And why shouldn’t you? It makes for a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, and I guarantee you it’s the most relaxing thing you’ll ever do with a giant vinyl donut.
You’ll need cash. These family-operated tube-peddling places are nestled deep in the heart of the country where they don’t accept plastic. You’ll also need sunscreen, towels, a change of clothes to leave in your car and a cooler filled with snacks and your favorite drinks.
While packing, keep in mind that glass and styrofoam shouldn’t be on the river. Also, sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen - lest you aspire to be a scorched and tattered version of yourself.
Cheap Cooler Tubes, One Course
The closest tubing place from New Orleans is Bogue Chitto Canoeing & Tubing Center (10237 Choctaw River Rd., Bogalusa; (985) 735-1173). It is a rustic enclave right outside of Bogalusa that rents tubes for $15. Also, their cooler tubes cost $2, which is the cheapest you can get in these parts.
Though they only offer one four-hour course, you can make the trip last a little longer if you decide to stop and rally on one of the many white-sand beaches located along the route.
If you’re traveling with a group of 15 or more, this is the place to come as you may be eligible for a discount.
Scenic, Two Courses
Nestled a little ways past the bucolic ranches of Enon, Wayne’s World Canoeing and Tubing (51439 Camp Circle Rd., Franklinton; (985) 795-2004) boasts “the most scenic stretch” of the Bogue Chitto. It’s also convenient because they allow the option of either a two-hour or four-hour course. Regardless of which you choose, it is $15 to rent a tube.
Also, keep in mind: unless you specify otherwise, the family here is going to assume you’re doing the four-hour trip. So, if you’re in a time-crunch, be sure to pipe up.
Family Friendly, Three Courses
Last of the tubing trio is Ryal’s Canoe and Tube Rental (1053 Dogwood Trail, McComb, Miss., (601) 684-4948). Though it’s a hop over the state line and is about 45 minutes farther than the other two, it offers three courses - a two-hour, four-hour and six-hour - for less money. Tubes only cost $8 to rent, but save your beer for later.
Blame the county ordinance that forbids the consumption of alcohol on the river. This is probably a more family-friendly option.
The Bogue Chitto is on the Northshore. Its closest point is a little under an hour and a half away from New Orleans, but it’s a nice ride.
Barreling across the Causeway is always exciting for first-timers, and in order to get to any of the tubing places you’ll have to take long gravel roads that snake by ranches and run over hills covered in stands of pine trees.
It’s a nice change of pace for just about anyone.
From the tube, it’s easy to feel as though the swift streams and rivers move several knots above the pace of life here.
As 50-pound fish swim beneath you and wildlife stirs on the banks of the river, grab a cold one and catch some rays. Enjoy the view of the big oaks sending roots into white clay.
You’ve got a few hours before you have to be back in New Orleans, and in a place with so little happening all the time, there’s no such thing as the dead season.