A lazy raft ride down the river really isn’t a thing of the past.
Just ask brothers Tony and Todd Smith and members of their families. Todd, who lives in Tipp City, graduated from Tippecanoe High School in 1981 while Tony, who lives in Covington, graduated in 1982.
Their mother, Sandy Smith, said both “have always been very adventurous.”
After a few years of hitting the Great Miami River in canoes and paddleboat with Tony’s sons Brock and Cole, also of Covington, they decided to add to the fun this year with an overnight journey on a homemade raft.
Joining in the project were Todd’s sons in law, Caleb Flynn of Tipp City and Matthew Keyt of Cleveland, Tenn.
The dream of a river raft was helped to reality with information from the Internet. The men purchased eight 55-gallon blue plastic drums to begin their project. Over a few weeks, the raft came to life in Todd’s barn.
The result was an 8-foot by 12-foot plywood raft with two homemade oars. It was loaded with a few items – six stackable chairs, a large cooler filled with water and some food, a fire pit, sleeping bags and fishing gear. For night, there was a camouflage roof with screened porch.
The river journey started north of State Route 41 at Troy around 9:30 a.m. May 25. Family members met them for homemade pizza from the fire pit around 6:30 p.m. at Tipp City. The journey began again around 8 p.m. before stopping for the night, the adventurers believed, somewhere in the vicinity of the Cliffside Golf Course.
After a night of what Sandy Smith called “the best night sleep ever,” the six had breakfast of bacon, eggs and roasted bagels before resuming their journey.
It ended at the canoe stop on Ross Road, where family picked the six men up around 2 p.m. May 26.
Todd Smith said the raft building project was a time to dream, brainstorm and figure out together “how in the world to make it work.” It also was time well spent on family bonding. “Making the time for family bonding is so important and you never regret the time you spend doing it because you can never get it back,” he said.
The river raft adventure concluded with a family gathering for stories from the 30-hour journey and a viewing of a Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer movie.
“This adventure was so exciting and fun for all their families. We will never forget it,” Sandy Smith wrote in describing the family experience.
“We, their families, are extremely proud of these six boys that took the time out of their busy schedules to follow their dream and their desire to spend time together,” she said.
“We all seriously had the time of our life,” Todd Smith said. “We laughed for the entire two days … Just something fun about living the simple life.”