Imagine yourself floating through a summer afternoon, held aloft by water and air. A cool breeze brushes your cheek, devoid of cellular beeps and car engines, carrying only the voices of birds, cicadas, and friends.
Tight muscles release as anxieties fade into the background, drifting away with the Tippecanoe River current.
Respite like this is just a short drive away, thanks to the dedication and passion of Riverside Rentals owners Connie and Dave Scott. To them, providing tubes, canoes, and kayaks is all about helping people reconnect to the world and explore their surroundings.
“Riverside Rentals has been instrumental in introducing visitors to Pulaski County and our beautiful Tippecanoe River through their tours and ever-evolving array of amenities,” said Krysten L. Hinkle, Project Coordinator for the Pulaski County Community Development Commission.
Visitors come from all over to relish the peaceful excursions. Tour buses regularly travel down from Chicago or up from Indianapolis while groups of friends and families spill out of cars from South Bend to Lafayette.
"Tubing brings people together,” explained co-owner Connie Scott. “It takes people back to nature. You can just see the tension in their bodies when they come in. By the time they return, they're completely relaxed.”
Increasingly this year, couples of all ages arrive on dates, eager to share a quiet moment in each other’s company.
“It's a slow, lazy float,” Scott said. “That's your visiting time.”
Riverside Rentals works hard to accommodate all floaters. Some take to the water more easily than others, but in the end the results are the same.
A few weeks ago, Scott recounted, they helped two great-grandparents into inner tubes and onto the river. It took a little bit of trial and error, but eventually the determined couple launched successfully.
"When they came back, you could see they were just so into being together and chilled out," she said. “They couldn’t wait to come back with their family.”
Both nature enthusiasts, the Scotts bought the company from its previous owners 17 years ago, starting out with just 30 fiberglass canoes.
Now in its 16th season, Riverside Rentals offers almost 1,300 aquatic recreation rental options. Over 100 canoes, more than 50 kayaks, and around 1,100 inner tubes regularly travel the river, sometimes all in one day.
They offer a wide range of trips, depending on participants’ time constraints and skill level. Team members drive groups and their gear to launch spots several miles upstream, help load them into boats, then guide them back to home base in Winamac.
“We easily put over 11,000 people in the river during the summer,” Scott said. “There are weekends where we run out of rentals. We get pretty busy.”
Continuing that growth, they debuted their newest project at the start of the season— the Splash Zone. It includes log rolling pools where visitors can practice their balance, dunk tanks for soaking friends, and a water balloon war area to hone their aim.
"Everyone was always looking for one more thing to do while they were here," Scott said.
The new Splash Zone provides adventurers looking to cool off yet another reason to keep coming back, season after season. Seeing returning faces, recognizing names on the reservation schedule, is what keeps Riverside Rentals’ owners passionate and motivated.
"When people come by and say 'we'll see you next year,' that's just a great feeling," Scott said.
Full trip details, directions, and reservation information for Riverside Rentals is available on their website at www.riversidecanoes.com.