Everyone needs a good pit stop, even folks floating down the scenic Green River in Polk County. For generations adventurers have boated, kayaked, and tubed sections of the 58-mile river — from the whitewater of the “Narrows” to the Upper Green’s class III rapids to the calm waters of the Lower Green. Seeing all of those river riders float by their property gave the enterprising Henderson family an idea: to become the destination pit stop along the way.
“My husband [Rick] had worked with a friend and built a little shed and really made it look pretty,” say Lorie Henderson, who owns Living Waters Tubing and has run an ice-cream shack on the banks of the Green River since 2017. For years before they opened their own tubing business, they had been the neighbors of Green River Tubing company. “We had the perfect place for an ice-cream stop because we have a little beach with a swimming hole. … People were always stopping in on the beach and wanting something to eat, and we thought, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them!’”
But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. After opening the Ice Cream Shoppe four years ago, doling out hot dogs and shakes for peckish adventurers, the Hendersons lost their business (literally) when Hurricane Michael crashed through the Carolinas in 2018, causing historic flooding across the mountains and foothills.
“It took [the shop] right down the river, and it washed everything away,” says Henderson. “That’s when we started the tubing business, to try and make back some of the money. For everything to just get washed away in one night, it was just heartbreaking. You’d see things on the bank, cars, people’s lawn mowers, things would just float down the river … but we never found the ice-cream shop.”
Living Waters Tubing is a small tubing operation, comparatively, with just 300 tubes in stock. But they did rebuild the ice-cream stand, and now the Sundae Shoppe sits on wheels to make for a quick getaway, should the weather turn threatening again.
In addition to ice cream, they also offer pulled-pork barbecue tossed in their homemade barbecue sauce, barbecue-topped nachos, and even a barbecue-topped hot dog. But the main draw is still the ice cream.
“We have chocolate, vanilla, butter pecan, salted caramel, cotton candy, but still, people love the brownie pots, that’s the bestseller,” Henderson says, noting that they also have coke floats, root-beer floats, sundaes, and shakes.
“We try to accommodate any ideas with the ice cream. If someone has suggestions, we’ll give it a try.”
The Sundae Shoppe is located at Living Waters Tubing, 5153 Green River Cove Road, Saluda. Tubing happens Monday through Sunday beginning at 10am, with the last run starting at 4pm; the Sundae Shoppe is generally open until two hours after the last run begins, subject to change with weather and other special circumstances. Call 828-749-0147 or see Living Waters Tubing on Facebook for more information.