Before I'd actually gone Tubing, I didn't really see the allure of floating down a river with your ass draggin' in the sand (and rocks, rivers generally have rocks in them) as you float on a hot black innertube, catching entirely too much sun. But then, around the time I started drinking much, I found myself living in Texas, and being invited to go float down the Guadalupe River, near New Braunfels. Open to the idea of any activity which included the consumption of alcohol, I was interested.
I was warned repeatedly to think seriously about both my skin and my water content. People have actually managed to die while doing this, because they were stupid, and did not take in water, and became badly sunburnt. This is not a healthy combination by any means. I got some of the strongest sunblock I could find, SPF 45 I think, and brought something like a gallon of water plus a bottle of Gatorade. If you're going to go, you might as well go big.
You are not allowed to bring glass containers to the river, it's seriously against the law. Park rangers patrol the river, supposedly (though I never saw any) and if they catch you, they'll ticket you. This is just for everyone's safety, and it's hard to argue. Besides, as long as you're into lagers, there's lots of decent beers in cans. Also, my personal favorite inexpensive beer is Shiner Bock, which is made in Shiner, Texas, and is basically everywhere in the state. No matter where you are, if they have a liquor license of any sort, they have Shiner. There is a drive-through liquor store just down the highway from our cast off point at Rockin R River Rides, so stocking up on beer and ice is no problem. Armed with a sixer of Shiner and a four pack of Guinness stout, I was ready to consume.
So off we went, seven or eight of us, and rented tubes for something like $16 a piece. Cooler tubes are about the same price, and contain a medium-sized cooler, lashed pretty well to the tube. They even snap shut, so if it gets turned over (READ: Someone is roughhousing, or you are too drunk to pay attention to it while you go through one of the psuedo-rapids) you won't lose your booze. We then proceeded to float down the river, swimming a bit occasionally, drinking constantly, talking most of the time, and generally relaxing.
The river has been pretty well groomed for tubing, though of course it was always decent for it. As long as there's enough water in it, you do fine. There are some trees with roots which form a sort of cage, in which you and your tube can be trapped, or your tube can be punctured. Either event is a sad thing, though being trapped underwater to the point of drowning is probably the worse of the two. We were given a lecture before our float which included the phrase "Them trees eat tubes" - I am not making this up. He sounded quite a bit like Dale from King of the Hill, actually. I'm not making that up either.
People of all ages tube down the Guadalupe. An interesting side note is that many if not most Texans pronounce it "gwad-uh-loop", with no particular emphasis on any syllable. You rapidly learn not to argue with them, because they have this look they give you, which translates loosely as "thank you, college boy". It generally doesn't feel quite that lowbrow, but that depends on where you are. In any case, most of them are of college age. A significant number of them are fairly physically fit, and most of them are dressed in fairly little clothing. Nearly all of them are drinking alcohol, most of them have at least a buzz on, and a few are downright wrecked. While this could potentially be a bad situation, it's such a relaxing activity that it most frequently results in little more than a little joyful noise and a number (usually an even one) of exposed breasts.
There's one stop with a couple of outhouses and a picnic area, probably a couple hours in. We just snacked and drank on our way down, so we only stopped there for the purpose of waste disposal. Then off we went, and floated for another hour or so, eventually arriving at a beach where we discarded the last of our trash, rolled our tubes off to handlers who loaded them into a truck. Then got on a bus, and were subsequently ferried back to the parking lot, where it was discovered that one of us had successfully locked their keys in their car, and it wasn't me. I had a membership with AAA, however, so about half an hour later the door was jimmied and we were on our way to Hometown Grill for a buffet meal. Then back home, where I promptly sacked out. Our choice of dining venue really put the authentic Texan cherry on the day's sundae, as it were.
Complete relaxation can be so terribly exhausting.
Website: Rockin R River Rides (http://www.rockinr.com/)