My wife Linda and I drove over to Dallas last week to get together with daughter Ginny and her boyfriend Cliff to drive down to Austin to go tubing on the Guadalupe River at San Marcos. It rained all week, but we were lucky on Friday, the day we went tubing. That day was party cloudy with periods of bright sunshine and perfect temperature in mid-80s. We got to the tube-renting place about noon. There were few others going tubing that day; we pretty much had the river to ourselves.
Linda and I rented tubes with bottoms in them, as well as another for the coolers (got to have my Tab). Gin and Cliff got open-holed tubes. The water was cold when we first stepped in the river, but it quickly became comfortable. We had a great float down river. It was a slow, lazy, lie back and take in the blue sky and tree canopy passing overhead sort of experience…until we came to the first rapids. The river’s water level was fairly low, so the rapids had exposed rocks and rocks just under the surface. I got caught up on every blamed rock in the rapids and had to fight hard to free myself. Still it was fun. Then we floated leisurely along for a long while…until we heard the next set of rapids. The current quickened so that we didn’t have to paddle with our hands any more. Next thing you knew, the current grabbed your tube and rushed you into the rapids. More rocks, more struggling to get free, some cursing, some laughing…through the rapids into calm water again. I was sure glad Linda and I had bottoms in our tubes. It kept the rocks from scraping our fannies. (That, plus Linda was worried a snake might bite her butt if it were sticking through the tube while she floated along. LOL.)
The river is a beautiful scene, with tall trees lining its banks. There were birds, numerous turtles, and even a deer drinking at river’s edge. We really enjoyed ourselves. The last set of rapids was all too soon upon us. The outfitters had told us to be sure and stay in the middle as we went under the bridge leading into this set of rapids so that they current would carry us to the right side where the water was deeper, the current stronger. It just so happened that I went over the waterfall first, and, of course, the current took me to the left into shallow water. I was grounded! I watched as the three others rushed down the right side and nearly out of sight. I could faintly hear them all shouting at me and laughing and waving bye-bye. While they floated along slowly, I struggled mightily to get my tube free from the rocks and back into the current. I’m a big fellow (all right, an obese, 65-year-old man with arthritis in my knees and shoulders). I looked like a turtle on his back flailing the air trying to flip itself over. I’d push with my legs and pull with my hands against the rocks. As soon as I’d get free from one rock, I’d encounter another. It took me a good ten minutes to get free and back into the current. I still have no idea how I ended up going left instead of right like the other three. Things like that just happen to me. All in all, it was a great experience and much fun. I’d like to do it again…when the river’s water level was higher! The trip took about four hours and covered about two and three-fourths miles of the river.
[We also enjoyed seeing Austin for the first time. It seems like a really nice city. We toured U of Texas, the establishments along Sixth Street, and attempted to see Austin’s number one tourist attraction: thousands of bats flying out from under a downtown bridge at sunset. We waited an hour and a half at dusk. Finally, about five bats flew out! There weren’t the thousands of bats promised…just five. What a disappointment! Maybe next trip to Austin we’ll get to see the bat-spectacle.]