Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tube on Texas rivers for beating heat, having summer fun

Two years ago this week, there were 2,000 people trying to go “tubing” in the Comal River. It made the national news. About 4,000 were waiting in line just to take their inner tube (hence “tubing”) onto the river just to cool off from the heat. New Braunfels city officials eventually had to shut it all down and turn people away because they didn’t want folks floating down the river in the dark.

The thought of 2,000 people on inner tubes floating on a river causes me to wonder just what kind of “carbon footprint” these folks left in the water as they float. It can’t be a pretty one, that’s for sure.

The Comal, San Marcos, Frio and Guadalupe rivers are the major ones for tubing, but I’m told there are other places to go in Central Texas. From what I’ve researched, “tube” season runs from the middle of March to October, weather permitting.

I’ve never been tubing (or “toobing” as some spell it). Tubing, to me, is a mystery shrouded in danger and ritual. I have not been initiated into this part of our Texas culture yet, in spite of my native Texan status.

It’s never been something that appealed to me because it involves getting into a river, but it is a rite of summer in Texas for many people. Even Texas comedian, Ron White, has mentioned it in his stand up comedy routines. I won’t tell you what he’s said, but I will tell you it’s one of the many reasons why I don’t go tubing.

In defense of Central Texas rivers, the ones that people like to “tube” on are generally crystal clear and beautiful. I don’t mind hanging out in the Guadalupe River because I can see what’s swimming around me and I have an illusion of control over the forces of nature.

If you plan to do this, pick your river, then pick your lodging. You can rent cabins, camp or take an RV, depending on where you go.

Evidently, people like to take coolers with them when they “tube.” One does need to stay hydrated and fed in the heat, and nobody should be drinking out of the river, especially with all those people floating around. If you take a cooler, you’ll need a tube for it. Know that fact in advance. A soft sided cooler is recommended. Glass bottles, Styrofoam coolers and beverages containing less than five ounces of liquid are not allowed.

By the way, it’s generally a “party crowd” on the rivers. You’ve been warned.

Take water shoes with you. Flip flops are not going to be enough protection for your feet. Most of those river bottoms and the surrounding environment are rough and can tear up your feet. Wear waterproof sunscreen and reapply often.

If we ever get rain down our way again, please note that these rivers are prone to flooding. If you are told not to go in the water or not to cross a low-water bridge because of flooding, believe it. I have seen the Guadalupe at full flood and it is terrifying. Don’t mess with Texas rivers, especially when they flood.

There are many “tube” outfitters along these rivers. Texas Tubes.com, Rockin R (rockinr.com), and TubeHaus.com are the first three I found on the Internet. You’ll want to shop around tubing outfits to find one you’re comfortable with before you commit. If you are wondering whether the drought has affected the tubing business, well…yes. It has, but not enough to hurt it, from what I can tell. The rivers are a little lower than normal, so you might want to consider tubes with bottoms on them lest you scrape your backside on river rocks.

If you want to sample the tubing experience without going into the water just yet, go on over to YouTube.com and do a search on tubing in Texas. There are a lot of amateur videos and a few professionally produced ones that can give you a taste of what it’s like.

As for me and mine, I think I’ll continue to research the pastime before committing to it. Until then, I’ll live vicariously through all y’all, so let me know if you go and be sure to give me a full report of what you thought of the experience here in the comments section.

Happy “tubing,” y’all.

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