Floating the Guadalupe River
It was a bright Sunday morning, we were out at breakfast with some friends when the topic of what we were going to do with our day came up.
We were at a loss of what to do since we had spent the past two days partyting our way through downtown Austin.
Clubbing by night and doing cultural things most travelers do (like visiting museums) by day. We wanted to close out our travels with a bang and started wondering what to do.
Some of the options that were thrown around included; going to watch a movie, heading to the mall just outside the city limits, or more walks around the downtown district.
None seemed appealing to us, we were just about to settle for a mid-afternoon movie when one of our friends got a ring on his iPhone. Answering his call with the speaker option turned on, the conversation played out as follows:
Caller: “Hey! Whats up fellas?!! Heard you guys were in town. Why didn’t you call to say what’s up?”
Our Friend: “We’re Good bro! Sorry it has been a really busy weekend. We were gonna call. What are you up to though?”
Caller: “Yeah right! Anyways, we have some cool shit going on here man. You guys should totally come over.”
Our Friend: “What cool shit?!! We were thinking of going to watch the X-Men Movie”
Caller: “Lame! Y’all need to come floatin’. You’re in Texas baby!!”
Our Friend: “Floating? What is that?”
Caller: “Ask your hotel concierge how to get to the Guadalupe River. Tell em’ you wanna go floatin and that you need directions. They should know. It’s real popular here in Austin.”
He abruptly hung up his phone which only deepened our curiosity. We jumped into the shower, put on our swim gear, headed downstairs, dropped the roof on our Jeep Wrangler and headed to the river.
As we approached the entrance to the park, we saw a long line of people holding coolers, floating tubes, all in swim gear.
We got out of the truck and eagerly joined the queue anticipating an afternoon of fun and socializing. Then we say the guy who called our friend earlier on. He yelled in his definitive southern accent to get our attention.
Caller: “Hey Fellas! Over here! How are y’all doin?’”
Us: “Hey! We are doing good bro! Good to see you man!”
Caller: “Yeah! Likewise fellas! Likewise! Didn’t think you were gonna floating with some belles did you?”
Us: “Not really! Not really into the outdoors, but this looks awesome.”
Caller: “Haha! All them belle’s catching your eyes?”
Us: “No Shit! They are!!!”
In all honesty, there were so many fit and good looking people there that it totally shut down our earlier perception of people in the south being overweight due to their lifestyle of eating fried and grilled foods.
Caller: “Well, boys, go get your floaties and some beers and let’s go have a good time.”
We were now at the entrance of the park; we paid about 15 USD, got our tubes and headed to the edge of the river.
One by one, we got into the river by its banks. The water was not too clear and was about ankle deep. We were advised to tie our tubes together so that we don’t get lost while we were swept downstream by the current.
We would do the same with our valuables; we simply tied them to the tubes. The sun was out in full force and we were beginning to break into a sweat, in earnest, we decided it was best we carry on and get into the water.
A pack of guys and girls all tied together floated past us and yelled out…. “Welcome to Texas boys! Woo hoo!!!”, and they continued to float down the river.
At this point we had no doubt in our minds that it was going to be a fun mid-afternoon. We started to float down river, and relaxed as we took in the rays from the sun above.
The crackling of the water was intermittently interrupted by people making small talk but all the noise seamlessly came together to conjure up a relaxing atmosphere.
Due to the sheer number of attendees, we would soon come upon a bottle neck and got our first action at socializing. There were some girls next to our configuration of floats. One of them leaned over, almost tumbling into the water and asked;
Girl: “Where are y’all from?”
Us: “L.A.! Have you been?”
Girl: “Nope! Cool though! What are you guys doing in East Texas, being from L.A. and all”
Us: “Nothing much, we thought Austin was a cool city and wanted to check out what all the hype was about.”
Girl: “Hype? Austin is more than just hype, It’s the best city in the world. Been here all my life, wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.”
We agreed and told her in truth, we thought Austin was a pretty cool city and that we were definitely going to be coming back.
We then handed her a beer, chat for a little longer and next thing we knew the bottle neck opened up and she would be taken downstream by the current which was gaining strength at this point.
The scene just described would happen over and over, with strangers coming over to make small talk with us. It seemed like people where there to make friends and meet people.
Another interesting aspect with floating the river was the different types of floats we saw. It was as if there was a competition to see who had the most technologically advanced float.
There were floats with speakers embedded into them, floats with coolers, floats that could have passed for a mini floating house, floats with solar panels installed, we thought if we stayed long enough we would see floats that could transform into a submarine.
It was hilarious to see how much thought went into designing some of the floats. After about another hour of floating and downing a couple more beers, the heat seemed to be playing a role in how quickly we were getting intoxicated. One of the guys in our group comes over and asks; “Hey do you guys have the Go-Pro?”
We all looked at each other and then at the string at the end of the tube that previously had a Go-Pro camera attached to it. Slowly and painfully, the thought of never seeing our expensive camera again started to sink in.
We all agreed in silence that it was probably at the bottom of the river, keeping other lost keys, cameras, and personal effects company.
We would mourn our beloved camera for about 15 minutes before we got distracted by another group of attractive girls from the University of Texas, Austin. That seemed to assuage our pain; we would end up floating to the end of the river with them.
Floating the river took approximately four hours to complete. Even though we lost our camera, we thought it was worth it. After all, here we were exchanging numbers with some beautiful southern belles.
We promptly put in place a plan to have an after-party at our hotel downtown Austin. The after-party would turn out to be just as eventful as floating the river but that’s a story for another day.
In all, floating the Guadalupe river was a great experience; we got to meet people both from Austin and surrounding cities.
We would advise anyone who is bored during the day in Austin to get a float, some beers and go hit the river. It is an experience that has to be lived and not read about.
In Austin- Jewel of the south ~ epilogue, we close out our Austin adventures and then head to Southeast Asia.
We have aptly titled this post, “Hong Kong-The Cantonese Expedition”. In the next series of posts we will explore a dynamic, complex, and fascinating culture. One steeped in a blend of old Anglo-Sino values. Till then, stay tuned to the press, party on……
Tubing the Esopus – Again! via photopin (license)
photo credit: Campers in Garner State Park, 07/1972 via photopin (license)
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