We were all in the river and our gear was in tow. We had our river shoes on and favorite cups in hand. The tube with the cooler was attached to my husband’s inner tube, because he’d offered to take on that responsibility, thinking that’s all he’d have to keep up with today.
I mean, how hard was it going to be? The most trouble he was going to have, was making consistent throws as he tossed up a fresh beverage and located the empties into the yellow mesh bag, which dangled from the side of his tube. Yes that’s right we were recycling, too.
It just so happens that the birds were singing. The sun was out and the river water was moving. It was going to be a beautiful day for tubing. We were doing our duty. We were prepared. We were off for some Texas Frio fun.
We all joked with the friends we were leaving behind, as they set up the chairs in our normal spot. It provided a beautiful view of the river and a scenic view of the cabin. It also offered the perfect position to watch the children go to and fro. We decided those staying behind were going to miss out on a lot of laughter. They had determined that we were going to end up wishing we had stayed put. Staying meant getting to be just a few yards from the AC and access to a deep swimming hole, which the others thought seemed logical. A no brainer.
What did they know?
So, I’d been given a final offer to listen to the smart people. The Holy Spirit had whispered in my ear…”Stay, Aud. You’ll wish you had.”
I’d decided to ignore Him, sealed my fate right there didn’t I? 😉
The family friend, who makes the appetizers that will inspire you to sing about the love for your momma, in three different languages, was staying back and cooking again today. We’d be sorry we left him behind. No one should go anywhere on the Frio without him, but we had tubing to do, memories to make and there was that treehouse I wanted to reflect on. We’d have to bid his food farewell.
Seriously, one shouldn’t eat that well while sitting in dirty river water, or we should and just not think about it.
Well, we were off, even if it was without his appetizers.
I familiarized myself with my tube, however I wish I’d found this website before we left, particularly the section on tubing for newbies.
I liked my inner tube. Oh it was strong, and it had two nice handles on it. One on each side, I suppose it’ll help me stabilize myself as I float down the river. I was looking forward to switching it up once or twice by floating on top of the tube, and then a few miles inside of it, hanging off the side a bit. We had been advised that it would take us about four hours to go about five miles or so. I’ve honestly blocked out how long the trip really was, but after checking a few sources this seems accurate.
I would decide on how I wanted sit as we went along. No need to rush it. I’d do what came natural and just live in the moment.
I was instinctive, I’d do what came naturally. I know my body. When it needed to stretch and change positions, I would. I’d let the days events take me smoothly towards the places I’d never been before. I was floating the Texas Frio River with my friends and my family. There was no place I’d rather be, nothing better.
We’d decided that in order to get to the deep water we’d carry our tubes about a block down the river, no sense in dragging butt. We’d just take the tubes on down a ways and then push-off from that point. These were decisions of a seasoned floater. We were on top of our game.
There they go, one by one the children all set off in their tubes in a nice easy motion. Just look at them having fun.
I wish I’d brought my camera.
Their giggles were being carried back to us through the Frio air, as we trailed behind setting our tubes up just right. We were in no hurry, so popping a cool soda or water to put in the beverage holder was a luxury we could afford. It was going to be a long day of floating and we wanted everything arranged just right. My husband had tied the cooler tube off to his tube and had assumed his start position.
Starting off seemed a bit tricky, as I figured out how to maneuver the tube the direction I wanted it to go. I wasn’t having much luck, but my husband would come by and give me a kick and off I’d go. Weeee!!
There we go…
I see my friends, two adult sisters, just up ahead and they were a gigglin’, obviously chatting about their tubing trips from years past. It made me miss my sisters.
Huh? I’m not moving as fast, anymore. Actually, I’ve stopped.
Oh boy, I’ve put myself in a bit of a low patch.
Getting up and out of the tube isn’t for the weak. Rocks are hard.
River rocks are slick because of the natural slime living on top of them. I thought I’d finally gotten pretty good at walking over the boulders, a day or so earlier. Our cabin faced the Frio River and it was about 40 yards from our front door to the swimming hole, which held the prime spot for a rope swing. We’d spent a lot of time walking from one side of the river to the other. Evidently, I’d gotten pretty used to having four feet of water to help me recover from a slip or fall.
I had gotten mistakenly brave back at that swimming hole. Oh boy.
However, the tricky little buggers that often times got the brunt of my foot, as I tripped along them, were obviously going to be the problem. A rather large problem. When walking in shin deep and sometimes ankle-deep water those rocks can look smaller than they actually are, which creates a bit of a situation, let’s say. Once you trip over a rock it gets tricky, and then couple that with trying to regain your footing before catching another rock, and things can go south almost instantly.
You can’t trip yourself up and recover elegantly, ever. I had started this trip, slip, side step and fall over dance while trying to walk down the river towards higher waters a few hundred rocks back. What time was it again? How far is it to the deep water, exactly?
It wasn’t nearly as easy as the adults ahead of me were initially making it look.
We’d been at it awhile now, and I still hadn’t had any time to reflect. No thoughts about wishing I’d brought a pen and paper, yet, but it was early.
The girls were beginning to put a little distance between me and them. Oh okay, so it’s going to be like that then, is it? Survival of the fittest? Well, that was quick…
Who could blame them. I was an elephant on roller skates out here. This isn’t anything like tubing back home in Nebraska. The bottom of those rivers had mud. Soft squishy spa-like mud was what you felt, which came through your toes effortlessly, when you had to touch the river bottom.
At first I blamed my shoes. I should have purchased the higher end water shoes with the thicker soles, so it didn’t feel like I was walking barefoot down the natural beauty of the Frio.
This isn’t what I meant when I said I wanted to get a sense of how the Texan forefathers survived out here. Was it?
It was hard to keep my balance while carrying an inner tube, as well, so it was steady as she goes for this girl. Staying evenly balanced was key.
Folks, when using an inner tube as a soft place to fall, while falling, please remember that you may bounce, which then creates a situation where you create hang time. It eventually allows for your fall back to earth to be much harder than the fall you were keeping yourself from in the first place. I gazed thoughtfully down at my tube’s handles. They were going to come in so handy. I had a plan and it involved utilizing the handles, as needed. When I came across a low patch, I could get to a standing position much easier and eliminate the free-falling and bone braking crashes, I’d grown weary of about an hour back.
Yes, that’d fix it.
We’d come to a little bit of water, so I thought I’d swim float a while. As it turns out, putting my body half in and half out of the tube wasn’t such a great idea either. Imagine floating along as your toes start to drag on the river bottom, then your ankles, your shins, and your knees, all the while thinking the water would deepen just up here. Or maybe over there, as you pull yourself along, grabbing rock by rock in a great effort to pull yourself towards deeper waters.
Hmm. Who knew there was so much upper body work in that first part of a floating trip? Duh, Aud.
I’m not sure why everyone is so far ahead of me, but they are and my husband comes down every so often to pull me up closer to the group. I’m sorry, that last sentence made it seem like I’d been floating off by myself for a while now, when I hadn’t. Oh I was mostly by myself, but we hadn’t gone a mile yet. I was quickly finding that I was dragging my butt more than floating my butt on the Frio. Each time I got up, I was a little less happy about the situation.
I was staying calm. I was very much looking forward to laughing with my girlfriends once I caught up with them…
Walking on river rocks takes a nimble like approach. You kinda have to channel the soul of a cat walking on a tight rope. You have to be ready for just about anything and at any time. I mean anytime. You could be walking just fine and then BAM! You are on your butt like a toddler walking on a slip-in-slide. It isn’t pretty and when you’ve had a couple of kids, and few years off since working on your core, you’re going to struggle. Struggle hard.
You’re going to get real with yourself pretty quick in regards to what your limits truly are, and how far your patience is really willing to go. All the while, being fully aware that you have witnesses. And, at this point, they still like you. You don’t want to screw that up. They may have to carry you at some point, I’m just sayin’. So pay attention and go slow.
This isn’t a race, Honey, when I say go slow, ya do it.
Or you fall, like I did and crack a toenail. The toenail is attached to the toe that is now under a large boulder, because when you fall off a rock, you tend to fall between a couple of rocks, which then allows for the opportunity for you to twist your ankle, and die. Are ya feeling me here, folks?
Yea, an hour and a half in and I’ve had it.
So I cried out in pain because my toe really hurt. I cried, but not because my toe hurt and it did hurt. I cried because I was already tired. It’s hard work trying to stay alive while walking on slimy river rocks. I regained my composure, grabbed my tube and slowly headed towards the other adults who were also walking.
I just kept saying eventually we’ll get to the deeper waters.
Time and time again, I’d drug my butt across rocks as my husband pulled my tube. He worked hard at catching me up to the others, all the while pulling his tube and the cooler. I was trying to stay positive. Any time I was within ear shot of the group, I tried to stay calm.
I didn’t want to be the killjoy. I think my husband was secretly calling me Killjoy.
Just a hunch I had…
No one knew that I’d fallen and lost a foot back there, well that’s extreme, it wasn’t off my body, but I wasn’t using it to its fullest potential anymore either. I was kinda wounded, physically and mentally, so any time the water wanted to show up, I’d be much obliged.
Oh, there it is! Yay. So we’re finally moving and I’ve relaxed a bit. Phew.
Okay, now we’re floating, but I can’t seem to stay with the bunch. My husband decides it’s best if I hold on to his tube while he floats us in the right direction and keeps me with the group. Great, I was depleting his fun meter, too.
He had observed that I was frail and at a crossroads. I was loosing my chipper self rather quickly. No one was really talking to me, they’d realized that I needed 100% “focusability”. (That may not be a word, but it’s what I’d clung to while keeping myself alive.)
And I’d run out of jokes.
It’s never a good thing when Aud runs out of jokes.
Anyway, here’s my husband pulling me, his inner tube, the cooler tube and now our daughter. Oh yeah, she was feeling a bit of defeat, as well. She’s very similar to her mother. We can only handle so much character building in one day. It’s been about two and a half hours and we hadn’t made it two miles yet. She’s frustrated because she can’t seem to keep her tube out of the, slightly creepier than snakes in water, brush on the side of the river. Not only was it prickly, but it was also slimy and she wanted no part of it. She was teary eyed because on top of slimy weeds, she’d also found herself in a deep section a while back and it had rocked her to the core.
Apparently, she hadn’t noticed a slow change in the depth of the water, on one side of the river. I’d missed it. I was on the other side. It had been too far to walk in an effort to enjoy it, so I’d kept on. Crossing the river in order to get to deeper waters opened a window for prime falling opportunities. I was having plenty of that already. My daughter was beginning to melt into a lil red-head breakdown. He needed to keep her happy and safe, so now she was attached to him, as well.
Yes, he had turned into a pack mule and all I could do was say, I’m sorry.
He drug my butt across the river rocks for a few blocks. Then I’d had enough. I couldn’t handle sitting in a tube while he drug me. Anyone else have an image of a cave man pulling his wife along by the hair? Yeah, well that’s probably what it looked like for the strangers that continued to pass us by.
I mean I have self-respect and I was losing it, chunks at a time, by allowing this to continue.
How embarrassing, right?
I would walk and fail miserably with my tube, alongside the other ladies, the experienced sisters. Who, mind you, were losing their marbles, too. I just never got quite close enough to actually engage in conversation with either one of them. It was obvious that my friend, Amy, had begun trying to help her sister out, their mouths were beginning to sound a bit more like sailors.
I could identify with them.
Then it happened.
I hear Amy, my dear “tubing idea” friend, who’s also an oldest daughter, say, “I didn’t know you were such a princess, Audrey.”
(An Epic Journey to be continued…)