Two of my life long friends, whom I’ve known since Middle School, decided that we should have an adventure during summer break. So it was decided that we would ride inner tubes down a local river. Now this trip would take all day because the river isn’t exactly deep most of the way. And, being that we were young and somewhat foolish, okay, we were idiots, but we were always looking for something to do that wasn’t ordinary.
Now, I must preface this with…there was alcohol involved. Therefore, the planning of this venture may not have been exactly thorough. On the day chosen, we took a car to the end point, so we could get back home, and off we went to the starting point. Another point that needs to be mentioned, this river is fed by manmade lake. The water comes from the bottom of the lake through an overflow channel. What this means is, this water is freezing, having not seen the light of day until it whooshes out of the channel. This is not something we considered when planning the trip. The weather here in the Deep South during Summer is usually hot and humid enough that it’s known as “The Air You Wear.” Thus, as we dropped out tubes into the, what we thought would be, cooling water and climbed into them…..let’s just say it took a moment or two for our voices to return to normal having momentarily gone into the realm of “only dogs can hear.”
Once the blood flow restarted, we paddled off to the middle of the river. None of us would admit defeat so soon (teen machismo is a curse sometimes). Besides, we decided that the cold water would help keep the ice in the cooler from melting too quickly. The cooler, by the way, contained our lunch, snacks, and was strapped into its own tube which was tied to the rest of us.
One of the things about slow flowing rivers in the South are snakes. Snakes are curious creatures who tend to want to investigate whatever floats into their territory. The usually won’t come out to the middle where the current will take them into something else’s territory, so we stayed close to the middle for the most part, only venturing toward shore occasionally. As we floated along, looking more like upturned turtles, the cooler was beginning to float higher in the water as the contents were consumed. And as the contents were consumed the more boisterous we became and the more bravado was displayed.
Towards the end of our pleasantly spent (or misspent) day, we happened upon what we decided was a rope swing. It was attached to a tree that leaned over the river and was made of an old fire hose. The hose had been wound around the branch so that it only hung down a few feet. Given the teenage testosterone and artificially fueled daring, we dared one of our voyage, who we’ll call “Tex”, to climb the tree and swing from the bank and drop into his tube (which we said we would hold in place for him *wink*). Tex agreed, calling us various creative names, and climbed the tree to the looped fire hose. He swung the first loop off. Then the second loop off. And as he was looping off the third, he was greeted with this face:
Upon being greeted with such an enthusiastic grin, Tex fell from the tree, with many curses to his credit, grabbed the fire hose and swung like Tarzan toward the river, just as we began paddling away frantically yelling “SNAKE!” while Tex was still in mid air. This is when we learned that Tex could not only form quite the impressive creative vocabulary that would melt medals from any veteran, he also can become buoyant enough to seemingly walk on water back to his tube. We were laughing like hyenas, Tex was cursing us with every ounce of brainpower he could muster, and such was the passing of the rest of our pleasant afternoon.
The following day, however, was not so pleasant. Not only were our muscles sore from paddling inner tubes for several hours and laughing hysterically at Tarzan Tex, but having not considered the sun on the water, we were all terribly sunburned but only on one side. It was at this point we decided that perhaps we should find other ways to amuse ourselves for the rest of the summer. So we got jobs.