Tubing Down The Comal River
You Want To Comfortably Survive The Ordeal
Recently I went tubing down the Comal River in Texas, with some family members as the last activity in our family reunion. I had never done this before, and I tell you it was memorable. It was a brave thing for a person past 50 to do, though. Here I'll tell you what to do and what not to do.
The Things To Do:
1. Do take sunblock. You will be a sitting duck, stuck in that inner tube, without being able to change position, for a good 3 hours. Yes, it takes 3 hours to traverse the length of the river (which is three miles) and to arrive at the place where you will be taken back to the starting point in a bus. That means that there will be a strong sun on your face and legs for that amount of time...an uneven tan, at that.
2. There will be a choice of inner tubes with attached bottoms and inner tubes without bottoms. I would suggest to get the inner tube with the bottom, because it will offer better support for you, you'll be better able to sit in it, and you will be less likely to fall through the bottom, or lose your inner tube, which is quite possible further down the river when you get to the rapids part. It will hold you better.
3. Take aspirin before the trip. No kidding. It will help you to not have sore muscles in the end, especially if you are over 50. But if you are not used to this kind of thing, the aspirin will help, regardless if you are old or not.
4. Be alert. It is a slow moving, lazy day activity drifting downstream on the river, floating under the sporadic overhanging trees (look out for hanging snakes!), but suddenly things get moving quite fast. Then it is more like, "the land of survival of the fittest." Reason: There is a man-made cement-walled short chute up ahead that will spit you out into a whirlpool of water that you must break free from, or else be spun eternally in circles. So, kick, kick, and kick. The far wall is your friend...try to drift towards it....I mean the bank of the river, yes. Just to advise you, the second chute is not to be feared. It is totally harmless, small, and insignificant.
Now, here come the "Do nots".....
1. Do not take any kind of glasses on this drift down the river. I mean regular seeing glasses or regular sunglasses. You will definitely lose them. Now, if you have one of those head tie-backs for glasses, that might work, but my brother lost his expensive sunglasses in the whirlpool.
2. Do not panic. The chute will spit you out fast and furiously, and you won't even have time to think. It will be over before you can say, "Jack Spat." It isn't that bad, either, it is just unexpected, if you haven't done it before. But whatever you have in your hands, or on your head, well, you might just lose, so don't take any hats, either, unless you don't mind losing them. I had another inner tube with a bottom in front of me loaded with a small cooler and some drinks. Lucky for me that we tied the top shut and we tied it to the tube. When it went into the chute, the first thing that happened was that it overturned! But don't worry, we did not lose anything inside of it, because we had tied it securely. After I was free from the whirlpool, I just flipped it back over.
3. Don't take a camera unless it is a water-proof one....or even better, a disposable one. You just might lose it in the chute. At the bottom of the chute, where the whirlpool is, there are always treasure hunters there "scuba diving" to see what they can find. They do find plenty of things.
4. This is no place for pets or small children. Don't take them to this activity. It is actually very dangerous for them to be there. I saw both, and although the dog and its owner that I spotted seemed to be quite content, I would not even dream of taking my Chihuahua or my Italian Greyhound to something like that. On the other hand, I saw a lady with a tiny baby that could not have even been three months old. That is a definite no-no. She was on the banks of the river, not in a tube, but still, that baby seemed so uncomfortable at being there, getting so much sun (she wasn't even sheilding her baby from it), I can't imagine what that baby's skin looked like after that outing.
I do hope that you try tubing on the Comal River. I hope I didn't scare you into NOT doing so. It was actually quite fun. You will sleep really well that night, for sure!
Hey, you enterpreneurs out there, I could not find a T-shirt at the supermarket that said, "Tubing On The Comal." Why is that? They had plenty to commemorate the tubing on the Guadalupe, but none for the Comal. I hope to see some in the near future. I would design some myself, but I'm really busy with other things.