Wednesday, July 21, 2010

river tubing pros.

I spent independence day weekend river tubing on the james river. River tubing is probably the most Southern concept of an outdoor activity, as activeness is not a requirement. The most strenuous part is the occasional sit-up in order to reach your cooler of beer. The concept is to sit in an inner tube for several hours as the 'current' - (which is snail pace) floats you along a river. To prevent this from being a very boring activity, heavy drinking is involved.

The beer is strapped in its own inner tube, which is then tied to your foot. Amateurs like us had one cooler for the 5 of us to share. We were to realize that pros have a cooler per person.

The pros - well not to label, but the only word to use would be - rednecks. So southern that even the kentucky blue I grew up with would have blushed at the caricatures they were. (But since rednecks is offensive, I'll just use 'river tubing pros') The river tubing pros came in groups - spilling out of pick up trucks - beer guts proud, tattoos out, the women in confederate bikinis. (I have no idea where one goes to buy a bikini with good ol' Dixie printed on it - I wish I'd asked). The tattoos were variations of cherry stems with dice and flames emblazoned on skulls -usually with a large cross for good measure. They were obviously expert at river tubing, one hand holding a half-lit cigarette and the other tying easy slip knots for each of their beer coolers, which as one man announced to our group were filled with "Schlitz - a 12 pack is 3 bucks y'all!" PAUSE. as he seemed to mentally try to calculate, but then turned and walked away, implying 'well don't know how much one beer comes out to be. but if it ain't cheap!'

The only drawback to this river tubing activity becomes obvious later. As you float along this river, eyes closed, sun beads on your face, feeling 'one with nature', ice cold beer in hand, thinking... I am the sky. yes I am the trees. I understand you spirit of the river. I will ask the grinning bobcat why he grins. And hrm whatever else is in that colors of the wind song..

And as you hear the sound of water on your skin, pebbles and moss at your dangling feet - every so often a sudden warm current will pass by and then another and another... and as you wonder, you will realize you are downstream of half a dozen floating river tubing pros - who are pissing their 12 pack schlitz's in the river. 5 hours on a river - with coolers packed with beer - becoming one with nature = adding to the water cycle.

that seems to define independence.