Just to recap, the five of us (Joe, Kristi, Brent, Jimmy, and Cheryl) arrived in New Braunfels (NB) Saturday. We kick around our camp site Saturday afternoon and evening. After much joviality and comradery, we turned in for the night in anticipation of hitting the river the next day, Sunday.
The sun was up early and bright Sunday morning, and eventually we all rolled out of our tents. I had premade some sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast tacos, and we just threw them over the fire to heat up. We each made a sandwich to serve as our lunch as we floated down the river. Because we had to rent a tube just for the cooler, we repacked everything we would need as we floated down the river into one large cooler. Once all of the logistics were squared away, we changed into our swim suits and water shoes and covered ourselves with sunblock. By about 11:00 we walked over to the river outfitter, paid for our tube rentals and patiently waited for the "short yellow bus" to take us to our drop off point.
The tubing “laws” are different depending on which river you float in NB. For example, the Comal River requires that your cooler be smaller then 16 quarts. Where as, on the Guadalupe River, the cooler size doesn’t matter. Also you can not drink alcohol within the city limits of NB. Parts of the Comal run through the city limits, so alcohol consumption is prohibited. On the contrary, there are not any tubing trips down the Guadalupe that run through city limits, so anything goes – except glass. You can not have glass containers on either river.
Now most of us agreed that one of the biggest bummers of the weekend was that the river levels were really low and the flow was extremely slow (I'm a poet and I didn't know it). We considered floating the Comal which did not have these problems, but then we were limited in cooler size and drinking activities. We decided to stick with the Guadalupe for convenience despite the river being low.
River outfitters were only taking tubers up the river about 1.5 miles for a 6 hour float. There were parts of the river that were so low you had to pick up your tube and walk through them. And in yet other parts of the river, the flow was literally moving backwards. We linked all of our tubes together and took turns being the navigator -- the person who would pull along the tube convoy (this is not a hard job, just not exactly relaxing).
Despite the river being low, we still had a great time and met several entertaining people along the way. From the frat boys that Joe chugged beer with to the large group we shared the “short yellow bus” with. The most memorable of our fellow floaters were Germany and Ben. We met up with them in the latter portion of our float down the river. As the afternoon was drawing to a close and the beer supplies running low, we gratefully pulled our tubes out of the river directly to our camp site (gotta love the convenience) with our two new friends from Houston, Germany and Ben. (We referred to Germany as such because she had moved to Texas from Germany when she was 16.)
It just so happened that our next door neighbors decided not to stay over Sunday night due to the heat, so our new friends moved into their camp site. Our party of five has now grown to seven. Brent and Germany hit it off immediately and spent a good portion of the evening becoming better acquainted.
I later heard that it got up to 102F that day. I frequently and generously applied suncreen, SPF 50, at least once an hour. I was in the sun ALL DAY (with not much of a base tan to start with), and I was successful in avoiding a sunburn. The rest of them were not so lucky resulting in everything from basic peeling (Joe) to blistering knees (Jimmy) to beet red stomach and ankles (Brent).
After a yummy dinner of rib-eye steaks, Joe and I decided to take a dip in the river to cool off again before it got too dark. This is when the day took a turn for the worse. As you may know, you have to wear water shoes (or old tennis) in the water, because the floor of the river can be very jagged and dangerous to tender skin. My husband, bless his heart, jumped into the river (about 3 feet deep) feet first WITHOUT anything on his feet. He briefly complained of hurting his foot and then seemed to move past it as he swam further out into the river. After a few minutes past and the pain started setting in, he reached down a touched his foot to check for damaged. It was at this moment that the reality of his injury set in. He later stated that he reached down and felt his skin flapping in the water.
As he hustled back towards the river banks, he hollered to the crew, “EMERGENCY!! EVERYBODY STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! I broke my foot. I need to go to the emergency room. QUICK! Get a towel.” Our friends momentarily paused to soak up the gravity of what he was saying. Then everyone bustled into motion, including myself.
Let me reiterate that it was now almost completely night and it was definitely hard to see. I dug through the utility box and located the first aid kit (What is it boy scouts say? Be Prepared). As I was digging through the kit to locate supplies appropriate for dressing my husband’s foot, he lost patience with us. Apparently, we were not moving fast enough. He demanded that Jimmy hand him the bottle of Jack Daniels so that he could disinfect his wound the Wild West way while further insisting that we find an emergency room. Thank God at that exact moment, I found the disinfecting wipes and talked him out of it.
The injury was on the arch of his left foot. Rather then the rocky rumble digging straight into the flesh (vertical) , he suffered a horizontal injury that basically removed many layers (a thick chunk) of skin, leaving it hanging on by one side. After the initial bleeding stopped, I disinfected the wound, covered it with an antibacterial cream, and dressed the wound with sterile gauze and wrapped it with an ace bandage. It was a fairly nasty injury, and Joe hobbled around for the rest of the weekend (and the next 10 days or so). For now, the crisis was over and the emergency room avoided.
Jimmy, being the ever-outgoing character he is, also met a dude at a camp site from across the river while taking a post-tubing swim. Next thing we know, this guy popped over to our campsite with a guitar. It was getting late. Joe and I had an exhausting day, and so we decided to turn in. We gradually drifted off to the comedic (slightly obnoxious) singing/guitar antics of our across-the-river neighbor.
Joe and I woke up around 7:30 Monday morning. We both needed to use the restroom and absolutely refused to use the porta-potties. Since we forgot to pack shampoo and body soap, we decided to head up to the corner Shell a mile or so away to use decent restrooms and purchase shower toiletries. After a day and a half in the river we felt fairly funktified, so we headed back to the camp grounds to use their token showers (Yes, I did say "token showers". You had to pay a dollar for one token that would buy you 10 minutes). After we showered, brushed our teeth, and put on some fresh clean clothes, we headed back to the campsite to start disassembling everything. Gradually, the late night partiers started crawling out of the tents. Quietly we all got to work packing up our gear, knowing that our great vacation was drawing to a close.
After saying our goodbyes and exchanging info with our new Houston buddies, we threw our last few personal effects into the back of the Explorer and set off. Jimmy and Cheryl decided to skip the BBQ lunch. It is rare that we make it to this part of the world. So Joe, Brent, and I took the slight detour through Lockhart, TX , the Barbeque Capital of Texas. The lunch of ribs, sausage, and brisket was the perfect end to this camping adventure.