Nina’s Travel Rule #37: Hitch-hiking Gets You Shat On By Bats

Toobing!!!!!!!
Toobing!!!!!!!

So I’m stuck here in fuckin’ Australia, freezing my ass off (my boss told me today I look like a homeless hobo from Cats and I told him I’M COLD), but it’s July in Texas, y’all, and that means we’re off! On a venerable, nay, the most definitive excursion available in Central Texas: The Toobing Trip. You know that special time of year, when rednecks and fratboys, kids and canoers alike hop in their F-250’s, inner-tubes and ice-chests aboard, to ply the rivers (ha, like there’s rivers in Texas…) of the Hill Country in the peace and serenity of that perfect summer day. Oh, and then royally fuck themselves up on jello-shots, beer stolen from passed-out strangers, and the sight of a million bikini tops evaporating as their owners flail down the tube-chute. Yeah, that’s a water-slide for toobs. And if you ain’t from TX and that made no sense whatsoever, just read on…

I’ve been toobing a lot. I’m kinda in love with it, actually. Despite the fact my first experience involved about a bazillion water-snakes, a drop-off to points unknown by some toothless Cajun coon-asses, and the subsequent loss of the car keys “down the river somewhere” (did I mention the broken ankle acquired while jumping, drunk, off a rope-swing into about 6″ of water? It’s ok, it wasn’t mine), I still love toobing.

I mean, what’s not to like? Say it’s Saturday, and you’re not only bored shit-less, but basically so hot you’ve actually started to melt (you know, that point where 104° is startin’ ta sound really like, pleasant…). Clearly the only way to fix this is by packing a cooler full of beer (preferably Coors Original, toobing being its only point for existing. And preferably a case per person, just trust me), driving 2.5 hours due west to the beauteous Texas Hill Country, paying a random stranger to rent you a used inner tube and drive you upstream about a 5 hr’s float (no real Texan measures rivers in miles. Nope, we measure them in float-time), and then flopping. Now, opinions regarding the ideal toobing speed do differ, but my personal choice is “as slow as possible without actually getting stuck in an eddy for 6 hours”. The once we took 7 hours to complete what had been billed as a 3.5 hour toob was indeed a tad excessive, even for me (and, yes, this is how I and a buddy ended up stealing beer from a passed-out dude’s cooler…). Nope, a solid 5-6 hr trip is pretty much perfect.

So when my good buddy (I love you, Amykins!) planned an over-night to the glorious lil’ hamlet of New Braunfels (known mainly for the Schlitterbahn water park and the Best Oktoberfest This Side of Fucking Anywhere, but also as the Toobing Mecca of Central TX), I was just a teensy wee bit excited. Four hours and about 12 breakfast tacos later (clearly my friends don’t drive properly like me. Damn their slowness. I mean, thx for driving!), we were there. Now, there are two conundrums facing the average Texas Toober. The first is location, of course. And really, New Braunfels isn’t actually the best place to toob (that ain’t my opinion, that’s just a fact), but indeed it is the closest. In fact, as we’re all aware of my fondness for lists, if you’re going toobing in Texas, you should really go in the following order:

Eeeeeeverything y'all ever wanted to see in TX...
Eeeeeeverything y’all ever wanted to see in TX…

Nina’s Top 5 Rivers for Texas Toobing

1) The Frio. Fuck me, it’s gorgeous. Also there’s no one there. Also, as suggested by the name, it’s always perfectly cold on a ridonculously hot day. And you can stay in the town of Bandera, which is actually even cooler than its name. Sadly, it’s also like a billion hours away from anywhere 😦

2) The Comal. Has the undeniable perk of being really goddamn close to Austin, Houston, and San Anton (y’all know close, like, under 3 hours), as well as being nowhere near fuckin’ Dall-Ass. Seriously less crowded than the Guad. Also, it turns out, the shortest navigable river in the Great State o’ Texas. Bless you, Wikipedia, now I know why I can never find this damn river.

3) The Guadalupe. Well, it sure is… there. Also abounding in toobing rental spots.

4) The Brazos. Really bloody pleasant. Not abounding in toobing rental spots. Also just not the prettiest.

5) Shoal Creek. Ride at your own risk. The only toobing I’ve ever done sober, and thank god, ’cause this creek reeeeally don’t flow enough water to get you over the trees. Stick-up-the-ass not being my fav way to toob 😦

Conundrum numero dos: it being Texas, picking a river is often complicated by the fact that we really ain’t got no water. Like, I know many people who actually bookmark this and are aware of the exact flow-rates required to navigate any given Texas stream. Yes, I may’ve occasionally joined in their obsession… But like, it’s important! Come August most summers, there’s often nothin’ but a pathetic trickle, and I dunno what’s worse than waking up expecting toobing and going to bed with a boulder-bruised ass…

Anywho, we were early in the season, and all was well. So we hit the toob shop, loaded our beer, and set off. I, being brilliant as usual, had suggested we put the jello shots in ice-cube trays, inside plastic baggies. In their ongoing quest to suck the fun out of life, the city of New Braunfels has now banned not only “coolers of excessive size” but also “small, plastic, single-serving containers”, ie- those little cups you put your alcoholic jello in. Fuckers. Ah, but they have not banned ice-cube trays, have the bitches?!

FYI- this worked out very poorly later, when we discovered that no amount of ice will keep jello from melting, in July, in Texas. We then discovered that cutting the corner off a ziplock bag allows one to drink the jello-liquor-liquid straight outta the bag. Winning! But finally, let me just advise y’all that pouring jello-liquor-liquid out of a ziplock bag, from a height, down into your bikini-clad friends’ mouths, is liable to be a tad messy. And no, I wan’t the one pourin’ 😦

But what, you say, does any of this have to do with either hitch-hiking or bat shit? Ah, let us move right along then…

So we drank and toobed and drank and toobed and then I lost my shoes (duh). And then we drank in the pool at our hotel. And then I’ve lost a couple hours, who can say? There was definitely pizza and then a bit of time spent vomiting in a hallway… And then somebody I’m not going to name (but you fucking know who you are, and everything that comes after this is SO all your fault) decided that she like, just had to go to some concert in some amphitheatre in the middle of fuck-me nowhere, like, an hour away, so she could like, goo on her ex-bf. So clearly three of us went with, ’cause like, that just sounded super intelligent in the state we were in. So it took for fuckin’ ever (bless you, my designated driver, but you sure is slow…), I was a crap-show by the time we got there, it was cash only (fuck you, Texas!), the ATM’s were bein’ bitches, and I’d just totally had it with life. Decision Time: She Who Remains Unnamed and our lovely DD decided to stay and listen to the band, and I in my drunken wisdom decided to follow our fourth, who I shall hereby christen Fat Kid, on a quest to hitchhike home. Yeah, that’s right.

So we’re hangin’ out at the entrance, and I could really use another beer, and look! There’s a shack selling beer! Texas, I heart you again 🙂 Beers acquired (yeah, the BIG ones), Fat Kid sidles up to some high-school kids in a pick-up truck. Like, these 3 are straight outta Dazed and Confused, 30 years too late. Clearly they’re from Austin. Hence, clearly they’re more than happy to let us ride in their pick-up bed, beers in hand, and schlep us back to the highway in exchange for some gas-money. And gosh these kids were nice, like I’d just run outta beer and here they are stopping at a convenience store! Which went something like this:

Me: “Woo!! We at the beer store!!”

ATX Kids: “Uhh, hey man, so like, could you get us some?”

Me: “But like, why? It’s like, right there in the fridge?”

ATX Kids: “Uhh…”

Fat Kid: “Shut UP you stupid thing!”

Me: “Oh holy shit, they’re not 21 are they? HAHAHAHAHA”

So we bought them some beer, ’cause we were like, NOwhere on their way, and also them not being able to was like, super amusing for ME, and then got back in the truck bed. And they dropped us off, and my first hitch-hiking experience was all like, totally cool. Yeah, right except for the part where I’d opened my big fuckin’ mouth, that is…

Fat Kid: “Hey, where are we?”

Me: “Who can say?” Hmm. Now where might I’ve told those kids we lived? “Yeah, so, umm, I’m pretty sure we’re in Gruene.”

Fat Kid: “Fucking seriously??”

Me: “Well, umm, yeah, I mighta said we live in Gruene… ??”

Ohhhh, fml, and they were gone, and we were indeed in the town of Gruene, which is like, 3.5 miles from New Braunfels, and oooo, look! I’ve never seen Fat Kid get mad before! I mean, you could staple this man’s head to his dick and he wouldn’t get upset, but now? I actually thought the laziest man on earth (I love you, Fat Kid!) was going to slap me…

So I convinced him that it was cool, and my trusty iPhone would get us home (has the iPhone / GoogleMaps combo ever failed me, before or since? Let’s totally not answer that…), and (see map below) it was really only like, an hour’s walk to the motel. Plus we still had beer.

Ideals vs. Reals...
Ideals vs. Reals…

So we walked, and walked, and walked, and I mighta fallen in a ditch or two, but that’s just ’cause it’s dark at night in the Hill Country when you’re alone with your beer and a Man Who Is No Longer Speaking To You, so whatever. But then things got worse. You know how when birds shit on you it’s totally awful, but when they shit on your friend it’s kinda amazing? Well, that happened. Except it wasn’t a random flying rat, it was in fact a tree full of bats (again, Hill Country. Which is apparently directly on the migration route for the Mexican Free-tailed Bats that live under the bridges in Austin). And it wasn’t so much on the Fat Kid as fucking all over his entire body and also well into his entire 40oz beer. I would like to state here that I’m a good friend, so I totally helped wipe him off, never laughed at him, not once, and kindly, uncomplainingly shared my bevvie for the rest of the walk. However, none of these are things I can truthfully state. I’d also like to state that we made it home in one piece each, on a direct route, before our long-lost, never-regretted concert-goers arrived, with the beer we promised our friends we’d pick up on the way. Sadly, once again, none of these things are true. We’re both alive though, and Fat Kid hasn’t slapped me yet :)So basically, if you’re gonna go toobing in Texas, either plan for it way better than I tend to, or make sure you double my estimated BPP recommendation (that’s beer-per-person to you), and drink it all real quick, ‘fore y’all get shat on.

Mexican Free-tailed Bat.  Small, but well-aimed.
Mexican Free-tailed Bat. Small, but well-aimed.

P.S.- This is not related, I’ve just wanted to share it with THE INTERNET for literally years now. Soooo, I’m not gonna say who confided his dirty little secret to me somewhere in the midst of our floating, and I’m not even gonna say what was said, per se… I’ll just say this: if you’re drunk enough to want to share ridiculously, horrifyingly embarassing secrets with ME (and trust me, it was unbelievably awesomesauce), while 1/2 naked and floating down a river, you better fucking be nice to me for the rest of your bloody life, or I will DEFINITELY tell both your brothers, everyone else you know, and probably the whole population of THE INTERWEBS exactly what you confessed to yesterday. Hearts, buddy 🙂

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