Mr Goynes Advice
Far Flung Adventures, a river outfitter located in the Big Bend country of Texas, used to have this great slogan: “We put rivers and people together.”
And they were known for doing a really good job of honoring that slogan.
If it is done properly putting rivers and people together is a great goal: both the people and the river will benefit from the union. The people will get closer to creation (and, hopefully the Creator) and find the peace, love, and joy that it affords; and the river will gain a new lover and protector.
To do it properly the outfitter needs to provide some education and guidelines. First and foremost, he should tell his clients about the dangers involved in getting on a river. Unless it is a man made, manicured waterway, there may be snakes and wasps. Heat exhaustion and stroke might be possible. There is a real danger of dehydration (especially if alcohol is involved).
He should make sure that the clients know that the river doesn’t flow in a circle. You wouldn’t believe the number of people that believe that way (too many trips to Schlitterbahn).
Clients need to know that they should stay in the river (especially if they are in a populated area). The land along the bank is private property (yes, there is a gradient boundary, but unless you are willing to argue that you are below that boundary with a an angry armed landowner, you should probably stay in the river). And, the time that you spend on gravel bars drinking beer does not count as float time. If you are on a 4 hour float but you spend 3 hours on gravel bars, you will be tubing in the dark.
Clients need to know that there are birds, animals, and fish that don’t appreciate their loud rap music (not to mention some of the other clients and the people along the bank). Amplified music should be strictly prohibited. Clients should learn to listen to the sounds that the river and its non human inhabitants make. That is one of the essential requirements needed to fall in love with the river.
The river is not a bar. I know that we have treated it as such for so long that many people are convinced that it is. But it simply isn’t a safe place to get drunk. Drunks don’t swim well. And they tend to slip and fall with regularity. And there is plenty of slippery areas and hard rocks to fall upon.
Rivers are a great place for a drunk person to die. Or to get seriously injured.
The action of just throwing people and rivers together haphazardly does not necessarily produce a positive result.
Without proper instruction the people will be totally ill equipped to handle their river experience. They probably won’t wear the proper clothing. Footwear (especially flip fops) will be the first thing they lose (and there will be broken glass). Followed by their phone, their billfold and their jewelry. Often these ill prepared people will be floating on tubes. And the tubers are unaware that they may very well flip over and lose most of their valuables during their trip.
There are so many items of clothing found during river clean ups on tubing streams, that one wonders if every tuber getting off the river is nude. Certainly most of them have “lost” all their beer cans and vapes. And many are without their iPhones.
You would think that any tubing outfitter would tell their clients (well before they actually show up to tube) that they should wear river shoes that don’t come off when one goes for an unexpected swim. Sandals with ankle straps – like Chacos for instance, might be recommended.
Phones should be left in the car, or, if they absolutely must be taken, placed in waterproof bags and attached securely to the tube or to ones body. If the phone can possibly come off the tube or person it will. Think about flipping over. Think about the ice chest going upside down with all the contents dumped in the river. Think disaster. Because it happens all the time.
Here is a thought, what if every tubing outfitter had a tall water slide at their put in and every client was forced to enter the river by sliding down that slide on their tube and then flipping over when they hit the river. If their hat, sunglasses, phone and vape isn’t secured for such a grand entrance, then all those items are going to end up lost in the river at some point along the way.
And then there are the beer cans, plastic bottles and, worst of all, the glass bottles. It is apparent that almost no tuber actually intends to hang on the the empties. Empty cans, glass and plastic bottles and vapes cover the bottom of the river. What is the thinking here? Is this good for either the river or the person?
I have often seen people throwing beer bottles into the same body of water (with rocks on the bottom and sides) where their kids are swimming. Can they possibly not know that their kids might cut their feet?
Why do tubing outfitters allow glass bottles on the section of river where they operate? Why do they allow single use beverage containers? Why vapes? Flip flops?
I have found that people who actually learn to paddle a canoe or kayak tend to become river lovers. Is it because learning such a skill involves actually paying attention to the river? Learning how to read the current? Listening to the sounds and seeing the beauty?
When a person spends some quality time listening to and getting to know a river, he or she almost has no alternative than to fall in love.
Let’s be careful how we put people and rivers together.