I’ve lived in AZ most of my life and there is one thing I have never done: tubing down the Salt River. I’ve had several opportunities to go, but something has always come up. Well, not this time. Saturday, I braved the elements and floated down a river. Here’s what it taught me.
1) Sunscreen – everywhere and often
We call it the valley of the sun for a reason. Even though it was a beautiful day out – not too hot, not rainy – there was lots of sun and very little shade while floating in the middle of a river. This makes sunscreen very important. And since the trip is generally 3-4 hours long, applying often is equally important. But the type of sunscreen is important as well. We used the lotion kind, but it didn’t work as well as I thought it would. Next time, I’m going with the spray on kind.
2) Water – drink it
I know the importance of staying hydrated. But it’s hard to remember to drink enough water when you’re relaxing in tube. We weren’t working or hiking. We were floating down a lazy river, kicking our feet in the river, throwing marshmallows at each other, occasionally jumping in and swimming around. It wasn’t even overly hot this weekend as it had just rained the day before. Between me and my boyfriend, we did end up drinking most of the water we brought with us, which is good. We just waited until the last half of the trip, which isn’t so good. Next time, 1 bottle per hour.
3) Beer – drink it in moderation
It’s a four hour trip from the start point to the end point on the river. And there are no clocks. Or cell phone (because I don’t want to drop mine in the water). Or watches (because my boyfriend didn’t want his to get wet). And there is a lot of beer. It’s very easy to drink a lot in a short period of time. And you’re sitting inn a tube, floating down a river. The fact that you’re not walking around means you don’t feel the effects of the beer. I watched more than a few people stumble down the beach when we stopped for a bit to let a few members of our group go cliff diving. And, of course, there is the very real possibility that you could drown if you drink too much on the river. So be smart. Leave the hard stuff at home, alternate between water and beer, and limit the amount you bring with you.
4) Shoes are a must
The bottom of the Salt River is rocky. There are lots and lots of river rock. And it cuts the heck out of your feet. I should know because I lost one of my shoes while trying to save the coolers (one of which had our car keys in it!) from floating down the river without us! The rest of the trip involved me trying my best to not walk on the river bottom. But once we were out of the river, I kind of didn’t have a choice – my left foot hates me a little for that. Next time, I’m buying water shoes that fit correctly.
5) Relax and enjoy
I have many ways that I relax. I play video games, I read books, I go hiking. Tubing down a river as part of a non-stop floating party isn’t the first thing that would pop into my mind if you asked me how I was going to relax this weekend. Four hours is a long time to lay back on a tube and drink beer and watch people throw marshmallows at each other (I never did get a real answer about why people do that). I had fun. And I was relaxed. And I did enjoy myself. It was fun to talk with friends and hang out with my boy and not have to do anything for a few hours. But next time, I think I’ll bail out at the 2nd point instead of going all the way down. Or not. We’ll see.