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Summertime! While it may not feel like it yet for those of us stuck in the Midwest who have to get up and walk to some big wig’s office every 10 seconds and can see out the window that the weather is still shitty, 50 degrees, and raining, it’s still supposed to be summertime.
Think of it this way. If you were still happy and in college, you would be done with class for the year and just starting your summer break. That’s right, a bunch of 18- to 21-year-olds just won. Big time. But I digress.
There are several key elements to a successful summer, which, through the course of these most bodacious months, I hope to take you through. First on our summer agenda is the ultimate summer activity: a float trip.
For those of you who have not experienced such an amazing adventure, please join me while I lecture you on how to do a float trip right, and how not to be “that guy” or “that girl.”
1. Make Sure They Allow Alcohol
This may seem like a very basic rule, but some people may overlook checking this out. If that’s the case, when it’s time to launch, the people running the show will take your three cases of beer and water bottles filled with tequila and send you on your way soberly. Do not let this happen. You will sit in your tube for four and a half hours and cry. Sure, a float trip could be a fun experience sans booze (said Ned Flanders) but when you were counting on the ultimate buzz, it will only bring you despair.
2. No Glass
If they do allow alcohol (as they should) you will want to make sure everything is in an aluminum can or a plastic bottle. No one will allow glass, so don’t show up with your handle of Captain in the glass bottle and expect to party. It won’t happen.
I almost went on a float trip a few weeks back without a number of essential items, and I would have just let myself drown in the river had someone not schooled me on what I needed to bring. Rope is one of those things. Why rope? Because you don’t want to float off with all your friends only to end up on completely different parts of the river. This is a social activity, so make sure you stay together. Tie all your tubes together and make sure the cooler is in the middle of the group.
4. Inflatable Cooler
There are a number of ways to keep your drinks afloat, but I have found this is the best way. Instead of renting another tube to awkwardly shove your cooler into, just get a Walgreens inflatable cooler (two if necessary). They come pre-inflated and hold a surprising amount of cans. We managed to fit a 12-pack of Summer Shandy cans, a 12-pack of Bud Light cans, three mini Fireball bottles, one large Lime-A-Rita can, two large Angry Orchard cans (we had a woman in our company, shut it) and a one liter bottle of water into our cooler. Hydration is important, friends. When going through rapids on the river, the cooler held strong and never tipped over, flooded, or popped any holes. Seriously, inflatable cooler for the ultimate win.
5. Bring A Towel Or Sheet
You’re going to want to bring an old beach towel or bed sheet to spread across your tube, because that fucker is going to get HOT. Also, if you’re renting, you don’t know what other disgusting soul has been on that very tube. It’s best to cover up what you can. The added bonus is that your sheet or towel can get wet from the river and keep you cooled off.
6. Go In Groups
Most people go in groups, because who wants to be that one guy floating down the river alone with a case to himself? That’s weird. The best part of our trip was that we ended up tying onto another group of people, so we basically had the biggest group floating down the river. What does this mean? Our beer supply just doubled. Also, you make new friends and can share all the greatness that is a float trip. That is, until the other group gets way too drunk to function and you have to sever ties with them. How drunk? Well, true story: one married girl, without any warning, jumped out of her tube and CRAWLED across five other tubes, ultimately landing on my lap, in order to make out with a girl from a THIRD group we had tied up with. However, she wasn’t really a girl. She was a grown woman with teeth that looked like they had been fighting on who could stay or who should get out of her mouth. So this happens halfway on top of me and halfway next to me while I sat there, stunned and silent. There were no redeeming qualities at all about either one of them–it was just vicious. After that happy incident, I casually dug my feet down into the bottom of the river and grabbed hold of a big rock so we could accidentally “get stuck” as they floated on their own way.
The rule here is that other groups are great, but when it gets to a certain point, know when to let go. Just let it go. Cue that annoyingly catchy Disney song.
How do they fit in here? Are we going to roast them in the sun? No, you throw them at other groups and at each other. Why? Because you can, that’s why. Seriously though, bring a bag of marshmallows (the big ones are better) and just start World War III out on the water. All will enjoy, except the one guy who is too cool for school and just wants to enjoy his water bottle filled with Jameson. He sucks.
8. Cover Your Drinks
When the booze is flowing and the marshmallows are flying, people are going to start flinging water at one another. That’s cool, but make sure you warn your friends to cover their drinks. No one wants to go for a refreshing sip of Bud Light to find it’s mostly river water. That just can’t be healthy.
Everyone pees. Everyone will have to pee. This is inevitable. You are in a river filled with people and booze. Don’t be weird about it. Just do it. You also won’t be able to swim too far away from your group or tubes to do it, so it’s best to just hop in the water and let it rip. There is a rule with this: don’t make eye contact. It can be hilarious for you, but weird for the other person. Guys can feel free to do this to other guys because they’ll tag you back after they finish their beer, but try not to do it to a girl who knows you’re taking a piss. This will ruin all your chances of post-float going back to her apartment for any non-nautical activities.
Whatever you have with you before your launch, you will have with you the entire float trip (or until you drop it in the water and it’s gone forever). It’s important to bag up your cell phones. Well, except for your friend who boasts about his new waterproof cell phone–he’ll get drunk and you’ll all make him take photos under the gross river water. You’ll keep it down there for way too long for it to possibly function afterward, but then it will still work and you will all hate him. Anyway, bag up the phones and wallets and sunscreen (pansy) and tie your sandals on the rope between your tubes. You will want those precious feet covers when the trip is over and you have to walk through the shallow part of the river over all the rocks. At the end of our trip, my buddy was untying all the tubes and one sandal fell off the rope and went floating away. What did this mean? It meant he had to walk in one flip flop across all those rocks to the shuttle. On his other foot, he wore a torn up, broken, women’s sneaker he found on the beach. In some ways, it totally sums up how the day went, but I’m sure it was completely gross and uncomfortable for him. Hilarious for us, though.
All in all, float trips are one of the best keys to success for a great summer. Start things off the right way and grab some buds and ladies, hop in a tube, and toast a few (or 10) cans to summer. You won’t regret it–until the next day, at least.