Tubing Blues

Tubing — the masochistic act of hurtling down a fall-fraught river while clinging to an inner tube. Somehow my husband Mark talked me, a devout wimp, into trying it.

Why did I go along for the rocky river ride? Perhaps I was dazed by the beauty of the Catskill Mountains’ Esopus River. Perhaps the brave (or foolish) teens who plunged heedlessly into the Esopus shamed me into it. Or maybe I was feeling guilty for being a perennial naysayer. Whatever the reason, one summer day I broke my first rule of survival: If they advise helmets, avoid it.

Before risking the river we signed a paper saying our survivors couldn’t sue. Then Mark paced while I interrogated the clerk about safety. Jagged rock protection was high on her (and my) list. Sneakers for the feet, a helmeted head, and plywood in the tube to protect the tush.

After a short, steep bus ride up river, the driver said “Just throw your tubes into the river and get in.” He pointed towards what looked suspiciously like waterfalls.

Foolish me, I’d assumed there’d be an attendant to provide advice, guidance, and moral support. And to hold the damn tube in place long enough for me to lower myself onto it and grab its pathetic excuse for handles. At the very least, they could have posted a sign saying, “Start your death ride here.” … (Tubing Blues is continued here.)

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5 Responses to “Tubing Blues”

  1. Yeah, the part about the helmet would have got me too! Very funny, I can say, since I didn’t have to endure or survive it. :)

  2. madkane says:

    Thanks so much DigitalRich and Karen!

  3. This is a great article about river tubing. Takes me back to my trip on the…

  4. Kellie says:

    Lol I love this! Tubing is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. My first time was a bit scary as well, having gotten flipped over and a good littler bump on my head. We live just a few minutes from the river and so we will soon be taking another death ride lol! Thanks for this awesome piece! So happy you shared it with me for Free Write Friday :) big hugs! xOx kellie

  5. madkane says:

    So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks! I only did it the one time — I found it terrifying.

    There’s a funny/sad story to go with this: Many years ago when I first wrote it, I was marketing this piece as a freelance writer, and a slick regional magazine bought reprint rights from me. But then the editor cancelled because it was threatened by an advertiser — the company that ran tubing on that river.