Dave.Lathrop at valero.com
Thu Aug 16 10:34:32 PDT 2007
Picture this if you can; the slightly overweight Baron of Bordermarch,
resplendent in blue jean cut-offs and a tank-top, sporting chalky white
bird legs, trying to squeeze into an inner tube and rocket down a
tube-shoot ride from hell at Shlitterbong in New Braunfels!!
Please forgive the spelling, but for me it will always and forever be
Shlitterbong, the water park designed for beautiful little, not too
heavy, skinny people.
Since the weekend of August 11th was free for our entire family unit our
Queen Mother, HE Elisabeth, decided we should float the river in New
Braunfels. We packed up the truck with family and gear and headed to
Kyle Texas, home of my son and his wife.
We arrived late in the evening and were dead tired, ready for a good
nights rest before we attacked the river the following morning. My son,
being the good host, put HE Elisabeth and me in the guest room because
he thinks we are old and need creature comforts. He felt we would need
all our energy to be able to keep up with them on the river. The room
was fine except for the feathers that kept poking me in the head. The
pillows provided were some of those high end designer pillows filled
with feathers and other stuff that stopped up my nose and made it hard
to breath during the night, I ended up stealing my daughter's pillow.
The next morning found us at the river, ready to plunge in and test our
mettle against the rocks and hidden branches that are always lurking
just below the surface of the water. We knew that due to recent rains
the river would be a little high, hence a bit more dangerous. The river
people informed us that the river was off limits to everyone. HE
Elisabeth calmly enlightened the river people to the fact that we were
professionals and we had recently floated down the local creek in a
canoe during a rainstorm. When the river people told us that we would
DIE if we tried to float the river HE Elisabeth decided we should head
to Shlitterbong. After spending more than an hour at HEB, saving a big
fat dollar on tickets, we finally ended up at Shlitterbong. The place
was packed full of people that came to float the river, but were turned
away just like us. We spent the first hour trying to find a spot to set
our gear down. We wanted to explore this man-made wonder unencumbered,
free of the clumsy accruements today's society deems necessary for one
to have a pleasant experience. We ended up carrying around big black
rubber inner tubes.
Somehow I found myself standing for one and a half hours in a line of
people anticipating a tube ride that would begin with a quick decent
down a tube-shoot and terminate after a lazy prolonged drift around the
park while floating like a lily pad.
Finally, it was my turn to enter the tube-shoot. I stuck my butt in my
inner tube and entered the raging current. There was an attendant
stationed at the very top of the tube-shoot who was more than happy to
shove me and my tube over the first vertical drop. I felt I was in total
control of my destiny until I hit the second vertical drop which was
combined with a ninety degree right turn. As I exited the combo
drop-turn I realized that those two white things resting on my shoulders
were my legs. Next was the washboard. This portion of the ride was
designed to simulate a rapid undulating effect that should delight and
surprise the tube rider, I felt something quite different. I came out of
the combo turn totally disoriented and hit the washboard not unlike a
stone being skipped off a pond. According to my wife I was born without
a butt so it must have been my backbone sticking out the bottom of the
tube that hit every single bump, making my teeth sound like a jackhammer
chattering in full swing. The whirlpool was next. I don't think it was
designed into the ride, but was one of those "Oh My God! that's so cool
lets keep it" things. I could see a stretch of calm water ahead, but I
couldn't reach it. My weight and physical geometry somehow kept me
circling around with the current in the pool located at the end of the
washboard. Everyone else was moving along in a straight line to the calm
water ahead, I was the only one stuck in this limbo. As my fellow
tube-shooters passed me by and headed towards the light they would shoot
me a look of pity and sorrow, knowing full well that I would probably
end my days circling forever in Shlitterbong's whirlpool. As I was about
to lose all hope of ever seeing my family again a huge screaming mass of
female flesh that was bulging out of a bikini bathing suit slammed into
me and my tube. It felt like being run over by a four hundred pound lump
of cottage cheese. She hit me with such explosive force and her timing
was so perfect I was propelled like a squeezed watermelon seed out of
the whirlpool before I could let out a scream.
I felt redeemed. The punishment phase was over and I would now enjoy the
rest of the tube-shoot floating peacefully stuck in my black rubber
tube. I could gaze up through the trees and marvel at nature's
creations. I could dip my hands into the cool green waters the
Shlitterbong offered to all who would challenge the tube-shoot. I
could.... "David! Get out of there, were leaving!" shouted HE Elisabeth.
Apparently the ride was over. A ride I stood in line and waited for one
and a half hours to experience. That same ride that made my one stomach
muscle hurt and cramp for days. This ride was supposed to last for at
least one hour. Even with my extended stay in whirlpool purgatory five
minutes couldn't have passed since the beginning of the ride.
We ended the day walking back to the truck, wondering what just
happened. Out of money and food we went back to the house and crashed.
The next time the family unit decides to vacation I think I'll find an
SCA event somewhere, at least there won't be any whirlpools.
Another chronicle of
World Traveler and certified Tube-Shooter
More information about the Bordermarch