We did the wrong things while tubing on the Sacramento River so you don’t have to.


My friends and I have been talking about taking a river  tubing adventure for a good portion of the year now. After a monster-email thread of about 5000 messages,  we finally executed a plan! And now that we’ve done it, we’ve learned all the things you should, and shouldn’t do before going tubing on the Sacramento river. Listen here:

DON’T BRING YOUR TUBES WITH YOU.  Especially if you’re all planning on drinking and have no designated driver. Best bet is  to find a place to rent tubes. (Scotty’s is  apparently where it’s at) This will spare you the embarrassment of  having the concierge at the hotel blow up your jumbo fighter donut in the lobby while you and your friends hang out in your swim suits, floppy hats, 1,000 layers of sunscreen, staring at all of the hotel guests like golems.

SPEAKING OF DRINKING. You can’t take glass bottles with you on the Sacramento river, so bring cans, or hide your booze in a tumbler. Or just don’t get caught.   As soon as we got to our launch site, the river cops were there to meet us, and our 12 pack of bottled craft beer,  with disdain. Sadly, we  emptied out our precious life-giving water bottles, and filled them with beer. (hey, life is about the tough choices).

CHICO CITY CAB ROCKS! As we stood outside our hotel, with a case of beer, three fully inflated tubes, two plastic bags full of towels, bungee cords, snacks, and generally  looking like the understudy cast of a community production of Gilligans Island, we wondered if our cab driver would be down to tote our amateur-asses to the tubing launch site.  Not only did he NOT  grumble, he seemed downright enthusiastic to help us out. “No problem, I got some bungees in the back, it’s all good!” Turns out, he was THE BEST CAB DRIVER EVER. Like, sent from cabby heaven. He spent the entire ride regaling us with  adventure stories, tubing info,  and discussions of the many  hats he wears (when he picked us up, he was wearing a tropical print baseball hat)  (He also has plans to get a very tiny mushroom tattoo, on the inside of one of his toes one day.)   Note: We called the same cab company to pick us up, hoping we’d get a chance to tell our favorite cabbie our tubing adventure story, but it was a different dude on the way back. (who was also really rad, but more reserved) I HAD SUSPICIONS however, THAT THE SECOND CAB DRIVER WAS THE SAME GUY  but just in a different, more subdued hat because they looked exactly the same.  ACTUALLY….if I may start a conspiracy theory….after we went out for pizza later, and were waited on by a guy who looked suspiciously like both Chico City cabbies,  I was convinced that THERE IS ONLY ONE GUY actively working the service industry in Chico. That guy. He wears all the hats, and does all the jobs. Everyone else just hangs out and  gets tan.

DON’T TIE YOUR TUBES TOGETHER unless you’ve got something sharp to cut yourself free with, in case you get caught on some sticks or  something.

DON’T BRING YOUR CELLPHONE TUBING.  Even if you’ve got it in a ziplock bag, inside of another plastic bag that’s attached to one of your friends tubes.   Water is a tricky beast, and  it will find a way in. As a result of my sheer stupidity, my phone screen now  looks like a Rorschach test, and Siri has WOKE THE FUCK UP. She now pops up at random times throughout the day to ask how she can help.

DON’T CHUG BEERS IN THE PARK IN FRONT OF THE RIVER COPS.  They will tell you that it’s bad.

PEEING IN THE RIVER is really enjoyable. Try it sometime.

IF YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND WHO CAN’T SWIM you definitely want to hook their tube  to someone who can. (or reconsider tubing as a group bonding activity)   What happened with our party of four is….. three of us floated out into the current like swans, and Amy’s boyfriend Dakin (who was also hooked to our inflatable cooler) WHO CAN’T SWIM lagged so far behind that we totally lost him and spent about  45 minutes wondering if he was still alive. “I see a glimmer of something on the water…but it might just be water sparkles.”  “Wait, wait….there he is! No, that’s a rock.”   We finally flagged down the river cops and told them our friend is lost, and maybe not alive anymore.

“He’s out there by himself and he can’t swim?” they asked.  “That’s just…stupid” they said, shaking their heads. Probably they deal with this shit every single day.  Drunk kids, dumbasses, bongwater, and exploded tubes.

Fortunately, they found him, still alive, a little shaken, and  the three of us watched as they drove him back to land on the speed boat. Then we relaxed and realized we were all really stoned and that part of the trip was golden and sparkly.

IF YOU’RE A WHITE DUDE  AND WEARING A WHITE SHIP CAPTAINS HAT WITH GOLD TRIM,  chances are, the river cops will NOT find your cannabis treats even though they are only 10 feet away in full sight in a tupperware.

Man, I  wish we had pictures of our adventure. It’s why I brought my phone out on the water after all. All I have to offer is this picture, of Breanne, riding in the cab back to the hotel, cradling her inflatable donut.





About ArleneShirlee

Hello. I live in Oakland. I write, I rap, I play drums, and I do some neat party tricks.
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