Best Tube Trip (2000)

Howell's Tire Supply

Not for us the overhyped Guadalupe, with its clear-water views of overboard Revos and its drunk-flotillas gummed together like fire ants in a flash flood. Give us instead the Colorado, a true Texan's Texas river, greenish on a good day, brownish on most, wide, flat, slow and so far blessedly empty of "fellow" humans. The Lower Colorado River Authority publishes recreation-oriented maps of the Colorado from Austin all the way down to the gulf, but the six-mile curve ballooning around Columbus makes for the tidiest day trip, just an hour and a half west of Houston. Frank Howell outfits your crew with enough tubes, canoes and/or kayaks to float a small army and its beer past the shady overhangs, the red bluff cow country, the middle-of-the-stream sand bars and the end-of-the-trip "wall" to the take-out at Beason's Park on State Highway 71. That's where Howell meets you, loads his equipment and ferries you to the put-in. The tube float takes anywhere from three to five hours, depending on the water level, and includes nothing more hazardous than a low-water ripple to disturb the sleepy course, most of which you could walk midstream without wetting a chin. Drinking water and wearing sunscreen are good ideas. Glass bottles are not. On second thought, go to the damn Guadalupe and leave the Colorado quiet, the way we like it.