The fourth of July - one hell of a hot time of the year. So three if us devised the idea to go to the river where we could drink, smoke and float in a cold river, the Guadalupe. Being a typical Texan I had two friends that were as big as I was, the three bears, so we gathered our camping gear, coolers, snorkel gear and headed south. Dale had made us reservations at a camp ground right on the river…beautiful. So we crammed all of our gear for the trip into Dale's 1978 Honda Civic which was quite a trick in itself. Finally we hit the road after a quick stop at a liquor store and a firework stand. Packed in like sardines we traveled down I-35 first stop the Comel River and "the chute". This was pre-Schlliterbahn days and we sat for a while and watched folks going down "the Chute" which was a three sided square concrete chute that the water rolled down about a foot deep and swift carrying the folks down riding inner tubes and some standing up on their feet. After Dale, Paul and myself had a few pulls on a half gallon of Myers Dark Rum and chasing it with a beer hit the water. We deployed into the water in fins, mask and snorkel. We explored the upper part of the aquifer where it came out of an abandoned power plant. We made our way up stream curious about the source of all that water. We followed it right up into the old power plant, up a big square pipe. There were bolts sticking out of the walls that we used to pull us out of th ourselves against the current until we were right at the edge of the turbine chamber. Water was pounding down into the chamber, being able to see down into the water I could see a vortex of air bubbles being trapped in the center of the chamber. We came to the realization that it would be a death sentence to swim into or get sucked into that chamber. So we took turns pushing out into the strong current that swept out and down the river. Flying along in the dark we all suddenly appeared in the bright sunlight and I remember seeing bass and bream hovering around in the roots and rocks watching us drift by. When we got back down to "the chute" we played around in the chute trying all kinds of methods of going the chute on our asses, on our feet surfer style, which was the funnest. In order to make a quick return to the top we found out that there was a trick of grabbing the wall right at the last possible moment and pull yourself up over the wall and back on the sidewalk that lead back to top. We eventually got bored and got bask in to the snorkel gear and started river walking and finding all kinds of things that have washed out of people's pockets playing in the chute. There were shoes, all kinds of shoes, singles no pairs. Dale started to collect the shoes and tied them together into a string that was slung over his shoulder and when he was diving he looked Moby Dick dragging a lot of sea flotsam and jetsam. We found sunglasses by the score and money. I'm talking folding money and lots of coins. Sunglasses would have been handy but they were scratched to badly to use again. It was a great day in the water! But it was time to go find campsite for the night since our reservation was for the next night. We rode down the road and finally found a Campground and pulled in. We were met by an old fart and his good looking daughter at the gate. They had only one spot left so we took it. The owner of the park told us in a very stern voice that "Fireworks are not allowed" this repeated several times during our procurement of our nights lodging. He had a real Walter Brennen working in his own crotchety way. He told us that we would be charged if we lit any fireworks. I think that Paul got a headache from the rum so early in the day. So he crashed out pretty quick after the tent got set up. Dale and I sat up under the moon and stars and enjoyed the night. We drank more and smoked some suddenly someone lit a bottle rocket and it zipped off into the night. Dale looks up "Hey did you see that somebody shot off a bottle rocket!". Then someone else further down in the park shot another off and soon like a middle eastern conflict it was going full scale. Dale looked over at me and said "F$%* it I'm shooting some off!" and he got up and went and dug out the box of fireworks. Dale being a firework freak showed a little of his stuff and style by holding the fireworks in hos hand until they were going good and then he would release them with a flick of his wrist. They would fly off up into the night sky to blow up or spark it's ass off and blow up. As the night wore on we got tired and crashed. I hit my sleeping bag and Dale crashed in the car. The next morning just as I was coming to I could hear a bitching Walter Brennen going from campsite to campsite bitching and complaining very loudly waking people all around him. Complaining about all the trash that was littering the park. Still laying in my sleeping bag I asked Dale "You hear that?" and he answers "Yeah I guess we better get up and pick up the firework trash". So we jumped up and starting packing camp starting with the firework trash which went into a black trash bag. We got everything back into the Honda. I crawled into the back seat, Dale was driving and Paul was in the shotgun seat wearing his red and yellow Mercury visor when Walter Brennen pushed his face into Paul's "And I guess you didn't shoot any fireworks". Poor Paul the one guy that crashed out early was the one that got chewed out. We beat a hasty retreat toward the front gate to make our get away. Once into the car the only thing that would not fit onto the car was the sack full of firework trash. And checking out at the gate was the good looking daughter. We pull up and stop while she checks us off the list. She asked us if we took part in the fireworks last night and we assured her that we were innocent of shooting any at all. So we avoided paying the firework fee. Paul holding the sack outside of his car door asks her if she would trow away the trash and she said she would. Paul held out the sack and just she took a hold of the sack Dale quickly took off and the sack fell open and firework trash spilled out at her feet. She started to object but we were speeding away waving back at her. On to the Guadalupe river! We were in the water as soon as we could get checked in at the L&L Campground and settle into our spot. The water was wonderfully cool and the place to be on a hot July day. Donning our snorkel gear we got straight into the rapids and started "river walking". River walking is a technique where you use the eddy behind the boulders in the river to stay out in the rapid without being swept away. It is a great way of surprising people on canoes going down the river. You just pop out from the boulder where you are hiding in the eddy. We did this right at Waco Springs which is a waterfall on the river. We ad fun scaring people until we realized that we were helping them wreck going over the falls which kind a of worked out in our favor. Let me explain. When a canoe dumps over they lose the coolers and so the cooler loses the beer and cold beverages into the river where if you have a snorkel and mask one can retrieve said cold beverages. Yeah baby free cold beer. We each knotted the neck and arms of t-shirts and filled our make shift sacks with beer. We made our way back to base camp with the beer and started a fire to cook some burgers. After we ate we heard a loud commotion coming from the river. So we went to see what was going on down there. When we made it to the ruckus we found a slew of people having a war shooting bottle rocket and roman candles. So we quickly joined the fray. Firing rickets at the people on the other side of the river. The river where we were has a flat side of the river and the other side is a long cliff dotted with caves. In the caves the defendants were firing "at will". As we were on our side of the river. Later that night after dark we got into fireworks in a major way. Dale of course had to out do everyone. He started putting the mortar tube in his stomach and let them discharge. He called "belly shots". He also loved to light something and hold it in his hand until it gets going good and then casting it skyward. Dale didn't buy anything that didn't fly. Paul and I were sitting on a picnic table watching the pyrotechnical display. So Dale grabs a helicopter type of firework lights it and when it started blowing a major amount of sparks he threw it up into the air. It sputtered a bit and flew off at an odd angle zipping in a circle. It started ricocheting around in the limbs of the big oak that was right behind Dale. It bounced around and then it circled around and hit Dale right in the crotch. From where we were sitting Dale looked like a big black silhouette in front a huge spray of sparks with the center of the whirling sparks, he looked like he was doing jumping jacks. We fell off the table laughing and after the sparks went out a lady from a neighboring campsite asked if anything got burnt. We walked to where Dale was still cussing a storm. We took the flashlight and shined it on his blue jean cut offs and there were several holes burned into them the size of nickel and dimes. He survived and eased the pain with a big shot of the Myers Dark Rum. Ah to smell the powder smoke in the morning…

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 1978 Honda Civic,beer,Comel River,fireworks,holiday,rum,storytelling,The Chute
  Guadalupe River, Texas
Feb 25 1979

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