About a week ago we flew down to Texas to visit family and attend my nephew’s high school graduation (side note: so proud of that young man! Graduated with honors and college bound for University of North Texas! Go Mean Green!)
Brandon’s graduation has me thinking a lot about those in between times in our lives when everything slows down a little bit. That’s what I want my sabbatical to be like. Maybe that’s the way our lives are meant to be lived, in a way that allows us the time and perspective to really notice what’s important.
I hope that Brandon can enjoy this time between high school and college, enjoying just being a young adult with the whole world ahead of him and not too many cares to weigh him down. Isn’t that what we all want?
From the day we created our Sabbatical Vision Board 18 months ago, we have wanted to float the river. There is a picture of an old retired couple floating a river in the upper center of our vision board below. See? Find the word “connect” and scan right. Anyway, I promise it’s on there and we finally did it!
We spent the last few days with family in San Antonio, celebrating Brandon’s graduation and chasing kids around, four in all. Although when they are 1, 2, 4 and 8, it seems like SO MANY MORE.
Needless to say that after a few days we were ready for a little get away, and floating the river is a Texas tradition that I somehow missed growing up here. There’s no telling what other awesome things I neglected to take advantage of in this enormous state.
So, Trent and I hopped in the car for a drive through the Texas hill country, down to the Gaudalupe River (many Texans pronounce it Guada-LOOP, but I just can’t bring myself…Kind of like in Colorado where locals call one little town BYUNA Vista instead on Buena Vista. Just say no!).
For $19, you can rent a tube (we went to Whitewater Sports) and just jump on the river for a 2, 4, or 6 hour float (shuttle back to your car included). We also opted to rent a tube for our cooler. Tie it all together and you have yourself a party on the river!
We had such a great time on the four hour float, we decided to go back and do it again the next day, but this time the 6 hour float that included the Horseshoe (a big bend in the river with some very gentle rapids).
There’s not much to do on the river. That’s kind of why it’s so awesome. On day 2, a guy in line asked me if he was going to get bored on the 4 hour float and I said no–that he’d get to the end and wish it wasn’t over. Later, I thought of a different response. Yes, you might get bored, but isn’t that the point?
Just laying there on my float–hat, sunglasses and beer–I couldn’t make the river go faster, and trust me it was SLOW at some points. I couldn’t do much except breathe and look at nature and talk to Trent and go with the pace of the earth. And that was a treasure in this world, where even on sabbatical, I sometimes find myself making lists of things I need to do (get packed for my next trip, make reservations for a camp site, read a book about Thailand, call Mom) and getting stressed if I don’t check things off the list at a rapid pace. Why is it so hard to just slow down? Even when I go on hikes, I sometimes find myself worrying that I need to go faster so that I stay ahead of the people coming up behind me. So silly, but the mind is a crazy place sometimes!
I loved floating the river because it forced me to literally go with the flow, and I now have a whole new respect for that phrase.
To go along with our “go either the flow” float, we stayed overnight in a tiny house on Canyon Lake, just a few miles from where we plopped into the river. Given my dabbling with minimalism, that was an interesting experience. Not sure I could do it long-term, but maybe….Having a nice big porch attached helped by basically doubling the space available.
The final part of our days 40 and 41 adventure was a visit to Gruene (pronounced green), Texas. Population minuscule, but hipness off the charts. Imagine trendy restaurants and cute boutiques nestled along the river and the old oak trees. Not to mention the second biggest restaurant in Texas, The Gristmill, built in an old cotton gin, complete with falling down interior brick walls, and open air overlooks of the Guadalupe. Oh, and the chicken fried steak! Oh my! We split it and were still stuffed! Maybe it was the sangria (in mason jars-my favorite!), chicken tortilla soup and side of Gruene beans that did it.
Finally, Gruene Hall, a little music venue with a big history. Think Willie And Waylon. We saw the Swindles play and my favorite song was “Guacamole.” “She grabbed my pepper and I grabbed her tomato, and we made guacamole all night long.” The Bacon Brothers (that’s Kevin Bacon) played here the next night.
Nothing about the river or the things that happen around it is rushed or stressful. Chill is the name of the game. So, from now on when we remind each other to just relax and “go with the flow” I’ll close my eyes and imagine that the sun is beating down and the water is lapping at my toes and I’m gently rocking down the river, going at the pace of the earth, with a twangy guitar playing in the background…