Austin, Travel

*The Day I Drank a Bud Light Lime-a-Rita and Wrestled a Snake

tubing in Gruene, Texas


We happened upon a snake ball yesterday.

It’s not as cool as it sounds.

Before yesterday, I always thought a snake ball is when prepubescent male snakes put on their bow ties, ask to borrow their ‘rent’s Caddy and impress the female snakes with their dance moves learned from watching Michael Jackson clips on Youtube (at least that’s what I would do if I was a male snake).

A snake ball is exactly what was described above, but without the clip-on ties or awkward Thriller arm-waving that looks more like Alien Hand Syndrome.

A snake ball is when an ASS-LOAD OF SNAKES crowd around a female and try to get it on with her.

A snake ball is something that makes me nearly poop myself and become a dead weight that my friends have to drag around until I understand that the snakes are a.) not interested in biting us and b.) would have difficulty biting us in the water even if they wanted to bite us.

We were tubing on the Guadalupe River in Gruene, Texas. I’ve written about this perfect little Texan town before. Located about 45 minutes from Austin, it is an absolute MUST if you want to get away from the big city , experience nature and buy overly-priced, locally-made pickles or jalapen0 jam for loved ones. It is such a sweet little town that when the sole officer manning the town’s sole intersection noticed our friend’s broken flip-flop, he offered to Duct Tape it for him.

THE COP MO-FO’ING OFFERED TO DUCT TAPE A FLIP-FLOP! And his name was Homer. And he’s awesome.

Gruene is also the home of the famous Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas. After our tubing excursion, we watched The Doc Marshalls, a self-described Americana, Country and Cajun band. Any band that features a slide guitar, accordion AND electric violin is aces in my book (side note: as I listened to the Doc Marshalls and watched the crowd get their zydeco dancing and two-steppin’ on in the dance hall, I thought about that fact that I a.) never would have imagined I would become a Texan and b.) kind of love being a Texan).

But back to tubing!

Of course I have zero photographic evidence of this snake ball I told you about. For you advanced tubers, you know that carrying anything of value with you while tubing is a dumb-ass idea. In fact, tubing in general is a dumb-ass idea, but we love it and we do it anyways (I’ve heard stories about people breaking toes, noses, losing valuables from deceased love ones and calling the police because they were so drunk they thought they were being kidnapped on tubing trips).

The snakes were first spotted by my boyfriend who didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to cause mass hysteria amongst our flotilla of four. Then the snakes, numbering in about 10-12, were subsequently spotted by the rest of us because we were essentially surround by them. The snakes got spooked by us and we were spooked by the snakes and thus began a Keystone Cops-type scramble from both parties as we all tried to figure out which direction to go. The snakes turned into squirrels, trying to swim in front of us, but quickly figuring that that was a bad idea and headed back to the banks. We, not sure if the snakes were going to leap out of the water and bite our faces, also became confused and followed suit. First we tried paddling backwards, then forwards, and at various points motionless and waiting for Death to ascend from the Netherworld to take us away.

After this stressful dance with humans and nature, I became completely useless. I refused to move or to put any appendages in the water. My boyfriend and the rest of our group were forced to pull me around for the next 20-30 minutes as I remained completely immobile with the permanent look of frozen Han Solo on my face.


After the second Bud Light Lime-a-Rita in my system, I started to loosen up and felt that not only could I handle seeing another snake, I could also jump out of my tube and wrestle that snake to the bottom of the river.

Besides the SNAKE BALL PIT OF DEATH, it was a quiet day on the river and we encountered no other tubers. However, it was a champion day in the world of nature and we had a couple of noteworthy moments.

We spotted:

-(1) Hawk picking up a snake from the river.
-(1) 8-inch long centipede that bit my boyfriend through his ridiculous mesh tubing tee.
-(500+) Turtles, mostly the common Sliders, but also several large Snapping Turtles.
-(3) Children of the River, a.k.a. Standy By Me children with gravelly voices that lurk the muddy banks picking up turtles and snakes.
-(3) Stoners, covered in leeches, but slow to realize that they are covered in leaches; said they were there looking for their keys that they lost yesterday, but admitted that they weren’t “looking very hard”.

*I did in fact drink two Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas, but have never and will most likely never wrestle a snake.

tubing Gruene

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  • Reply Amy Powell April 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I grew up in NB/Gruene & have done countless tubing trips…. and have never experienced a snake ball. thank god. I’m not sure I would survive. so kudos to you.

    • Reply hipstercrite April 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      First of all, how awesome was it to grow up around New Braunfels/Gruene? Secondly, I’m terrified of snakes every time we tube and every time we tube, Geoff says, “I’ve been tubing for years and rarely come across a snake!” So what happens? We happen upon like 10 or 12 of them AT ONCE! Geoff says he’s never seen anything like it. After research, he thinks they were the Diamondback Water Snake, so they’re not dangerous.

  • Reply Tara April 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    A) I would lose my shit if I ran across a snake ball. I’m like your friend Geoff, I’ve been toobing for years & have never run across anything like that.
    B) Are they enforcing that ridiculous “No disposable drink containers” law on the river anymore? That had to be the dumbest law ever passed.

  • Reply Mad Betty April 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the nightmares. *shudder*

  • Reply Tara April 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Agh! I would be terrified to witness a snake ball! But, imagining them how you first described a snake ball, bow ties and all, might help a bit…

  • Reply Leigh Ann May 5, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Tara took the words right out of my mouth above. I would totally lose my shit. I consider myself an outdoorsy girl and all, but I don’t like to be in water I can’t see through.

  • Reply Tubing in East Austin: Where Small Children Find Stabbing Knives July 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    […] a person obsessed with tubing in Texas. Every chance Geoff gets to go tubing, he will take it. Even drifting into a snake ball hasn’t stopped him from floating. He has tubing regalia:  an adorably gay mesh tee, […]

  • Reply Jayme June 12, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Love Texas Rivers snakes and all….great writing and thanks for the laugh…Tube on!

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