The day started innocently enough: we packed our large cooler with enough Bon Chon chicken, snacks, beer and “victory punch” (recipe below) to feed an army and met up at Front Royal Outdoors. (TIP: call ahead the week of to guarantee a spot — it gets really busy on a Summer weekend and I can’t imagine there’s any availability if you just showed up without a reservation). After a short bus trip to the start of the tubing drop off point, we made Sly drag all the tubes + cooler tube into the river and steady the tubes so we could jump in. The sis and I snagged tubes with built in cup holders which was perfect (or dangerous) because I was never without a cup of ‘punch’ in my hands.
About an hour into floating down the river we met up and bypassed several groups of drunk tubers. Some were already passed out in their tubes, floating down the river either solo or tied onto the larger group of tubes. My sis mentioned that on previous trips these tubing groups would get so drunk that they would end up on the banks of the rivers or the river islands puking or making out. We all laughed at such amateur antics.
Two-and-a-half hours in, and after stopping at an island for lunch and then later at an “isthmus,” I was feeling pretty good. The punch (actually a watermelon Mexican martini) was pretty much depleted by this point, half of it consumed by yours truly.
When we were just five minutes from the pickup point I made our little group pull over onto the banks of the river, where I sat huddled and whimpering, trying to convince everyone that I couldn’t go any further. Yup, I was one of *those* people. I would like to blame the sun, the motion of the water, the deceivingly strong and delicious beverage my sister made, the fact that I should have eaten more and drank less, but talk about a rookie move.
I think we can all probably guess how the rest of the evening panned out: we were pretty much the last ones out of the river (after much coaxing I finally allowed Hubs/Sis/SisBF to furiously paddle me across the river so that we wouldn’t miss our drop-off time. Then I left everyone to drag the cooler/my tube up a steep hill. Good times were had by all.
Despite this, we had a really fun time (at least for the first 2 hours and 45 minutes) and it was a perfect day for floating down the river with a cool beverage and a cooler full of fried chicken. Definitely a new Summer tradition (minus the getting wasted part).
JJ’s Watermelon mexican martini recipe
This is one of the best frozen/mixed drinks I have ever had (as if you couldn’t tell by how much I guzzled down). It’s not too sweet and the heat from the scotch bonnet pepper is just the right amount to balance the sweetness of the melon/sugar and the acidity of the lime. The most dangerous thing about this drink is that you can barely taste the alcohol (also bc we were using the good stuff). It is delicious. SERVES 4-6+, more if you use more tequila (or less if you’re like me and drink half the jug)
10-14 lb watermelon, flesh cut into cubes
¼ cup sugar
1-2 Scotch bonnet peppers, halved
3/4 cup lime juice
3 cups silver tequila (4 for more people/if you’re partying rather than relaxing…)
Purée the watermelon and strain; if watermelon has seeds, try to pick those out first. Boil sugar and ¼ cup water in a 1-qt. saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add Scotch bonnet pepper halves; let syrup cool and then strain into a gallon jug/pitcher. Stir in watermelon juice, lime juice, and tequila.
**based on this recipe from Saveur magazine