Since moving to South Carolina, I've spent a great deal of time on and in our many lovely rivers. Because there are no beaches in the immediate vicinity, the rivers are generally the refreshing venue of choice for Columbians of all shapes and sizes during the toastier months, and I have come up with my own little (somewhat less than scientific) "class system" for river folk based on the nature of their watery activities. And so I give you, in decending order of awesome-ness, Kimberly's River Caste System:
1. At the top of the food chain are the most hard-core river goers of all: the white-water kayakers. Sun-worn, well muscled, and donning very intimidating helmetry, you know these guys mean business. Once, I even saw one guy with paddles for hands doing underwater flips and barrel rolls near the rapids. These are the ones all true river folk aspire to be.
2. Just slightly below the white-water guys (but still hard-core) are your river kayakers. Though they may not have $1000's of dollars worth of shiny equipment or flipper-like hand prosthetics, they still navigate the rushing waters by their own power and brave uber-intense rapids with the added challenge of a less-manuverable ride. Kayakers are active, athletic, and thoroughly engaged with the elements of nature, making them an admirable class in the River Caste System.
3. Moving into slightly cheesier territory, we find the canoers. Now don't get me wrong, canoers still get mad props for actually paddling themselves down-river in a locamotive fashion, but canoes just don't have the cool-factor or sleek capabilities of a kayak. Canoers are families with small children wearing huge hats, people with dogs, and large volumes of youth-group kids wacking each other with wooden paddles. Still respectable, but not a boat I want to be in on a Saturday afternoon.
4. Generally scraping the bottom of my list are the tubers; often large groups of drunken college kids tied together like masses of shrieking flotsam with a well-stocked beer cooler floating somewhere in the mix. You can hear their approach from half a mile up-river, as apparently the mix of barley, hops, sunlight, and a flotation device from Wal-Mart can cause one to loose their ascertainable sense of volume. They generally shout at you when drifting by for a cigarette, another beer, or just to exclaim a general "WOOOOT." Braden and I consider these floating river-rats the lowest common demoninator of river-enthusiasts and avoid them as if, like their ship-bound brethren, they were carrying the black plague.
There's my short list, any other suggestions?