Friday, August 21, 2015

A three hour tour


Last Friday was a running rest day. It was also an impromptu day off from work, due to a conference I attended the Saturday before. My high school friends kayak on Fridays, and I decided to join them. Kayaking is cross training, right? But I wouldn't be using my legs, so Becky would approve, right?

Elaine is the organizer, and she texted me the night before: 


Silly me. I was so excited, I didn't check the map, or I might have been a little more hesitant. We were starting a little bit north of the dam, so it probably was a 5 mile total distance. One way. In a kayak.


I headed out to the river town where I grew up. When I met up with Elaine, she greeted me with a hug and "I'm SO excited!". She had invited a friend of hers to join us. We all headed to Cynthia's house on the river and launched our kayaks. We were off. Our adventure was to begin. 

At the launch
We began to paddle south, towards the dam. We got to the locks, and pulled along the side while we waited for our turn to enter. The purpose of the locks is to get boats below the dam. We probably could have portaged our kayaks, but what fun would that be? After about 20 minutes of waiting and chitchatting, the gates opened and we paddled into the locks.

Elaine hanging onto the rope
The sheriff behind me in the locks. Glad I got my kayak stickers!
The water level dropped down to the river below the dam and the gates opened.


We paddled out of the locks and headed downriver. Above the dam, the river is wide and lined with seawalls. The river is much more narrow below the dam, and more natural. It is fairly rural. We began to hum "Dueling Banjos." One of the women, Cheri, had never seen the movie Deliverance. We began quoting lines from the movie: 
"He's got a real pretty mouth, ain't he...?"
and
"Squeal like a pig. Weeeeeee!"
Ugh. What a scary movie. Four guys on a man's weekend in rural Georgia? What could go wrong? Fortunately for us, it is pretty civilized along the Fox River....
 
We didn't go off the river into the woods. Well, one of us did...twice...but I'm not naming names. She came back out without having to squeal like a pig. Or any other animal. Thankfully.


After about an hour and a half of paddling, I did the kid thing. I asked, "how much farther?". Elaine had promised us it would be a 3 hour tour. I checked Google maps, and it looked like we had a while to go. I didn't want to be a party pooper, but I was getting hungry. I drank the protein shake I packed in my cooler. The others pulled out beer and margaritas. I'm so much fun.

We paddled on. 

We talked. We laughed. We shared. We bonded. Time passed without even thinking about it.

Another hour later, around the bend....was The Broken Oar. What a fun place! Sitting right along the river, there were umbrella tables and a large patio. We beached our kayaks and ordered food and drinks. I was famished. A couple of beers for me, and umbrella drinks for the others, and we completely relaxed. 

Fueled up and ready to head back!
The sun was fully out now, and it was hot! We made a plan to stop at another bar we had passed on our way down. Wouldn't it be fun to have a pub crawl via kayak? There's certainly no shortage of places to refuel along the river!

We amused ourselves with sightseeing. A covered wagon in the yard? Why not? It went well with the lighthouse on the other side of the boat. Cynthia called it "Americana".  We passed some beautiful homes and some not so beautiful homes.



Even though we were paddling upstream, there was no wind, and we enjoyed a nice leisurely pace. Soon we came upon another bar, and using the excuse of a potty stop, pulled in. The tiki bar was lined with "older men". Entertaining, until we discovered that we were older than most of them. Reality check. Time for the old ladies to head home.

I think we look the same as we did in high school!
We reached the dam. I wanted to get a picture for this post. Actually, my friends were very happy to indulge my need to take lots of pictures of our adventure. For which I am grateful. 

As a child, I always thought the dam was so big! And I had even been to Niagara Falls! Isn't it funny how your perspective changes once you become an adult? Well, this is no Niagara Falls, as you can see. We probably could have skipped the locks and just whitewatered it right over the dam. A few more cocktails and that might have happened.



It was surprisingly shallow below the dam, and our kayaks kept getting stuck on sandbars. Once everyone dislodged themselves from the muck, we headed back to the locks. Luckily, the gates were just opening as we paddled up. Compared to when we went through in the morning, the boaters were much more lively. One group was going to dinner, and it seemed to me that maybe they had had a head start on their evening. I had plenty of time to consider this since this time, we were in the locks longer because the water took longer to rise than to drop. It started to get hot and steamy, and I was hanging on to a very slimy rope. Note to self: bring gloves next time. After what seemed like an eternity--maybe 15 minutes--the gates opened and we paddled back to Cynthia's dock. Our 3 hour tour was actually a 6 hour tour. 

As the sky began to darken with an approaching storm, we were just awestruck about what we had done and how much fun was had. We were all exhausted and in need of a shower (what was that brown stuff on my feet?). Before departing for home, we stopped to reflect on what an amazing adventure we had, paddling down the Fox River. After growing up in this small town, this river is part of who we are. For me, spending time with the women who probably know me better than just about anyone was the best way to spend a day. The kayaking was the icing on the cake. All of us have memories here. Some memories we share, some we shared with each other. And we made some more pretty good memories out there on our 3 hour tour. 

I can't wait to do it again.



64 comments :

  1. Sounds like so much fun! Pub crawl via kayak sounds fun and slightly dangerous at the same time!

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    1. Right? But that's what the life jackets are for!

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  2. Love your humor today! That looks like such a fun girls day out-jealous!

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    1. It was so much fun. Truly one of the highlights of my summer!

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  3. I love that you have friends with kayaks! All my hs friends moved far, far away. This looks like a freaking blast!

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  4. Loved reading about your adventure - how fun, and I am also cracking up at you pulling out a protein drink while your friends had beer...

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  5. That sounds fun! a pub crawl kayak sounds perfect. I am going on a bike riding wine tour pretty soon so similar concept.

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    1. I've heard of bike pub crawls...usually beer. The wine tour sounds fun!

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  6. Oh that sounds fun! I would have been exhausted afterwards 3-6 hour tour lol. You guys look like you had fun though so seems worth it!

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    1. I was tired but I was so happy that night. It was so fun!

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  7. This sounds like such a blast! I'd love to do a trip like this, though hours and hours of kayaking must be tiring!

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    1. We took it pretty easy, so it wasn't too tiring. It was so much fun!

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  8. I have been sitting on the edge of my seat just waiting on this recap of your adventure. It looks like so much fun!!!! Was it scary in the locks? I've never been on the river and had to go through them. It looks like yall had an absolute ball!

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    1. It wasn't scary at all in the locks, actually, it was kind of gross. It was so humid and it smelled bad! But it was kind of cool...

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  9. I was giggling through this whole post. First, did you ever tell the one who hadn't seen Deliverance what "squealing like a pig" really meant? Yuck! That is one really good movie that I never want to see again. Though I do like Dueling Banjos.

    Looks like a fun, tipsy day.

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    1. We told her, but I'm not sure she quite understood what we meant. Plus there is just no way to recapture the horror of that scene! I was going to put the clip on this post, but after I watched it, I had to take it off. It's so disturbing.

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  10. 6 hours!? That is long tour, but it sounds awesome :)
    How fun you have that many active friends to bond with and i think you all look fantastic :)
    What a great adventure.

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  11. Sounds like lots of fun! I think my arms would've fallen off. Or I'd jump in that river to cool off.

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    1. Oh, you wouldn't want to jump in that river. Trust me on that one...we kept joking about that...

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  12. Wendy this looks like so much fun! I have kayaked a bit (not consistently but a definite vacation thing) but I've never gone through a lock. That sounds really cool. What a fun girls' day!!

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    1. It was. I had the chance to go again today, but I promised my son I'd take him for his driver's license. Which turned out to be a bust. Sigh...

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  13. Sounds like so much fun! I love epic adventures!

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  14. Oh my goodness, that just sounds like so much fun!

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  15. What an adventure! I can't imagine going through a lock in a kayak - I never even realized you COULD go through a lock in a kayak! Fantastic cross training :)

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    1. None of us had done this before...but we were assured that people go through the locks in kayaks and canoes all the time. So so fun! And the calories we burned...

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  16. How fun! This sounds awesome. My husband loves beer and kayaking, so I feel like he would love the idea of a kayak pub crawl!

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  17. I can feel the amazing time you had just by looking at the pics!! And as far as the comment about looking the same as you did in high school.... You probably all look better than you did then... Love it.

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    1. This was just the best day in a very long time!

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  18. Love this! The only time I've ever kayaked down a river was in Fairbanks on the Cheena river - it was just like this! We kayaked right up to a bar and hung out in the sun. I'm actually going kayaking tomorrow (in a lake in Wasilla) and I'm really looking forward to it!

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  19. This looks like so much fun!!!

    Jen@Jpabstfitness.com

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  20. LOVE LOVE LOVE kayaking. Your pics are great.

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  21. What fun! Girls day. Exercise. Nature. Outdoors. FUN! :)

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  22. Wow. Looks like a ton of fun! Anything on the water...I'm in. I[m surprised kayaks need stickers. Where we boat and ski is very Deliverencey. Kocktails and Kayaks...maybe you should host an event!

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    1. Only in Illinois do you need stickers. They nickle and dime us to death here.

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  23. What a fun, spontaneous trip! Looks like you had a blast!

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  24. LOL! What a interesting new take! Hopefully by the end calories consumed and calories burned balanced out each other

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    1. I believe they did! And no matter anyways. It was a fun day!

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  25. What a fun adventure and a great crew to have it with! So glad no one had to squeal like a pig (what a seriously disturbing movie that is!) Hope you got the brown stuff off your feet :)

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    1. That river has all kinds of weird stuff floating in it!

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  26. So much fun! Wendy you have a great smile :)

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  27. That looks like so much fun with your friends! and 3 hours = 6 hours when you add friends! I love the idea of a pub crawl via kayak! I have talked the hubby into a kayak (I see my Christmas present coming!) want to share any brand recommendations?

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    1. I don't know a lot about kayaks, but mine is a Viper (made in the USA) and it has 2 cup holders! I actually really like it. But I don't know how it would be on the ocean.

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  28. Sounds amazing! I have yet to kayak but I really need too soon!!! I def would enjoy that 3, I mean 6 hour tour.

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    1. You would love it! Lucky you, living in Florida now!

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  29. Looks like a lot of fun! I've never been kayaking, but I do love to canoe the rare occasion I get the chance. There is a winery accessible by canoe around where I live. I tried to take my husband there once, but we never found the landing or the trail leading up to the winery! We didn't get our wine ,but we had fun.

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    1. It's always fun to be out on the water! You'll have to find that winery next time.

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  30. This adventure looks awesome. A kayaking pub crawl would be great.

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  31. A pub crawl via kayak sounds like a lot of fun! I've never kayaked before but this would be the way I want to do it ;)

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