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|
|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.|
"He's got a real pretty mouth, ain't he...?"
"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.|
|I think we look the same as we did in high school!|
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.