Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kayaking Adventure - Oh, No! Not Again!

Roger here...  Before I begin, there was a lot of debate among our kayaking friends about the title of this blog.  Oh, No! Not Again! was my choice, and since I am the writer, I win.  However, there were several alternate titles which included: Lost! (in Indiana), A Foggy View, Anchors Away, and The Doubters.

Now on to the fun:

  For several months we had been planning to spend Memorial Day weekend with our kayaking/camping friends - Chuck and Cindy and Pat and Audrey.  We met at the Hidden Paradise Campground near St. Paul, Indiana.  The attraction to the campground was the Flat Rock River, where we could launch our inflatable kayaks 100 yards from our campsites.  Another unique attraction was that we could circle our RVs (the "wagons") on a grassy field around a common hookup pedestal, creating a great campsite for friends sharing a common space. 

 On Friday afternoon, Dianne and I picked up our RV after a few days of annual service at Mt. Comfort RV (a good place), and drove about 30 miles to the campground.  We set up camp and were treated to a great meal.  We always eat well at these things, probably too well.

The First Full Day.....  This was the day of the potential blog titles.  Chuck drove his truck to a cemetery near our kayaking pick-up point about five miles from the campsite, and pedaled back on his bicycle.  After the first of three days of hearty and delicious breakfasts (more eating), we inflated our three Sea Eagle kayaks and plopped into the river.   It was a great day for paddling.  The sun was hot.  The water was cool.  And, there were enough swift -- though relatively tame -- rapids to make the trip interesting. 

 Over the span of the three days we had incredible views of the wildlife (never had the camera ready at the right time) including a swimming muskrat, a deer bounding across the river, turtles, a snake coiled on a tree stump that watched us as we floated past, a couple of great blue herons that squawked at us and then flew ahead of us down river, and innumerable song birds.  The first two-thirds of the trip was uneventful and fun.  

The only irritant was the Big Bobber that I purchased to float behind the kayak that was iced down with various beverages.  It worked great before the first beverage break, but soon tipped over, became unlatched, and spilled most of the ice.  We were able to salvage most of the drinks. 

 And then it happened....  The river split into two sections:  The right section looked too shallow to navigate.  The left section moved faster, but was covered by a tree branch.  It looked like we could get under it, but it was going to be risky.  We really had no choice, as the current took us to the narrow passage.  Dianne and I were first.  The tree limbs hit our upheld arms, but we made it through.  We did a victory hoot and then I held up my paddle and jokingly yelled, "go the other way!" to the other kayaks. 

Chuck and Cindy were next, THEN, "Oh No, Not Again!"  One of their paddles lodged in the tree branches, resulting in Cindy being dragged from the kayak and sitting on top of a one-foot waterfall,  and Chuck's subsequent ejection into the current.  No one was hurt, but Cindy had no way to move without being swept away.  Chuck initially thought that they had lost one of their paddles (the one lodged in the tree), and soon realized that for the second year in a row on our kayaking trip that he had lost a new pair of prescription glasses, thus the title 

"A Foggy View." 

 Pat and Audrey made it through without incident.  Dianne and I quickly paddled back to the island.  While Chuck searched for his glasses, I stumbled through the river rocks and was quickly joined by Pat.  I was able to retrieve the lodged paddle and extend it to Cindy as support so she could escape from the current.  Pat offered stable support from the other side.  Cindy was fine, but was not happy that she lost her favorite hat.  Chuck was also fine, but lost his new glasses.  Disappointing, but everyone was OK, so on we went.

As we paddled on, Dianne and I noticed that we were not able to keep up with the others.  We finally realized that the floating cooler, was not floating.  It was completely filled with water and dragging behind us like an anchor - "Anchors Away."    By the time I emptied it and pulled it into the kayak, the latch had again opened and we lost all our remaining drinks.  As Cindy said, "The Big Bobber turned out to be a big bust."

A little flashback....  Chuck and Cindy had done this paddle before, and inadvertently paddled miles past the take-out point.  They ended up hitch-hiking back to their truck after a full day on the river.  It turned out well, but it was not something we wanted to do.  As we passed the landmarks that they remembered (a highway bridge, power lines, etc.), Chuck told us to look for a rope swing at the point of a confluence.  Pat said that he had seen one earlier.  Chuck said, "How far back?" Pat said, "You don't want to know."  The first seeds of doubt - why didn't I bring money, a cell phone, etc.? 

 A little later Cindy said that she was sure that it was beyond the bridge we had just been under, and Chuck said that it should be just ahead.  Then, we saw the rope swing, BUT it was not the right one.  It was at that point that Dianne and I became, "The Doubters."  It should be around the next bend - paddle, paddle, paddle - nope, not yet.   Paddle, paddle, paddle - not yet.  Paddle, paddle, paddle - not yet.  Chuck and Cindy said, "We are a little worried." - "Lost (in Indiana)"...  Paddle, paddle, paddle - not yet!  Roger's doubting mind, "Oh crap, we are stranded without a vehicle, and Chuck doesn't know where we are."  Twenty minutes later, paddle, paddle, paddle - not yet. 

 THEN, voices, splashing water, laughter, A ROPE SWING!  WE ARE NOT LOST!  Good ole Chuck!  Trusted him the entire time.  He'll look great in the extra set of prescription glasses that I intend to give him.

After we tied the kayaks to the truck I gave the Big Bobber to one of the rope swingers, after explaining that it was a piece of junk.  We then made our way back to the campground and we had the second of three great suppers - we ate well, again.

The second full day....  This day was much more relaxing, but not nearly as exciting.  We duplicated the trip from the previous day.  This time we knew where the sketchy places were and we knew we would not get lost.  When we got to the scene of the great tipover, Dianne and I grounded our kayak and portaged, not willing to tip into the water.  Chuck, Cindy, Pat and Audrey all made the run.  Kind of made us feel like wimps - oh well.  When we made our way back to the campsite - more eating while we watched the Indy 500 outside, thanks to our satellite and Dianne's determination to make it work.  Cindy's brother and his friend joined us for dinner, conversation, corn-hole,  a trivia game and - more eating. 

 Dianne here:  Only fellow Indiana people appreciate the novelty of watching the Indy 500 live on TV.  It is always blacked out from local television coverage -- always has been -- so while folks around the world enjoy the race live on TV, Indiana folks grow up listening to it on the radio or watching the re-broadcast hours later, after the outcome is already known.   Unless, of course, you go to the race and experience it in person.  If you are short, you might experience it as I always did:  Quick, noisy blurs passing between the heads of whoever was sitting in front of me.   

Memorial Day....  Rain, in fact storms, were in the forecast.  We all intended to kayak again before breaking camp, but the possible thunderstorm deterred Dianne and me.  By the time we expressed our concerns, the other two couples decided not to go as well.  I feel really badly, because it did not rain until later that evening.  But, we did enjoy the morning at the campsite and - more eating.

We are back in Pendleton right now.  Tomorrow morning we will do the final cleanup of our little house before we put it on the market.  We'll keep you posted on the progress.

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