Each summer, Ms. Rivers and I do some kind of water trip, either a canoe or kayak(s) down the Susquehanna River. I readily confess that this is something Ms. Rivers really enjoys, as it evokes memories of prior times. Me? I like being on the river and seeing the beauty that it offers. I don't like getting into or out of a canoe or kayak. That latter part is mainly due to two factors:
- I am admittedly uncoordinated.
- Canoes and kayaks are, by design, tippy. And I am not talking gratuities here.
This year we were on a group trip from Mehoopany to Tunkhannock (PA), which is about an 11 mile water trek. Our vehicle of choice was a double kayak, with me in the back and Ms. Rivers, as usual, in the front. This, by the way, seems to be the logical arrangement of these sorts of things.
Before I go any further, a big shout out to Susquehanna Kayak and Canoe Rentals, who we have used for our paddle trips for several years. They are wonderful folks and highly recommended.
Normally we just take a solo paddle on the river, but this time around we opted for a group trip, where "group" was something like 50-ish people. What was wonderful about the trip was the age range of participants: Some were older than us (a nice thought...), some were our age, some were younger. There was even a very young man (more to come on that...). We did chat with some of the other participants, and everyone seemed to have a good time.
This is the inevitable part of the posting where I add some weird element to the trip. To that point, we had three special paddle participants.
First, there was "Old Man Playing Loud Music". One of the attractive parts of paddling in the Susquehanna are the sounds. These include paddles in the water. Birds overhead. The sound of the water flowing. The wind through the trees. Things like that, all of which have a certain calming charm about them. This year? We had an old dude playing loud, crappy music from a speaker bungie cord tied to his kayak. Yes, you got that right. So we are paddling down the river and see four bald eagles flying over head. It was a spectacular vison. What did we hear? That would be "Old Man Playing Loud Music" insisting that the entire group listen to Foghat (instead of the eagles overhead). Other notable artists included Charlie Daniels, Journey, Boston and a few others I have tried to blot out of my head. Had he been a bit younger, I'm sure there would have been some Nickelback thrown into the mix. We did our best to paddle ahead of "Old Man Playing Loud Music", but every once in a while he would catch up and we would be forced to confront, for example, Separate Ways by Journey.
Second, we had "Standing Man". This was the guy who had his own special kind of kayak that he could stand in every once in a while. It was actually kind of interesting watching him. Think a cross between an older Tom Sawyer and a skinny biker dude. I want to state for the record that there is no version of Steve Albert in any version of any multi-verse that could ever muster the coordination to do such a thing. While "Old Man Playing Loud Music" was annoying, "Standing Man" was weirdly kind of inspiring.
Third we had "Little Man", who apparently was the son of "Standing Man". "Little Man" was probably 8 or 9 years old and even had his own little version of his father's specialty kayak. I didn't see "Little Man" actually do the standing thing though. What did see was "Little Man" getting towed by his father towards the end of the trip, which was cool. "Little Man" very much reminded me of my late brother Chris when he was that age...both in how he looked and his seemingly boundless energy. This was nice.
Other than the characters on the river (see above), the two other notable parts of the trip involved how wet we got, courtesy of one too many speeding-boats-n-resulting-wakes and the fact that I badly burned by ankles. Yes, to that latter point, I took reasonable precautions to prevent sunburn. Except for my ankles. One lives and one learns.
There may yet be another paddle this year. We shall see.