Sunday, July 6, 2008

On the Waterfront

OK, so perhaps not as in the old movie but I needed a title for the post and that fit. It fits because I spent the afternoon with a friend paddling a small section of the Huron River between the docks just north and west of Argo Canoe Livery (Vandermeer Park area) up into Barton Pond. I don't know how far we actually ended up going but that doesn't really matter too much (6 miles tops would be my guess). What matters is getting out with a friend and having a fine time doing something you both enjoy. I think we managed to achieve that just fine and in the process we even learned a few things.

Steve and I both own Pakboat Puffins. He has the 10 foot Sport and I have an older 12 foot version. In many ways the boats are quite similar. Mine has a couple extra ribs you need to insert and I always seem to be fighting a lot more with my gunwales than Steve ever does with his. My boat takes a spray deck while the Sport, as Steve got it (perhaps things have changed) does not. But both boats are fine for paddling gentle rivers, lakes, and sheltered water. I could imagine doing modest multi-day trips in either of them as long as you did not take them out on big open water. As usual Steve got his boat assembled more quickly than I. SOme of that is practice making perfect, some better natural ability to put things together. But once we were all set, and after answering a couple questions from interested people who had not seen folding kayaks before, we plopped our boats in the water and paddled forth under the clear blazing sky. Finding shady spots along the river as we paddled upstream was always a nice change. Finding those shady spots also gave relief to tired eyes from the fierce reflections of the sun off the water.

Steve and I have both paddled this lazy stretch of the lazy Huron before. The river flows easily against our passage but the current is hardly an impediment to our boats. The cool waters don't stop other people from swimming or standing waist deep with fishing lines angling for who knows what below. Those cool waters would drip off our paddles as we raised them out of the water moistening our legs with pleasant doses of cool enjoyment. In a reversal of usual roles I had decided to forgo using my spray deck and Steve was experimenting with a newly crafted half-spray deck. I would receive more drips and drops because of the change but I reckon I also enjoyed more freedom of movement so in these conditions out in a warm afternoon sun on a cool river it hardly mattered.

It is hard to chat while paddling. Someone is always ahead and voices don't carry well backwards. But you still manage conversation. The topics might not be grand but the mood is good and when conversation isn't practical that is fine too. We enjoyed the river, the company, the weather, the entire afternoon out. We knew we had ample time to go where we wanted and we took advantage of that time whiling away hours before we knew they had gone. At least they seemed to pass quite quickly to me.

When you can end a good day out with a friend with a nice meal and good drink sitting outside in downtown Ann Arbor (or where ever you are) that is the capstone to a very fine day. I know I had a good time and I feel sure Steve did too.

For those of you looking for a point to this ramble I'm sorry to tell you that their is no deeper meaning than that when you have a chance to do something you enjoy do it. That sounds trite but it is still true.
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