My family were invited to visit with a friend at their cabin “up north” last weekend. With recent (constant?) stresses, it was a blessing to “get away” for a while.
Anna was unable to join us as she had previous plans with friends that kept her home, plus she was scheduled to work on Monday and we planned to stay until then. I had to be back mid-day for an appointment, and we all wanted to be back for Anna’s concert with the Medalist Concert Band that evening.
It was very relaxing hanging out at the cabin, even though we missed Anna. There were no phones to answer (except the cell phone to stay in touch with Anna); no Internet (Judy loves that); and plenty of nature and fresh air. You know, I would actually love to move to somewhere quiet like this in the country. Maybe into our very own log homes. I love the fact that there is nothing to distract you from spending time together, like social media which we all know can take up a lot of time away from your loved ones. I just think it would be nice to live in our very own log cabin, or if not permanently, we should get one that we can use as our holiday home. There were plenty of things that we could do. We enjoyed a rousing rainstorm the first night; a hike in the morning and a concert at the community band shell the next night; and we exhausted ourselves in kayaks on the third day.
I want to describe that kayak trip, as it was remarkable. First, let me inform you that we are NOT kayakers of any stature. We have not taken classes, nor are we in training. But we do love being on the water, and we have lots of canoeing experience. Elise, who rowed for the University of Minnesota women’s crew, particularly LOVES kayaking. (In fact, a good way to rouse her from sleep is to suggest kayaking, as she will snap awake, eager to go, even before she knows where she is!) We enjoyed a casual paddle across the lake and to a waterfall about a mile-and-a-half from the cabin. We enjoy sitting in the falls with the water against our backs (quite a massage!). Our host, Peter, suggested that he would be willing to pick us up in the car if two of us wanted to float down to the highway crossing. After some brief negotiations, Elise and I elected to try it. He said he and his wife had done the trip in about three hours; it was about 4 PM at the time, so it would be tight, and we would encounter twilight bug populations, and would need to keep going to get there before dark. Although we didn’t set out with any intention of being gone that long, we felt we could do it with the one liter of water I had to share between us, even though we didn’t have any food.
We found out later that the trip is almost sixteen miles (!) and that the three hours estimate was based on Pam’s pace (Peter’s wife, who trains regularly). It actually took Elise and me almost four hours, and we were VERY hungry, VERY “sore in the saddle”; and ABSOLUTELY amazed by what we saw and experienced.
Although I didn’t bring a camera (a good thing as it would have gotten wet) here’s a link to a satellite view of our route. The blisters I developed on my hands are now beginning to heal; it mostly doesn’t hurt any more to sit down; and I have just about recovered my energy and can report that most of the sore muscles are beginning to relax. Here are the highlights:
- It was truly nice to be on the water. It was very calm and smooth, with a few very gentle rapids in stretches. There was no wind to battle and it wasn’t too hot.
- I actually did have our two bug repellent fans (no spray) and when the bugs started to make their presence known, we each donned one and they worked fairly well at keeping the mosquitoes away, although they were ineffective with the biting flies.
- At one point Elise stopped to hop out and put her flotation device on her seat for additional cushion. When I stopped to wait for her, also attempting to get out, my foot got stuck in the mud, and pulling it out caused the kayak to tip and fill. Laugh! We emptied the water and continued without damage.
- The real amazement was the wildlife we saw, including large fish, turtles, songbirds and frogs (heard, not seen) and we startled several deer at water’s edge as twilight approached.
- We saw several bald eagles sitting up in the trees and flying along the river, and one huge eagle (juvenile bald eagle? Golden Eagle?) sitting on a log right near the water. It was breath taking, and it didn’t fly away until we were right across from it. It was significantly larger than the bald eagles we saw, and colored differently.
- There was also a great blue heron which seemed to stand over five feet tall, and whose wingspan was seven or eight feet. He would fly downstream immediately when he saw (or heard) us. He apparently forgot about us after he went around a single bend, as he would be there again when we arrived, and repeated the routine many times. One time we came around the bend in time to see him spear/grab a fish out of the water at his feet.
- We also came upon several ducks, who pantomimed the “injured duck” very noisily and splashily, apparently attempting to divert our “attention” away from a nest or young. They would keep it up through several bends, staying just ahead of us, but keeping us in sight, until we had gone quite some distance away from the presumed nesting spot, before they flew away and left us to our devices.
- We got very sore in the seat. Our wet clothing and sitting so long made us very weary. Enough said about that. (Can you say “chafing”?)
- It was quiet most of the way, which was also pleasant. In a couple spots we could hear the highway, and motor noise from some recreational spot (?), but for the most part, it was quiet. We encountered one fisherman working his way upstream, and one man working a series of traps (he said for minnows). Other than that, we had the whole route to ourselves.
We were VERY glad we had undertaken it. Elise was ready to do it again right away, although I would have needed significant recovery time before I would consider a repeat. It was a joy to spend the time on the water with Elise, and to be so intimately in touch with the river and its inhabitants.