Previously published on June 24, 2010. For those of you planning a little summer fun with the family in the next few months, this is for you.
noun. a water activity involving a long slender boat maneuvered by paddling with oars.
This past Saturday Keith and I decided to spend some quality time with the kids that would create a lifelong “memory.” After a little discussion of what activity to do, we headed towards a nearby state park that featured a river as its main attraction. There was much fun to be had on this river and a plethora of activities awaited our simple choice: we decided on canoeing. We had never enjoyed a diversion such as canoeing (at least as a family), so it appealed to our adventurous spirit. We all agreed canoeing would be FUN. However, by the end of the day we had spent a great quantity of time together on the river but I’m not so sure that the quality went very high on the Family Fun-O-Meter; the only memories that will linger from this trip are the lessons learned about canoeing.
TOP 9 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO “FAMILY CANOEING”
Lesson #1: Be sure to check the river’s water level before heading out for a 4 hour trip. Note to Novices: If the water is low, your canoe will move slowly and often require you to exit the boat, drag it over rocks to a deeper section, and gracefully (Ha!) re-enter the boat.
Lesson #2: Flip flops are not an acceptable form of footwear for aforementioned activity. Note to Novices: Flip flops do provide protection against the rocky river bottom, but unless your toes can work as vice grips, you will have serious trouble keeping flip flops on your feet. On the positive side, flip flops do float, but the current will wisk them down, and you must chase after them barefoot. There’s only one word for that: “OUCH!” (Although I’m sure there are many other words that could be used, I’m running a family friendly blog here!)
Lesson #3: A fresh pedicure will be ruined if you don’t learn from lesson #2. Note to Novices: While your chasing your flip flop down-river, you will slip, slide, and stub your toe on a rock (or rocks) and it will chip your polish or your toenail and then have the audacity to not even apologize!
Lesson #4: The maximum canoe occupancy is 2 people, even if the canoe-trip saleslady says, “Oh, you four can fit easily into one canoe.” Note to Novices: 4 people can FIT in the canoe but the added weight presents a problem, especially in light of lesson #1. Needless to say, Soccer Ace developed his mantra for the day: “Man, I wish I had a kayak!”
Lesson #5: There is no need for towels or extra clothing in the boat unless you plan on soaking up the water in the bottom of the boat. Note to Novices: It’s easier to wring out water-soaked towels with 2 people OR you could just leave those towels and clothes in the vehicle and they’ll stay dry and provide comfort once the ordeal family bonding time is over.
Lesson #6: A Styrofoam cooler is not sturdy enough to survive the rigors of canoeing, especially if you accidentally sit on it at the beginning of the trip. Note to Novices: Invest in an Igloo cooler before you head out, and when you get parched, you’ll actually have a cold beverage to quench your thirst.
Lesson #7: Anyone sharing a canoe must take a full dosage of a chill pill before setting out on the trip. (Those of you born after 1985 might not get that but think Zanex or Prosac.) Note to Novice: If you’ve recently prayed for God to give you more patience, do NOT– I REPEAT– DO NOT, go canoeing!
Lesson #8: You will recognize the trip’s halfway mark and no you have not passed it even though you’ve been on the river for a good 10 hours for a 4 hour trip. Note to Novice: You will think that you’ve passed the halfway marker on several occasions but you didn’t — it’s just your mind is doing some wishful thinking.
Lesson #9: The ride home is likely to be more enjoyable than the canoe trip altogether. Note to Novice: You WILL reach the canoe exit site. The drive home will be pleasurable and full of laughter simply because the stress of canoeing is over and everyone can begin to have fun.
Hope those tips help in some small way. I’m sure that I’ll go canoeing again, ( I am moving to the Amazon River Basin) but at least I’ll be more prepared. My boat will be loaded with an Igloo full of chilled bottled water, towels and dry clothes will wait safely back in the vehicle, two canoes will be rented, and I won’t forget to take my chill pills!
(Pictured at right The Happy Canoeists: Soccer Ace and Sassafras. This was taken after the trip – thus the smiles)