Monday, August 4, 2008

Great River Rumble July 27: Menomonie to Downsville, WI. 8 miles

We started our day with a meeting on the shore of the river. "Moses" brought forth the ten commandments of the great river rumble. Thou shalt not go ahead of the leader, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's boat, etc. Great fun! We'll be having a meeting every morning to tell us what to expect each day.
I had not been in a kayak at all this year until 2 days before we left for the trip. I knew I would regret that! Sunday's paddle was pretty easy though: just 8 miles. We started out on the Red Cedar River. It was a slow lazy trip... we saw several bald eagles, no other boats, and no other people. The riverfront was surprisingly (at least to me, from Detroit) undeveloped: no houses or parks, nothing but trees and sandy banks. Very nice.

The boats really ran the gamut--there were several aluminum canoes, some high tech kevlar canoes, lots of kayaks of all sorts. Our indestructible blow molded kayaks were pretty low tech compared to the sleek fast fiberglas and composite kayaks on the river! Three people had mishaps today, hitting tree branches or other debris. One guy dumped into the river, which was shallow and warm enough that the upset could almost be called an enjoyable experience.

We had to pull into the ramp one kayak at a time, which takes a while when there are over 100 boats! After we secured our boats, a bus took us to the park where there were real showers. The "Rumble showers" were available as well, but who wants to stand out in front of everybody and take an ice cold shower when private sort-of-warm showers are available?

We set up camp in the shade, Bill and I in our tent, Otis in his, and Fred in his. Dinner was catered in for us, and we opened a bottle of wine brought from home. There was a band playing old rock and roll songs... life is good!

Lesson learned: DON"T be the first boat in the water! You just have to sit out there until everyone else is launched.

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