Harvest Moon Kayaking

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Some years ago I saw an outfitter company offering a midnight canoe trip – limited availability, bad timing, or kids at home led to it slipping from my mind.  Now with our own kayaks, CRBI, a group I’ve taken a couple trips with, offered a Harvest Moon paddle in Rome, GA.  The only catch was getting to Rome ~ 6:15 for dropping the kayaks and dropping the car off at the pull out location.  Despite the hordes of commuters and a red light conspiracy, we made it in time, though without a stop for fast food.

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With 23 going, we eventually set off after shuttling cars and people and the requisite safety and fundraising talk.  We hit the water ~ 7:30.  One of the State requirements is that boats, even unmotorized, have lights so that they’re not struck by others.  Makes sense.  On a night to observe the moon, these were at times helpful but more often incredibly annoying depending on their brightness and and direction.  In any case, we went not too far down the river from Heritage Park and more or less waited for the moon rise.

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Shortly, our guide sounded pressured that the moon had not yet risen, as if it wouldn’t.  And, to that point, still nothing. 

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There we go, with one building tower in Rome to say that we saw the moon rise over the city.  I know, not that exciting, right?

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Here’s a shot with a little more color, a mystery of digital camera magic in low light...  Essentially, the moon hung at the edge of the southern tree line as we continued another 5 miles or so down the Coosa River.  When there was a break in the trees, the light shone on the northern bank, for a time, suggesting someone turned their boat lamp to a higher setting or that Steven King would find inspiration in a river bank suddenly revealed then made dark. 

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And, after that, we headed downstream.  It looked pretty much like this:

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That is, it did if you got tired of seeing others’ boat lights and stayed at the front.  For what was expected by our guide to be a tight group going down the river, we stretched out quite a bit.  There’s not so much to see, but there were two things to stay entertained:  wildlife and chatting with boaters.   I’ve been on the Etowah several times, and wildlife is more abundant at night, it seems.  Bugs, for one.  They like hanging out on the river at dusk, and they like it even better when there are lights, even more when conveniently located next to people.  It was like driving through a minor snowstorm, watching them fly by the light at the front of my boat and past my face.  Thankfully, we wore insect repellent, which seemed to work pretty well.  And, for that matter, bats liked us too, seen in glimpses as they dashed across at the edge of the light, searching for an easy snack. 

But there were also very loud splashes and resulting ripples when fish jumped.  Big ones.  You rarely see fish during the day, though the kingfishers and herons confirm that they’re there.  They’re rather startling at night, because it’s unexpected, especially close to the kayak.  And, then there are these heads that pop out, one of which one lady bumped.  River otter.  Otherwise, one heron flew by, and geese squawked somewhere ahead of us a couple of times.  So, there you go.  Nature.

Otherwise, there was conversation.  The first surprise was when the daughter of a couple that we were very fond of in our former church recognized Nancy’s voice when we introduced ourselves in the group.  It’s a small world, sometimes, but it had been 20 years since the last known time that she would have met us.  Amazing.

Further down the river, my wife and I got separated, as the river is fairly wide, and conversations come and go depending on who catches up or drops back.  She talked a good bit with Tim, a retired Special Ed teacher from Alabama, who among many hobbies, kayaks alot, encourages the legalization of marijuana and likes live music.  She also met up with an adventurous college senior currently doing student teaching, who was kayaking solo simply because she loves doing it.

After failing to divert a guy’s attention from his GPS/depth finder (glued to it the entire trip), I mostly spoke with “Duck,” or rather listened to her adventures.  Like what? There was a deer that chased her for a mile and half when she was hiking on a trail with her daughter.  She now carries a gun when she hikes, no longer concerned by future Bambis.  She likes football, specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers, because “there’s always a bar where Steeler fans gather regardless of where you are.”  I’m sure there’s more to it than that, including her boyfriend who lives there.  She eats out often, but she doesn’t eat at the same restaurant twice unless someone insists.  She’s also disturbed by the number of (inferred) single middle-aged women who are afraid to go to anywhere (like restaurants) for fear of venturing alone in unfamiliar neighborhoods.  She brews her own beer occasionally, not from kits, as well as cider.  She also enjoys exotic cocktails and trying new drinks, like “sipping tequila” which is apparently a thing.  Rather than planning what to do each weekend, she keeps a list of things that are doable within a couple hours of Atlanta, numbers them, then rolls the dice for simplicity, usually joined by her 21 year old son.  She takes kickboxing classes… early in the morning.  She’s done mud runs, but prefers Hash House Harriers… what? 

As their Atlanta chapter sums, it brings “running in strange places, flaunting authority, sweating, and drinking all with good companions.”  It seems to be a somewhat adult running club, ending in a social beer drinking gathering at the end.  One person is the hare, who lays a trail (that may not be straightforward, thus requiring clues) using flour which the runners follow.  This could include (and has) running through a mall or other private property as easily as through a muddy, snarly area around the Chattahoochee River.   There’s a Wiki article with the group’s history, and apparently these happen locally very frequently.   Oh, and she has four kayaks.   Agreeable superficiality seems to be the rule for river conversations, and she was an ace as we paddled through the dark.

Whatever the conversation, the evening was more about the relaxation and socializing with others while kayaking in the (at times) barely illuminated dark, which would otherwise have been scary as hell if done alone.  Fortunately, this section of the river has no shoals or other hazards, other than fallen trees at the edges, the occasional otter head, and the eventual roar of a waterfall alerting boaters that the trip is at its end.   That said, after an emergency McD’s stop (Don’t think negatively of us that way!  We only went there because Krystal was closed!), an accident on the main road out of town, and a fairly lengthy drive home, it was a late night an early morning (2:00 a.m.) arrival at the house.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Oh, and because it fits and I like it:

 
 

1 comment :

  1. Reese you are the best!!! You haven't changed in all these years!! Please come back to Rome for s longer visit. Love to you both, from that couple you knew years ago and who are now old����

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