07 June 2015

Just Around the River Bend

Getting started!
Remember the Disney version of Pocahontas where she warbled about whether or not to keep exploring around the river bend, but always as a solo act (Kocoum was the safe, boring option who would squelch her dreams)? Well, Pocahontas had it all wrong.
Our pre-breakfast visitor.
Friday night, a few coworkers of Jack got together for a camping and canoeing excursion on the nearby Sugar Creek. After nearly running out of gas (I thought there'd be fuel closer by!) and then stopping at two gas stations only to find they'd been abandoned, we arrived at the campground. It was incredibly expensive when compared to state parks, was jam packed with people who blared music I generally like, except when I'm trying to sleep, was ripe with poison ivy at every turn and hosted a herd of raccoons who were anything but shy and didn't hesitate to help themselves to food or rummage around tents. The campsite was redeemed by the spectacular view that looked over a historic covered bridge, backdropped by Sugar Creek and a sheer limestone cliff.
Exploring the historic covered bridge.
We did the usual camping stuff--explored, had a campfire meal, chased fireflies and ate s'mores before retiring wearily to bed. It should be fairly needless to say that camping while pregnant isn't the most comfortable thing to do but it wasn't too bad, thanks to the perfectly cool but not cold weather. I also consider it a blessing I didn't have to do the pregnant woman waddle to the bathroom in the middle of the night--I fear I might have been taken hostage by the raccoons who were up to all kinds of midnight mischief.
It's impossible for kids to stand next to a river and not throw in rocks.
The girls were up bright and early, despite several less hours of sleep than they are accustomed (thank goodness I had the foresight to have them nap the day before!) and it's nearly impossible to keep them quiet and contained when they're excited about waking up in a tent and the upcoming special donut breakfast. Camping by small children is kind of payback for people who stay up late and are loud and obnoxious into the wee hours of the morning--if I can't sleep, guess you can't either.
Evelyn's new friend.
Once we'd eaten and packed up, Jack had someone shuttle him to the end of the canoe route but with limited mobile service, his thirty minute trip turned into over an hour while they tried to get directions to their destination, leaving me with no way to contact him (since he had my phone in the car to charge it while he drove) and when I finally tried calling him from the office, I ended up calling my own phone out of habit of reciting my number. When they did return, we wasted no time dragging the canoe down to the river and were off.
Ready to push off!
At first, the girls were a bit apprehensive about being on the water and shrieked every time we wobbled or skimmed over a boulder. Frankly, so was I. There's something unnerving about taking kids onto open bodies of water when they're not fantastic swimmers. Thankfully, the river was generally slow moving or shallow and in the end, there weren't any tip overs from us. The drunk canoers? That's a different story--let's just say, they seem to sober up quickly when they realize their car keys have been washed downstream and their canoe is lodged under a dead log they didn't seem to notice in the middle of the river and they are thus stranded in the middle of nowhere. Thank goodness Jack and his coworkers were willing to lend a hand.
Taking a break at a rocky little island in the middle of the creek.
The entire trip was such an adventure! Along the winding creek were miles of breathtaking scenery and animals--we saw a bald eagle, blue herons, a very curious white-tailed doe, a river otter, raccoons and myriads of other wildlife. We stopped a few times for breaks (being able to potty in the forest is a necessary life skill as far as I'm concerned) and to hunt for shells and fossils. By the end of the trip, we were all exhausted (Claire and Kate even fell asleep, draped uncomfortably the canoe) and I was pretty sure I was going to have to amputate my lower half after sitting for four hours on the unforgiving canoe seat. But, it was worth it.
Trying desperately to catch minnows.
Exploring just around the river bend is way more exciting with a husband and children.
Kate wading.
Claire testing the water.

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