Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Father's Day Challenge 2007

Buoyed by our maiden voyage to Arkabutla, we opted to spend Father's Day canoeing the Wolf River rather than spend the day at Sears picking out a lawn mower. We originally thought we'd check out one of "the most beautiful, varied and challenging wetland canoe trails in the country," the Ghost River, until we read that it was a "6 to 7-hour adventure requiring moderate canoe handling skills around sharp turns and obstacles in a relatively swift current." Neither of us could imagine the monkeys sitting in a canoe that long.

So, instead we opted for the "short, delightful and shaded 4-mile section of river" between Collierville-Arlington Road and Piperton, TN. We were assured that there would be "plenty of time to stop and explore and swim in the river’s cool, spring fed waters."

What could be better?

The monkeys actually spent the night with my mom after staying up late and partying at the bout. This allowed Warren and I to sleep in a little, enjoy a nice breakfast at The Pancake House (on lovely Summer Avenue), and shop for pint sized life preservers at Bass Pro Shops. I had hoped that the monkeys would sleep in at my mom's since she actually has blinds on her windows, but at 11:30am I was informed that they had stayed up until almost 1a.m. and then gotten up at 8:30a.m.


"Well, hopefully they will take a nap while we drive out to the river," I said optimistically.

However, due to the excitement over getting new life preservers (they both wore them in the car) and the promise of an adventure, there was no napping in the car.

We dropped Warren's truck off at the embankment near Collierville-Arlington Road and then took my car to the drop-in in Piperton. It took us awhile to locate the drop-in since the road was really overgrown. Really overgrown. It made me a little nervous and I silently wondered if we were actually in the right place, but I kept a giant Father's Day grin on my face.

Jiro soon proved to be the weak link in Team Oster. He and Satchel busied themselves on the bank while Warren and I unloaded the canoe. It didn't take long for them to be ankle deep in mud. Jiro did not like being muddy and started balling. "I want to take a nap in the car," he cried.

"Uh, it's a little late for that," I replied as I helped rinse his sandals off.

Once we were all in the canoe, everyone was quite chipper. The current was almost nonexistent and we slowly made our way down the winding river. There were quite a few trees laying in our path thanks to the eroding river bank and low water level, but they were easily traversed. Jiro and Satchel happily cheered, "Yay! We made it!" each time we got through an obstacle.

Warren and I were actually working quite well together as bow and stern, which was a relief. He did have to instruct me a bit on using my paddle to push off obstacles and avoid large bumps, but thankfully I was a quick study.

We soon found a nice sandy place to get out and explore. I assisted Jiro out of the canoe so that he could avoid the very messy quicksand lining the shore. Satchel quickly found some interesting shells and bugs. We snapped a few photos and got back in the canoe.

As time passed, Jiro started to get more and more sleepy. And cranky. It nicely coincided with the river getting more and more littered with giant trees and us spotting more and more big spiders and snakes. Jiro started crying, "I want to go to C's house," over and over.

"What do you want to do at C's house?" I asked.

"I want to watch TV!" he exclaimed.

Satchel stayed pretty chipper, but let out a gasp every few seconds, which was a little nerve-wracking.

At one point we were heading right for a clump of low-hanging branches. I stuck out my paddle as instructed in an attempt to push off of them. I wasn't quick enough, and ended up having to push off with my hand. As I half-successfully got us around it, I heard Warren gasp.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Huh?" he played dumb.

"Why did you gasp?"

"I didn't."

"Yes, you did."

"It's nothing," he said.

"TELL ME," I demanded.

"There was a snake on that branch that you grabbed, but it jumped in the water," he said with a giggle.

"What? Oh. My. God." I let it sink in and then I started crying, "I want to go to C's house!!"

But I was just kidding. I soldiered on. Satchel stopped asking if he could get out and go swimming.

Eventually Jiro fell asleep sitting up with his head resting on my seat. I tried hard to lay him down, but he was freaked out by the mud that was steadily accumulating in the canoe. We had a few peaceful minutes, and then we realized that there was a tree ahead that we could not go around. Or under. We had to wake Jiro up and instruct him to stand on the tree with his brother while we pulled the canoe over the top. He was not happy. However, he did put on a happy face for this impromptu picture, which kind of cracked me up.

(I thought the trash and pond scum accumulating near the tree was a nice touch.)

We had to go over several more trees and under a few more. It was starting to get a bit old. Every few minutes Warren would say, "I think we're getting close. I can hear the cars."

"I guess if you just keep saying that, eventually it will be true," I joked.

"I don't like canoeing," Satchel reported.

"Why?" I asked, shocked.

"It's scary with all of the snakes and bugs and there's nowhere to swim."

"It's not scary," I said. "It's exciting."

"It's great team building," Warren piped in.

"Go Team Oster!" I said enthusiastically.

We did finally make it to where the truck was parked. Our total canoe time was three hours. Had there been no trees and a faster current, it could have easily been half that. Despite having tired babies, various critters to contend with, and more downed trees than was really fun, overall it was a good time. Working together with Warren to get our little family down the river without any bickering was just awesome. It almost felt like Mother's Day.


Chip said...

The outdoorsy-ness of Team Oster really puts me and my team to shame.

RJA said...

It was all mud and snakes at our house that day anyway.

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