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Archive for the ‘canoeing’ Category

This weekend we gathered up a couple of canoes, a couple of kayaks, a grammie, an aunt, a mom and dad, a sister, a couple of cousins, and a partridge in a pear tree and we all headed to Riley Brook, NB for a day of paddling on the Tobique river. 

The river is a wide, slow river that is just perfect for a lazy float.  It was beautiful as always and just rife with wildlife.  Since I had my new camera in hand (thanks, hubby), I snapped a lot of pictures.  I thought I would share them here for a change of pace… there must be a few animal lovers among us, aren’t there? 

First up, this striking bald eagle for my American friends.  While you usually see eagles at the tops of the highest trees, this one was surprisingly sitting in the grass along the shore and just watching us float by. 

He was just begging for a picture so I paddled back and snuck around the corner to get the shot above… zoomed in, of course.  They are big and a little scary-looking, aren’t they?  I mean, look at those eyes!  Suddenly, he started to stir and I thought, “My god, he thinks I’m a cat and is going to wrap those talons around my fully exposed neck”.  I reached for my paddle but, as it turns out, he went flying in the opposite direction.  In my attempt to defend myself, I probably missed the best flying shot but the one below isn’t bad. 

Check out that wing span! 

During the day, we saw several flocks of ducks… mamas with their little ducklings.  Or maybe it was the fathers.  I don’t know.  I shouldn’t assume.  There are more stay-at-home dads than there used to be and that is just fine by me. 

This one is a flock of Merganser ducks.  All together now… Awwww!  Aren’t they cute?  I love there little tufts of unruly hair in the back. 

Next up is a couple of deer that were drinking along the water as we came around a bend in the river.  They didn’t stick around for long but they also didn’t seem to worry too much about us.  Deer sightings are pretty common for this remote area of NB. 

The wildlife highlight of the day… the hinterland who’s who moment, if you will… was another flock of lings.  My mom, sister, 5-year-old cousin and I were lagging behind the rest of the boats.  We had noticed a flock of ducklings quite a bit behind us on the water.  We joked, we laughed, and kept on floating, and then I heard something behind me… the ducklings caught up with us!  They came right up beside the boat and, believe it or not, stuck right there beside us for a full five minutes. 

I snapped multiple pics… here are a few.  It was a great end to our wildlife-a-rific day. 

My five-year-old cousin Matthew was particularly intrigued and wanting to feed them to keep them around. 

Not sure Twizzlers are the answer there, Matt, but I guess it’s worth a try.

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canoeingii.jpg

That is me, circa 1997. 

Behind me is my crazy father. 

Yes, that is a field of snow. 

And yes… that is most definitely a canoe. 

Allow me to explain. 

You see, that particular winter we received a storm that delivered a lot of freezing rain over a couple of days.  The result was a crust of ice several inches thick on top of a few feet of snow.  That crust was hard and it stayed that way for weeks. 

How hard was that crust?  You could walk anywhere and the four wheeler went anywhere… not just on the skidoo trails, but on top of the drifts, straight through the fields, everywhere. 

It was around this time that we also experimented with our downhill skis on the hill behind our house.  How did we get to the top of said hill?  We were towed to the top behind the four wheeler, using a plain old rope. 

Yes, my father is quite the character. 

So one day while on break from university, my father said to me, “You know, I have always wanted to try to go sliding with a canoe”.  He had heard of this being done before.  My dad is the curious sort, you see, and once he gets an idea in his head, it will gurgle and stew in there until he can make it happen. 

The crust that winter made the perfect surface:  instead of trudging along in a few inches of soft snow, we would do it in grand old Carleton County style and that was going to be in a green canoe that was sure to quickly turn into a lightning fast torpedo on top of that hard crust. 

We hauled the canoe to a field not too far away and lugged it to the top of a hill.  The field was open, save for a couple of rock piles in the middle and about halfway down.  I piled in the canoe and Dad gave us a push to get us started.  So far so good.  We were laughing at the sheer hilarity of what we were doing when the canoe steered towards the middle of the field.  In cartoon style, I think the light bulbs went on for both of us at the same time. 

How were we going to steer this thing?  I guess paddles would be the obvious answer but there we were, up the snowbank without a paddle, picking up speed, and heading toward this rock pile.  Dad was trying to steer but he was not being that successful.  As the rock pile loomed closer, in a moment of panic… I bailed. 

Both knees and shins and I think even my elbows went through that thick layer of crust.  I was bruised for three weeks after that. 

Are you wondering what happened to Dad?  You should be.  He actually managed to narrowly miss the rock pile and continued down the field, drastically picking up speed (which I’m sure was happening more quickly because part of the cargo, me, had went overboard). 

What was at the bottom of the field to stop him?  Forest. 

He didn’t get too far into the trees before coming to a stop (without the aid of a tree, I should note).  And when I caught up to him, he was laughing so hard that I couldn’t help but join in. 

That’s my dad.  He’s fun and funny and the life in any room and he can make me laugh like no one else.  We’re never quite sure what he’s going to say and do next and he would try (almost) anything once.  I hope to be just like that:  ready to make my own fun and not waiting for it to find me.  Boy, do I love him. 

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Last night Brian and I went kayaking with our buddies Randy, Keith, and Dave.  We put in on the Presque Isle Stream just above the Tracey Mills bridge.  Within 12.46 seconds I was wet.  There is a rock right under the bridge that channels the water directly into one of its posts … at the last moment, I was swept into the post and went over.  The darkest part of the bruise on my ego came from just having given Randy pointers on how to get through it.  It was not a difficult spot to maneuver .  <sigh> 

Presque Isle Stream 1 – Candice 0

 The only other time I’ve upset in fast water was last summer on the Nashwaak.  After 4-5 days of rain we decided to tackle it:  Keith in his kayak and Brian and I in a canoe along with Nelly.  I’ve never been in water so fast or so white.  The Nashwaak has some tough rapids but we put in below the toughest of those so that statement is only indicative of my experience level.  The stretches of rapids were incessant, one after the other, but we were doing well to handle them. 

Halfway through this particular set of rapids, I look ahead to see Keith pulling his kayak to shore.  Just as I informed Brian of Keith’s troubles, we hit a rapid and took in a lot of water on the right side.  Whether or not it made a difference, Nelly picked that exact moment to lean to the same side of the boat and over we went.  Now THAT was fast and cold water, immediately taking my breath away.  I remember grabbing onto the side of the canoe at the same time that Nelly grabbed onto me:  a paw on each of my shoulders, holding on for dear life. 

To complete the story, Nelly swam to shore just fine.  Keith and I ended up on what would have been an island in lower water and managed to empty his kayak standing in a foot of water.  Brian emptied our canoe on the shore and then drug it upriver so he could get to the island and give us a hand. 

As we were composing ourselves and our gear, Keith checked his GPS and said, “Folks, we’ve just passed through Hell’s Gates”, a noteworthy set of rapids and the toughest one on our stretch.  Those seven words managed to take some of the sting out of the kick the river had just planted firmly on our asses. 

Nashwaak 1 – Candice 0

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