Things I Think While Kayaking

22 Jun

Several weeks ago, my wife and I hiked some trails around the Harpeth River. As we walked, we saw people kayaking, and she has been wanting to kayak ever since. Yesterday, we decided to spend some family time on the water, so my wife, my stepdaughter and I headed out for a day of outdoor adventure. Unfortunately, there are no pictures for this post because we were afraid out phones would get wet. I only have this emblem from the kayak company to break the monotony of words.Foggy Bottom

Luckily, we called ahead to Foggy Bottom, the kayak renting place, because it was packed with people on a waiting list. Within a few minutes of arriving, we were on a van filled with anticipation. When we arrived at the put in spot, I helped the driver take kayaks to the water while my wife and stepdaughter stood on the bank arguing over who was going to get the cool one that they saw. That is when a guy told them that they could stop arguing because it was his personal kayak.

The driver told us that we would get out at the bridge, and, with that information, we shoved off into the great unknown with a ton of other people. We paddled for a while. We floating for a while. It was all very relaxing, and, when I get relaxed, I start to think. That is why I do my best thinking when I first get into bed.

The first thing to hit me was a song.

“Rock the Boat” by The Hues Corporation

When that one came to mind, they started flooding in.

“Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner. It is better than the CCR version.

“Big River” by Johnny Cash

“Old Man River” by Paul Robeson

Somewhere Down the Crazy River” by Robbie Robertson. I wrote a terrible post about it.

“Take Me to the River” by Al Green but made famous by that mounted fish.

“We Shall Gather at the River” by various people in almost every John Ford movie.

I was having so much fun that I started to sing a few of them. My wife looked at me warily. When I wondered aloud about how many songs are about rivers, she looked at me like I was crazy.

My thoughts were interrupted when we hit our first rapids. Well, they were not really rapids. It was more like water running over some rocks. Embarrassingly, I got spun around. More embarrassingly, it happened each time we hit a little rapids. My wife and stepdaughter were a lot better with the wild and raging waters.

It was during one of these spins that I started thinking about Native Americans. I teach about how many of the tribes lived along the rivers and how those waterways were their interstates. In all of those lectures, I never realized how hard that would have been. I am sure they used the Harpeth, but they also used rivers a lot bigger and wilder than this one.

Then, it happened. The clouds began to build up, and we heard thunder. Not long after, we saw lightning in the distance. Around the same time, we hit another small rapids, and I got stuck. My wife and stepdaughter, in an attempt to outrun the storm, took off. Once I got myself unstuck, I was paddling alone as the clouds darkened.

There I was. Clouds darkening overhead. Lightning flashing all around. Me sitting on a little boat in the middle of the water. I decided not to worry about it because there was nowhere to go. Lightning would probably strike the tallest thing around, and that would be some tree. If I stayed in the middle, then a falling tree would not hit me. Certainly, this is the plan that a Native American in a canoe would have followed.

It started to rain, but I was already wet. I made the decision to paddle until I caught up with the rest of my family. That took a while.

Eventually, the rain went away; I caught up; and I began to ponder some of the things that we had seen.

Along the way, there were several places where people could stop their boats and get out. We did not do that because my stepdaughter was focused on getting to that bridge. However, I watched the people as we floated by.

They skipped rocks.

They fished.

They drank beer. Actually, it must have been a lot of beer by the looks of some of the bellies on the guys.

There was one couple making out on a log where they thought they could not be seen.

Where there was a road access, people pulled up in their pickup trucks.

That is when it hit me. We had been floating through one of those Country songs that you hear on the radio all of the time. It was almost like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World, where you ride a boat and watch the animatronic pirates attack a town. The pirate song plays as you go from spot to spot.

This was the Country song version of that with real people on the banks. When those guys get in their tight jeans and jump around on stage, this is what they are singing about. However, it looked different from I imagine when I hear one of the songs on the radio.

When the guy sings about riding to the river in his pickup truck and the girl has her bare feet on the dashboard, I picture a good-looking girl that you might see in the video. Yesterday, I did not see her.

It brought to mind a story I once heard. This guy was telling his friend about when he first got married. His wife had a butterfly tattoo on her butt. He asked his friend if he would like to see it. Then, he yelled to his wife, “Come here and show us that Screamin’ Eagle on your ass!”

‘Merica

To the relief of my stepdaughter, we made it to the bridge and a throng of people trying to get on vans. We thought it was going to be a struggle, but we made it out rather quickly. My wife and stepdaughter crammed into a space for one, and I hopped in with the coolers in back.

We made it back home but were worn out and sore. I picked up a pizza, and we spent the rest of the night trying not to move. I cannot wait to go back again. Kayaking was really fun. Next time, I want to stop at one of those spots and see what it is like to take part in a Country song. That good-looking girl I imagine will be with me because I married her.

 

 

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6 Responses to “Things I Think While Kayaking”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong June 22, 2014 at 17:40 #

    Rollin on the river 🙂 I introduced my boss one year to kayaking. He was a physicist and for him, it was an exercise in vectors. I always enjoyed watching from the shore.

    • Rick June 22, 2014 at 17:59 #

      I am sure it is a fascinating thing to watch.

  2. jcalberta June 22, 2014 at 17:47 #

    Sweet.
    Nahhhh … that lightning will never strike me … do they put motors on these things?
    RIver of Dreams by whatshisface … Billy Joel.

    • Rick June 22, 2014 at 17:59 #

      Excellent. After several hours, I was looking for a motor.

  3. El Guapo June 22, 2014 at 21:45 #

    We spent yesterday stand-up paddleboarding in Manhasset Bay. It was a perfect day for it.
    Much like your (or any) day kayaking, it was also perfect for letting my mind wander.

    • Rick June 22, 2014 at 23:28 #

      We had an awesome day. I’m just waiting to go back. I’m not sure I could do the standing up thing.

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