Fat Fridays: Me and the St Croix River

So, today is more of a story, but I feel like it works for Fat Fridays because this story would never have happened if I had not started a weightloss/exercise journey and got the confidence to try more strenuous activities.

I just got back from a three day river canoe trip. Woohoo! A three day river canoe trip with all my children (minus the oldest two), several nieces and nephews and assorted aunts and uncles, and our dog. Double woohoo. 

Will I ever take small children on a river canoe trip again? No.

Will I ever take my dog on a river canoe trip again?  Also No. 

Am I still glad I went? Definitely!

We did a twenty mile stretch on the St Croix River in Maine. It’s on the border with Canada which made for the interesting situation where you can only get out of the river on one side. Look! There’s Canada! Don’t touch! 

We had five canoes. One wooden, four aluminum. My husband made homemade paddles for all the kids ahead of time. We had a total of six tents while camping. We were a good size group. 

So, I looked up the St Croix River on the internet a day or two before we left and I found this description that said the St Croix had class 1 and 2 rapids and was a perfect river for beginners. “Light-hearted rapids that make the trip fun and enjoyable!” Yeah. Ok. I can say with all honesty, that I spent three days in high-adrenaline mode, heart racing, with the feeling that I was fighting for my life and the lives of my children almost the entire time. Which is kind of silly. As I pointed out to my children, in an effort to sooth them, the water itself was not that scary. If we had come to the river to swim or tube it would not have been intimidating. Even in the very worst rapids, I was able to get out of the canoe and stand in the water as I wrestled our boat off of large rocks. It just feels scary when you’re in a narrow boat and it feels like you’re going to tip over at any moment. 

We did tip over. All of our boats. Except one. Yay Uncle Mike and Auntie Asanuo! (And on the last day I put my two youngest in their boat in an effort to save them from any more trauma.) We had one boat severely crippled on the second day, so we had to distribute it’s load to all the other boats. Another boat sprung a bad leak at the end of the second day. But we were able to patch it. The younger kids did NOT enjoy tipping over. To put it mildly. (Pro-tip, from about eight years old and up the kids did fine. We had one seven year old do great and another, not great, younger than that, it was a bit much.) (But they all rallied at the end and claimed that they enjoyed themselves…Mostly.) 

We camped two nights. The first night was idyllic. We had a great site all to ourselves. The camp cooks made an amazing gourmet tinfoil dinner. My husband got to show his nephew a bit about fishing. I took lots of pictures and felt very content with life. 

The second night we showed up at four in the afternoon to the campsite. We had just had a long traumatic day. Everyone was wet and shivering. We had two kids wrapped in emergency blankets. Two crippled boats. Moral was low. There were two campsites, but a guided tour group had got there first and they had spread out into both campsites. My husband went and asked if there was any way we could squeeze into one side, as we had cold children, crippled boats etc. The tour guides said no. We could go across to the Canada side (illegal) or we could go another four miles to the next campsite. I was not thinking happy thoughts at that moment. 

We assessed our situation and knew we could not go farther. One of our group walked downriver to see if there was a place in the woods we could just make do with. We sat there and waited as we figured out what to do. In the meantime, the group from the guided tour spoke up and told their guides that they should make room for us and group peer pressure won the day. The guides came back and said they would move over and give us a campsite. We said we would greatly appreciate it. When we got into camp, we hung up a line for wet clothes right at the edge of camp and created a privacy screen and then attempted to keep our kids a little more quiet and kept to ourselves. The guides did come over several times and offered assistance with anything we needed, so it turned out ok. But it was awkward. That night I retreated to bed at seven and left my husband to wrangle kids. Which he did admirably. 

The last day was short and only had a couple rapids that we all, with our new skills, went through with very little problems. 

Accolades. I can’t finish this without handing out some awards. 

The dog gets DOG OF THE YEAR award. Every day he got back into the canoe. He didn’t try to run away. He didn’t fight us. He just got back in. Even though he knew what was coming. He didn’t panic while he was in the boat, except to stand up every time we got into rapids. Which you really can’t blame him. I’m sure it was just survival instinct kicking in. The knowledge that he needed to be ready to abandon ship at any moment. So yeah, I’ve got the best dog ever. 

My teens get TEENS OF THE YEAR award. My seventeen year old proved to be a very competent paddler and we made a great team. She stayed calm, jumped into the river multiple times with me as we freed our canoe. I was super impressed. My fifteen year old did great and she was willing to get into the canoe with the twelve and thirteen year old boys (ok, I bribed her, but still, she was willing to be bribed). The teen/preteen boat had very little skill and hit almost every rock in the river and capsized quite a few times. BUT!! They stayed cheerful and had fun with it the whole time! YAY preteens/teenagers!!! 

My little kids get BEST KIDS EVER award for loving us and forgiving us for getting them wet and cold. And they did their best to have fun and stay positive. YAY KIDS!!

All of my inlaws get the BEST INLAWS EVER award. We had some rough spots and it could have got ugly. But everyone stayed calm, there was no complaining. Everyone did their part cheerfully and went above and beyond what was necessary and we all ended up with a great trip. YAY INLAWS!!

And of course my husband gets HUSBAND OF THE YEAR award. Cause he made it all happen. And he’s just awesome anyway. 

And me? I came away with a giant dose of confidence. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I can do anything. 🙂

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