Saturday was an awesome day.
Bright and early, Dave and I put on our swimsuits and sweatshirts, loaded up our cooler and drove an hour-and-a-half north of San Francisco to Forestville, California for a day of canoeing on the Russian River.
The trip was organized by some local friends, who were on their fourth annual canoe outing. We were incredibly happy to be included in the group and had this date on our calendar for more than two months.
We met at Burke’s Canoe Trips, a friendly and welcoming place to rent canoes, paddles, life-vests and begin a self-guided river tour. The Burke’s team is serious about safety and order. In addition to every single person in the party being required to strap up their life-vests before receiving their paddles, we also had to listen to a safety shpiel and confirm that we were strong swimmers. (I can swim … but strong … I am not sure if that would be the best descriptor of my stroke.)
Even though it was still cool outside when we got there, we were able to take off our sweatshirts by the time we got in the canoes.
Once out on the water, the sky was clear, and the sunny weather could not have been more perfect. It had been quite some time since I had been in the sun, and the rays felt great.
During our trip, we stayed close to the group and were able to meet some interesting, new people while paddling along.
The water was calm, with only a few parts of noticeable current. We took our time on the trip and pulled over for four stops on the sand and rock beaches to hang out, stretch our legs and do some snacking.
The highlight of the trip, and perhaps the most commonly discussed thing of the day was … duct tape.
We brought duct tape in our canoe, and with that, Dave was able to make cup-holders for our beverages. Others in our group made them too. These cup-holders were a hit, and as we paddled down the river, fellow canoers were in awe and continued to call out to us. Dave has a knack for duct tape creations (he once made himself a hat out of duct tape), and at one stop, he even made a little shot glass from the silver spool for the group to enjoy. How crafty …
Although the scenery was new, this wasn’t our first time canoeing.
In fact, we had been on a trip with a large group in Orlando several years ago.
That was a very different day. In addition to the torrential downpour and thunderstorm that took place while we were out on the water, everyone was paddling in fear of flipping over because of the lurking alligators along the route.
However, canoeing down the Russian River is free of predators, and the clear and mild water is not something to be afraid of. That’s a good thing too, because toward the end of the day, Dave and I fell victim to a t-bone from another canoe and everything (including us) went over. I lost my favorite seahorse flip-flops, as well as a couple of towels and all of our snacks. It could have been a lot worse though; luckily, we didn’t have any valuables with us.
It was a bit of a shock, but I was able to laugh the whole time and even crawled into someone else’s canoe while Dave and another guy righted ours and got rid of the extra water.
Along the path, there were groups of people situated on private beaches behind houses, just enjoying picnics and watching the passers by from shore, and there were also people floating along in tubes. All in all, canoeing down the Russian River is carefree, fun and gorgeous. At times we were under the shade of redwoods, and at times we could see beautiful mountain ranges ahead.
The all-day, 10-mile trip went by so much faster than I expected. I wish it had been a longer route. I must admit, that as our vessel’s main steer at the back of the canoe, Dave bore the brunt of the work. I spent more of my time chatting than paddling and so was not as physically tired as he was.
At the end of the trip, we pulled up onto a beach, turned in our canoe, life-vests and paddles and boarded the Burke’s-provided shuttle back to our cars.
Fresh air, nature, new friends and duct tape make for an incredible day trip in Northern California.