Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Vacation Workout


When my stepdad suggested a canoe trip down a branch of the Potomac River, I thought, sure, why not? And imagined a leisurely paddle down a gentle stream. I mean, my parents are in their late sixties and no athletes, my sons are just 9 and 12 and had never canoed before...so how tough could it be? Besides, in August there's very little water in the river, so there wouldn't even be much in the way of rapids.

We set off in 3 canoes, my husband and I each with a son and my folks in a canoe together...and our adventure began. The first problem for me was steering. I had no idea how to handle the canoe. It went left when I tried to steer it right and vice-versa. Gabri and I were the first to crash onto the rocks and he tumbled out of the canoe halfway.

The second ones to go down for the count were my parents who had bravely attacked a set of tiny rapids...only to not see the big rock in the middle and get dumped out unceremoniously into the river. That required a lifesaving effort by me to get my mom, who doesn't swim, out of the middle of the rapids. And stuff-saving efforts by my husband who had to help my stepdad salvage the canoe which was stuck on that sneaky rock, and Danny who swam around picking up bits and pieces of personal belongings that had fallen out helter-skelter.

Unexpectedly, one of the main problems of the ride was the lack of water in the river. For one thing, the river didn't exactly flow along very quickly. We had to row constantly all 6 and half miles if we had any hopes of moving forward at all. Then, we were constantly having to get out and push and/or pull the canoes over vast stretches of rocks that stuck out of the extremely low level water.

Did I mention the thunder and lightening storm? The one with extremely high, cold winds? Yeah, well that was another element of adventure in our day... Luckily, we docked and found shelter under a metal (hmmm, in an electrical storm?) garage sort of space in somebody's backyard. We set off again in the rain, once the thunder and lightening had passed by. I mean, we were all already soaked from the crash, what difference did it make?

And then there was the map provided by the canoe guy. Let's just say that colorful was his forte, accuracy was not! We followed all the curves in the river that were drawn in the map and then...well, as far as I was concerned, we were off the map. After a worried cellphone call (how did my stepdad keep that thing dry even when he capsized?) to John, the canoe guy, we discovered we had two more miles of paddling still to go!

So, here we are, tired but happy. Missing: one tennis shoe, one flip-flop, one pair of women's sunglasses, and one men's extra-large dress shirt. Gained: two tomatoes given to us by John the canoe guy's wife (compensation?), my husband's admiration (he wants to sign me up for one of those survival reality TV shows!) and the most complete complete-body workout of my lifetime. I'll be lucky if I can walk or lift my arms above shoulder-level tomorrow! And there I was missing the gym...

3 comments:

Vogon Poet said...

Nice family portrait. Reading your post was just like something out a book of Bill Bryson.
I'm still trying to understand the symbolism of tomatoes in the region...
To your next adventure!

Lola said...

Lovely, thank you for introducing your family and sharing this snippet of your fun vacation.

Buona Estate!
~Lola xx

Snowbrush said...

Ah, I used to love canoeing in the slow, warm waters of Mississippi, but now that I'm in Oregon where the water is both fast and cold, I stay out. I'm glad you all survived and had a MOSTLY good time, I hope.