Posts Tagged ‘float trip’

The Great Smoky Mountains; Easter 2011

This time of year is chock-full of Top Ten lists, and I didn’t want to be left out of the countdown fun.  Here are my Top Ten Adventures of 2011. Click on the links to read the archived articles about each of my top adventure picks.  I highly recommend any of these activities for your adventure planning in 2012!

1. Cycle Illinois. I hadn’t been on a bike in years when I bought one from a friend in February 2011. Now, I can’t get enough of this wonderful sport.  Bicycles truly embody freedom and speed, and the cycling community of Quincy is supportive, inclusive, and really fun.  Read about my two favorite rides of 2011 here and here!

2. Rock climbing.  Whether it was scaling the indoor Kroc Center Wall or rappelling down a cliff at an undisclosed location, hanging from walls is one of the most exhilarating things I tried in 2011.

3. Kayking on the Mississippi.  How had I lived so close to the Mississippi for so long without trying this activity?! Kayaking  is an easy hobby to learn and a tough one to master, but the feeling when you’re silently gliding through the backwaters of the Mississippi is incomparable. It’s nothing less than a completely new view of something you’ve seen a million times.

4. Roadrunning.  In January 2011, if you would have said that by the end of the year I’d be running regularly and signed up for a half marathon, I’d have told you that you were crazy.  But here we are in December and I’m running 5 days a week! This change in attitude is entirely due to the wonderful folks of the Heartland Roadrunners Club.
5. Katy Trail. This Missouri Rails-to-Trails project runs from St. Charles to Columbia and beyond.  The now defunct railway has been converted into flat-grade multi-use trails for biking, hiking, or running.  The beauty of the trail and the hospitality of the towns that surround it cannot be overstated!
6. Ski Jumping.  If kayaking is the most silent way to experience the river, then water ski jumping is its opposite.  The roar of the Quincy Ski Club’s Hydrodyne Boat and its twin 175 horsepower Evinrude motors shakes the bay, and the adrenaline of the approach to the ski jump shakes my knees.
7. The Great Smoky Mountains.  My husband and I took a trip to the Smokies over Easter.  We climbed small mountains, played Frisbee on Andrew’s Bald, hiked some of the Appalachian Trail and saw a bear.  Greatest Easter trip ever!

8. Ultimate Frisbee.  Quincy’s Ultimate Frisbee Pick-Up League provided great fun all summer long. Highlights included the Quincy Hat Tournament, Southern Illinois Tournament and the Jacksonville “Jax Hat” Tournament.  If you’re looking for a great way to stay fit and have fun in 2012, be sure to “like” the Quincy Ultimate Frisbee Facebook page!

9. Cuivre River State Park.  This Missouri State Park gets the nod as the #1 close by destination for hiking adventures.  The wildlife, well-kept trails, lake and beach area, neat campgrounds and close proximity to Quincy are all great reasons to visit this Troy, Missouri park.  It’s a mere hour and a half from Quincy, but somehow seems like a vacation.
10. Meramec River Float Trip.  Meramec State Park is located just west of St. Louis, and its hiking trails, biking trails, limestone bluffs and forested hills are second to none in our area.  Get a river’s-eye view of the whole park by renting a canoe or raft for a float trip down the Meramec.

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The Meramec River

When I was a kid, my grandpa used to play his guitar and sing me an old Mills Brother’s tune called, “Up the Lazy River.” Last weekend, during a float trip on the Meramec River, the song was stuck in my head the entire time. I suggest you click this link:http://tinyurl.com/lazyriver and listen to it, while you read the rest of my blog.

The song describes floating on the lazy river past kind oak trees, listening to robins’ songs, with nothing but blue skies and the noonday sunshine overhead.  I can’t explain a day on the Meramec better than that.

Meramec State Park is located west of St. Louis near Sullivan, Missouri, and is about a 3-hour drive from Quincy.  The park itself is breathtaking. hiking and biking trails, limestone bluffs, forested hills with secluded cabins, places to picnic, and many other outdoor opportunities await visitors to the park. The stream-fed Meramec River crosses through the center of nearly 7,000-acres of state land, and there are ample opportunities to enjoy the water, including fishing, canoeing, swimming and raft floating trips.

Our five-mile long float trip was in celebration of a friend’s 30th Birthday (Happy Birthday Mike!), and we couldn’t have picked a better afternoon to be on the water.  The temperatures outside were near the century mark, and the river was the perfect way to cool off.  We met the group in the parking lot of the State Park offices, got our life jackets from the shed, applied sunscreen liberally, and then loaded a repurposed school bus for the quick drive to the beginning of the float.  Our group was large, with 16 people, but since we had reserved ahead of time, the park had us ready to go when we arrived.  We had two heavy-duty eight-man rafts with paddles already sitting on the launch ramp when we pulled up.  All that was left to do was hop in the boat, shove off the launch, and enjoy our day in the sunshine.

The five-mile float took about four hours, but that included a few times where we paddled to the riverbank to stop and swim and throw the football around for a while. The river, while higher than it normally is this time of year, was fairly slow moving, and families with children of all ages seemed to be out enjoying the day.  There were a few spots where we needed to navigate around a downed tree or two, but overall, this is a slow and safe river for beginners.

Prices for float trips on the Meramec vary by day of the week and what type of raft or canoe you are going to rent.  It’s always a good idea to call ahead and reserve your raft, especially on the weekends. Rates and schedules can be found at http://www.meramecpark.com or by calling 888-MERAMEC (637-2632).

A special note: Many people associate float trips and other river activities with alcohol, while it’s true that some members of our group brought along coolers and had some beers, personally, my husband and I only drank water and Gatorade on this trip, and we had a wonderful time. Remember that boating and alcohol, especially on extremely hot days, can be a very dangerous combination.  If you’re going to drink, be responsible and make sure you’re still taking in plenty of water.  According to the American Boating Association, people who have had as few as two beers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident while on the water than those who do not.  My philosophy is there’s plenty of time to imbibe when you’re on land, so why not just enjoy being out on the river without the booze?

Whatever you decide, I hope you have fun and be safe whenever you “Get Out” this summer!

For more on boating safety: http://www.americanboating.org/safety.asp

Original Post June 10, 2011

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