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Posts Tagged ‘Kayak’

Did I start a fire without matches on television in only 30 seconds? Gotta watch the video to find out!

I hope you enjoy my KHQA Morning Show appearance. Huge thanks to host Kristen Aguirre and cameraman Mark Schneider! Also huge thanks to my husband who was kind enough to camp on a Tuesday night and get up at 4 am so I could be “TV ready!”

Note to self: I should do video blogs more often! It’s so much less typing!!

 

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Paddle Agate Lake!

Paddle Agate Lake!

So…

I’ve been reading blogs about blogging.  Don’t laugh at me.  You’re reading blogs about me reading blogs about blogging… so really, who is crazier here?!

The blogging about blogging crowd suggests that readers love lists… and I know that I fall for the flashy list headlines all the time.  It’s nice to think that life can be “3 Simple Steps” or “Top 10 reasons.”   Lists rarely have much depth though, and can’t do their subjects a whole lot of justice.  That lack of details annoyed me… until I had an epiphany!  My whole blog is like a Top 10 list!!  It’s supposed to be one big spring board for you to go and have an adventure!  I don’t have to tell you how every hill on my last bike ride felt (tough going up, amazing coasting down) or how the water temperature was at the lake last weekend (brisk, but refreshing).  I just have to give you ideas and then you can go fill in the details for yourself!

So today, I’m embracing the list and presenting the

Top 7 Ways to Follow Your Adventure Foot This Weekend!

  1. Paddle Agate Lake!  Wyconda State Park near LaGrange, Missouri just added a fleet of 12 sit-on-top kayaks last year, and my husband and I had the opportunity to go try them out last weekend.   For only $5 an hour (or $20 for the day), you get access to a boat, a life jacket, and a paddle.  There are 2 kayak boat houses at the park; each holds 6 boats right at the waterline of Agate and Wyconda lakes.  We paddled a couple of hours, chased some geese around, saw some deer and even spotted a thirsty raccoon at the water’s edge.  The boats are super easy to paddle, are very stable, and even have a nice little storage bin to toss some snacks and your car keys into.  Kids are welcome with parents along and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
  2. Last year's Running Raider Classic

    Last year’s Running Raider Classic

    Running Raider Classic!   A Quincy tradition is THIS WEEKEND!  Saturday, June 22.  You can still sign up the day of the event.  The RRC is A 5K run/walk & 10K combination road race/cross country race that begins and ends at Quincy Notre Dame High School.  The races will take you through one or two of Quincy’s most beautiful and historic river bluff parks.  Participants will enjoy the challenges presented by either course.  There are several beautiful views of the Mississippi River Valley along this route.  The 5K course has rolling hills and is suitable for all.  The long hills throughout the 10K course will challenge you! The Raider Classic is a great follow-up event for those who have competed in the Bridge the Gap and is a perfect companion event leading to the Hannibal Cannibal. There is also have a 1 mile FUN run for youth under the age of 13 who aren’t quite ready for the 5 or 10K events.  This is an event for the entire family

  3. Hike!   It’s a short drive to get to some beautiful hikes; throw on your favorite old tennis shoes and get out there!  If I were planning a hike this weekend, I’d head to Siloam Springs State Park or maybe up to Argyle Lake State Park (near Colchester, IL).   If you’ve got kids in tow and want something a little more low-key, there are lovely short trails at Quincy’s Gardener Park.
  4. Photo Safari!  Photo Safari is one of my favorite pastimes in Quincy.  The riverfront is chock full of birds, amphibians, flowers and more that are perfect for the
    Great Blue Heron on Photo Safari

    Great Blue Heron on Photo Safari

    budding or seasoned photographer.  Make this idea even more fun by going to the Quincy Public Library and checking out a bird or flower ID guide to bring along.  Also, click here to find my FREE PRINTABLE BIRDING CHECKLIST for ILLINOIS. 

  5. Bike Somewhere  If you’re a frequent reader, you know there’s nothing I like more than getting on my bike and
    Riding with the Quincy Bike Club near Hull, IL

    Riding with the Quincy Bike Club near Hull, IL

    going for a ride.  If you’re looking for a little ride about town, you might check out the “Looking for Lincoln” trail that begins in Quincy’s Washington Park and visits historic sites throughout Quincy.  For those more experienced, check out any of the scheduled rides for the Quincy Bike Club.  There’s a group for everyone from beginner to advanced, and the weekly rides and events are now on the new Quincy Bike Club website www.quincybikeclub.org

  6. Swim! And I’m not talking about going for a swim at the public pool.  That’s not an adventure so much as it’s a headache.  Check out public swim areas at Cuivre River State Park in Troy, Missouri (1.5 hours from Quincy… this park also has great hiking trails and camping areas!)  You won’t miss the pool chemicals at all.
  7. Get Some Herbs: You know what I’m talking about.  This weekend is the Four Winds Farm Herb Festival!  The event features herbs, locally grown food, vendors, educational demos, garden tours, herb theme gardens, children’s activities, music and more.  Admission is free.  Event is presented by the Western Illinois Sustainable Agricultural Society (WISAS) and will be held Friday, June 21 from 5-9 and Saturday, June 22 from 9-4 at Four Winds Farm, 3729 North 36th Street, Quincy.  For more info, email dlee@adams.net.
Herb Festival this weekend!

Herb Festival this weekend!

So there you are. No excuses! Go follow your Adventure Foot!

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Mid-race going under the bridge to Quinsippi Island

It’s been a hectic week, but I’ve just been dying to write a race report from the 1st (or 63rd) Annual Quincy 5 Miler Hand Powered Boat Race!

Justin and I before the race.

The Quincy 5 Miler is a revival of a race first held in 1872 along the same route as we traveled last weekend.  Quincy, once known as a national rowing powerhouse, hosted the event 62 consecutive years until the race was discontinued because of transfer of interest to louder, more motorized modes of transport along the river.

Ray Heisey, of Portland, Oregon by way of Quincy, saw the opportunity to partner with Kevin Dempsey of Kayak Quincy and several other local organizations (Including me, here at Adventure Foot) to revive the race.

When I was approached about the race this spring, I agreed to help with publicity and prep work, but I told the team that I was unable to help on race day itself, because I really wanted a chance to put my paddle to the water and see what I could do in competition.  Here is a shortened version of one of my KHQA TV interviews regarding the Ladies Night Kayak events I hosted in the run up to the race.

Safety paddler Ryan Craven.

So that brings us to race day!

I woke up to weather that simply couldn’t have been nicer.  It was cool, the breeze was blowing lightly, and as I drove up to the Knapheide Landing at the Canton Chute Public Use Area, the backwaters of the Mississippi looked like glass.  In the grassy clearing near the ramps, over 70 kayaks, canoes, race shells, rowboats and more were laid out in kaleidoscopic rows.   I made my way over to my 17’ Valley Avocet kayak and proceeded to ready my boat for the race.

My husband and our friends Ryan and Adam had volunteered to be safety crew for the race, so while I got ready, they helped other boaters ready their crafts and worked on adorning their own kayaks with orange safety flags.

After a brief safety meeting, all of the boaters made their way down the ramps and took their places out in the starting area.  The safety boaters separated the racers from the recreational paddlers, and after some directions about the route from the loudspeaker, there was a count of three and the race had begun!

To assure an exciting start for the television cameras, we all took off quite fast and water was splashing everywhere.  A 5 mile race is a decently long way to go on a kayak though, so everyone slowed down not far from the start line and began to find their groove.

Dan Vale and I before the race. Dan paddled SUPER fast and will be in the competitive category next year!

My head wasn’t really in the game at the start- I spent a lot of time adjusting my foot braces and just kind of paddling along straight ahead.  Most of the boats were behind me, so I just took my time.  About a half mile into the race though, the course turned left on to the main channel of the river and I first noticed that there was another female paddler out in front of me.  In fact, she was way out in front of me (far enough that I was only about half sure it was a girl out there).  I’d estimate the distance at about 300 yards or better.   I was kind of shocked to see that someone had opened a lead up that was that large in the first half mile of the race.

Now listen, in a foot race, it’s never really in my nature to get competitive about it.  I’m a slow-and-steady runner who just tries to enjoy the experience.  I’m never even close to contention for placing in races and such so really racing anyone doesn’t often cross my mind.  It was almost a surprise to me when I felt a surge of competitive spirit and decided I was going to catch that girl.

I gave myself a pep talk thinking- “Hey, this is my home water where I paddle all the time.  It’s just a stone’s throw from the place I’ve spent most of my life.  And moreover, I don’t get a chance to be competitive in a race for speed ever…this is my race to lose.”  So with the new goal of, “Catch the woman in the blue boat with the black hair,” I really set to paddling hard.

With no distractions, I concentrated on form. I worked on pulling with my core instead of just my arms and using my brace leg to add power.   I paid special attention to evening out my strokes to maintain my line and none of the drifting off to the left that plagues my recreational paddling seemed to be a problem.  Normally I do a lot of daydreaming and bird-watching from my kayak, but this time around I focused on strokes, watched each paddle pull through the water and even counted sets of four to myself.  It was exhausting.

Right after the win!

Two miles and at least twenty minutes of focused paddling later, and I had to have a break.  I sat my paddle across my deck, grabbed a drink of water and as I stretched my sore shoulders, I realized I had really closed down the distance between the blue boat and myself.  She was just about to turn into the backwater area we call the “Cut” which leads to the regular bay, and I was only 3 boat lengths behind.

With renewed energy, I went back to paddling and, because I was familiar with the route, I took a better line in the curve and passed the other female boater before the Cut emptied into the bay near the Quincy Ski Club ramp.

And that, my friends, is where the wind really picked up.  The breeze out of the South had turned into a steady wind, and with little to block it, the paddling got really difficult.  The other female boater was only a couple of boat lengths behind me, so I decided on a risky strategy.  I figured that paddling in the shallow water near to the island on the west side of the bay would offer the most protection from the wind.  It would add some distance since we would have to cross the finish line on the east side, but I was hoping that avoiding paddling into the direct wind would help me to have some energy left near the finish line.

Kristen and I after the race.

Sensing the end was only a mile away, the other female paddler and I were suddenly and simultaneously sprinting toward the finish.  I was already very worn out from the struggle to close the distance and catch her in the beginning, and she closed the lead I had opened up surprisingly fast.  I dug deep and decided that I wasn’t going to be happy with second place and I got down to business.

I didn’t really look up at her much- I was too worried about my paddling.  My stroke, which in the beginning was fluid and graceful, had become ragged and formless.  I was very aware that my tired muscles were causing me to change what had worked this far, and I’m pretty sure my paddling started to look more like a canoe stroke than a kayak one there towards the end.

We passed the Pier Restaurant and then the Northside Boat Club in rough waves and whitecaps.  I couldn’t believe we were still neck-and-neck.  I spotted the flashing lights of the finish line and ferociously paddled the last few yards until we heard the bullhorn.

I’d won… by half a boat length.

My first trophy since high school??? 🙂

My husband was at the finish along with my friends Jon, Adam and Ryan, and I pumped my paddle in the air once, very excited about the win.  The second place boater (named Kristen, I later found out) and I brought our boats close together and snapped a picture.  We both agreed that without the other, we wouldn’t have pushed so hard.  I’d have never paddled so hard or so fast or so long without someone to really race.  It was awesome!  My finish time was 1 hour, 11 minutes and 15 seconds.  Kristen’s was listed as 15 seconds behind me.

I talked a little with Kristen after the race.  She’d had a baby a few months ago and was just getting back in the swing of racing. She’s done a lot of neat kayak races including an incredible 340 mile Ultra Paddle Race across Missouri.  I guess we’ll put that on the list of things I need to try!  She was an incredible competitor and an amazing paddler.  I was very impressed!

Anyway, the race was super tough, and while I’m stoked to have won first overall female, the thing I’m most proud of is finding out that it’s in me to really RACE!  I realized that even though I’m not in place contention in the 5k/10k/half marathons that I’m entered in this fall, there is enormous satisfaction to be had from just trying to find someone in the race to work hard to close distance on.  Not to necessarily target someone to beat, but to challenge myself to do better than I would have done without a worthy opponent!

After the race I enjoyed a local beer, Quincy Gems IPA, provided by O’Griff’s Pub and Brewhouse, and got my trophy.  “Another Board Company” from Lake St. Louis was at the event, and Adam, Justin, Ryan and I went out to demo some stand-up paddle boards.  I’m going to write a blog about that later…

I had a great time at the revival of the Quincy 5 Miler Hand Powered Boat Race, and am looking forward to seeing this become a Quincy tradition.  I’m also thinking I should look into some other kayak races in the area, because this was a ton of fun.  It goes to show, you never know what excitement is in store when you put your Adventure Foot out the door!

Here’s my KHQA TV Interview after the race!

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I know you’re all waiting for my RAGBRAI recap, and I promise I will get to it. It’s just tough to put a whole week into a blog!  In the meantime though, I have to tell you about 2 Big Events coming to the Muddy Mississippi!

Ladies Night Kayaking

It’s me– kayaking! You should kayak with me.

Calling all ladies!  I will be leading two girls-only paddling clinics on the Quincy riverfront this month at a special reduced rate!  The classes will be $25 per person and will include your boat and equipment, your life jacket, and instruction in basic kayaking.  I’ll also be demonstrating kayak rescues.  The classes will be held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, August 21 and on Tuesday, August  28 both at 5:30 pm. 

Spaces are limited and you are required to RSVP by either contacting me on my Facebook page or emailing quincykayak@yahoo.com with your name and phone number.

And as long as you’re learning to kayak, you might want to join in for:

The Quincy 5-Miler Hand Powered Boat Race!

The Quincy Five Miler is a 5.4 mile head race on the Mississippi River and Quincy Bay from Knapheide Landing along the Illinois shore, through The Cut and into Quincy Bay, below the course of the First Quincy Boat Race (1872), and under the bridges to the finish line at the South Side Boat Club.  It will be held September 15th at 11 am.  Entry fee is $25 and will include a t-shirt and prizes to winners of each division.

The great thing about this race is just about anyone can enter and you stand a great chance of winning a prize.   You can literally enter any river-worthy hand or foot powered boat.  I’ll be rolling in a Valley Avocet Kayak in fire engine red!  But you could show up with a canoe, a paddleboat, a stand up paddle board, a row boat, an outrigger canoe, a racing shell…  heck, you can build a Huckleberry Finn style raft and grab some sticks and paddle it on down the river if you want to.    The divisions will be set the day of the event based on type of craft and men’s and women’s divisions.

There is a lot of history behind the race in Quincy.   Once a rowing powerhouse, Quincy has a history of waterborne competition going back to the first race in 1872. The first race was a two miler (out one mile and return), put on by the newly formed Nautilus Rowing Club. The start line was on Quincy Bay 2 1/2 miles North of Maine Street. First prize for the Single Scull race was $40 in gold; second was a pair of spruce sculls. The race included singles, pairs, skiffs, and “working boats”. The “four oared” race included entries from Quincy’s Union and Nautilus rowing clubs.

The South Side Boat Club was formed in 1886 and for the next seventy years Quincy provided strong crews for regional and even international competition. Aggressive recruitment included calls for the most able bodied to join the clubs and promises of expert coaching and paid expenses to races. Race boats were loaded onto train cars on Front Street and transported to Central States Amateur Rowing Association regattas throughout the Midwest. The many trophies and medals on the walls of the South Side Boat Club at 640 S. Front Street in Quincy attest to the considerable success of its crews which include numerous regional championships, a national championship in 1904, and a second (losing out on 1st place by only 2/5 second) in the World Rowing Championship of 1934 in Liege, Belgium.

Quincy’s last racing eight was sold in 1950 after decline in the sport after WWII. Quincy’s recreational water interests moved to power boating and folks gradually lost sight of human powered boating as a popular activity. As Quincy Bay silted in over the years (a controversial local topic) power boat access has become more and more limited. However the shallow draft of paddle and row boats provides easy access from downtown to a wildlife-filled scenic waterway that stretches north from town along North Bottom Road.

To find out all of the details on the race and to print the waiver and registration, please click here to visit the race website.   If you would like to race but need to rent a kayak, you can contact me at quincykayak@yahoo.com  I have a limited number of kayaks available for a rental fee of $10 (which includes life jackets and paddles) and they will be assigned on a first-come basis.  You must have some paddling experience to rent a boat (no first-timers!)

 I hope to see you on the water!

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Thanks to the nice people who took our photo even though we scared off their fish!!

Let me tell you readers, it’s not for lack of stories that I haven’t been posting quite as often, it’s for lack of time to write!  In the past couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of adventures that I have yet to tell you guys about… today’s slightly late recap is:

Kayaking with Jess

Adventure Feet

My friend Jess’s father-in-law owns a couple of sit-on-top kayaks, and for a long time we had been saying, “Someday we ought to take those over to Wyconda and paddle.”  Well, someday was taking too long so I sent her a message on Facebook asking if “someday” could be “Sunday.”  She actually replied no at first but quickly reversed and said, yeah- let’s do it.

We headed across the river with the boats in the back of my dad’s truck to Wakonda State Park in La Grange, MO.  Our destination was not the busy and crowded main lake, but rather neighboring Agate Lake.

Wyconda State Park Map (Click to view larger)

I learned via the park’s website that Agate Lake was one of six man-made lakes in Northern Missouri created by the excavation of ice-age deposited gravel pits.  The horse-shoe shaped lake is deceptively large, and Jess and I had a great time paddling, exploring, and chasing geese around the small island in the middle of the lake.  My primary paddling experience has been in ocean kayaks (covered), and this was a great chance to try the sit-on-top variety.  Clearly, this kind of kayak isn’t built for speed or tight maneuverability, but it’s really comfortable, steady and perfect for a relaxing day on a local lake.

Some of the Wyconda Trail Heads near Agate Lake

Because I’m silly and couldn’t resist, I had to see how far I could push the kayak onto its side before it would tip. The answer: pretty darned far.  The things are designed to be super-stable and forgiving.  When I finally did tip the thing, I easily flipped it back to the right side by myself, and since it wasn’t full of water the way an ocean rig would have been, I just kicked my feet a little, hauled myself back up on deck, flipped over to sit back in the seat and we were back on our way.

Jess and I had a really nice afternoon on the lake, and I enjoyed being able to catch up with what was going on in her life and tell her about what had been going on in mine.  Really, the most important part of getting out to follow your Adventure Foot is being able to share the experience with a friend.   Kayaking on a small lake is so quiet and relaxing that it lends itself especially well to great conversation.

Jess had no problem with the choppy water 🙂

If you’re looking for a great little park nearby, I’d highly recommend Wakonda.  In addition to Agate Lake where we paddled, there is also Wakonda Lake and its beach and swimming area, there are RV hookups and campsites, several small trails, and a concessions building with small boats to rent.  If you’ve got kayaks there are plenty of opportunities to do short portages to the other lakes in the area- Quartz and Jasper- and I’m told that if you head the right direction, you can portage a few times and be right back in the Mississippi.   The lakes are also stocked with fish and are a great place to take a family for a fishing trip.  The park is smartly laid out with a central parking lot, so you’re at the center of the lakes, the ranger station, the playground, the swim area, the campsites and the boat launches.  It’s only a 15 minute drive from downtown Quincy, which makes it very convenient, even on a whim.

For more on Wakonda State Park, visit their website here!

Peace out. 🙂

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Instructor Kevin Dempsey (white kayak) looks on as Kirstin Smith, Ryan Craven , Laura Sievert, Adam Duesterhaus, Jim, and Ryan Welch pose for a picture after their group lesson in Quincy Bay.

Do you ever have one of those days where everything you do reminds you of a song?  Well, I went kayaking both this weekend and last, and it’s one adventure that definitely keeps popping song lyrics in my head.

“Row, row, row your boat…”

Kayaking on Mark Twain Lake

I think the reason I’d never tried kayaking up to now was that I assumed you’d need to have really great upper body strength to row. As it turns out, that’s not really the case! I was delighted to find out that a good rower uses not only her arms, but lots of torso and leg to power her rowing. Once I had the hang of the technique, I was right in the front of the pack, and even passed up some of the “tough guy” rowers. It’s a sport where finesse is just as important as strength, and you’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of doing.

“You know a dream is like a River, ever changin’ as it flows…”

Yeah, that’s a Garth Brooks lyric. It’s true though! A dream is like a river and a river is like a dream. I’ve been out on the Mississippi and Mark Twain Lake lots of times, but nothing is quite like experiencing these bodies of water via kayak. You can approach wildlife and shorelines quietly; you can hear the birds singing and the lapping of the water at the banks; and you can really appreciate the way the water moves and sculpts the landscape around you.

“I will go down with this ship, I won’t put my hands up and surrender…”

Maybe you’ve always wanted to try kayaking but were afraid of flipping over. I’m here to tell you that in calm water, flipping isn’t all that likely. And more importantly, getting back in your boat if you do flip isn’t hard at all. On my first experience out on the water, I didn’t get wet at all, so on my second, I volunteered to flip on purpose to demonstrate how to get back in the boat. With a little rocking, I flipped the boat, slipped easily out of the hatch, righted the boat all on my own, and was soon back in the cockpit. With the guidance of our instructor, I actually learned three different methods of getting back in the boat. My point is, there’s no reason to be afraid of flipping your kayak, especially if you’re wearing a lifejacket. Actually, on a hot day, I’d recommend flipping every once in a while just to cool off!

“We all live in the ocean, we all start in the stream, and we’re carried along, by the river of dreams…”

Ryan demonstrates how to get back in his kayak on the water.

Billy Joel was certainly on to something with the lyrics of “River of Dreams.” Learning to kayak in the calm backwaters of the Mississippi or along the sheltered shores of Mark Twain Lake has been a wonderful opportunity.  I’ve now practiced the basics of rowing, turning, stopping, flipping, and getting back into a kayak.  The next step is to head out of the streams and steadily work my way to bigger water. There are great places to kayak locally, but eventually, I’d like to try Lake Michigan and then the ocean.  I remember seeing people out in Puget Sound (Seattle, WA) kayaking alongside killer whales. I really, really, reallllllly want to try that. And there are thousands of other great places in this wide world just waiting to be explored. I guess I better get a list started.

“Teach the children well….”

So what should you do if you’d like to try kayaking for the first time? Find a great teacher. Kevin Dempsey of Kayak Quincy led the groups I was in. He’s a very knowledgeable and practical instructor who will help you learn the basics and develop your skills out on the water.  He’s also happy to help you learn what to look for if you were selecting a boat of your own to purchase, or can help you find interesting places to kayak.  The Kayak Quincy schedule, rental fees and more can be found at www.seequincy.com/KayakQuincy.html or by calling the Quincy Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at (800) 978-4748.
Original Post June 21, 2011

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Andrew "Grizz" Ray, Ryan Welch, Justin Sievert, Clinton Begley, Laura Sievert and Ryan Craven preparing to kayak from Canton, Mo., to Quincy Bay.

In my very first blog for The Local Q, I wrote, “We might not have the Rocky Mountains in our backyard, but we’ve got plenty of great ways to ‘Get Out’ and have an adventure.”  When I wrote that though, I’m not sure I really believed that our area could compete with the Rockies. I thought finding things to do and topics to write about would be a very difficult task.

Since then, I’ve written about running, cycling, hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, conservation, caving, rafting, team sports, fitness classes … it’s a pretty long list for six short months. It’s fair to say that my friends and I have had a lot of exciting exploits in a mere half of a calendar year. 

This Tuesday, I set out on yet another wonderful adventure with a great group of friends. This time it was kayaking again — the seven of us braved the 102-degree heat, launched boats and paddled the Mississippi River from Canton, Mo., back to Quincy Bay. The trip was action-packed and fun for all of us. We practiced different paddling strokes, explored shore lines and surfed barge wakes. We saw jumping carp, great blue herons and at least one very surprised soft shell turtle. More experienced paddlers shared tips. We all practiced rescue techniques. I spent at least a half-hour trying to learn to roll a kayak. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer afternoon away from work.

A dear friend and fellow Local Q blogger Clinton Begley joined us on this trip. Clinton has spent the last few months as a guide in the “Touch the Earth” program at Georgia State University. There, he helped guide student groups on some fantastic excursions including paddling some of the famous whitewater rivers of the South, traversing Yosemite National Park during some late-in-the-season heavy snow, and even hang gliding from mountains in Tennessee. Adventure really must be his middle name.

Anyway, it was near sunset, and we were paddling our kayaks toward the bay. Clint had paddled off to my right a few hundred yards to snap a picture of a barge with a tug named “Clinton,” and I studied the stunning panorama in front of me. The elbow in the river had opened to a wide channel with several offshoots, and the sinking sun had painted the Bayview Bridge gold a few miles in the distance. My friends were ahead of me in their colorful kayaks, paddling down one of the great rivers of the world, enjoying a brilliant summer day on the water, and I was taken aback by the unparalleled beauty of the moment. My words failed to be as poetic as the feeling in my heart as I yelled to Clint, “Yo man! This is absolutely gorgeous!”

He hollered back in agreement and explained when he’d paddled close enough for me to hear he said, “You know, this area has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to adventure. Not with this in our backyard.”

Looking back on the fields, rivers, roads, parks and people of the past six months, I can see that what Clint said was true. This is a great area to live, and there are so many things to discover right here in the Midwest. With that in mind, I’ve decided to offer an apology, a thank you and a promise for my six-month-blog-anniversary.

I apologize for spending many years in the Midwest complaining about the lack of options. Really, the intrepid and the creative can find great adventure anywhere, as long as we take the time to explore.

Clinton Begley

My “Thank You” is broad, and goes out to all of the people who have facilitated, inspired and participated in my expeditions. You’re spirited friends with big hearts and bold ideas, and I appreciate you for all you’ve added to my life.

And my promise: I promise not be the woman who stands near the river and says it is beautiful, nor to be the one who would dip a toe in just to say that she’s been there. I promise to dive in, get wet and, from time to time, float away.

For another great blog of discovery, please read my very favorite entry from Clinton Begley by clicking here.

Original Post August 5, 2011

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