Saturday, July 3, 2010

beyond the bow. . .

July 3, 2010
Trip Twenty-Eight
Apalachee River

This was a late-afternoon trip, but not intended to be a sunset trip. We put in at Chacaloochee Bay because that's the closest put-in to our house and we knew we didn't have much time. We decided to go up the river because we hadn't been to the river this season.

As we paddled the canal to the river, we passed the restaurants on the Causeway, which are usually closed in the mornings when we kayak. Now they were full of people and the loud noise from the band (I apologize, but I could not in any context apply the word "music" here) blasted out over the water and drowned out all the beautiful gentle river sounds.

It seemed strange kayaking in front of an audience. Suddenly, I felt self-conscious. I was very aware of my stroke, my form and my relation in the river to Glen. I was glad when we reached the turn to the river and would be out of any one's line of vision. How surprised I was, when we made that turn, that the sound from the band vanished away and I could once again hear the birds, the lapping of the waves and the wind in my ears.

I was surprised how different the river looked from the last time we had paddled here. Some of the "landmarks" from last year -- like the partially submerged tree upon which birds perched -- were gone.

We didn't make it too far down the river simply because of the restraint of time. We didn't want to be coming back to the put-in in the dark. I'm glad we made that decision.

We kayaked back down the canal, past the restaurants and the same band was playing the same songs, only by now to different customers. We discussed coming back to this spot the next night to watch the fireworks for the 4th of July which would be just across the road. We could kayak, then sit in the water at the put-in and watch the fireworks -- we would have a perfect vantage point.

As we came closer to the put-in, Glen noticed a large alligator need the reeds. We gave him a wide berth and paddled past him. We lined our kayaks up to the put-in, Glen on the right and mine on the left. Glen started in first and I was a few feet behind him, always the most reluctant to come in off the water.

As Glen's kayak began to reach the shore, he motioned to his left and immediately I saw him. There was a gator right at the water's edge -- right between us. With my boat already in motion, I wasn't sure how this small alligator was going to react being flanked by us, but he simply submerged and disappeared.

Usually I dawdle in my boat because I don't want to come off the water, but this time we both moved very fast. We got ourselves and our boats out of the water in record speed. We packed the car and resolved we definitely would not watch the fireworks from the water or from the put-in, but from the safety of a near-by waterfront park!

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