Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gray's First Kayaking Expedition

Gray and I embarked on his maiden kayak journey Labor Day afternoon. Having never taken a two-hour paddle with a two-year-old before, I was a little apprehensive. Would he kick and thrash twenty minutes into the journey, sick of being contained in the small boat? Would he loudly protest the sun in his eyes and life jacket's brace-like restraint around his neck, forcing us to bail and hitchhike home with some old farmer?

Gray's typically hour-long nap had been reduced to a ten-minute catnap on the way, giving me even more reason to be nervous. This wasn't just a kayak trip with a toddler, but a two-hour "bonding experience" with a tired toddler--yikes.

Ten minutes into our journey, we passed Mike along the riverbank. (He had driven downstream to snap our picture.) Gray had already said he was "stuck" (he was somewhat scrunched between my legs), and I was seriously tempted to call it a great first trip and send him home with Daddy. But I summoned my sense of adventure, and we waved and continued on our way.

The afternoon could not have been more perfect for kayaking. We were simultaneously warmed by the sun and cooled by the breeze. Cicadas and grasshoppers sang in the grassy riverbanks, and enormous cloud mountains towered above us, punctuated by the occasional eagle. Three turtles jumped off a log as we passed, their formation mirrored by a cluster of jets in the sky.

Gray narrated the river's every twist and turn and kept exclaiming, "The pyrex is swimming!" (He calls the kayak a pyrex, much to our amusement.) He also sang, "Mare, mare, mare the boat, gently down the stream," in his signature toddler falsetto. (He gets the "merrily, merrily" chorus a little confused with the "row, row" part--ha!)

In Gray's mind, the trip's highlight was pulling our boat to shore and eating our jerky and dried mangoes on a log. (He is all about the food, that boy.)

In Mommy's mind, the trip's highlight was that I kept us afloat and happy for two hours. No tipping! No tantrums!

All too soon, we arrived at the boat landing, and there was Daddy, ready to load our muddy kayak into the freshly vacuumed Caravan.

Gray's first kayak trip was a success, and I'm enjoying it even more in retrospect (as we often do with things that make us a bit nervous!). Can't wait to go again!

Mike kayaked the rest of the river into Red Wing later that afternoon. Here's Gray and Rain,
watching for Daddy to round the Mississippi's big bend and dock at Bay Point Park.

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