My Aunt Ree flew in from California for a visit and mentioned to my Dad that she'd like to go on a kayaking trip with us.
He told me about it and I planned a trip on the Blackwater River.
The past few times we've been down the Blackwater we put in at Bryant Bridge – which makes for an eleven mile paddle. It's an easy paddle but because of the distance there isn't really much time to stop and play on the sandbars.
So for this trip we put in four miles upstream at the launch Blackwater Canoe Rental uses so we could stop and play on as many sandbars as we wanted.
The Oldest Island Boy and I were to meet everyone at the launch site that morning so I went on Google Maps and Google Earth to make sure I knew where it was and how to get there.
There happened to be a geocache at the entrance to the road leading to the launch so when we got up there I pulled over and found the cache. As I was getting back into the truck my Dad drove by. The Island Girl was in her car behind him and he said they were taking her car to the pick up spot and would meet me at the drop off.
No problem. The Oldest and I drove down the road to the launch, only we didn't see a launch. There were several trails leading off the road but none that looked like what I'd seen on the map and considering the fact that I was pulling a trailer loaded with yaks I didn't really want to “explore” each trail until I found the right one.
We called my Dad and told him I wasn't sure which trail to take so he said to come back up to the “graded road” and wait for him.
Well, the part of the road we were on was gravel so we traveled back up the road until we hit blacktop – thinking that was what he meant by graded and pulled over to wait.
The Oldest and I are sitting there and after a few minutes I see a truck pull off the main road quite a ways from us. I couldn't tell if it was Dad or not so we continued sitting and waiting.
Until my phone rang and Dad wanted to know what we were doing. I told him we were waiting on him and then I asked if that was his truck I could see off in the distance.
He told me it was so I asked why they were just sitting up there and he said “Because you aren't on the right road.”
I drove up to where he was and then followed him to the actual road the launch is on.
I don't know how he knew where to go because Google Maps and Earth have to be wrong or else I would have been on the right road.
It was unbelievably hot but the water was nice and cold so we stopped on just about every sandbar we passed to swim and cool off.
There were tons of people on the river in tubes, kayaks and canoes so we got to do some people watching as well.
It was a great day of paddling, swimming and visiting and I think my Aunt enjoyed her time on the river with us.
About 4:00 we decided we'd had all of the sun and heat we could stand so we decided to paddle on down to the landing.
I pulled up the map on my phone to see how much farther we had to go and was shocked to realize we still had many miles to go.
Not believing that was possible, Dad took my phone and then started laughing. Turns out I was looking in the wrong direction.
Good grief! I can get lost even when I'm looking at a map with a blue dot showing where I am!
Luckily the landing was just around the next bend so off we went, making it back in about 5 minutes.
The Island Girl's car was there and she was going to drive Dad and I back down to pick up our trucks.
When we got to the landing she realized that the keys to her car were in Dad's truck – miles away.
Which wasn't surprising - she is my daughter.
We talked for a minute about how to retrieve the keys but considering the fact that we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere the only solution was for us to WALK back to the trucks and drive them to the landing.
So Dad, my Aunt and the Oldest Island Boy waited with our stuff while the Island Girl, E, and I started walking.
It was still really hot, we were sun-baked and tired and now we're hiking down a dirt road with zero shade - and NO breeze.
As we were walking I told them that maybe we'd get lucky and a good ole boy in a pickup truck would come by and give us a ride.
After about 20 minutes my wish came true and a guy and his daughter drove up.
He was coming from the launch but he stopped and said “You aren't walking all the way back to the launch, are you?”
Yes we are. I explained about the keys to our pick up car being left in our drop off truck so he told us to hop in the back and he'd drive us down there.
The Island Girl, E, and I jumped in the back of his truck – happier than I think any of us have been in years. As tired and hot as we were it would have taken at least an hour or more for us to walk down there.
He turned around and drove us the 2.5 miles down to the launch.
We thanked him profusely and off he went.
The Island Girl and E got in Dad's truck, I got in mine and we drove back to the pick up spot.
Sadly, that wasn't the end. We now had to haul our 6 yaks and all of our gear up a long, sandy hill and then secure them in the trucks before we could leave.
Finally, everything was loaded and we were ready to head home.
I hugged my Aunt and told her that I was sorry she'd had to wait while we retrieved the keys but that is just how things work in my world.
She reads my blog so she knew something would happen and told me not to worry about it. She had a great time and fully expected something to go wrong.
It was a long day but we really did have a good time and as soon as I recover from this trip I'll be ready to do it again.
Only next time I'm going to make damn sure the keys to the pick up car are with us.
Thanks for going on an adventure with us Aunt Ree – we really enjoyed spending the day with you!