A Local Adventure
Some people around this blog are bebopping to India and Brazil, while some other people, ahem, will be keeping things a little more local. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t adventures to be had. No sir!
Three weeks ago my husband said, “Want to do the Bluz Cruz with me next weekend?” What? He does that race like almost every year with a friend, in our old beat-up blue canoe. Its a 22 mile paddle race down the largest river in the US – the mighty Mississippi. And last mile is against the current. Yaay.
Then he said, “We have to do it, my picture’s on the t-shirt.” Game changer!
And you know what, why not? Boy scouts and old ladies do it every year too. I felt confident that we wouldn’t have to be towed in by the safety boat. So that is how I ended up in a casino parking lot in Vicksburg, MS at 6AM on a Saturday morning.
By 8AM we had been bussed north to a boat ramp where we prepared ourselves for the upcoming adventure. This year’s race had a great turnout, 90 total boats, but only 7 were canoes. The rest of the people are smarter and bring kayaks. Kayaks cut through the water with grace and ease. Heavy aluminum canoes kind of plod along.
At some point we put our boats in the water and then they honk a car horn at you, which means GO!!! So off we went. The first 6 miles or so were wild and windy. We were facing two-foot swells at least. I felt like just like Gilligan on that fateful trip. The skipper in the rear did a great job of not getting too frustrated with me, though I was always paddling on the wrong side and threatening to flip us.
The river actually had a current of ~5mph that day, and our measly little paddling just added a couple extra mph on top. NOT for lack of trying though. We really wanted to beat this one other canoe, but we quickly realized that was not in the cards for 2013. Still, we gave it all we had – for 3 HOURS.
I distracted myself from the muscle pain by singing “Just around the Riverbend” in my head and attempting to channel Pocahontas herself. Never been one for “arm strength” per se.
A big part of the race is actually knowing how to ride the river most efficiently. Its faster in some spots than others, shielding from the wind, yak yak yak. Ask August about it. Good thing this was his 4th (6th?) race. All I know is, I was basically only allowed to paddle on the left side for the entire trip. The river is so stinkin’ large that once all the kayaks pass out of site, I basically felt like we were going zero mph and would likely be towed in after all.
But, the sun did come out, the waves chilled out, and we made it. Once the big bridge is in sight, you’re almost there! All that’s left is a 1-mile upriver stretch on a tributary called the Yazoo. FUN!
As I mentioned, one canoe was WAY past us by now. But right as we were heading up the Yazoo, a second canoe that had been behind us the whole way was edging around in some kind of superfast miracle current. They passed us. Then we got back in the lead. Then them. Then us. Then RIGHT at the FINISH LINE, it was like a fullspeed ahead duel to the death. OMG my arms were about to fall off and I don’t know if August was paddling that hard but I was sure as heck going to give it my best shot. We won by 1 second!
Here’s the sad/bad/silly/nutty part. That other boat was a man…. and his kid! Yes, I gave it my all and beat a kid by 1 second. August says he was thinking about letting them win. I wasn’t because I figured they were in a different class. The race offers Male, Female, and Mixed classes, and obviously we were in mixed. Apparently a man and a boy are mixed as well. Because at the award ceremony, they did in fact get 3rd place behind us. Then I felt a little bad.
Here’s a shot of the kid looking cute and a little concerned about the crazy lady in the other canoe.
Oh well. Its a hard-knocks life, is it not? I do feel kinda bad. On the other hand, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place all get the same thing – awesome handmade trophies.
And later that day, I couldn’t even lift my arms over my head to wash my own hair.
Nerdery addendum: Through the miracle of technology, my skipper husband collected the following GPS track of our progress. Although it looks like we paddled right across a sandbar, the river level was actually WAY up on race day. We did keep her in the water.