Sunday, April 29, 2012

Canoeing in Tishomingo

We made it back to Tishomingo state park on Saturday for a family canoe trip down bear creek.  We had a late start, Alexe had to work a few hours in the morning, but when she came home around 9:30 with a BTC-provided picnic lunch, the kids and I had wrapped up our 3rd breakfast, (waffles) and packed the car with the canoe, paddles, flotation devices, and changes of clothes, swim suits, bug dope and sunscreen, ziplock bags for our cell phones, (just wait,) and my bike.

A 2 hour leisurely car ride later, filled with songs and story telling, a bit of napping, a random stop at a cool old brick warehouse in New Albany that was an indoor flea market with nothing worthwhile inside, and we made it to the park. 

Park arrival some time around 1:30, we had lunch at the spot where we would be ending our canoe trip. The purpose of coming here first was to drop off my bike.

Hoop cheese and bologna sandwiches, chips, water, and the first peaches of the season.
Boatie in the background, what a champion little car she is.

Gearing up for the boating leg of the adventure.

Leaving my bike locked to a tree, we drove 6 miles upstream, (in water distance, the road was 10-ish, though when I biked it later, I was able to exit the park by a dirt path and shave 5 of those miles off.) This is the put in point, off route 86, East of Dennis, MS.

Leader of the mother-son navigation team.  

Leader of the steering, rock collecting, pushing brigade.

We set sail.  Or paddle.  Struck out.  

It was beautiful.  The water depth ranged from six inches in a few short stretches, to four feet or more.  The water was clearer than any I've seen in MS, the sun was out to play without being harsh, and the water clipped along at a decent rate.  The kids were in high spirits for almost the entire 4 hour journey, and we made plenty of stops for swimming, rock collecting, nature spotting, and pushing when needed.

We pulled out the magnifying glasses to try to spot some big fish Alexe said she saw.  From her description I didn't believe her, she held her hands three feet apart, but a while later we saw a half dozen massive fish swimming under the boat.  They looked like thin salmon, very long, the girth of my forearm. We learned from some folks fishing downstream that they're river alligator gar.  Don't look for images online, you'll never go swimming in rivers again. We saw a few turtles, and heard many others plop into the water before we were close enough to see, were flown over by a duck, and had more than enough bugs to look at.

At one point the navigators were recruited for pulling duty.

The navigation team never mentioned the big rock in the middle of the river, possibly thinking we could run it over, (their instructions were generally "pick up speed" for other obstacles,) but this one turned us over.  This was just a few bends from the end of our trip.  The current was moving along, and I was just able to catch up with the paddles a hundred yards downstream or so, running/swimming through the 3 ft deep water with bare ft over a very rocky bottom.  They got a head start while we righted the kids and the boat.

The head navigator did her best to sell this as a fun part of the adventure.  The rest of the crew was not sold.

We made it to the end, took a final swim, then I hopped on my bike and rode back to the car.  Took me 25 minutes to reach the car, another 15 to drive back.  We came out of the water right next to the swinging bridge, (see pictures from my first trip to Tishomingo,) and there is a playground right there where Alexe and the kids waited for me.  It worked out very well.

We headed home at around 7:30, and stopped in Booneville for dinner.  Only Annaliese's change of clothes didn't get wet in the impromptu dip, so we had to find somewhere to eat with outdoor seating.  This place fit the bill, a setup like Sonic, but not Sonic.  Hot dogs and fries for dinner, with promises of ice cream in New Albany, halfway home.  The other patrons were in their cars, and enjoyed a free show when Annaliese started dancing to the piped in music.  

The kids passed out by the time we made it to New Albany, but the ice cream shack was open, so we stopped. We then shook, tickled, pried open eyelids, and stuffed spoons with a little ice cream into sleepy mouths to wake the kids up for their dessert.  Yes, we knew/know how insane it was, but the prescription for out adventure had included celebratory ice cream for all.

A wonderful day with my family.  Home at 10:30, kids popped into their beds, and relaxed unpacking of the car this morning.  

Fun note: Alexe spotted an iphone on the bottom of the creek, and we fished it out.  First generation in an otter creek case.  Those otter creek cases are nicely made, but NOT water proof.  The phone looks mint, not a scratch on it after removing the very encrusted case, but all the ports drip muddy water.  

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