Meramec State Park – 3.31.12

Camping is one of our favorite family activities. We like to go to Meramec State Park because its relatively close to home and on the river. This is our first camping trip of the year. We have added a roof rack to the van, and a Hobie Adventure kayak to the mix. This will allow the whole family to get out on the water at the same time!


As always, I’m in a hurry to get on the river and relax. So we parked the camper, and set off to pay our fee for the campsite and put our boats on the water. We could leave the setting up of a camper for after we got back from the river. Our plan was to put in near the campsite and paddle upstream for about three miles and then float back down. This avoids us having to get a shuttle and saves a few bucks.


For boats, Danelle got the Hobie kayak to herself and I had the two kids in the boat I lovingly refer to as “the turd”. The boat is a 14 foot Mad River Adventure (notice that I have two boats with the Adventure model). It gets the name from its speed in the water and the brown color. I actually really like the boat, its extremely stable and holds three people in semi-comfort. So we headed upstream, but it wasn’t the pleasant dream that I wanted. I lost my temper too much with the kids yelling for them to sit still and keep their paddles out of the water instead of dragging them. Partly because we were going upstream and it was difficult, but also because I’m use to canoe racing and just expect people dedicated to paddling.

We stopped to paddle inside a cave and check it out. The kids got a huge kick out of it and it was a nice break from paddling. Eventually we switched places and Danelle got her turn in the cave and the photo to go with it.

At the halfway point in our journey, we stopped on  a bank to have lunch. We relaxed and enjoyed the picnic we had prepared, except for the bag of goodies we left in the van. At the lunch stop, the kids (including me) each got a turn riding on the kayak. Heading back downstream after lunch, I was about half as upset as going upstream. The kids still like to squirm in the seats and nearly upset the canoe a few times.

Goodness do I look upset in the picture above. Its something that I’ll have to deal with better next time!

When we got back to the camper, this was where the real fun begins and probably why we don’t have more pictures. The camper would not raise up with the mechanism. I tried several times and gave up before I broke it worse. Danelle and I looked at each other without words for a few minutes. Then with one more effort, I cranked while Danelle lifted up with her hands and we managed to get the camper open. It didn’t open completely, but enough to sleep in it for the night. I was again upset over this, casting a shadow over the trip. 

I took the kids for a hike and we saw some cool trees and a “cave” that they had to show mom. So we came back and the kids took mom out. Danelle came back from the hike limping with a bad mood. It seems that she had the wrong shoes on and hurt her toe bad. We were all ready for bed and called it a night fairly early. Then around 1 am, Corvin woke up sick and threw up a few times. At first light, we quickly packed up and retreated for another time.


Voyager Canoe Outing

Each month, I participate in the Sunset Race Series. This event is the second Thursday of each month and traditionally held on the Meramec river. This month, we had a slight change of venue. Instead of everybody bring their own boats and racing to the finish, we all piled into a 31′ voyager canoe build by Joe Ringling and Martin (Larry) Hassle. The canoe is the product of approximately 2000 hours of woodwork. The finished product shows the quality workmanship and provides an amazing boat to paddle.

The voyager canoe is build for racing. It was designed after an Olympic C1 canoe, but run through the “Honey I Blew Up The Boat” ray to make fit a few more people. At a stop, the boat is very tippy. This provides adequate motivation to continue paddling under all conditions! And it is critical to continue paddling in this boat.

We had a minor incident during this outing. The incident proved that we need to respect the boat and the conditions. We ended up having two motorboats and the voyager within approximately 60 of each other in the river. We were paddling, but slowed to see what was going on. There was a water skier in the water. About the time all three boat converged, the water skier was pulled from the water. Each motorboat took off at speed from the area in different directions. This created what I call a vortex of crossing waves. What felt like a 4 foot hole/wave was created in front of the boat. Larry was able to turn us into the worst of it. Sitting in the second row of the boat, I took a wave over the bow that was chest high, soaking me good. I stopped paddling (bad me) and the boat rocked quite good to the left. I thought for sure we were going over, but between our momentum and the people in the back still paddling, we rode out the worst of it and stayed upright. We estimated taking on 20 gallons of water to the boat. All that was available was a single sponge to remove the water. It took most of the trip back to get the water out of the boat. Joe and Larry are working on getting a battery operated bilge to help in situations like that.

Overall it was a perfect paddle up and down the river in a boat that turned the heads of all! I’m looking forward to the Race For The Rivers where I’ll get to paddle in it again for 41 miles of the Missouri!


Return from Springfield

Class seemed to end in a blur Wednesday night. As soon as we were let out, I rushed across campus to drop off my books and pick up my motorcycle. I messed up my schedule, as I was supposed to meet Jana, Matt, Isaac, and Stephanie for dinner at 6:00 pm. I ended up getting twenty minutes late, but it worked out well.

After a wonderful evening, goodbyes were said and I headed back to my room for a final night of sleep. This of course didn’t happen as Matt called to say that we should go out. So I stayed out too late again.

Class on Thursday went by quickly and I again scooted out because I needed to get home. Back in the dorm room with a packed lunch, I surveyed my stuff and realized that I still had a bit of packing to do. So I ate quickly and carefully packed up all of my books. I took my motorcycle on this trip, so it was important to pack tightly and conserve space.

On the way home, i was having a bit of trouble staying awake. This is of course my fault as I have stayed up very late most nights this last week. Being on a motorcycle, it isn’t smart to ride tired. So I made a pit stop at the world’s largest rocking chair to get a drink and walk around to wake up.

After my stop, I realized that I was almost out of fuel. The stop didn’t have a gas station, so I had to stop again a few more miles down the road. It was just the trick and I was awake enough to finish my ride safely.

Once home, I quickly traded to motorcycle for my van and placed my canoe on top of it. It also happened to be the second Thursday of the month. That means that I was going canoe racing . It can be a family affair. Joey brought his brother Brian and his mom Barb for this outing.

After a long race where I didn’t stand a chance, I called it a night. After being away from family and work for a couple days, going back to work on Friday was a delight.