Saturday, June 16, 2012

Paradise is just down the road

Paradise IS just down the road from here.

 I know, because I saw it while I was canoeing on Friday night. I do not know how I could live so close to this area and never have been there before.  I swear it was JUST like I was in a nature program on TV!  The water was so calm, it was like glass.  There were so many little animals, most of which I did not get pictures of, because I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open.  Well, that and I had my little camera and the light was a little low- difficult lighting conditions to deal with when you are half afraid of tipping the boat over and going down for the last time.  I kept telling the MA how amazing this is, he kept telling me not to hit the side of the boat with the paddle!  Lol.  HEY, I haven't been in a canoe in 20 years, I bet!  And before that my boating experiences were mostly on motor boats and involved some sort of fishing, recreating or waterskiing at my Grandma and Grandpas in Walker, MN or at my uncles on the Rock River in Janesville.   I've been in canoes very little.  Boating hasn't been part of my life much in the north, other than the occasional pontoon ride.

For those of you who might not know, I am going on a 5 day canoe trip and camping adventure with my sister and my niece in a few weeks- July 19 to be exact.  This is so totally out of my comfort zone, it's not even funny!  Wait, it is funny.  If you knew how many years I blatantly stated that I had my fill of camping when I was a kid and if I camp, I will be sleeping in a motel, etc.  Or I live in a camp (which I do) and so I sleep in my own bed thank you very much.  Bathrooms are a REQUIREMENT!!  So, why I didn't hesitate for one moment when my sister suggested this last fall, I will never know, but I think it has to do with redefinition!  I am redefining what it means to be a farm girl, who lives in the woods, who is heavy, but isn't now, who prefers the city life, but hasn't lived in one for 30 years.  Who is not athletic, but can kick ass at weight-lifting and is now a runner. Who certainly can't run, and yet can run a 10K.  Who stands at the back of a truck needing to get up in the bed to hoist up a canoe, but thinks she can't get up there with out assistance, and yet put her foot on the bumper and hopped up there with no problem.....  It happens every damn day.  Every day I think I can't do something and then I can!  So, I am going on a 5 day canoe trip! Up to the Boundary waters of Minnesota.
Now, please don't ask me what my point of entry is going to be, or where we will be going or what the water will be like or ANYTHING about it, as I know 2 things at this point.  It is the Boundary waters of Minnesota and it is guided and outfitted.  PEOPLE that is all I know!!!  LITERALLY!!  I hope to be filled in on specifics this coming week when I go visit the Mad-seester Rose.
Loaded up and ready to go

Not sure, but I think he was laughing at us!

So, back to Paradise, which is apparently in the intersection of Smith creek and the Flambeau River.  We launched out of the Smith Lake County Park boat landing, with  only  a little trouble getting ourselves (well that would be only me) into the canoe.  I was very nervous at first!  We then headed down stream towards the mouth of the creek.  I didn't realize that the creek came in at this spot and the river lies around a few bends and not where we were going.  Otherwise we could have paddled into Park Falls, but this was awesome.  We made our way down the flowage fairly quietly, except for my chattering and oooing and ahhhing and then we started seeing the wild life.  Ducks were flying around, alarmed at the appearance of our canoe.  There was a deer near the edge of the water trying to avoid the  flies and bugs of the forest. I saw a beaver or woodchuck swimming parallel to our boat.  He dove and reappeared and eventually disappeared into a little den under the edge of the shore and some tree roots.  As we made our way to Smith Creek, we eventually saw a mother duck with her babies!  Mama duck put on quite the show pretending to be injured and attempting to draw us away from the little ones.  The babies did a fine job of hiding on their own.  Later as we headed back, we were TREATED to a pair of loons, who we heard many times.  They really were not too afraid of us, so we got fairly close to them.  My loon pictures are of marginal quality because of the lighting and the distance.  But still.  I saw a turtle poke his head out, a badillion kind of insects- water bugs, several dragon fly varieties, butterflys and really not that many mosquitos or deer flies.  So that was good!

Trying to avoid the bugs in the woods
Baby ducks swimming like mad to get away from us.

One of the pair of loons

Loon number 2

The area is very ethereal and unworldly, as it is a flowage, which means it used to be a valley until they put up the dam a ways down stream.  Then the area was flooded and there are a lot of old white pine stumps showing out of the water.  And some massive rocks, as well.  Growing out of every little clump of dirt or stone that shows above the water line is some sort of greenery. It has to grow fast here, as we all know summer doesn't last long in paradise.

Things grow everywhere!

abstract roots

Stump from a long time ago

I am having a hard time trying to express the wonder and beauty of the evening.  The wind was calm, and the water was like glass.  Every turn in the creek revealed new secrets, new animals, new sights to be seen.  It was an unbelievable and etherial.  The quietness of the area is something I'm used to, but having left my phone at home I was released from any attention to anything but the visual and aural world around me.

It was absolutely breath-taking and ..... magical.  Something I do not say very often.

I believe I will have a fine time canoeing, my muscles were not sore in the least, my hands might get tired, and i will need a padded seat I think, but otherwise I'll be good!  It is very exciting and I hope to get in several more practice sessions before July 19!  If I love it as much in August as I do in June, I may get a kayak so I can transport it myself.  That'll be another redefinition of myself!

And that brings me a lot of joy.

Until next time, give it back to someone- joy that is...

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