For most of our trip, Megan sat on a backpack just in front of Allan.Â Adrian sat behind me.Â Occasionally he would turn around so he could face Megan and lean into me.
Early on we discussed how Lewis and Clark traveled and pretended that we were them. Megan wanted a special name and finally decided on Princess Tiny Frog, in honor of the tiny frogs she had discovered and played with on a beach. Adrian decided he would be Pomp.Â During the week, they would often call each other their made up names.
It did not take long for Megan to discover that she could lean over and play in the water.Â Soon Megan and Adrian played in the water whenever we were in a smooth part.Â Adrian would ask to row for a short while too.
When we hit rapids, they learned to sit in the middle with their hands in their laps or on the bar in front of them.Â They only had to get out and walk a few rapids and most of the time they could stay in the canoe while Allan and I guided the canoe through the mid-calf deep water.
During one stop, they loaded huge handful of rocks into the canoe.Â Every so often, they would throw a rock into the water.Â Another time, they folded and refolded the gum wrappers that they claimed. Megan practiced her favorite song, “God’s not dead, he surely alive” by the Newsboys over and over and over.Â Adrian asked us “millions” of trivia questions.Â They both enjoyed helping us watch for animals.
On the last day, the kids asked if they could change seats for a short while.Â They soon discovered the original seating plan was much more comfortable and happily rearranged at our next stop.
Boze Mill Spring Float Camp was beautiful!Â Each float camp had a toilet, a few campsites spread out, fire pits and places to hang food bags.Â Most were only accessable by boat, but you could drive into this one.
Over the holiday, people visited one camp site but did not understand what “Leave No Trace” meant.Â They left more trash then everything we carried in one canoe! That was frustrating!Â But the other sites where mostly clean, and we enjoyed relaxing there.
Since leaving our first access point, we had rain and some minor storms pass by.Â Whenever we heard thunder, we would pull over and take a break until the thunder passed.Â The only major storm we had was on day three.
We had a great day canoing.Â The kids were getting more comfortable and learning new strokes.Â They attempted more rapids and moved a lot faster than they had.Â We noticed the sky growing dark, but we really wanted to get to Boze Mill Spring float camp.Â We pushed it some and got there soon after lunch.
We set up camp and took a short walk to explore when a storm hit!Â We all curled up the kids tent and read four chapters of Tom Sawyer.Â Some of us dozed.
This float camp was really nice.Â It had large spaces for tents, fire pits, and –Megan’s favorite–a pit toilet!Â It also had a spring to explore and the remains of an old mill.Â We walked around exploring and just enjoying the time.
Even though we had used strong bug spray, the ticks still loved us.Â We found three types, deer ticks, spotted ticks and little tiny ones.Â We were told later that it was still too early in the season, but there was an even smaller tick that lives there.Â I am not sure how many ticks we got rid of, but there were a lot!Â I found many of them because someone had a new “freckle”, so we nicknamed the ticks moving freckles.
Dinner each night was re-hydrated meals that we had prepared at home.Â Each of the kids took turns learning to cook the meal with Daddy.
Every night, we hung our food in bear bags.Â We were told that there were bears in the area, but they are rarely seen.Â We were more afraid that raccoons or other critters would find our food.
After our crazy first day, most everyone was asleep before 7:30.Â Waking up to birds singing, we enjoyed our breakfast of rice pudding with blueberries.
We then repacked everything differently. We had planned on things getting wet, but some of the dry bags did not seem to work as well as others.Â So we rearranged things needing to stay dry in the better sacks.Â It made packing more difficult, but we did not want to bother with trying to dry things out when we hit camp.
The river was wider and smoother, though there were still rapids. We took the obviously easy ones, but walked many of the rapids. We learned later that Andrea kept saying, “come on, we can do this one” on some of the harder ones.
The day was beautiful and we canoed past many turtles.Â There were a few snakes, but not nearly as many as the day before. We started seeing more birds, some we did not know the names of.Â Adrian had fun quizzing us on presidential trivia. Megan learned that it was fun to trail her fingers in the water.Â We sang often.
The other kids would often be heard singing also.Â They talked a lot!Â They learned that Audrey could paddle; but Andrea, being stronger and heavier, did a much better job. So Audrey ended up sitting in the “princess seat” for most of the remainder of the trip.
When we started looking for our campsite, we found a huge one on a rocky beach.Â We hung everything up to dry and pitched our tents.Â We taught the kids how to filter their drinking water.
We relaxed that evening. The kids played in the shallow waters and went exploring. We had rock skipping contests. We read Tom Sawyer out loud.Â Our day had been perfect!
The afternoon trip went well for awhile.Â The older kids teased that they had not flipped yet and they should take all the things that should stay dry. Unfortunately, as they rounded a bend, they discovered a downed tree they had not seen before, had no time to change course, and got caught in it. They all ended up in the water! Downed trees were then nicknamed “killer trees” for the rest of the trip.
It was 4:00 and the kids had been working hard all day.Â They could not handle going any further.Â We were so thankful that God provided a nice camp site very close to where the kids tipped over.Â As we unpacked, we discovered that Andrea’s sleeping bag and our tent was soaking. Two dinners, two breakfasts and the larger bag of biltong were wet even though it was all stored in plastic bags and dry bags.Â We lost Andrea’s hat, two pair of sunglasses and a water bottle.Â We wereÂ bruised from the rocks and sore from all the paddling.
We soon discovered that our campsite only had room for one tent.Â Seven of us slept in a four man tent.Â It was a little crowded, but we all rested very well.Â The best part of it all, was in the middle of the night, we all got up and the kids talked and giggled like they were at a slumber party until we told them they needed to go to sleep!
Megan decided that she did not like the facilities at this camp site.Â She refused to go to the bathroom unless someone carried her past the weeds that grew taller than her.
As “bad” as it all sounds, everyone was still excited about the trip.Â They knew the next day would be lots better.
About 45 minutes into our trip, we had our first mishap.Â Our canoe flipped with Megan and Adrian in it.Â Adrian can dog paddle and both wore PFDs, the water was shallow but rocky; however, it was not too bad.Â The kids were not scared and both willing got back into the canoe ready to go again.Â Unfortunately, the newer camera, “safe” in a plastic bag, got wet and refused to work anymore.
Then, we totally missed the first float camp. We were welcomed into the second one by a snake sunning on a rock near by.Â It was swampy and we were not impressed with the area at all.Â So we moved on.
Because of the kid’s lack of experience, we walked most of the rapids-the rapids on our trip were either classified as I or II’s-but we also paddled through a few of them. On one of them, the kids were behind us, waiting for their turn. Somehow, Allan got snagged on a tree and as I got out to help him get free, the canoe tipped and dumped us all again.Â This one scared Megan. I caught her as she went over, but she started talking about turning around and going home.Â Tipping over never bothered Adrian. I held Megan tight for a little while and she was fine once we got everything put back together and had a snack.
After relaxing for awhile, we were ready to go again.Â We noticed something floating downstream-Allan’s hat! After putting it on, we were ready to start our afternoon.
Audrey is eleven years old!
Audrey is growing into a beautiful young lady.Â She loves to raise butterflies.Â She has two Painted Lady caterpillars that she is raising, and she hopes to find Monarchs soon.Â She tries hard at school and soccer. She smiles a lot and loves to make others smile too.
Happy Birthday, beautiful girl!Â I love you very much.
Michelle asked if I would take some pregnancy/family pictures of the family.Â She was hoping to get some family pictures and some special ones because Jonah was turning one and Phil was having a birthday also.
We headed over to the park and we were able to get some really sweet family pictures. Jonah loved the bubbles and was introduced to the slide.Â He had a great time playing with everyone too.
When their little one was born, we went to meet her.Â We spent some time getting to know Naomi and playing with Jonah. I was able to update their family pictures and get a few new born pictures of Naomi also.
Today, Naomi is one month old.Â Happy one month birthday Naomi!
When talking to others about our trip, we knew that the first part of the river would be the toughest.Â It is closed for part of the year and the river is narrower and harder to navigate than the rest of the trip we had planned.
The kids had been in canoes before; had learned how to paddle and how to steer some.Â But they had never HAD to do it for hours at a time. So, when we were dropped off at the Thomasville access site, we understood it probably would be the most challenging part of our trip.
However, we had talked with a few different people and they said that the river would be fine for novices. We went into the trip with the encouragement of others who had canoed it before.
We figured that we would need about an hour to paddle two or three miles.Â We wanted to enjoy each day, but we also wanted to get to a nice place for the evening.Â We knew that there were float camps available, but were not sure what to expect.Â So we planned to travel around 10 miles each day.
We left just after 9:30 with Megan and Adrian with Allan and me, while the bigger three were in their own canoe.Â The scenery was gorgeous and we enjoyed watching for animals and how the area was always changing.
It did not take long for the kids to learn how to maneuver the canoe properly and they did a super job.Â Mark always stayed in the back to steer and the girls swapped being in the front seat watching for obstacles and paddling. They spent the week learning new techniques and becoming stronger canoeists.
Our trip was starting out wonderfully!