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.
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.
Arrival in Shanghai was pretty uneventful.Â I quickly make it through the check-in/registration process and to the baggage claim.Â Of course my bag had to be the last bag on to the conveyor.Â Like many systems, the baggage comes up at one end of the conveyor from the lower level and drops onto the conveyor. Some one at the end where they were dropped onto the oval conveyor must have been organizing them because they were in perfect order when the came around to me.Â Lined up nice and neat, right next to each other with tops up.
I found Eric and Lynn very quickly and they took me out to the van, which was very much like our 7 person vans, rather spacious, with captain seats for the centre row.Â It was strange to have a lady wanting to take my bags from me and load them in the van and then opening the door for me, making sure I am okay and closing the door, etc.Â But she is the “chauffeur”.
We drove through Shanghai which has a population of about 25,000,000 people.Â Even though there is a one child policy here, the city is growing very quickly.Â There was a lot of construction going on.Â There was a lot of smog.Â I was told that it was really bad a couple days earlier.Â However, the smog is not from vehicle or manufacturing pollution but from the farmers burning their fields after the harvest and in preparation for the next planting.
There were also a lot of high rise apartments. A lot!Â It is interesting to see laundry hanging out of windows and off of balconies 20 and 30 floor up.
Lynn drove us to the Howard Johnson -Â Huaihai which is in the French quarter of Shanghai.Â By this time I was too tired to think about taking pictures.Â I checked in with the help of Eric and got to my room.Â Next time I think I can manage this myself.
The room is beautiful.Â Quite large and with a the largest bathroom that I have seen in my hotel room.Â The tub and the shower are separate.Â The shower is glassed in with a two foot wide floor to ceiling frosted glass window which could produce some interesting shows if more than one person were staying in the room.Â Time for bed.
Well, I (Allan) am off to China.Â In the waiting area there was a nice large replica of a dino skeleton.Â Left Chicago around 10:45 (35 minutes late because of the wind and rain) with a very long line of planes trailing behind us.
Though we were traveling across the time zones, staying between the hours of 11:00 and 15:00, I got to see a sun set and a sun rise because we had traveled so far north.
We had dinner of rice with a veggie curry and a lentil curry.Â That was very good.
After a sleepless 14 hours of a “lunch hour”, I finally arrived in Shanghai.
Click on a thumbnail to see a slide show of my trip!