Written by Tami Sulistyo
July 31, 2020
Blue sky. Temperature just right. Sun shining. Almost no wind. We had planned to go on an adventure with our son and his girlfriend the next day. But the weather forecast predicted storms and rain the coming two days. And today was perfect.
I roused our teenager, who had stayed up late the night before and was sleeping soundly. “Alex, see if Madi is free today. Let’s canoe the St. Croix River this afternoon.” Alex’s response was telling me groggily about the dream he was having when I woke him. “Alex, can I text Madi right now to ask if she is available, because I can see you won’t since you are still more asleep than awake.” I got a yes, so I whipped out my phone and messaged Madi. It was 10:30am. She said yes!
We all got ready, and ate a quick lunch with our daughter Ingrid, who came over on her lunch break from interning at The Lazarus Project, https://www.lazarusprojectmn.net. Madi arrived and we loaded up our trusty old minivan, a silver Dodge Caravan we bought in July 2012 to drive from MN all the way to Long Beach, California where our son David competed in the national trampoline and tumbling championships.
First stop was Chuck & Don’s pet supply. I called ahead and they had the correct size life jacket waiting for me at the counter to purchase. This was to be our dog Arizona’s first time in a canoe and we wanted the peace of mind that if he jumped out or tipped over the canoe in the middle of the river, he would be fine. He loves to swim, but still. Next thing I did was call ahead to Taylor’s Falls Canoe Rental to reserve and pay for two canoes https://www.taylorsfallscanoe.com/canoe-and-kayak. After the $10 discount to reserve in advance, it cost $35 per canoe. The 7 mile one way canoe ride would go from Taylor’s Falls to Osceola, where we would take a shuttle bus back to our vehicle.
An hour and 12 minutes later we arrived. Being that it is the year of Rona (Covid-19), you can bet we donned our masks along with sunscreen. Told by staff to take any two canoes and set off, we did just that, after wiping down the paddles with disinfectant wipes we had brought with us.
Alex and Madi paddled way ahead of us at first because adjusting to having a 45 pound dog in the canoe, one who hadn’t yet found his sea legs, took a bit of time. Arizona, our border collie, was indifferent to wearing his life jacket. That was helpful. What we did wrong was have him near the front of the canoe, which made paddling from the rear harder than necessary. We stopped along the shore and moved him back further. That helped, but then he kept standing up and switching which side of the canoe he was peering out from, which made the canoe a bit unbalanced as well. Then he spotted Alex and Madi and started whining, wanting to see them and I think letting us know he was none too sure about being in the canoe at all.
It sure was a gorgeous day. We saw a hawk luxuriously floating high above us, and sun sparkles dancing on the water in front. Arizona settled down after we stopped a second time at a tiny sand island so he could swim and run around while Alex, who passed his commercial drone pilot license exam on July 13th, flew his drone and showed us an awesome shot looking down at the island.
Next up was a pit stop for grapes, water, cashews and granola bars at a campground half-way through our journey. I think Arizona consumed half of the river water to quench his thirst before chasing dragon flies. Back en route, we came upon a long island and Madi challenged us to canoe past it from opposite sides to see who could reach the end the fastest. We were quite pleased with ourselves for winning. The reward was a final stop along the sandy shore, where Madi and I stared in wonder and awe at the sheer beauty of a large yellow butterfly that kept flying gracefully around us. It was like time stopped while we watched this delightful show.
What a fun day. I am so glad we let spontaneity strike and jumped at the chance to play. May you have and choose the opportunity to press pause on your normal routine as well sometime in the near future. I know I will. As they sing in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, “L’Chaim, L’Chaim, To Life!”