For my birthday this year, I wanted to go kayaking. I had read about this adventure tour company last year and had been looking for a good time to go, so Mike and I and my brother’s kids (Paige, 11 and Jack, 12) rented 2 tandem kayaks for a self-guided paddle down the Verde River in Cottonwood, Arizona. I’m unsure of the distance, but it took about 2 ½ hours. It had been so long since I’ve done anything like this, I forgot how much work it is! My arms were still sore days later. It was a blast though! Cottonwood is north of Phoenix, close to Sedona, so it was much cooler than the 100 degree temps we suffer through around here, even more so when we were on the water. It was also overcast, which was nice. I hate feeling like I’m being cooked by the sun.
After getting checked in you are driven to another location by a guide who keeps you entertained and points out important landmarks. On the drive up to the launch point, looking at the grey clouds, I asked our guide if he expected rain. He assured me we would be fine…that turned out to be incorrect information!
This really did turn into quite an adventure. During the process of getting prepared and getting to the launch location, we gathered that a teenager was missing. He and his family rented the tubes to go down the river and at some point, he had fallen off his tube, which had continued on down the river without him, and the kid was nowhere to be seen. The guide actually passed us in a kayak heading out to help look. So, during our whole trek, I’m keeping my eyes peeled while having thoughts like, what if he’s a no-good kid waiting to attack unsuspecting kayakers, or wondering what I’d do if we came upon his floating body. Sometimes I think I read too much news…I won’t keep you in suspense, he was located by the time we were finished with our trek.
Anyway, back to the fun! I haven’t laughed that much in a long time! Mike and Jack got in their kayak first and were on the water already while Paige and I got settled into ours. In the few minutes it took us to get in the kayak, on the water, and pointed in the correct direction, Jack and Mike are attempting to limbo under a low hanging branch they seem to have directed themselves towards like it was some sort of magnet. It didn’t work and they were being clotheslined by the branches instead and now must maneuver themselves out. I nearly wet myself from laughing so hard, watching their struggle. Mike later claimed that Jack was responsible for most of their crashes into the riverbank, but I don’t know…
When you approach a rapid, they instructed us to give the boat ahead a good distance so that in case they get caught on something, you’re not right behind, about to make it worse. Sometimes they were in front, sometimes we were. At one point, Paige and I were waiting so long for them to catch up after we got through the rougher water that I started paddling upriver to make sure they were okay. They apparently got so lodged on a rock, Mike had to use his foot to get them unstuck. The scoot method didn’t work that time.
I don’t want to make it sound like Paige and I didn’t have our fair share of snafus. We certainly did a lot of accidental spinning around, inadvertent backwards kayaking through some rapids and unintentional ramming of the banks. As you’re helplessly watching yourself head towards a protruding branch, it’s easy to wonder what would happen if you were to puncture your vessel. Fortunately though, they’ve taken this into consideration and have constructed a sturdy product.
It was such a lovely, peaceful outing. Getting out of the city and listening to the beautiful sounds of nature was exactly what I was hoping to experience. There were several times when the river was wide and moving slowly, so we’d lift our paddles, chat and hydrate while lazily enjoying the great outdoors.
The guide had given us directions to remember along the way and told us about some good indicators of how far into the trip we would be when we saw each one, so we knew we didn’t have far to go when the sky started to really rumble. A few minutes later it started to rain so now we’re paddling with more effort. And we can see the landing point!! Now it’s raining quite a bit, so we pick up the pace. But we have to go under some low hanging brush, so I told Paige to stop paddling because the oar would get tangled above her. She didn’t hear, or didn’t listen, it’s hard to know with an 11-year-old, and I watched her oar get caught on a branch and force her to lean backwards until she’s almost lying down in the kayak. Again, I’m laughing pretty hard at this.
Finally! We’ve landed and gotten out of the kayaks, some of us struggled with that more than others. We’re hustling up the hill because it is now absolutely pouring! And hailing! Oh my goodness, that hurt! It was like someone throwing pebbles at my bare skin! Then the loudest thunder! Immediately followed by a lightning strike that was scarily close! I screamed, Paige starts crying and we. Are. High stepping it until we got to the little shop where we did all the checking in to wait out the rest of the storm before we can get to the car and grab our stuff and head to the bathrooms to change into clean, dry clothes. They were so nice and cozy warm from being in the hot car all afternoon, it was so nice.
The whole trip was such a fun memory for me to have with my love and the kids. Even though I could have done without the adrenaline inducing ending, I can’t wait for our next adventure!