Last week and this week, Miss Chef signed herself up for classes in whitewater kayaking. I opted out, feeling that I really don’t have the strength to do a roll underwater and (more importantly) back up. Last week’s class was a “sampler,” where they learned the basics of entering and exiting the water, paddling, and how it feels to find yourself upside-down.
Today’s class was a roll clinic. Sounds nice and dry, doesn’t it? It was, for me. I stayed onshore and snapped a few pics.
Like a clinic, it was also a little boring for me. It started out like this:
That would be the instructor towing Miss Chef and a colleague from the school out into the water. He stood in waist-deep water the whole time, giving them detailed information about paddling, rolling and who knows what else.
Since there were only two students, he took turns showing them how to use their balance and paddles. Miss Chef practiced her paddling while the instructor worked with Chef Mark. These kayaks are smaller and lighter than the ones we're used to, and are so maneuverable that every stroke tends to swing you right or left.
See that “waterfall” behind her? Those are the enormous turbines bringing water back to the top of the channels. I don’t remember how many gallons a minute they can pull, but it’s a lot. Lots of a lot.
Since there was a lot of standing around and talking, I decided to wander around and take some pictures to show you a little more of the Whitewater Center.
Here's the kayak barn:
The umbrella stand to the right is where we pick up our paddles and PFDs (personal flotation devices = lifejackets) when we head down to the river for flatwater kayaking.
Here are some staff members launching a raft from the raft barn.
This shot shows the area where rafters meet their guides and get on board the rafts. In the background you can see part of the rock-climbing walls. Beyond that is the main building with the shop and restaurant, and even further is the zip line that carries you across both channels of the whitewater runs. (If you squint really really hard, you can see the lines going out of frame to the left.)
Have I mentioned there's a lot to do at the Whitewater Center other than Whitewater stuff?
Back in Miss Chef's clinic, they had moved on to this…whatever this is...
And then there was some actual rolling…sort of.
There were to be no trips down the whitewater channel, so at this point I took off, to do some flatwater kayaking by myself. It was pretty quiet out on the river. I saw a lot of fish, including a couple good-sized sunfish-looking ones that came to the surface to inspect a fallen cicada.
I went downstream far enough to find an osprey. (I zoomed way in and cropped the photo, so it looks like I'm closer than I really was.)
Then I went back up the creek. I soon came upon what looked like a confluence of two currents, though there was no other water coming in.
Turned out to be a shoal of hundreds of tiny baby fish--you can make out a few of them just above my paddle. I saw several of these shoals and realized this creek must serve as a kind of nursery for the river. No wonder there are so many birds hanging around in here!
I also stopped to snap the flowers.
And that was about all the excitement on my hour-long relaxing trip. After I paddled back to the dock, I went up to find the chefs enjoying a beer at the restaurant. Dunking, then drinking…sounds about right. Since I had stayed upright, I settled for a pink lemonade.
Either way, we were all better off than our hippie friend from Paris.
We had paddles.