H wanted to do a family paddle today. Her original plan was to do Wickford Harbor. It provides a nice protected area, ice cream, and proximity to friends. What could be better?
Bug had different plans. She didn’t want to ride in the car. She doesn’t like salt water. She didn’t want to go to the beach. She didn’t want to spend time in the sun. She didn’t want to go anywhere. She doesn’t like ponds….
I was not feeling overly accommodating, but H wanted to find some compromise that Bug would at least not melt down over. We discussed going to Walden Pond or Lake Cochituate. I was not thrilled with either option and kept making the argument that we should just go with the original plan. Neither Bug nor I were making H’s morning easy.
On a lark I threw out Essex as a possible place to paddle. In my head it was closer to home. It also offered some level of ocean paddling, and provided access to a real beach. After thinking about it for a little while, H decided it was a good compromise. It also meant we could squeeze a visit with grandparents in as well.
We packed up the paddling gear, the kayaks, and some lunch. In my head, this was a short process. It took more than an hour. The cradles needed to be attached, things needed to be found, water bottles needed to be filled one at a time, hair needed to be done, kayaks needed to be prepped and carried. Bug needed to be cajoled.
We woke up around 8am and hit the road before noon. With an estimated travel time of 45 minutes, we figured we would be on the water before 1pm. Then we hit traffic. 45 minutes later we still hadn’t passed the Rt. 93 split and Bug was complaining about the long car ride…. By the time we reached the 128 split we had been in the care for more than an hour and I was starting to complain….
Things turned around when we got to the launch. It was nicely appointed with easy access, free parking, a nice grassy area to eat lunch, nearby bathroom facilities, and a decent ramp. The weather was perfect: sunny, but not too hot. Breezy, but not windy. Everyones mood had turned sunny as well. We were all looking forward to getting on the water.
The paddle out along the river was great. Bug took out her paddle, which is getting a little small for her, and starting sticking it in the water. “Look I’m making plastic bags!” she shouted gleefully as the water arched over the partially submerged blade.
Then she started splashing the paddle side-to-side. “I’m helping paddle!” Then she looked back to see how I was doing it and started paddling backwards….
I explained to her how to paddle forward and she did a good job for a little while. The big smile was all the help I really needed.
Meanwhile H was enjoying paddling along in her own kayak. This was her first time out this season. She looked very comfortable.
When the narrow river channel opened up we were faced with a decision. Go left and follow the boat traffic around an island to get to the beach. Go right and wind through the sand flats to get to the beach. It looked like there was a clear path through the sand flats and it looked way shorter than paddling around the island….
The path clogged up a quarter of the way through the sand flats. We decided to hang out on the sand for a while. It was like a beach. Bug was nervous about hermit crabs pinching her feet, so we had to ensure her that was not a problem.
The sand banks were a great place to hang out. There were a bunch of clam shells to discover. There was also these funny looking holes along the edge of the water. H decided to do some exploratory digging and discovered a giant clam! It was cool. It was more cool to watch it rebury itself once we put it back in the water. The clam sat for a while and then flipped itself up on its side. Once it was vertical, the clam made speedy work of covering itself back up.
The green head flies munching on my legs kept the scene for being idyllic. There were not eating H or Bug quite as much, but the wind on the sand was starting to die down. No wind usually means more flies. Also, the real beach was within sight. I wanted to at least see the ocean.
There was enough of a water way to keep the kayaks afloat as we dragged them along and across the sand banks. We eventually found another channel that was deep enough for paddling. That channel took up into the open water between the sand flats and the beach.
When we hit the open section, we had to deal with current dragging us out to the ocean. It was not a strong current, but with an open double one cannot be too careful. We made a hasty crossing and found a spot on the crowded beach.
Everyone hopped out and Bug raced off to explore. Then she raced back to splash in the salt water. I wanted to walk around the point and see the Atlantic, so we made our way down the beach. Since we couldn’t cross the dunes due to plover nesting, we stuck to the shore line. This made Bug super happy since that meant more water time for her.
We didn’t linger too long on the beach. It was getting late and the green heads were still biting. We had to drag Bug out of the water and back into the kayak. After we promised ice cream she was more than happy to go back.
We were again faced with the option of following the channel or going across the sand flats. H reasoned that since the tide was coming in, the sand flats would have plenty of water over them…. We only had to drag the kayaks a little way while providing a feast for the green heads.
Before we hit the sand Bug turned around and looked at me with a big smile on her face. “Daddy, paddling isn’t my cup of tea,” she said. “But I know you like it, so it is OK."
Once back in the main channel, Bug got sick of the green heads and started splashing water everywhere to keep them away.
“Say got it when the water hits you. That way I know the flies are not getting you.”
We figured this would last for a few minutes and then she would settle into a new game. We were wrong. It lasted for the rest of the trip home. The good thing was that it kept the flies away.
The downside of the splashing was that it made it hard to keep Big Red on course. I was getting tired, so I dropped the rudder to lend a hand. The rudder made it easier to steer, but harder to go fast. I have a hard time paddling and steering with a rudder at the same time. (I can chew gum and walk.)
We got back and met the grandparents for dinner. Bug still insisted that she didn’t like salt water or paddling. The mind of a five year old is mysterious and fickle thing.