Four walls and a roof often don’t accommodate the semi-nomadic lifestyle that kayakers, canoeists, rafters and pedal boaters alike find themselves falling into.
Indeed, there are many places more valuable to those chasing falling water:
1) A Car
If it rolls and carries boats on the roof, it fits the bill. It’s a bed, a gear closet, and a way to get from A to B. As an accomplice in escapes from the city, packing a paddler’s car is usually something between a game of tetris and a game of Jenga, with game pieces made of wooden shelves, plastic bins and stinky gear. It doesn’t hold grudges for the routine abandonment that occurs at the put-in to a river, at the airport or at the trailhead.
If it makes it from A to B in one piece, it’s a good day. If not, call it an adventure, group bonding, or #epic. There’s probably a paddler who can pick you up on their way to the river.
2) The Greasy Spoon, Wherever The Water Is
From local diners to the closest Tim Hortons, wherever the rain is falling and the rivers are running, there will be a gaggle of paddlers hunkered down in the corner, hogging the wifi, curating the next sick edit, or sending long-awaited updates to the loved ones whose perfume of choice isn’t wet neoprene.
Clad in down jackets and toques, cut-offs and tank tops, devouring breakfast combos and fueling up on dirt-tasting coffee (made tolerable only by Canadian pride) before heading into the frigid air for a rainy day adventure, or into the sunshine in search of running water.
The wifi’s better than any house we’ve lived in, the fridge is definitely better stocked, and there’s a high probability that the bathrooms are cleaner.
3) The Bar
Savouring the first gulp after a multi-day, or stunting the next hangover before this one begins, kindred spirits can inevitably be recognized by sunburns and helmet hair. In dive bars and trendy microbreweries, paddlers will be nursing sore blisters and egos, reliving the sharpest lines and the best beatering of a glorious day spent on the river.
4) The Tent
A safe haven. Safe from weather and from bugs. Safe from tripmates, when day 5 becomes just a little too much. Safe from the hustle and bustle. Where a house would keep one home with the temptation of crossing something off the fix-it list, a tent solely asks for duct tape and an adventure. Plopped amongst trees, rapids, or inebriated festival-goers, it’s a (relatively) dry place to rest a head, a shelter for introverted minds.
Here’s to the places that fill our lives, fuel adventure, and don’t keep us in one place.