Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kayaking, Birding, and memories of Dad

Kayaking is a great way for me to connect to my dad. I have been thinking about my dad more because we just past what would have been his 70th birthday! He has been gone for 10 years now, but his memory lives on with me. Dad and I kayaked a few times when I was in high school. I also heard stories of his kayak adventures without me. For me, being so close to the water makes me feel connected and at peace with dad, with God, and with nature. I love the experience of paddling down the river- seeing the birds, the ducks, the shoreline. For the past year I have been wanting to try Kayaking with Amy. Last summer we tried to rent a kayak, but she got scared and changed her mind after sitting in one. This time she has seen more kayaks in the river on our hikes and read books about them, so she had a little better idea what she was getting into (literally :-). We rented a double kayak with Amy sharing the front seat with my friend Sarah. I was in the back doing most of the paddling. Amy "helped" paddle with a short canoe paddle attached to the boat and Sarah helped with a traditional canoe paddle.

Ridgefield is a wildlife refuge that is on a tributary of the Columbia River. The water was quite calm- the perfect place for a first time kayaker like Amy! The kayaking part of our adventure was wonderful! I was able to connect with Sarah well (which is sometimes a challenge due to the compassion fatigue from my job). Amy enjoyed being in the boat. We saw some nests, some birds, and some docked boats and boathouses. For Amy, the highlight of the kayaking was the bridge we went under and seeing the train next to us. She was so excited that we got to pass over that same bridge in the car for our short hike.

We went on a very short hike to a modern representation of a traditional dwelling of Native Americans who once inhabited the refuge. The Cathlapotle Plankhouse was constructed to resemble the houses described by Lewis and Clark when they visited the village known as Cathlapotle over 200 years ago.

On the main part of Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge is a bird sanctuary where you can do a driving tour and a hike. We did both. There were so many birds that I wish I could have asked dad about. We saw a turtle, several blue herons, and these beautiful black and red birds.

The birds, blue sky and wetlands were so beautiful. Amy wanted to pull the long grass and was excited to look for the next bridge to cross or the next place to "stop for a water or snack break".

Sarah is one of our favorite adventure companions. We are so blessed that she has become part of the family. She has told me that it is fun for her to see Amy so in love with the outdoors at an early age.

I would encourage anyone with kids who can sit still, have the attention for it and will listen to safety instruction to try kids in a kayak. Also, if you have not been to Ridgefield, it really is a must see! The driving tour and hiking area are only open for half the year (May 1 and September 30 only) due to bird migration. For more info go to
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