Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Potomac

One thing about taking off on a long trip; when you get back, it feels like you'll never catch up on everything, especially as new adventures begin. Though it's been nearly a month since we stopped in Washington DC on our way back from Florida, I wanted to post a few snapshots from a paddle we took with Peter on the Potomac River.

More and more, I'm starting to enjoy the varied places that sea kayaking takes us. In this case, it took us to a place inland from the ocean that isn't often associated with sea kayaking. We probably would have done our best to avoid DC, like we do most cities, had Peter and Marilyn not invited us to stop and visit. Actually, we have a lot of friends we would like to visit in DC, but since we had our boats, and their offer included a paddle on the Potomac, we couldn't resist.

We launched near the Pentagon and crossed over toward the Mall amid tour boats and a floating restaurant, but after that, traffic on the river was amazingly sparse. We paddled along the grassy riverbanks amid cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial looming in the background. About once every minute, our conversation was interrupted by the roar of a jet following the river as it descended toward one of the DC airports.

People on shore took notice. We paddled past the Kennedy Center and Georgetown, where diners at an outdoor cafe called out to us almost desperately, wondering where to get kayaks and where to launch. We were joined by the sculling team, the coach leading the way in a powerboat, barking out instructions. Peter pointed-out the Georgetown Canoe Club, where he'd gone to dances as a teenager.

We stopped for lunch on Theodore Roosevelt Island, an amazingly large piece of wild forest right in the middle of the city, then paddled back through a creek, which despite several bridges crossing overhead, was another corridor of wildness, busy with turtles, great blue herons and other wildlife. Meanwhile, government helicopters whisked back and forth overhead, punctuated by the roar of jets over a steady background hiss of traffic. I felt grateful for this backdoor view of the city, which, despite what appears as chaos, has a calm heart flowing right through it.

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