Well, we just survived a four…five… almost a whole week blizzard and now another week of horrible wind chills… thank you winter storms Diaz and Elliot. Followed by another round of snow. We needed the moisture but I’m so over four-foot drifts and slick roads.
I was teleworking from home for some of it, but Hunter is at the age where if you take your eyes off him or leave him to his own devices the dogs wind up a different color and there’s a slight possibility, he will figure out the child locks and escape… so work became interesting— I really wish we had gecko level eyes because that would have been handy.
He did figure out the front door and screen door, plus how to put his snow boots on the correct feet and decided to come help mom clear snow before work instead of eating his waffle bites. Mom is just glad she heard a scraping sound and looked over to see a shovel levitating. He was in sweats, but it was much too cold for him to be out in that type of weather.
Mom didn’t want to be out in it either and she was dressed appropriately.
Anyways the next day winter storm Diaz hit, and it’s been a winter wonderland (aka we were stuck at home). My husband did brave the elements and went to work. He got stuck the first day near his workplace and the next day he didn’t make it a block from home. He decided to stay home that day.
Then when Elliot hit, he was stuck in Cody, Nebraska for most of the day and then decided to drive home with a coworker. The idiot. They made it back safely, but they are still idiots.
After the first day, I started dipping into my SAD moments. Normally, I’m not there until end of January/February. However, we just got back from southern Missouri for a hunting/late Thanksgiving/ early Christmas trip.
I was missing my old Missouri home and my folks and then the weather decided to make it a trifecta. I’m grateful my husband has a willing ear and makes me feel better even when my brain decides to go off trail. I did think ahead and stocked up on vitamin d and ordered a new UV light, but the blizzard delayed it.
So what better way to combat SAD and cold weather? Reminisce about warmer weather and other fun trips!
Since I’ve been procrastinating writing about my summer trip home (and other trips) what better time than when you’re staring at four walls while attempting to keep clothes on a little heathen that only wants to go outside.
I’ve mentioned that this year, like last year, went off the rails because of the amount of work I was doing. I love my job, but the last two years were, putting it mildly, rough. Short staffing was a problem everywhere, but we managed. The three of us there were all burned out, but we managed. Late last summer, we finally managed to be back to almost full staff— we’re just one short now.
However, mid-summer we were finally able to get summer help and Covid restrictions had lifted. Finally, I was able to travel for work. I was itching for a vacation and due to some planning, I was able to take two weeks away from my day job— one week to go back to Missouri and then go on to the work-related training in West Virginia.
It worked out for Wade and Hunter to come with me for the first leg! We kicked off our trip by going to my mom’s family reunion on the Oklahoma/Kansas boarder. Then a day in Springfield, Missouri visiting Bass Pro and taking the tour through the aquarium and museum.
Then it was quick jaunt to the eastern side of the state and my old stomping grounds!
We got in and settled at our cabin for the rest of the week. It would be jam packed trip. I normally don’t get to go anywhere “fun” during the summer, and this was Wade’s second summer trip down. I will say he enjoyed accommodations that had air conditioning this trip. Our last trip down, we camped in June. He didn’t understand my concerns about humidity until that weekend. He now totally understands why I like Nebraska summers.
Aside from doing fun summer things, like floating and hiking, I had a mission– drop off books for JP Brand Books. I might do something similar the next trip down or see if I can set up a “pop-up” bookstore somewhere in Van Buren or Winona.
I didn’t plan a lot of hikes this trip because it was summertime and I wanted to take Wade down the Current River.
The day was planned– we would start at the Landing. The Landing is a Van Buren institution and a leading service in the thriving canoe business along the Current River.
It was already warm– humid– and I was itching to get in the water. But the joy of canoeing is usually you have to drive a little way to get to the launch point.
Since we were staying in Van Buren, The Landing is “right there,” and it was Wade’s first time– I picked a trip on the Lower Current, Waymeyer to The Landing/Highway 60 bridge. I’m fonder of and think the Jacks Fork and the Upper Current is more scenic and fun (technical) this section has its merits and it’s a good starting point for first timers (less rootwads/strainers, aka trees in the water). While Wade is a kayaker and fishermen, I was throwing him in a tandem canoe for the first time.
I only joked about tipping him intentionally– although, we did have an incident with a tree…
We hung out at the Landing’s beach for a while waiting for our bus to take us upriver. We didn’t bother bringing our own gear because we had been talking about getting a canoe for the family and this is an easy way to test out if that was actually feasible or if we should just stick to our own boats.
Since I do have experience with my day job with canoes both solo and tandems I would be in the back of the boat. Luckily, Wade didn’t fight me on it because again he knows I have the experience. And he knew I wanted him to just take in the river and not worry about doing a lot.
Fun fact, there are a lot of jokes about divorce attorneys sponsoring canoe outfitters because of what goes down in canoes. Usually– in my lifetime experience living on a river and working as a river ranger– it’s not the canoe, but the controlling aspects of both parties involved. If you think you are the best at everything– a canoe will humble you, especially if you’ve never set foot in one before. However, if your first time stepping into one is with a spouse, somehow it becomes the other person’s fault.
I also want to point out that it’s a learned experience not an innate “I know how it works…” some things will make it easier to pick up, understanding balance, listening to suggestions, etc. but canoeing is doing and doing it a lot.
Once again, my PSA: like riding horses, if you have never been bucked off you haven’t done it enough. Same with flipping or almost flipping a canoe/kayak/SUP. And usually, most flips or near misses happen in the first fifteen minutes.
Our tree incident happened in the first twenty minutes.
Again, the Lower Current usually has fewer downed trees in the water. It’s wider, there are some beautiful bluffs, and lots of gravel bars. However, trees do wind up in the channels due to flooding in the spring.
I will own up to the fact I was looking at a turtle– because turtles are cool. I knew we were coming up on a spot that was cutting back due the tree– the current will find its way around obstacles, sometimes under or through them which is the danger with rootwads/strainers. Quick note, I grew up in the Ozarks hearing them referred to as rootwads. Upon moving to Nebraska and becoming an American Canoe Association Instructor the more mainstream term is strainers. I use both because why not?
Yes, I just dropped in this post that I have experience in canoes and I’m an instructor– or was until I let it lapse during maternity leave– while telling a story about a near canoe wreck. Why? Because complacency and inattentiveness can also happen to experienced people and that’s why it’s important to not only wear your life jacket but also have everyone looking out. For both beginners and lifelong enthusiasts.
We also weren’t wearing life jackets– I should have asked for them, I honestly expected them to be in the boat hence why I didn’t bring my own. However, since we were adults, and the only requirement is a flotation device in the vessel we had two of the type III flotation aids– aka cushions.
Anyways– I was distracted by a turtle. Wade asked “Hey we’re coming up on this down tree pretty fast. What do I need to do?”
Insert shocked Pikachu face.
I looked up and realized we didn’t have enough time to really avoid it, but I kept us from going head on into it and getting flipped. I had to “walk” us down by using said tree as a rope to get us out from under the branches. After that I stayed focused or at least told Wade– hey I’m going to take some photos if you see a rock or a tree coming up– even if it’s way downstream let me know.
It was fun eating lunch on a gravel bar and tell Wade a little bit about growing up on this river. The Niobrara, where we live now, is sand based and while it’s very similar, the majority of the Current River is held by the NPS (Ozark National Scenic Riverways), unlike the Niobrara. What I like about the Current and Jacks Fork is you can hike more while you’re floating. Except in the section we were floating for this trip– there is the gap surrounding Van Buren and Eminence where the land along the river is privately held. One of the other reasons I don’t care for this section because there is a lot of development and houses– which is fine, just not what I want when I want to experience the river and nature.
It was only a three-hour trip and at one point I started singing the theme to Gilligan’s Island because it’s southern Missouri. It’s humid. We hit a thunderstorm.
I noticed the clouds forming up while we were eating lunch– again my day job bleeding through. I managed to get Wade back in the boat– he was trying to recover phone that some floaters noticed on the bottom. The Current and Jacks has some of the clearest water and you can see down to the bottom in some of the deep holes. I was hopeful we could outrun the storm.
Right… we didn’t outrun it.
We stopped on the bank to wait out the initial thunder and lightning, then pushed on for the last bit to get out of the rain.
Wade wants to go again and check out a different section which makes me happy. He’s also down with us getting a tandem or three-person canoe for the family. I’m so excited!
I cut together this very choppy video that I posted to my YouTube and TikTok– yes, I doom scroll TikTok instead of writing blog posts… I’m sorry. I also checked out Big Spring (for the like 1 millionth time) * one of the largest springs in the United States! It usually ranks as third largest with a spring in Florida and one in Idaho that, depending on drought conditions, are larger.
*I probably haven’t seen it that many times, but I did grow up there taking field trips to Big Spring for school a lot. Then I worked there hiking around the spring and general area for nearly eight years… plus I visit nearly every time I go home. It’s a lot.
**I also want to remind folks that both the movie and book Deliverance took place in Georgia. In the book, it’s the fictional Cahulawassee River. In the movie, they filmed on the Chattooga River and Tallulah Gorge. While people in the Ozarks do play banjos, usually for comedic timing, this was not where the movie or book were created/filmed. I also don’t think the poor folks in Georgia should be so maligned as well.
“I am haunted by waters.” — Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories.