A Tour Through Nature and into Lasting Memories
You never know what kind adventure awaits when kayaking the Blanchard River. Paddles gently dipping the water offer peaceful moments of relaxation, as nature stands poised to unfold her beauty.
In early April, our family purchased three kayaks at the urging of my son, who worked very hard around the house to earn the cash to buy his own. These were some of the best purchases we’ve ever made, as we continue to unwrap this gift from spring into summer.
Kayaking provided a comfort throughout the COVID19 stay-at-home order I will never forget. Spring kayaking is chilly, but we were desperate to get outside and catch a little freedom. During those trips, I wore a heavy sweatshirt, wind breaker, winter hat, gloves – and a need for relief.
When we kayaked last week, it was tank top time, and in contrast to the darker spring, a level of the COVID burden has lifted, at least for now.
We found ourselves in awe of the richly blossomed flora along the riverbanks, now in full summer glory. Fluffy white clouds drifted overhead as cheery sunshine warmed our skin. A gentle breeze cooled us. Blobs of cottonwood floated gently on the water, all the while quiet dips of the paddle pulling us forward through the smooth, serene water.
Between the kids’ (Rosalynn, 11, and Ben, 14) and my experience at the Findlay Reservoir, Lake Erie, the Portage River, and the Blanchard River, our favorite is the Blanchard. We use Eastpoint Landing, on Main Cross Street, right by the Bright Road bridge.
If you don’t have your own and want to rent a kayak, canoe or pedal boat visit Zonta Landing Boat Rentals inside Riverside Park. Rentals are available for $5 per half hour on the weekends from 1-7 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Gliding East on the Blanchard
Each direction on the river offers its unique charms when you enter the water on Main Cross. Traveling east, it feels more secluded. The sound of road traffic is quickly replaced by singing birds, rustling leaves, and of course the splash of the paddle. This route takes you behind nice homes set back along the trees and water on one side and undeveloped land on the other.
One of the best parts of kayaking is the encounter with nature. Birds swoop by or nest along the riverbanks, among them striking blue herons, cardinals, blue jays and other colorful birds. Somewhat surprising are the numerous turtles of all sizes we find sunning themselves, sometimes five or more all in a row on a log. We like to keep a running turtle count while kayaking – our highest has reached the 30s! We’ve seen frogs, many vibrant dragonflies, an array of fish, and, on this side, deer.
Gliding west on the river offers its own array of fun. The encounters with nature continue, and this direction runs past the Findlay Country Club, with its scenic golf course and clubhouse. It is pleasant to glide under the course’s two bridges, but keep an eye out for golfers! Those little white balls seem destined for water. Yet, deviant ball collection is a perk for the kids.
You never know who you might see on the course to chat with or who might be out enjoying the water. We’ve run into people manning other kayaks, canoes, small boats, fishermen and women in the water and out, and even paddleboarders. There’s an anticipation in seeing someone in the distance slowly getting closer and closer, and a jolly camaraderie on the river.
The river winds through the course and a beautiful channel, then along Riverside Park. The kids and I sometimes “dock” our kayaks at the little island near the waterfall and explore, usually to discover nesting geese and ducks who find our presence slightly alarming. We take a snack to eat on the island and relax.
I enter our trips on the MapMyRun app, which can track kayaking. I like to review the map of our trip when finished, and for those in search of an awesome no impact workout, kayaking provides a fantastic calorie burn. (I burned 440 calories? Whoohoo!)
Most of the time the Blanchard is calm, evoking a sense of peace as you quietly glide through the water. After a significant storm however, we’ve seen it rushing and carrying heavy limbs and debris. We learned the hard way to respect the power of the water – so a word of caution. Enjoy – but not when it looks like that!
Memories in the Making
Kayaking is one of my favorite things to do – and one of my kids’ favorites too. We have a wonderful time enjoying nature, we chat, soak in the summer sun, get great exercise, and learn more about ourselves.
I wasn’t sure if Rosalynn (11) would be able to manage a kayak on her own. I’m so glad we took the chance that she could because the challenge has revealed in her a confidence and strength she didn’t know she had. As for Ben, he couldn’t be happier with his purchase. He loads and unloads it from the truck with the greatest of care, and plans to add fishing from kayak to his repertoire.
Me? I enjoy all of the above and get to make sweet memories with my kids – the greatest joy in kayaking of all.