Canoe Race Weekend

Olivia and her friends wait for the race to start on the river's edge

It is late morning, not a particularly good time to start a post, but this will be brief at least that’s the plan. Sometimes plans change as they did earlier this week and I drove back to the cottage Thursday afternoon instead of early morning arriving just as the kids were coming in from skiing.

It is race weekend in Grayling or rather it has been race week. Yesterday was the kid’s canoe race and William and Joey had entered. Today is the big race and it starts at nine. The difference between the races is huge; the kid’s race is to Burton’s Landing just ten miles downstream and the big race is 120 miles and ends at Oscoda on Lake Huron. The kids will be out of the water in an hour and a half and the winning racers will finish in about fourteen hours and the back markers trickling in to finish as late as nineteen hours after starting. It is a grueling race.

William had raced last year and finished 7th place with his partner, Allison a friend from the lake. William encouraged Joey to race with him and when they were practicing Wednesday, they met Wally, a canoe racer from Illinois, who was on the river to practice, too. The two, with Beth and Olivia’s assistance, befriended him and asked all sorts of questions about canoe racing. They even were invited to visit his racing club back home on the Fox River, pretty cool.

William and Joey get some advice from Wally

Friday morning focused on getting them up and ready, breakfast, getting them there, and rooting for them once the race started. The canoe race is almost as heard on the spectators as it is on the racers. When we arrived at Borcher’s Canoe Livery, the two immediately found Wally’s canoe and his partner. After they checked in and got the pre-race instructions, they waited for their group – 12-13 year old boys and Wally came down to the river to watch. I got to talk to him and learned that as well as being a canoe racer he is an Eagle Scout and has two kids back home in Illinois.

I went across the river to film, Beth positioned herself on the bridge to take pictures and William and Joey waited with Wally. When their group was called, he went with them, helped them select their canoe, and gave them some starting advice. It would pay off. We all waited anxiously for the start and when the gun went off William and Joey took off leaving all the canoes behind. They got a great start.

We watched Allison and her partner, Micaela, start their race. We ran back to the car and took off to the first viewing point, Rayburn Lodge. It was a beautiful day, clear, sunny, and it was not too hot, not too cool, but just right. The Ausable River is a beautiful river and it winds its way through forest from Grayling to Lake Huron. Near Grayling, the Ausable is a narrow shallow stone and sand bottomed river perfect for canoeing and trout fishing. Rayburn Lodge was once a fishing lodge but it is now just a resting stop for paddlers along the river. We waited for about ten minutes before the first racers came through and eventually William and Joey paddled through. They were in second place and had a canoe hot on their tail.

Joey, Beth, and William check out the pictures!

We headed down to the finish line and waited until they rounded the corner and crossed the finish line. They finished in second place, quite an accomplishment. We waited for Allison and Micaela to finish and rooted them home. It was quite a morning.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in a daze. The travelling, conferences, and late nights had finally taken their toll and I was tired. I fell asleep on the floor and they boys rested upstairs. Beth and I sorted through the pictures from the race and I produced a short film from the video. I am sure it won’t win any awards, but it will give you an idea what the two paddlers accomplished.

We finished the evening with dinner on the deck – summer foods, again. Hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, cucumber salad, and blueberry crisp with ice cream for dessert. And if we hadn’t had enough summer fun for the day, we finished with a campfire and s’mores. What a day.

What started as a short post has morphed, what a surprise. The summer days are winding down and as I write, there are seventeen days remaining. Most of them are planned and in no particular order, a trip to Houston, a canoe trip with the scouts, getting ready for school, yard work at home, and a few more days at the cottage. The summer has been spent well and all of the days have counted. Summer’ll be over soon and we’ll all be back to school and learning. I’ve been learning this summer, but in a different way, just like William, Joey, and Olivia. They’ve learned a lot this summer, but it is just different from learning in the classroom.

Yesterday was one of those summer days that seem to be the best day ever. The kind that you don’t want to end. It was a great day, but today is gonna be a great day, possibly the best day ever! Making the Days Count, one day at a time.

Can you think of a day, that was the best day ever that you didn’t want to end?

 

Friday night's campfire was a perfect way to end the day

 

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