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In about an hour, the boys and I will load in the car and drive south, and by tomorrow morning we’ll be launching our canoe into the Flint River just below Lake Blackshear as part of the Paddle Georgia 2013 armada.

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Alas, our canoe has sat about as idle as my blog since last summer.

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I had sort of forgotten about it, but I’ve had footage from our Altamaha trip earlier this summer languishing in my camera, waiting to be downloaded and shared with the world. So here it is (two months overdue):

These shots came from the morning of Day 6 of Paddle Georgia 2012 and give a good sense of the swampy feel of the lower river.  Around lunch time that day, however, my camera ran out of juice, and I’m absolutely kicking myself that I hadn’t remembered to recharge it the night before. I’m especially bummed not to have have footage from the final stretches on Day 7 as we entered tidal waters.

The obvious development in this video is that we managed to pick up another boat for the final two days, courtesy of a Paddle Georgia volunteer who was not paddling to the end so she could spend time in Darien preparing for the river’s end celebration. She overheard the boys pining for boats of their own and claimed that we would be doing her a favor if we took her boat all the way to the end, and justlikethat my labor force in the canoe was halved. The boys loved the freedom that the little blue kayak afforded, but they also learned in a hurry that being solo in a boat means no one else will do your paddling for you. The Altamaha grows to be quite wide as it nears the sea, and the sea breezes can be relentless, so it didn’t take too long for Andrew to generously cede his kayak time to his brother and just stay in the canoe. For a short while on the morning of the last day, when both the wind and the tide were against us, I got frustrated enough that I put both boys in the canoe and towed the kayak behind for a while. Nonetheless, I have to give kudos to Will—watching him struggle to make the last mile and a half into Darien (as the trees gave way to low marshes offering no protection from the wind and as the outgoing tide slowed) was one of my prouder moments as a dad. I wish I had that on camera.

The other moment I wish I had on camera: Andrew trying repeatedly to catch a fiddler crab. As the river merged into the marshes, the mud banks exposed by the retreating tide were home to carpets of fiddler crabs who would scuttle away in great waves as we approached, crabs by the billions, it seemed. Andrew was bound and determined to catch one and kept having me steer the canoe closer to the banks so he could make a grab. I pointed out that crabs have claws that ostensibly can pinch, and he said “I don’t care; I want one.” And indeed he was very persistent, making dozens of failed attempts (“Those suckers are fast!”) before flipping one onto his shoulder and momentarily panicking as it ran across his chest and down the opposite arm, coming to rest on his right elbow.

I should and could have written more about our trip, but alas, summer seems long past now. Thankfully, I can point you to a far better retrospective on the Altamaha adventure than I’m likely to have written: Joe Cook’s blog post looking back on Paddle Georgia 2012.

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Andrew has a habit of following even the most unambiguous of statements by fishing for confirmation—”right, Dad?” On this trip, “right dad” has been omnipresent: “This river’s shallow, right Dad?”; That’s a long kayak, right Dad?”; These cookies are good, right Dad?”; “It’s hot, right Dad?”

Well, I want to go on record that Dad was, indeed, RIGHT once again yesterday when Paddle Georgia moved base camp from Clarke Central High School in Athens to John Milledge Academy in Milledgeville. Once again, over the boys’ protestations, I decided we’d camp in the gymnasium rather than broil in a tent out on the athletic fields. I knew I had made the right decision when I saw campers returning from the local Walmart with battery-powered fans. And then this morning the talk has been about the sprinklers’ coming on last night around 2 am and spraying up underneath everyone’s rain flys. The simile I overheard at breakfast this morning was “coming out of their tents like a nest of ants after it’s been kicked.” Glad we weren’t among the ants last night. Right, Dad?

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