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I'm uncomfortable admitting this, especially to Mom. So Mom, if you're reading just skip this one, OK?
Saturday I wrote a little about kayakers seen by the dam that morning. Well, Sunday was a nice day for a boat ride too. Have to get in shape for the Waukesha County Parks canoe outing on the 20th and all.
I've paddled from the dam upstream and from Sunset Drive to the dam, but until Sunday never started at the dam and went downstream. My son and I did the same thing the kayakers did: parked a vehicle by Fox River Park and put in just below the dam after parking next to the State Office Building. I just hope the kayakers didn't do the same thing we did.
I was pretty sure we'd have fun and adventure on the raging Fox. The only danger I anticipated was low bridges, and if we would have looked a few of them over it wouldn't have been as challenging. A kayaker mentioned they had to duck for some bridge and, even though canoes ride higher, I thought we'd be OK. As soon as we got out of the city the river would widen and calm down.
Onlookers at the dam surely thought we must be crazy. Thank goodness we didn't get trapped in the dangerous currents of the waterfall and have to be rescued before we ever got started. Now that would have been embarrassing!
We slipped under the Barstow bridge with no problem. Waved to people on the shore not used to seeing canoes this time of year. Passed the first pedestrian bridge and the bear family. Smiled and waved some more and passed the second pedestrian bridge. Didn't really have to worry too much about rocks, even though we couldn't see them through the rapids because they were covered by so much water. Some of the same rocks in summer are high and dry.
About two minutes into our trip we were done. The canoe was done. A bridge ate it. The bridge under the State Bank as a matter of fact. It's there now, held fast to the support by tons of snowmelt pouring over it. The bridge wasn't too low, we just ran out of time in the swift current to decide if we were going to pass right or left of the support. It didn't help that it was dark and we both wore sunglasses.
I hate admitting I screwed up, but if you don't know me by now... We hit the support sideways and immediately filled with water. Cold water. It's no more than waist deep there, but did I hear someone say dangerous? We were fortunate in that we had time to stand up and think before moving. I did not want to make the Freeman and wanted to move before someone called the fire dept. - or before the legs got too numb to safely stumble out. The closest shore was hardly 30 feet away - through the fastest moving part of the channel. We decided we'd walk the extra 150 feet if it meant not being swept downstream.
We had left the canoe without even trying to save anything. Even the seat cushion is still there - held in place by the force of the icy water.
My son summed it up best. "We could have done several things different, but in the end we did the right thing."