Two weeks ago, Derek, my Ford Escape, received two cross rails for his roof rack for his first birthday present. The main reason for Derek to get the cross rails was to carry kayaks like this:
Doesn’t he look handsome? So with the roof rack set, all Matt and I needed was a place to go kayaking and a kayak. Totally minor details. We decided on a place right away. The Fox River. It’s only about 30 minutes away and has a nice scenic ride with variations of 2 to 8 mile treks. With the location decided, we moved on to finding a kayak. After a week of research we came up with two options.
- Rent a tandem from REI.
- Rent a kayak from a local boat shop on the Fox River.
I called REI Oakbrook store and their tandem was checked out. On to option two. I called the “Canoe Shack” in St. Charles and reserved a tandem kayak with a pick up of 9AM on Saturday.
Matt and I arrived on time to an empty address. There was no building standing, just a rack of canoes. I called up my friends at the Canoe Shack who mentioned they were on their way. Arriving ten minutes later with an Icehouse beer in one hand and cigarette pack in the other, we met our Canoe Shack representatives. And point of clarification, yes, this is only 9:10AM in the morning. Of course we signed our lives away to the trusting souls and were shuffled into an old church van bus to our launch destination. We had high hopes for this trip. Luckily our representatives only accompanied us to the launch site. They gave us a map of the river and said to call when we were a mile from the last stop. So Matt and I got in the kayak and started paddling.
The Fox River is quite low for this season around the South Elgin area due to the lack of rain this spring and summer. We ran into a few shallow patches that called for creative paddling and strategic “rocking of the boat” to move forward. After about a mile of shallow water deeper waters finally greeted us. We enjoyed the remainder of the 5 miles by dividing our attention to either side of the river. On the east side we were able to look for wildlife, admired the trees, and general nature splendor. While on the west side, we admired ridiculously large homes, their docks, and toys.
We safely arrived at our destination of St. Charles just before a storm rolled in. We might have heard thunder in the distance and decided to pick it up the last ¼ mile. I’m sure glad we did! As soon as the rain started we bolted for a nearby building with an overhang. Our representatives arrived about 30 minutes after the storm had passed with some more beer and even a pizza for us, if we wanted. We kindly declined.
It was a great trip but we both learned an important lesson. Next time as soon as we have our outdoor date picked, call REI to reserve the kayak.