Kayaking on the Alabama River, 2008

Please note:  this trip occurred in June, 2008 and was a warm-up for our Amazon trip.  Believe it or not, the weather in an Alabama summer closely matches that of the Amazon!  This was also about 20 lbs ago for me.  🙂

Sometimes, the best laid plans actually work out perfectly.  Between p-net, a folding kayak site and email, this one came together quite nicely.

Initially, there were quite a few of us as a group in Alabama celebrated the opening of the Alabama Scenic River Trail.

My father, Edwin Elam, agreed to help me a bit with logistics and that enabled me to paddle further than the rest.   My wife wasn’t in on the plan and would have nixed the idea of kayaking alone.    I took extra steps to insure that she knew where I was every night, who to contact in case I didn’t check in and I took certain precautions that I’ll describe later.

As it turns out, there were only a few times when I didn’t have cellphone service also.

I met Chris from Atlanta via the folding kayak site. We had been talking about this trip for quite some time and agreed to meet at the Montgomery Marina on June 6th, 2008.

Richard and I exchanged emails and I was anxious to meet him also.

I flew from PHX to BHM on Wed the 4th and my father was kind enough to pick me up. We sent a night at his house and the next morning (Thurs), I helped him set up for a gem and mineral show at a nearby state park.

It was then that I realized what I signed up for – I’m not sure what was higher – the temp or the humidity. We had to move his camper once after getting it set up which tested our patience. After that, I put my kayak together and did another test pack of it in the park.

We needed to get to Montgomery fairly early so my father could return for his show at Tannehill so we were up at 5:15 or so for the 100 mile drive.

Upon arrival, I unloaded my stuff and asked my father to go grab me a couple of softdrinks and water for the trip. Chris, kayakamper from foldingkayak.org pulled up with a few minutes of our arrival and proceeded to get his Feathercraft loaded and in the water.

There was a ceremony to open the Alabama Scenic River Trail at 11 and Chris and I paddled on down for another reason: I was stationed at Maxwell AFB 30-years ago and I had contacted one of the civilian lab techs, now retired, and she was going to meet us. She surprised me by calling another civilian that I knew and invited her to join us. They were both medical lab techs and two of the finest people that I ever worked with:

It was very cool seeing them – after 30-years, none of us had changed all that much.   We had all aged and one of us was a lot heavier than the 19 year old that they trained in 1977!

The ceremony kicked off around 11 and I was glad we weren’t on the water. Those poor folks were in a frying pan while we had a little shade and cold water. We said our goodbyes after the ceremony and loaded up for the 7-mile paddle to Cooter’s Pond.

At this point, I had spotted Richard but hadn’t met him yet.

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