Full Moon Canoe

When we first moved to the cities, we lived very close to the headquarters of the Three Rivers Park District. Before Becky’s current job, she would drive by Baker Park Reserve prompting her to research the Three Rivers Park District to scope out a park where we could just plant our chairs and read in front of  a lake or have a campfire. This summer our mission has been to get out and enjoy the summer as much as possible, and Becky happened upon the Full Moon Programs offered by Three Rivers. They offer canoeing, walking, geocaching paddle boarding and art when the moon is full. We attended the “Canoe When the Moon is Full” program:

Where: Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park
When: 8-10 p.m. on Full Moon
Cost: $8 a person

The canoeing activity proved to fill up fast, so we were only able to get into the one at Cedar Lake Regional Park because it was perhaps too far for some folk. It was a nice drive out into the country for 30 minutes south of the metro area. It turned out that driving that far out was one of the best parts to our excursion.

We arrived and had a bit of confusion on where to park and where to go, however all paths lead to the same area so we ended up being just fine. There were five canoes ready to go – one for the workers at the park and the other four for the night’s guests.  A volunteer would also be along for the evening in her kayak. Waivers were filled out – I put Becky down as my emergency contact, but wondered what good that would do since she was in the same boat.

With a dock full of hopeful fishers nearby, we got a tutorial in parts of the canoe, how to get in and depart the canoe, how to paddle. We donned our life jackets and glow sticks and were ready to get out on the water by 8:25 p.m.

Becky here: The woman in the above picture is Rebecca Heisel. She sent us a nice email the day before the event to tell us where to go, what to wear and what to bring. Having had quite the canoe education as a child at camp, I wasn’t expecting to learn anything new. But, Rebecca was amazing. Her tips about aligning your body and all weight in the center of the canoe really helped. If only I knew that as a kid…there would be a lot less over tipped canoes. 

I also get why people kayak now. I always wondered why someone would want to do it because it seemed lonely and a lot of work. But watching our volunteer slowly, expertly kayak to guide us around the water was really kind of beautiful.  

It’s been nearly 20 years since I last canoed in the Boundary Waters. It showed in my balance while sitting in the stern. My body continually adjusted to the shifting water, like trying to sit on a particularly unstable balance ball.

Becky here again… What Joel forgot to mention was how Rebecca shouted at us that we looked awesome, like we could be professionals. What an awesome compliment. We were actually good at canoeing together. I never would have thought. I will admit I did try to take over the steering a bit from the front of the boat (usually a job for the person in the back), but, we are now going to add canoeing to our activity list!

The first 30 minutes on the water, we got used to our new existence – Becky and I working together to balance in the canoe and becoming one organism, our paddles in tandem stretching to move us across the surface with the setting sun at our back. We followed the shoreline around to the east side of the lake and turned around to watch the sun set. The moon had yet to show her face.

We paddled back the way we had came until we were on the west side of the lake. The moon appeared at our backs just above the trees. We continued on for 20 more minutes past our starting point, the sky and lake darkened. Pontoons cruised past in the black water. We turned around once again and drifted for 10 minutes under the full moon. Distant fireworks exploded across the lake while a crane silently swept through back and forth, silhouetted in the gathering dusk.

At 10, our hearts full, we pulled back into shore guided by a red pinpoint light on the hat of one of the park workers.

The stars would not fully show up until we were off the water, as if invited to appear by the surrounding fireflies in the reeds along the shoreline. We walked back to the car in the dark and drove home, our souls successfully recharged.

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