Row, Row, Row…

It’s easy for people to take their surroundings for granted, especially if they’ve been there for a while. Although it’s easy to get downtown Chicago from the suburbs, it’s not uncommon to come across people who have lived here for years and never been to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). Many people who call the Chicago-area home haven’t experienced most of what the city has to offer, and part of the reason is because they want to avoid the crowds and chaos that come with the tourist hot-spots. Since Britt and I began traveling, the way we go about planning leisure time has changed drastically. Prior to planning a day out, whether it’s in a foreign city or our own back yard, we do some research via blogs and travel books.

This past week Britt and I both had a day off of work, and the weather was due to be in the 70’s and sunny. We contemplated going to the city to stroll around some of our favorite neighborhoods or catch a White Sox game, but in the end we decided to head down the street to the Fox River and rent a couple of Kayaks.

There are two places to rent kayaks from at this point along the river, one of which is way overpriced and requires a 2-hour safety course prior to leaving, and the other which is a small family run shop that is incredibly laid back and much more reasonably priced. Needless to say, we went with the later. We got in the cold water right after the rapids, and because the water was so high the going was easy.

Or at least I thought it was. I had gone a few feet ahead of Britt when all of a sudden I heard a loud splash. I turned around to find this…

Now, we were both going slightly faster than the speed of smell at this point, so I was utterly baffled at how Britt managed to go crashing into the water and flip her kayak. Thank goodness it was shallow at this point in the river, because the Fox is known to have some wicked under-currents that have claimed the lives of many people. After the initial shock and laughter died down, Britt explained that a submerged tree branch had caught her boat from the under-side and one thing led to another and the next thing she knew she was in the water and her boat was upside down. I got out of my boat to help Britt with hers, and it turns out that it’s much easier to get/fall out of a kayak than it is to get one right-side up and get back in one. By the time we were both upright and in our boats, we were completely soaked and covered in mud. On with the trip.

The weather was picture perfect, and the water was like glass. It was so relaxing floating down the river and soaking in the sun. We had arranged to do a 7 mile trip, and anticipated taking 3-4 hours to complete it. About one hour in, we pulled up to a small island, and because by this time we knew how awful we were at getting out/in of our boats we decided not to risk it and had our picnic lunch in the kayaks.

Although we live less than 5 minutes from the Fox River, and we cross over it several times a day, this was only our second time in the water. The entire time we were out kayaking I was kicking myself for not doing this sooner/more often. The only reason I can think of as to why more people who live in this area don’t take advantage of this great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the surroundings, is the same reason we’ve never been to Lalapalooza, or to the House of Blues; because we’ve lived by it for so long and we take it for granted. Well, no more! Thanks to spending most of the last year abroad, we’re stuck in “tourist” mode, and want to go out and see/do as much as we can. We know that the next move is coming soon, and we want to soak up as much of our hometown as possible, and kayaking down the Fox River was the perfect way to do so.

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