Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Birthday with Buddies in the Bay

This was my Birthday weekend and on Saturday I was supposed to be camping in the evening with Emily and Margie but after seeing the storm alerts I canceled and it seems it was a good move. In Marshall, the storm raged directly overhead, thunder sounding as though it was going to crack the house in half and lightning forking down all around. The house could have been directly under the Niagara Falls, the rain was so deafening. Rosie Lee hid under the bed while Kota and I sat on the sofa, constantly looking out of the windows, up at the roof and at each other. It did finally pass but left a thick and heavy atmosphere in its wake. When I stepped out on to the patio the air was so cloying that I stepped back into the house quickly, glad I wasn't going to be under canvas that night.
When we arrived at Pohick Bay the next day for kayaking, the evidence of the storm was all around us. Deep gullies had been carved into the beach by rain and instead of the usual crystal clear water, a murky soup awaited us. The lower 6" or so of all plants along the banks were muddy from the earlier flooding, but none of this had put anyone off. The jet skis, paddleboards and kayaks were all out in the water, as well as a pontoon boat that had ignored the restriction signs that disallowed motorized boats, and then got it's rudder and engine caught up in the weed. I laughed, but was annoyed at his total disregard for nature and how he churned up the water and weeds in a bid to free himself.
We paddled away from the noise and commotion and headed to the quiet inlet that leads to the silent beauty that I love at Pohick Bay.
Margie had brought some alcoholic frozen drinks which were lovely. We parked among the lilies and pickerelweed and sucked on our wonderfully cooling beverages, chatting while watching the bees and dragonflies flit among the blooms.
I had caught Emily earlier bent over by the front of the car surreptitiously tapping away on her phone. Thinking she had a new geyser in tow, I asked her if she was texting a new beau, to which she promptly stood up and bashfully admitted that she was playing Pokeman Go. A few times through the afternoon she had her phone out trying to chase and catch dragon trolls, or flapping fishes or other critters, some of which apparently were quite rare.
There was still plenty of green weed in the water, giving us a great work out, and I had to keep taking photos of it. Sometimes it was like thick hair on the surface of the water and at other times it looked like it was fermenting, huge bubbles forming on the surface like molten lava on Mars. Because of course it would be green there...
Looks like a Dumble Doogleblasterer might be about to be captured in Emily's Pokeman net...
We slowly paddled along watching white egrets take off and fly overhead as we got too close while blue herons cawed their disgust at being disturbed.
We found a shady spot and stopped once more, this time to enjoy a couple of beers that Emily had brought. Sharing snacks we enjoyed the cooler air under the bushes and peered through them at an osprey perched up in a tree in front of us who seemed to be craning his neck to get a good look at us too. It was so wonderfully relaxing that Emily and I soon heard soft snoring and looked behind to see Margie was laying back in her boat and making the most of this languorous moment to snatch a few winks.
But she soon awoke and once again we made our way lazily upriver. We all became instantly alert when we saw ahead of us a guy wading up to his waist in the cloudy creek, trying to harpoon fish. He walked ahead of us and then as we came alongside, he pulled his goggles down over his eyes and promptly sank beneath the water. He stayed under there as I paddled past but I didn't bother to look back to see if he'd caught anything, I was feeling way too torpid to care even though it's not something you see every day.
I did deviate up a little inlet to see where it went, hoping it would take me back to the course that the others were on but it dead ended with a fallen tree that I couldn't negotiate so I had to turn back. We eventually made it further upriver than I've ever been before and only stopped when the water was clogged with tree trunks and branches, meaning we couldn't get past despite the faster moving water. But we had actually left the park boundary and were on our way to Lorton so maybe we'd gone far enough. We turned around and began to coast back, only needing to use our paddles to steer.
We floated slowly down with the tide, occasionally bumping into each other or glancing gently off the banks.
We upset a few more long-legged birds on the way down despite going really slow and dipping our paddles into the water noiselessly. But those blue herons are always downright miseries and use any opportunity to croak their annoyance and disgust at us humans, sometimes way more loudly than is necessary in my opinion. The red wing blackbirds were far more cheery, large groups of them chattering happily as they flocked overhead and darted in and out of the tall grasses.
It was agreed that afterwards we were all in need of cool refreshments so decided to check out a nearby brewery that we hadn't been to before, but despite my enthusiasm when seeing the very cool truck outside, sporting taps on the outside that linked to kegs inside, the beer wasn't that awesome.
 But it was a great way to finish a wonderfully relaxing day and I was really chuffed with my river acquisition of the day, my first blue heron feather. Note that tinge of blue near the shaft.

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