Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Paul's Birthday in 3 Parts: Part 2

Sometimes the second time is the charm. Paul's birthday weekend was supposed to include a canoe trip the day after his birthday. We woke up to severe storms that day, so we opted to reschedule to this past weekend.

We were glad we waited because it turned out to be an ideal day to paddle down the Mississippi River. The start of the day was overcast and mild, turning sunny and warm by the end of our 8 mile trip. We arranged our trip through Clear Waters Outfitting Company. They were super easy to work with and have a great package for an easy day trip. They provided the canoe, paddles, jackets and shuttle. We just had to show up with our picnic and sunscreen and get in the boat.

For some of the trip we paddled, but for a lot of it we just let the river take us along. We had great conversations, listened to the frogs croak, spotted an occasional fish jumping out of the water and had a few close encounters with a bunch of Canadian geese. We later learned that this part of the Mississippi is too shallow for jet skiers and speed boaters. It was a super quiet and peaceful stretch of water. We could even hear cows mooing in a nearby pasture!

I was wearing a shirt. I swear.

We had some dragonflies hanging out with us for a bit of the trip. They were really into perching on us and totally did not respect our personal space bubbles. They were even landing on our faces! Despite the lack of respect for our personal space, I was happy to have them along because anything that eats mosquitoes is a friend of mine.

We opted to hold out on our picnic until we found a good spot to stop, which we ended up finding on an island near the end of our route. According to our map the island has a name, but the only sign there said "toilet" to which someone had added "island". So, for us it will always be Toilet Island. The downside...the toilet was this:

Fortunately for me and my full bladder, I had brought a pack of tissues. I'd say this ranked just slightly above squatting.

Our picnic lunch featured some new recipes:
Lemon Dill Deviled Eggs (inspired by this recipe, modified to use kefir cheese*)
Cucumber Salad with Tarragon Cream (inspired by this recipe, modified to use kefir cheese and toasted sesame oil)
Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Ginger (made following this recipe and not modified at all!)

And, to drink, Paul had some birthday beer. The day before the trip, we went to a new beer store where Paul was given free reign to choose the beer he wanted to drink while floating down the river. The very knowledgeable staff at The Four Firkins helped him choose this Halcyon wheat beer. It was spot on.

It was a lovely day on the calm waters of the mighty Mississippi.

Part 3 of Paul's birthday will be happening this weekend with the annual Softball BBQ.

*I plan to tell you more about this kefir cheese soon.

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