So last fall Lee and I decided on a career change. We became models!
Well, actually, it's not as interesting as that. The county tourism office sent out an email letting me know that all Botetourt County employees willing to be photographed while rafting, canoeing or kayaking on the James River could get a day trip on the river for free. Free?? Tooling on the water in beautiful weather? I'm in! Lee was willing, also.
The weather chose not to cooperate for weekend after weekend. We had more than 50 inches of rain last year. More than the usual 36 inches. And most of it on the weekends, or so it seemed to me when I had plans!
Rather than a summer day on the James River, it turned out to be a fall day on the James. The water was lower and colder, so the rafting was cancelled, but about 15 people showed up on the appointed day.
We all met at Twin Rivers Outfitters in Buchanan. After a short movie on safety, everyone followed the buses to Springwood to drop off our cars and then the bus took us up to the drop off point. And thus the picture taking began.
Anyone who knows me knows I hate having my picture taken. This has its' roots in childhood trauma from a photo happy father with dreams of a spread in National Geographic. Some day I'll write about our sojourn to the South Pacific and being photographed incessantly, but that's for another time. Nonetheless, I was glad the pictures were about the beauty and fun of the Upper James River water trail and I was to be seen as background only!
We regrouped, grabbed life vests and a canoe and hit the water. I took the "steering position" at the back of the canoe. I had spent many hours in our 2 person Fol-Boat (Fol-Bot, maybe, I don't remember) kayak in my youth and had more experience than Lee. He took the front seat or the "power position" as he is way stronger than I.
The experience didn't help me much. I still got us hung up in a shallow area. The current pulled us into it before I could steer us away from it. In my defence, I was trying to avoid getting in the shot of the photographer who was shooting other boaters. Still, I should have back paddled, but at the last minute, I thought I could get through. We were stuck for about 5 minutes, while Lee had to power us off the boulder we were flush against. We managed to scrape ourselves down to deeper water. Now I know why the Outfitters get new boats each season!
There was one drop at the very beginning of the trip that was a bit dicey. One of the canoes tipped over and the occupants got soaked. But that was at the beginning before we had gotten any sort of rapport or comfort level with each other, so it was understandable. Fortunately they had spare clothes in dry bags supplied by the Outfitters, something I won't neglect next time. It could very well have been us! I think I would portage beyond it as it was a tricky drop and immediate right turn that we only were able to navigate because we were almost the last ones through and watched all the others very closely.
The rest of the ride was gorgeous. The sky was blue and the leaves were turning golds and reds and yellows. It took a lot longer than if we had gone by ourselves as the photographer would hold groups in one position or beach certain groups to get lots of shots. It was the only day to get the shots for the brochure and the web sites so he took a LOT of pictures.
If you want to see the web sites, you can see a lot of beautiful scenery and perhaps you, too, might like to plan a trip on the Upper James River water trail. The water was clean and clear and the scenery was unsurpassed. I have been on lakes and rivers and oceans throughout California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. All are different and wonderful. But the James can hold its' own with any of them. I also like the fact that I am on a river that goes all the way to Jamestown and is full of history around every bend. If I was younger, I would plan a trip all the way to the Atlantic. On the other hand, I am afraid of rapids and I don't want to go on the more difficult sections. Quiet, peaceful beauty is just fine for me.
Here are the links. www.visitbotetourt.com www.upperjamesriverwatertrail.com I will make an effort to link them to my site, but my computer skills are close to my water craft skills in scope, so we'll see. Let me know if you can see me and Lee. Maybe I can add model to my resume!