Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rinker on the Scuppernong

You may have heard that I take model horses on canoe trips.  Sit back and take a trip down the Chowan and Scuppernong rivers with me -- I promise you won't get seasick.  :)

Over the first weekend in April my husband and I went on a 4-day much-needed "getaway" vacation, having lost our normal spring break to circumstances beyond our control.  We decided to go canoeing in North Carolina.
New River satellite boat launch on the Chowan
This shot is actually of our second day's end, but it is a typical example of the location of our adventures:  a dirt road and parking lot with maybe one other boater, a plain asphalt/dirt boat ramp, and a small dock with no railing.  Somewhat less typical is the fact that the water is up over the road and very nearly over the dock end.  There had been lots of rain and a strong wind.  Not a problem.  We just went around to the right and up the ditch, which was flooded.  In the center of the picture you can see me (red jacket) bending over to the ditch, and that's our car just behind the white signs.

Chowan River
The weather was spectacular for the sport: not too hot, not too windy.  There are no insects while you're on the water, something most folks forget.  The Chowan is located in northeast North Carolina, on the Albemarle Sound, which eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay.
Bald cypress
We see some incredible sights while 'slack-water paddling.'  Want to guess how old this cypress tree is?  At least a hundred years and quite likely a lot older.  This was one of the biggest we saw, but there were many others.  At this time of year they are just getting ready to bloom and leaf out.

Mouth of the Sarem off the Chowan
Here we are leaving the more open parts of the Chowan and making off into one of the side creeks, the Sarem.  Truth is, these pictures were taken by my husband, GSY.  I fixed the lower shots' signatures but not these.
Typical bank of the Sarem
When I'm canoeing, time stands still.  I pass into a trance, a dream.  Nothing happens except the banks flow by, and I rest between every stroke of the paddle.  Canoeing is for people who like to watch movies in slow motion.  It's also a supreme test of companionship.  It may take years to learn this apparently simple skill, but you can take it as deep as you want.

This shot shows a normal stretch of the side creek bank.  We might see Nutria or squirrels, and we do see many kinds of birds:  Yellow rumped Warblers, Chickadees, Titmice, Kinglets, Downy Woodpeckers, Osprey, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Wood Ducks.

On the third day, we choose to paddle the Scuppernong River, starting one mile below Columbia Visitor Center (the Red Wolf Visitor Center) and then turning up one of its sidecreeks, named First Creek.  We got deeper and deeper into the forest, and the stream got smaller and smaller.  One never knows what will stop you:  a fallen log, a beaver dam, a bush growing in the stream.  Yesterday it was a beaver dam.  Today, after 5 hours (we measure canoeing by hours, not miles), it was a fallen log, and what a huge one: it spanned from bank to bank.  There was no possibility of going further.  Almost without thinking, I pulled out my horse, who had been traveling all this time in his Pony Pocket tucked in the bow (thank you Lori!!!!), stripped off his blanket and put him on the log.  He can swim, he's waterproof.

Then, something incredible started happening.  My husband, who virtually never photographed a model horse in his life, began snapping away.
I did not have time to fret that Rinker was unfinished.  His 'wild' side, the more chestnut side, proved easier to shoot, being darker.
We gently moved away to get a better shot.  The log is very stable and wide, he's not wobbling at all, and there's no wind.
Yes, I have let them swim, occasionally, at the side of the canoe.  Usually without tack, of course.  This particular bridle is the one I just bought from Danielle Hart.  In the event, it escaped any damage.
We got further and further out, trying for better and better shots, and...

Suddenly... we saw something we never would have seen otherwise!
Rinker's reflection!

Oh, gotta get this, gotta get this one...

Pretty good for a guy who never shot a horse before!

The story ends with this more prosaic shot, showing what the typical daytime canoe trip view is (at least for the stern paddler).  We went back and picked up the horse, and made our way home.  I guess it proves I'd rather play with Rinker, even when he's not finished.  He does not need to be perfect, only to be there.

 I still haven't ever seen a horse like him.

And we arrived home rested, refreshed and ready once more to take on the world.


  1. I've never taken a model horse out on the water but I do enjoy taking people out in my boat. I have a nice marine grade inflatable I keep in the trunk of my car so I am ready any time I find a nice place to launch. Beautiful photos!

  2. Thank you Ann. I'm delighted to find another 'marine' model horser; so far I've only found one other. Happy floating!

  3. I dont think it ever occured to me to bring one along in the canoe! Camping once, but not on the water.

    Then again, we were more fishing than boating when out with my dad. My "job" more often then not was to cling to bushes and what not to "keep us here" when it looked like a good spot to get his line wet. No, I didnt get much fishing done myself unless it was open water!

  4. The scenery there looks so serene. And I'm so impressed that your husband got involved in the picture taking. I don't think I could ever see mine taking pictures!