An ordinary adventure with a homemade boat....
We've been having very mild autumn here in North Georgia. One Saturday recently, my kids Alison (almost 5) and Evan (almost 3) exclaimed at breakfast "Daddy, let's go on a boat ride! Can we, please?" I cast a hopeful glance at Mommy and was greeted with that "If you must..." look. "Of course we can kids, finish breakfast and get dressed and we'll go."
We asked if Mommy wanted to come and she declined. So we quickly made lunch, loaded the necessary catastrophe in the boat, hitched it up and drove up to the lake. Our local lake is Allatoona Reservoir, an Army Corps of Engineers impoundment, located about 30 miles NW of Atlanta. We are fortunate to live only 10 minutes from the nearest ramp.
On the agenda today was a little fishing, a picnic lunch, some shore side exploring, and whatever else the kids wanted to do.
We launched and the kids quickly moved to their favorite position at the front of the slot-top of our little power sharpie "Mr. Moon"
They quickly find a number of activities to keep them entertained, like splashing in the water with a long stick, or looking for herons of which they found several and waving vigorously at every boat that passed.
We tried our hand at fishing. It was their first time ever with rod and reel, so the experience was mysterious and exciting. The hybrid bass were reputed to be running in the main river channels, so I put out a couple of rods and we slowly trolled. All the while I'm trying to keep up with the rapid-fire questions posed by my daughter about fish (where do the live? what do they drink? How will we catch them? Will we catch a big one?) while managing one of the rods with my son, steering the boat, and keeping an eye on Alison's rod tip and the other boats. Luckily, we only had to troll for a few minutes before one of the rods bent sharply. We had a fish! Such joy! Such excitement. They'd never seen anyone catch a fish and now they were catching one for real. Somehow, with all three hands on the rod we landed their first fish. Alison took the picture.
A discussion on why we should let it go occurred, met with mutual consent accompanied by a chorus of "Bye-Bye, fish!"
We then took to the beach to look for skipping rocks. They can't skip them very well, so they present Daddy with rocks asking "is this a good one" and have me throw it for them trying not to disappoint them with only one hop.
A picnic lunch followed by a leisurely ride back to the ramp at our stately 9 mph cruise with both kids dozing on the cockpit seats in the sun, and I reflect on what a good day it has been. My kids learned a lot and taught me a lot more in the bargain. Boating with kids makes you acutely aware of the world, and of them. You forget about work, war, strife, anger, bills... You see the joy in your son's eyes as he presents with the best skipping rock ever and relive the thrill of reeling in your first fish and realize that you've just made a memory. And that is a good thing.