The Lower Buffalo
Sunday saw my boys and I waking up at 7 a.m., loading our kayaks on top of my Jeep and heading over to the Lower Buffalo River near Maumee, AR. We had floated the Upper Buffalo River a few years ago, and well, that didn't end well for David and myself so it's fair to say that I was a wee bit nervous about kayaking the Lower Buffalo. But the day was promising to be beautiful and I had two cups of coffee coursing through my veins topped off with 44oz. of diet Coke, so I was up for anything.
And I couldn't have been more wrong about this float trip. After hurtling down an insanely narrow country road on a tiny little school bus with a trailer behind hauling all our kayaks and canoes, one of which caused us to stop because it was about to fall off (the driver, glancing in his rear view mirror calmly remarking, "Huh. That's never happened before!"), we arrived at our put in point. After we staggered off the bus, a few of us staggering a bit more than others and making a beeline for their coolers to replenish themselves with an Adult Beverage, David and Joe and myself readied our boats for our journey down river.
It was a beautiful journey, too. A hot one, but the clouds and the blue, blue sky made it worthwhile, at least for me. Gliding just mere inches above the water, I could look down and see bass, crappie, bream, the occasional gar and drum fish swimming around the rocks below. It reminded me of being in a glass bottom boat, that was how clear the water was. If only David had brought his fly rod he could've gotten some whoppers that afternoon, I bet. Too bad none of us like fish.
We stopped at a few sandbars, at first wading in, then plopping down on the gravel, then finally just plunging underwater for relief from the hot sun. As I floated on my back in my clothes and shoes, I remembered playing the death scene of Ophelia as a small child in this very river. I know, kinda morbid, but I was trying to impress my English professor father with my range of Shakespearian knowledge. But as I lay back and let the water float me downstream, I looked up at the sky and remembered all the camping trips and the campfires and visits with my grandpa and aunts and uncles and cousins and how much a part of this river played a role in my growing up. And now this same river is getting to play a part in my adult life and I can share it with my own little family.
We ended up paddling almost ten miles, reaching our get out point at 5:30 that afternoon. We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us, but first we stopped for burgers and fries before pulling into our driveway at 9:00. We were exhausted, a little sunburned, but we all had such a great time.
And I'm so happy that this trip ended better for David and me than our previous trip!