We launched from Pony Pasture Rapids and rode down to Reedy Creek — a familiar trip for us. My wife, Trish, and I each put a kid in our kayak with a pack lunch and set out for a fun time. There were plenty of chances for the kids to get out of the boat and swim. They were so happy and had a blast — it was a joy to watch.
My daughter, Carly, had never been down the James past Pony Pasture, so this was a particular treat for her. We saw some friends that were also headed down the river at the put in, so between her being excited about the sites unknown to her and the expectation that she could see the friends down river, there was plenty of excitement for her.
My son, Mitchell, rode with Trish. He’s been down the river several times and knows the key spots like Choo Choo Rapids and the pipe at the Boulevard Bridge. At this point, he’s been on the river about 10 times and is starting to recall all the spots where we’ve done something cool and fun — like the time he lost a tooth on Cedar Island while we were hunting for geocaches with his Uncle Mark.
We counted six trains as we passed between the Powhite Parkway Bridge and the Boulevard Bridge — a 45-minute span — which was a thrill for Carly. She hadn’t seen trains from that perspective before and it was clear that she was really taking in the scenery as we sat on the rocks below the James River Railway Bridge to watch trains roll by overhead.
Wildlife wasn’t much of a part of the trip, but we at least caught a glimpse of one brave turtle that refused to move as we paddled by to enter the millrace to the takeout.
One last big thrill for Carly was when we could our first view of the downtown skyline. She has always been awed by big buildings and the way the building seemingly sit on the river was a unique perspective for her — it always is for me too.
I love these days of preparing the kids for a life of enjoying and respecting the outdoors. Trips like this aren’t easy since there are so many little things to coordinate and plan to make it happen. They are now learning to do their part of the packing and planning to go along with the safety rules we’ve been enforcing since the first time they hit the water.
I don’t want to be one of those dads that gets ties, mugs, etc. I’m hoping that Father’s Days like this one will make it the type of day the whole family will look forward to and enjoy.