Today we are going to Muse about the Loxahatchee River. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
Canoeing the Loxahatchee River
When I had been in the Palm Beach area a couple of years my wife and I were invited by our neighbors to spend an afternoon canoeing down the Loxahatchee River with them. I thought I might tell you about it.
The invitation came at an inopportune time. The day before, my wife and I had been riding bikes along the intercostal waterway. As we cruised along something caught my attention. I was looking over at it while peddling away and I ran right into a wall. The handle bar jammed into my ribs and knocked the breathe out of me. It was a while before I could move. It felt like a rib was cracked. I was in bad shape.
The next morning I was moving painfully and slowly when our neighbor, Nancy, called and excitedly sprang this idea on us. Her brother was visiting and they thought it would be an adventure to rent canoes and paddle our way down the Loxahatchee River. It is just up the road about 20 miles.
” No. No. I’m in bad shape today. I can hardly move. I think I have cracked a rib. There is no way I could paddle a canoe. No way.”
“Well, you can sit in the middle. There are five of us. You won’t have to paddle. You can just go along for the ride.”
All the others thought this was a great idea. I wasn’t sure but I decided to be a sport and go with it.
We drove up to Indiantown Road where it crosses the I-95 and went west about a mile. Off to the left was a staging area with rental canoes. The plan was to park there, canoe four or five miles to a designated pick up area where we would be met and bused back to our cars. The excursion would take the better part of the afternoon.
It started out well. I got to ride in the middle like a Grand Pupa. We snaked our way through the trees. The river was barely as wide as the canoe. We were enveloped in a hammock of trees. I was enjoying the passing vista. I had brought along my sketchbook and intended to do some drawing.
As we passed under the hammock of trees we could see black objects suspended overhead high up. Hundreds of them. And then one fell and landed on Nancy’s hat. We saw . . . it was a banana spider about six or eight inches across.
The trees were filled with them. Creepy.
Eventually the waterway widened a bit and we came to the dam.
Now this was not much of an obstacle. The drop was only about a foot. In this photograph we would have been coming toward you from the distance. The prudent thing to do would have been to dock before the dam and carry the canoe past it and continue on our way. But no, we decided to go over the dam. It was only a foot or so. And that is what we did. We went over the dam, capsized throwing everyone into the water, losing cameras, our lunches, hats, jackets and almost losing my sketchbook. Fortunately, someone in our party grabbed it as it floated by.
After a struggle we were able to right the canoes and get back into them to continue on our way. We were sopping wet and the distribution of persons in the canoes had changed. I no longer was the Grand Pupa. Instead I was in the canoe with, Joe, Nancy’s husband. My wife, Nancy and her brother were in the other canoe.
Now I was much larger than Joe, by about double weight. We were sort of like Laurel and Hardy.
This created a problem. I sat in the bow of the canoe which weighed it down. Joe sat in the rear raised to the degree that his paddle could not reach the water.
So he couldn’t steer. We zig zagged back and across the river going into bushes and low hanging branches to the great amusement of the others. And, I was having to do all the work. We were a mess of scratches and aches. It was not the trip I bought into and not the way I wanted to spend the afternoon. Humph!
But now as I look back through the lens of time I am glad we went.
The river is absolutely beautiful.
In some parts it is narrow.
In other parts it is wide and slow. You can see turtles and alligators, a variety of birds and, of course, spiders. It’s a wildlife preserve.
All of this is a few miles off the interstate and perhaps 20 miles from downtown West Palm Beach, FL. It is well worth doing, at least once.
Oh, and did I mention the sketchbook? The one that nearly floated away.
Well here it is today, a little shop worn.. I call it my Loxahatchee Sketchbook, not for any river sketches in it, but for the river’s contribution to the art.
When the pages got wet, the ink ran and created a mirror image on the back of the preceeding drawing. Some are quite interesting.
More to come.
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Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
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- Heartland Oil on canvas 48″ x 36
- Nebraska Oil on canvas 48″ x 38″ SOLD
- Montana Oil on canvas 60″ x 30″ SOLD