Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Paddle Prattle and Saddle Skedaddle: A Trip to Ipswich (5/18/13)



Distance: 16 miles cycling; 8 miles canoeing
Location: Ipswich, MA
Sights: Bradley Palmer State Park, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

As Urvi described it: it was one of those mornings you don’t want to get out of bed, but you knew it would be worth it once you did. I got up and made us some lunch while allowing her to sleep another half hour or so.  Then, I got her up and we got packed and ready for the day.  We left Winter Hill; and down through East Somerville and East Cambridge, I took her my new back way through the Riverpoint Park and over the Commuter Rail, through the locks and BAM into the Avon Walk to North Station.  Rare for me, we got there with comfortable time to spare.  I had 20 minutes to buy tickets and get oriented and what not before the train out to Ipswich.


As the Ipswich Train Station and the Canoe rental place are on the same street, it should be easy to get to.  AND, basically you have a 50/50 chance of heading the right way.  Guess which way we headed…

Fortunately you realize in seconds that you not heading “into the wilds” but into the quaint center of town.  A quick 180 and Urvi and I were off in the right direction. In the three mile ride from Ipswich to the Foote Brothers Canoe, Topsfield Road changes from quaint town center, to exurb residential to about as rural as you can get in Eastern Mass with horses and all~


Over the past 12 years I have done this trip maybe 15 times.  I have gone with various people and groups of varying sizes.  There was the time Johnny’s paddle broke and always the driver Joe refused to let him use the only working one so Johnny spent an hour just sitting there doing nothing.  There was the time Gabe’s mom came with us.  In 2008, there was the “Pirates of the Ipswich” trip where maybe 15 of us went.  In 2010, 
we had a fun group that is recorded on this site.

But the most memorable was probably 2004, when Jason and I flipped the canoe into the freezing water that I once memorialized in verse:

An Unexpected Icy Swim

Early in the season –
A sunny warm day the reason
To make an early run.
The Ipswich runs high and fast,
Winter’s melt flooding
The banks
And flowing the cast.
My cousin and I float
Along the steady stream
In our boat.
But a gaggle of kayakers
Cut off our angle.
And into an oak flood we get tangled.
With branches and brush
My paddle and arms get mangled.
We splash and we sploosh
And flip into the Ipswich
In a big KAPLOOSH!
We save the canoe
While watching the gorp
Float from view.
Then I swim against the stream,
And wailing,
With the fever
Of unholy fervor
And the PFD
Holding me back.
I attempt to cry out:
“Oh my God it’s cold!
Oh my God it’s cold!”
But it merely projects:

But now I got to take Urvi on another of my favorite trips.  (Ranked #8 on my Top Trips list, as of this writing).  As we waited for the canoes to be loaded aboard the trailer, we walked around the sight of Willowdale Dam.


URVI and I at the DAM

Once we got driven to Salem Road and the boats into the water, Urvi and I tried to quickly get away from the large group that had shared the van ride with us.  Then, we were out in nature: just the two of us enjoying the soft paddling on the river and the plethora of geese about. (Seems the Canada Geese have taken to the region over the past two years).  While we didn’t get any classic herons standing in the water, we did see a few flying.





Outside of the flock of Vietnamese who were having problems – exacerbated by their groupthink navigation – we didn’t run into any problems.


We pulled into Foote Brothers and bid our farewell to Canoe #9 before hitting the road back to Ipswich Town Center.



With two hours until the 6:00 train back to the City, Urvi and I had a late lunch and a couple of pints at the Choate Bridge Pub.  I got home in time to get some rest for tomorrow’s adventure: CRW Spring Century.


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