Camp Hi Canoe Livery on the beautiful Cuyahoga River near Hiram, Ohio was the base camp for the October outing. Owner Kendra runs the livery on Abbott Road and is a wonderful lady who has always been very friendly and helpful to OHCRA members. For $5.00 per person per night, the club had the primitive campground all to themselves. Harold and Laurie arrived on Thursday afternoon and sat up their camp in the very warm day. Record high temperatures for October had been set in the 2 days prior. Tony came in next with trip leader Chuck arriving at dark. The four sat around a nice Indian fire and socialized until the wee hour of 10:00 pm (getting old you know). The night was warm and cloudy, but the weather was promising change.
Friday morning was on the lazy side. Wil was coming in around 9 so everyone had a slow, leisurely breakfast. Harold and Laurie were not paddling since Harold had exploratory knee surgery and was still sore, but Chuck, Tony and Wil soon had boats loaded and were off. The Chagrin River was the destination since the club hasn't paddled it in over 20 years. It's too shallow in October and the only spot Chuck could guarantee good water was were the Chagrin flows into Lake Erie. 60 minutes from camp is Eastlake and a place called Trader Jacks Bar and Grill. They let the 3 unload in their parking lot, which was right on the river and quickly 2 canoes and a kkkayak were paddling upstream at 11:30 am. They could only travel a little close to 1/2 mile before it became too shallow to go any further, so they turned around and went the 3/4 mile to the lake. There were lots of beautiful boats still parked at the many marinas and reading some of the boat names was interesting. As they rounded a bend the lake came into view and man was it angry. They could see waves crashing on the break wall and about 50 yards from the big Erie monster, the swells coming into the river was like a roller coaster to their small crafts. After some pictures they turned around and let the swells push them back upstream. Back at Trader Jacks the boats were loaded and it was time for wings and beer.
Meanwhile, back at camp Rhonda and Ruth had arrived and had tents sat up. A friend of Ruth's, Allen, joined the crew for the Saturday paddle and of course he had a kkkayak. Coleen came and had her dog Murphy, a little non-yapping canine. A game of Bocce Ball was played, and Chuck was victorious, of course it was his game. Later Ken graced the folks with his presence and another campfire was started. Wieners were cooked and dropped as the world's problems were solved. Speaking of solving problems, Rhonda isn't allowed to pick and whittle wiener sticks anymore. The air was cooling very rapidly, and jackets were in order as the fire was stoked higher.
Saturday morning was unusual, as the first 40° morning since last winter was had. It was very chilly to people accustomed to 85° and humidly. Chuck's gal Kerri drove in and after shuttling vehicles 10 miles downstream, 4 canoes and 4 kkkayaks shoved off from camp at 10:38 am headed for the Red Fox Canoe Access. It was still on the cool side, but the sun was shining, and the Cuyahoga River had perfect water levels. Not many animals were out except for waterfowl, the usual birds and squirrels. Tony did see 2 bald eagles sitting in a dead tree, but they flew before anyone else got to see them. 4 miles into the trip brings you to Mantua and their city park which is right along the river and has a nice shelter house for a lunch stop. Harold and Laurie drove to the park just in time to join the paddles for lunch. In the last 6 miles, layers of clothing were being shed as the day got warmer. It was an uneventful but very relaxing day to be on the water. By 3:30 pm the trailer and vehicles were reloaded and heading back to camp. Member Steve was at camp visiting with Harold and Laurie when everyone arrived. Allen had to head for home while drinks and snacks came out with thoughts of the potluck feast dancing in people's stomachs. Tailgate food was the theme. At 6:00 pm the feeding frenzy began and soon everyone was laid back digesting not just food but the days enjoyment. Ohio State was playing Michigan State in football at 7:30 so Chuck, Kerri and Tony drove 3 miles to Mantua Corners Bar to watch the game on TV. The other folks had a white man's fire, burnt the rest of the firewood and was in bed, before the football folks got back at 11:00 pm.
Sunday morning wasn't near as chilly but spitting rain threatened. Steve, Rhonda and others cooked breakfast for the group which is always a welcoming site so early in the morning. No one was paddling the planned 5 miles trip, so tents were de-erected and packed away, probably until next year and slowly the OHCRA folks headed for home closing out another season of "Canoeing Ohio's Rivers and Streams."