We went about halfway down Riverside Drive to a pull out we know and I tossed my little yellow kayak, named Dandelion, into the water for only the second time this year. This far into town you don't have to jump any of the breakwaters to float on down. I was being cautious until I found out how much water was in the river, what the flow was like, if the channel was clear, and just how much muscle and fitness I lost over the winter.
There is so much water in the river it simply rolled over the one little obstacle (which is actually a huge downed tree that has been gathering debris for a year now) that was in my way. The flow is perfect. I had to scull enough to keep the nose pointed forward, and paddled around a couple trees and to get myself pointed into the pick-up spot and that was it. Lazy! Easy Peasy!
On the way down I was treated to a smorgasboard of "the usual suspects" as far as birding went. First was a family of red-tailed hawks. They were circling so high I couldn't see that red, but I heard their distinctive "keeeeeer" call. Did you know that is such a distinctive and clearly bird of prey call, that most of the time when you hear an "eagle" in the movies or on TV it is actually the red-tailed hawks cry?
A Snowy Egret and I played the keep away game. That is I floated near, he took off and flew downriver a few hundred feet. Until I floated near - so he took off and flew a few hundred feet down river. Then I floated near and... took him three times before it occurred to him to fly upriver. Meanwhile I got treated to a pretty white bird with a curly tail and little yellow slippers flying by.
Next up was a pair of vultures perched high in a dead tree. One had his back to me, wings spread, gathering up some morning sunshine. The other faced me, and was so big that for a few minutes I wondered if that California Condor that was spotted near Alamagordo had made his way down here. Nah, just a really BIG Turkey Vulture.
A riverside willow chattered with the voices of a million invisible little birds - mostly barn swallows, house finches, and various sparrows from the sound of them. I saw some cliff swallows over the river a few days ago, but they must have moved on as I did not see any today.
I floated past the overhanging tree where I've seen a little herd of deer, a grey fox, and once a coyote having a drink and thought about the memories I have of kayaking this river - so different from those I have of kayaking the Arkansas River in Tulsa, but every bit as cherished. (Let me just plug One Woman + One Kayak = Bliss - which is currently free on Amazon if you click here!) No doubt I'll be on the Rio Grande again, and even this area of it (which features in all the Locoweed books to come) but soon it will no longer be right outside my door. I'll miss it, when I'm not too busy having fun exploring new places!
I wasn't the only one enjoying the warm morning with it's cool breeze. A couple of women lounging on their deck by the river waved. There weren't any kids at the skate park, but one zoomed by with a wave up on the street - his dog was pulling him along while he rode the skateboard! I've always thought that was very trusting - my greyhounds would have been great at that - if you didn't mind detours to chase squirrels and bunny rabbits! A group of three older folk were doing tai chi on a back deck and seamlessly worked in a wave for the kayaker - all together in rhythm as if they had planned it! A lovely dark haired lady contemplating the little waterfall at one of the hot springs places, looked up and smiled. And at the take out point someone working for Whitewater Rafting was kind enough to pull me right out - even though I wasn't one of the customers they were waiting for.
Weather and time permitting, I hope to be out there every day this week - my last few sort of semi-lazy days. Six days to lift-off for the Firefly! Now I need to get up and go do my chores!
*The snow egret pic is from Pixabay; http://pixabay.com/en/snowy-egret-bird-wading-water-621951/ * Don't have my waterproof camera YET