Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Waiting Game - Guest Blogger, Lori Neufeld

Today we welcome back, guest blogger, Lori Neufeld from Winnipeg, MB.  I always look forward to Lori's posts.  A woman focused on balancing a busy life as a working Mom and wife, with her passion for paddling! Go Lori Go!!!

We're still happily married after a Duo swim at Sturgeon Falls!  Photo by Steven Walker

With an exceptionally cold winter and a late spring, the ice finally disappeared on the Winnipeg River towards the middle of May. I eagerly jumped in the car and headed for the waves the following morning; the first playboating session of the season was a great way to spend Mother's Day! But it's the beginning of July now and we're still wearing drysuits. The chilly waters and record breaking river levels have meant that the current is too fast and the banks too sketchy to be safe for beginners and kids, so I’m leaving my family at home while we wait for safer conditions. I'm eager to take Finley out with me, but her well-being comes first. So we continue to be patient.

Meanwhile, our new Dynamic Duo is proving to be an awesome learning tool. After a short lesson on eddy turns on the river near our house, Dan was feeling a lot more confident and stable. Despite me being a little small for the back seat, shimming up the hips and pulling the feet closer was super simple. Dan easily removed the foam foot blocks for added leg room up front. We rocked the Duo on the river run at Manitoba's annual Whitewater Festival, making for a lot of jealous spectators. Unfortunately, we couldn't get our “Dynamic Roll” in a whirlpool the following morning at Sturgeon Falls and we went for swim. For those of you who have paddled in Manitoba, you know that our rivers are WIDE, so a swim is never a quick endeavour. We decided after that day to mount a small electric pump in the Duo for quick bailing, making a self rescue possible. We haven't tested it out yet, but we're hoping it does the trick!

Dan and I running Farmer's Rapids on the Whitemouth River.  Photo by Judy Wilson

 MEC's Paddlefest was another great day on the water and I was thrilled to teach a class of 6-10 year olds. Thanks to the Parkland Paddling Club, the Manitoba Whitewater Club and Finley's Fun 1, we had enough tiny boats to outfit the group. The kids were all very proud to paddle a kayak that was made just for them and they all learned quickly. 

On land paddling practice at Paddlefest with Cathy Woods & Steven Walker.  Fort Whyte Alive, Winnipeg.  Photo by Jenni Halbert

Teaching a young group of paddlers at Paddlefest with Cathy Woods & Steven Walker.  Fort Whyte Alive, Winnipeg.  Photo by Dan Neufeld

I also had a blast running the Duo down the toboggan run with anyone who was willing to join me.

Lori (stern) and Cathy (bow) enjoying the toboggan run! 
Photo by Dan Neufeld

Sometimes it feels like we'll never actually get Finn out on the water, floating down the local gentle streams of Manitoba. But then I remind myself that she's only 2! and we have many more paddling days ahead of us. Kayaking as a family isn't an obligation, but a fun activity that I want to share with my husband and daughter when the time is right. Thankfully, these high water levels are a sure sign we are going to have a long season!

Lori and her daughter Finley at the MEC Paddlefest in Winnipeg.  Photo by

Paul Fields

Lori and her husband, Dan along with daughter Finley drive over an hour to enjoy their local playspot (minus a farm run-off ditch in Spring :).  Lori works with inner-city youth and Dan works for +Wilderness Supply.  Lori's favourite place to paddle - Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin