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May 24, 2012

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Lost in Another World

By Cathy Baker, Republic

Last summer, for our anniversary, we decided to stay in Springfield in order to experience some of the activities this great town has to offer, and which we don’t seem to enjoy nearly enough while living everyday life!

The first thing on our to-do list was floating the James River Water Trail that flows from Lake Springfield. Since we have a small trailer, we rented our canoe from the Republic Community Center. At only $25 for the entire weekend, it’s a great deal! However, when my parents came a month later, we took the whole family and rented canoes from Lake Springfield Boat House. I will say the convenience of renting them there was definitely a plus. Note: Both places also rent kayaks, as well.

Here are my thoughts from our river trail experience.

The paddle pushes us off shore, as the canoe makes its way through the garden of lily pads, entering the open water. My husband faces forward, steering us ahead, as I sit backwards and soak up the view of where we had just been, watching the water ripple away in a V-shape behind us.

We pass other families laughing, couples relaxing, and individuals enjoying the solitude of the warm Ozarks morning.  A smile here, a nod of the head there, a friendly wave – all with the shared knowledge of sharing this replenishing place together. 

As the river forks and we veer right, the US-65 bridges are upstream, rushing people to their desired destinations. It appears as if we are living in an entirely different world down here on the river. To our good fortune, we stumble upon the most breathtaking, and certainly the largest, lily pads and lilies we’ve ever encountered. Of course we pause for pictures. 

Then as we paddle past the bridges, the real beauty emerges as the creek narrows and tall trees from a canopy above us, giving relief from the summer sun. We pull up to the water’s edge and enjoy the picnic we’ve brought along–lost deep in conversation on this seemingly secluded river.

As we travel on, we watch fish skedaddle beneath us, turtles silently soak up the summer sun, and dragonflies dance around us as we keep meandering upstream. A tree down, a log jam, we figure out the maze of the river and keep floating onward. Eventually, a large tree blocks our path, and there is no way around. After a quick splash in the water and a stolen kiss on the shore’s edge, we turn around and let the river carry us back.

With no place to rush off to, we share dreams and laughter, and then we simply enjoy the sweet silence of togetherness, as the canoe continues to move us back downstream, returning us to the dock we’d left five hours previously. Yes, a day spent on the river has indeed been a day well spent, and I’m trying to figure out the next time we can come back.

So, if you love canoeing or kayaking or think you might want to try it out, I definitely encourage you to explore this fun six-mile long river trail. And like us, you may find yourself looking for a used canoe of your own, so you can enjoy this place on a more ongoing basis.  

More information about the James River Water trail can be found at: www.ozarkgreenways.org.

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May 24, 2012

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