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Notes From The Field by Emily Jackson

dweber posted this September 2nd, 2011

Check out this guest blog post by World-Champion paddler and humanitarian Emily Jackson:

Emily Jackson in her Toad gear

Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada

When people think of Canada, they think of hockey, beer and sentences ending in ‘Eh?’

My version of Canada is different. As someone who can’t have gluten, I stick to white wine. I can’t ice skate to save my life, and I only say ‘Eh?’ to make fun of my Canadian husband.

I was only two during my first trip to this magical place, and I don’t remember anything from the trip. My father was a guest instructor for the Wilderness Tours Resort in the Ottawa Valley. It’s a bucolic area with one of the greatest rivers in the world (the Ottawa River) flowing through it. The Ottawa River has hosted two World Championships: one in 1997 and one in 2007, both of which I attended and the latter of which I won.

There are so many reasons why a person should visit this paradise. From the warm water that offers tubing, stand-up paddling, rafting and kayaking, to the nearby blueberry, raspberry and vegetable farms, you can enjoy your favorite activities and eat well too. The town of 400 houses has two cute shops that sell anything from homemade soaps and salts to art and jewelry. I personally have been a fan of buying hand-painted signs with cute sayings, such as “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” or “I Kiss Better Than I Cook!” (What’s with me and kissing signs?)

June and July are hot and humid with a few thundershowers, making the water in the river warm enough to bathe in. In mid-August the water stays warmer than the air! If you head out on the water first thing on a cool August morning, you’ll be enveloped in so much fog and mist, you can barely see your hand in front of you. This makes running rapids VERY interesting…

Around here everyone judges the time of year by the height of the corn. It’s not uncommon for me to hear my mother-in-law say “Oh geez, summer is slipping away early, look at that corn!” Slowly I find myself doing the same thing.

The fields are filled with rolling hay and at first light they’re filled with raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, deer and the occasional bear.  Bordering the fence lines of the hay fields are wildflowers of all different colors, shapes and sizes – just like a picture frame surrounding a photo.

Like that picture frame, my heart holds a special place for the Ottawa Valley. From its rapids to its friendly people and its landscape that offering something fun to do every day, the valley really does take care of you, whether you want it to or not.

Remember, wherever your adventures take you, enjoy every moment like it’s your last, and live…  Toadally.

– Emily Jackson

Warm water, stand up paddle and good, good friends

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