We got to relax while Trusty Pam pulled us. Eventually she gave up the speed mission and just let the current take us along. The boats were needed to steer us away from hazards more than to propel us down the river.
It was supposed to rain all day, and it was raining in the morning while I was doing the last minute preparations, but the skies cleared and it was beautiful and sunny the entire time we were on the river. When you do outside stuff, you just have to forge ahead as if everything will be fine, even when it looks bleak. It's a gamble that pays off more often than not. Kind of a good way to live actually.
The swans were so huge I pictured us practically clogging up the whole river, viewable from space perhaps, but the river was so huge, while I'm sure we were a bit of a curiosity for anyone who happened to live along the river and look out as we passed, we were hardly the spectacle I imagined.
The river was, as these pictures attest, calm, even though water levels are still a bit high. There was one bit of excitement though, and it was exciting to the point that I'm lucky to still have my camera, much less have a chance to whip it out and take pics.
The only good spot to land at our final destination-- Otsego Park in Elk river, was a small sandy spit of land. Really the only flat spot along the otherwise overgrown steep embankment the river swept by rather rapidly. To get to it you had to enter nearly parallel to shore, skimming under a large willow branch. The first kayak landed no problem, so did the second. But then along came us.
When Pam turned towards shore our swans snagged in the branch. Since we were tied to Pam, it stopped her kayak short of shore and swung her immediately downstream. I saw Jessica's swan break loose as she was dragged through the leaves etc past me. I shouted, "Are you alright Jessica?" because i knew this would surely freak her out. She was good at keeping her cool and just stayed centered on her swan and said she was okay, for now.
I grabbed the branch now, because I was all that was keeping all of us from washing downstream past the park. Pam decided her best bet was to just jump out and drag us to shore. Had she told me this I'd have warned her off, but before I knew what her plan was, she swung her legs over the side and jumped off. The water was deep here though, over her head, and she plunged below the surface, rolling her kayak in the process. She boobed up and was able to grab her paddle that was floating away, and her life jacket that was not on, and somehow scramble to shore. Now I was the only thing holding me and Jessica, and our 2 swans, and an empty kayak from being swept downstream. I looked at Jessica and said, in the most serious intense way I could convey, "I ~PROMISE~ I will not let you go Jessica. I've got us, and I will. Not. Let. Go." (I'm pretty sure I looked like an older flabbier version of this animated heroine. Or something.)
I yelled, "Someone is in the water! Who went in the water! We need to find them RIGHT NOW!" To my immense relief a head immediately appeared-- my friend Linda, her big floppy sunhat inexplicably somehow still on, and a big smile on her face. "Me," she chirped cheerfully, waving. "It was me. I'm fine."
I yelled for the people on shore and closest to shore, where it was shallow, to start grabbing anything and anyone near them and hauling the mess ashore. In a couple minutes it was down to just me, Jessica, and the empty kayak still in the river. The guys from team America, and Pam began heroically reentering the river to get us, but I knew the second their feet went out from under them they'd just wind-up being more dead weight clinging to us, so I just started shouting, "HUMAN CHAIN! HUMAN CHAIN!" like a giant boss, but I wanted to stop anyone else from getting into jeopardy.
They did a chain of people and paddles and got to us and dragged us in and in the end it was all fine.