Weird things happen on the river

Weird things happen on the river
Paddling on a river you might just see an exhausted northern hawk owl resting on your canoe. Photo: Pentti Taskinen

Paddling down a river, whether in a canoe or kayak on flat water or whitewater, is a unique way to experience a part of nature few people get to see. The river takes us on journeys through the geological, ecological, and cultural history surrounding nature’s winding path. The river is also a surprisingly great place to witness some of life's great mysteries and oddities—like the ones in this story.

When animals join in for the ride

Getting to see nature and wildlife is one of the reasons people enjoy being on the river so much. Usually, what we look at are eagles soaring overhead or deer walking on the shore, or maybe an otter or two swimming in the river. Sometimes, though, they're just freeloaders. Owls, squirrels, and even seals will use your kayak as a taxi service, so just paddle on to the other side before they leave you a crappy tip.

An evangelical Protestant Baptism
An evangelical Protestant Baptism by submersion in a river
Photo courtesy Wikimedia

Riverside baptism

We're not in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Waiting up to an hour before being able to put boats into the water is a possibility when a southern Baptist church in BFE, Tennessee, performs a baptism in the river. One time a baptism I witness personally got interesting when the ritual was performed just 50 meters downstream of the an immediate major and potentially dangerous rapid.

Moose crossing a river
Moose crossing a river. Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Waiting to see Roosevelt

There's a famous photo of President Theodore Roosevelt riding a moose as it fords the water. While fabricated, the photo does come to mind as a very probable reality when waiting for a big bull moose to cross the river before you can continue paddling downstream. The low-angle antlers rising out from the water about 20 meters away from the kayak is what really makes the surreal moment real.

Crikey! That croc is close!

All kayakers swim from time to time, and comrades are usually there to rescue lost gear. When a paddler lost his boat into the water while trying to hike up the riverbank in the video above, Astral paddler Ty Caldwell paddled over to take his buddy’s back to shore. A crocodile decided to claim it instead.

sombrero
Watch out, you may run across a naked sombrero man. Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Naked sombrero men

The river is such a photogenic spot that many people take the opportunity for photo shoots. Weddings, engagements, and modeling are all the standards. Some photos can get weird, though, like nude photo-ops. They can even get as weird as men in nothing but sombreros (and sometimes chaps) taking photos of each other.

Bad drivers

Drunk drivers, redneck drivers, you name it; at some point they end up in the river. Paddling down to a truck blocking your path, while dangerous, can offer a good photo opportunity before/after you rescue the people inside. You might get lucky and cross a Twinkie truck like some paddlers did on Tennessee's Ocoee River. The best is this video of a train carrying 737 airline components stuck in the river.

A house is floating by in flooded Lyons, Colorado. Photo: Clay Wright of Jackson Kayaks
A floating house is an oddity you may run across while paddling on a river. Photo: Clay Wright of Jackson Kayaks

And this

A house, because, why not.

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