Tester’s take: Anytime I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking up a paddle and canoeing, I am struck by its simple and beautiful peacefulness. I enjoyed that experience during a recent family trek along the lazy Blanchard River. Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available for rental from Zonta Landing at Riverside Park in Findlay.
Goal: Ever since our kids have been old enough to sit still, my husband and I have taken them out in a canoe at least once a year. Every trip is different from the last, and always an adventure.
Age range: To operate a canoe, you need to be at least 12 years of age or be accompanied by an adult. With an adult, a child needs to be old enough to wear a certified fitted life jacket to ride on the watercraft.
Cost: $5 per half hour for watercraft.
Times: From mid-May through Labor Day, weekends and holidays from 1-7pm.
Naptime friendly: No.
Stroller/wheelchair accessible: No.
Things to consider: In this locale, the Blanchard is calm, and moving against the current is hardly different than paddling with it. Drifting around a bend, the river took us through the Findlay Country Club golf course, and under two bridges. After a time, we turned around, coming upon a pair of ducks swimming in the water. Nearly back to the livery, we struggled to push through a sandbar, but cleared it. Pulling up to the dock, cheerful Zonta staff helped us back to shore. The boat livery is operated by the Hancock Park District. All-day boat trips and group reservations can also be made by calling the Hancock Parks District office.
Additional benefits: Everything about canoeing is relaxing: the quiet splash of the paddles and the swirling little whirlpools they create in the water, the birds chirping, the kids happily dangling their fingers in the water to make ripples. It is hard to describe the sense of peace during and after the trip, and the feeling of closeness with my family. During this time of busy schedules and high-tech everything, canoeing provides a stark contrast, a chance to truly slow down, enjoy the family and marvel at the beauty of nature.
What it’s like: We began our trip by heading upriver, and, as we glided through the water, the kids began their observations. Our 5-year-old, Rosalynn, claimed almost immediately that she touched a fish. We noticed puffy cotton balls from the cottonwood trees, softly floating around us and in the water. We spotted a small island and paddled our way over to check it out. My 8-year-old son, Ben, wished he’d brought his bug net as we spotted numerous dragonflies, one of which seemed to race the canoe for a stretch. Each trip is truly a new adventure.
Zonta Landing Boat Rentals, 231 McManness Ave., Findlay. 419-423-1902.