When reading magazines about hunting big horned sheep in the mountains or heli-fly fishing adventures out west, I can’t help but start planning my own adventure right there and then. Then I realize I have a long way to go before I will ever get to live out that dream. Time alone is a huge factor in trips like those, not to mention money, finding guides, getting tags, and so on. But, I don’t let the disappointment get me down, because adventure is right around the corner if you know where to look.
My whole life I grew up not more than 5 minutes away from the Thames River (Ontario, Canada version). Growing up I thought it was just a dirty old river that was always flowing in the background. One day about 10 years ago I decided to do some exploring and took my canoe to the river bank. I was just outside of town and boarded my vessel down the road from my parents farm and set off to see where the current would take me. I found out that day that there was a whole new world of adventure waiting for me on that river. For the cost of an old used canoe I bought/permanently borrowed, I could spend endless time touring this river, fishing the small inlets, and even camping on the riverbanks for overnight trips. As the years went on I explored more and more branches of the river and it never disappointed. I could be 100 yards away from a highway but feel like I was on the first descent of a unexplored river in the jungle.
As I kept fishing the river I came to find out that there was quite a diverse amount of species in it. From good size pike to some really nice pickerel, the fishing was great. And sometimes from our remote camping spot we’d even see a bald eagle overhead, a rare sighting for our area.
My wife and I over the years have made it a tradition to do a overnight trip down the river once every summer. We call it our staycation. You can get the same feeling from drifting down the Thames as you could get drifting down the French River or even Algonquin Park, so why not take advantage of such a close hidden gem.
I am not the only person in the area to become familiar with the river, in any way. I see people all the time with roof racks on there cars and a old canoe strapped down going to the nearest bridge to set sail. Kayaks and even paddle boards are becoming more popular on the river now too. As the spring rolls into summer and the water levels drop a bit, the interest in the river will fade a for the people who only know the odd branch closest to there house but if they would only look into it a bit closer they would find endless areas to explore with high water and great times. Exploring things to do close to home is always a great idea. It saves time money and doesn’t take a lot of planning to execute. Go outside and find your local adventure spot.
So as much as I love reading adventure magazines (and I will always continue to read them), I try to remember that a lot of the featured stories are near impossible or a once-in-a-lifetime trips. I still love fantasizing in my spare time about standing on a mountain ridge with a prized mountain goat that I have just taken down after a 400 yard shot, or planting the flag after ascending a 8000m mountain, but I realize that a trip like that is far away for me in my future. For now, I will spend the 15 minutes loading up my canoe, head down the dirt road by my parents farm and ride the current of our local river to my favourite fishing hole.
I’m Todd and I’m into almost everything except country music and cilantro. Now let’s go fishing on dirt bikes and hang glide onto a skateboard.