Out on the River

By on 21 August, 2015 in Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments
Photo courtesy of Alabama Rivers Alliance

Photo courtesy of Alabama Rivers Alliance

Last week we got a chance to canoe on a short stretch of the Alabama River by participating in an event hosted by our friends at the Alabama Rivers Alliance. Every year, they invite folks to come and get out on the water to show support for protecting Alabama’s beautiful rivers. It’s a great way to experience the water (and get a sunburn if you’re not careful), because their members and partner organizations bring in kayaks and canoes that are free to use – including life vests and paddles.

That’s important to us because, like most folks, we don’t own any kind of watercraft. We got into a canoe and tried to remember how it worked. It had been some time since we’ve been on the river, and every time we get out we ask ourselves: “What took so long?”

It’s fun to see your city’s skyline from an unusual angle. It’s fun to get exercise. It’s fun to meet new people.

We generally steer clear of political causes here at Midtown Montgomery Living, but protecting rivers is only political in the sense that it requires people to actively participate in order to preserve a resource that we all ought to use and enjoy. Saying something like “Let’s take care of our river,” isn’t controversial and doesn’t require you to understand the scientific details of pollution or run-off. It really just says that our city was built on the banks of this river for a reason, and we need to make sure that we maintain the health of a priceless resource.

p1050161In other cities, people are out on the river all the time. Pittsburgh’s got Friends of the Waterfront, with trails and other events all designed to get people down to the water. As for getting into the water (they’re lucky enough to have THREE rivers that run through their city), they’ve got many different places to put in and take out, and it looks like it’s very easy (and affordable!) to rent a kayak. A bit closer to home, up in Wetumpka, Coosa River Adventures seems to be doing a brisk business getting people out on the Coosa (as our correspondent Jesseca Cornelson wrote about a few years ago).

But here in town, it’s hard to figure out how to rent a canoe or kayak, and there aren’t that many places to put in and take out. Our paddle last week, from the Marina (down by Capitol Oyster Bar) to Powder Magazine Park, pretty much covered our options. It’s no wonder that most folks feel disconnected from our river. If the boat-owning hurdle isn’t sufficient deterrent, overall ignorance of how to go about touching the river can really factor in.

Montgomery’s making some progress. The new apartments up on Maxwell have a nice view of the water, and the Riverfront development’s been great for getting people close to the water. The next step is to get people out on the river. We’d love to see some entrepreneur rent boats from the Riverfront – it would be cool to go out on a paddleboard or a kayak on a hot summer day. Also, it’s about time for there to be some trails for walking by the river. We’re not sure who owns the frontage land, but it would be great for the city to bring people to the river and use it more often. We don’t have to make it into a kind of mall, like San Antonio, for this to work.

For more information on the Alabama Rivers Alliance, visit http://www.alabamarivers.org/

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, fifteen fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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