Weekly Top Five: River Day Essentials
Living smack in the middle of a landlocked state, we Nashvillians don’t have the luxury of packing up the beach chairs and heading out to the coast every weekend to enjoy the sand and surf. But what we do have is a few viable alternatives: rivers and lakes. (Do I sound country or what.) And while spending time on the lake is always time well spent, I find myself partial to hopping in a canoe or a kayak and paddling down the river. It’s how I spent Memorial Day Monday and it’s how I plan to spend at least a dozen more days as the summer goes on. And, frankly, I wholeheartedly think you should do the same. (I’d suggest Foggy Bottom Canoe on the Harpeth River, or River Rat’s down in Columbia on the Duck River -- the former is about 30 minutes closer to town, but the latter is much less crowded...so pick your poison!)
But before you get out there and start paddling, take heed with my Weekly Top Five River Essentials to ensure you have the best possible time. Trust me, I’m an expert.
*Note: this list applies to any body of water, be it a lake, an ocean, a river or anything else...the river is simply my go-to choice.
1. Ample Sunscreen
Want to know the easiest way to ruin all the fun you had while spending a day out on the river? A sunburn. You’ll lie awake at night, unable to fall asleep, the sheets and comforter cast aside or tossed to the floor, the ceiling fan moving as fast as it can go, your skin just radiating heat. You’ll look at your salmon-colored body in the mirror and try to quell the fluorescence of your skin by slathering on some combination of coconut oil, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and/or essential oils. The remaining scent will be...interesting, at best. And eventually, most likely, you will peel. Like a snake shedding its skin, your skin will fall off, leaving a blizzard of skin flakes in your wake. It isn’t a good look and it isn’t good for your long-term health, so please...please...bring some sunscreen. And use it! Slather it on before you head out and then re-apply at least once throughout the day. I promise you’ll be glad.
2. A Very Lit Playlist + Waterproof Speaker
Personally, I’m always trying to listen to some good ol’ country music while I’m paddling through the great outdoors -- songs like “Simple” by Florida Georgia Line, Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Snake Farm,” and “Fishin’ in the Dark” a la Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It just seems suitable. But there are no rules when it comes to the genre of music that guides you on your journey. My husband put on Van Halen radio while we were out there on Memorial Day, and although it was a bit aggressive, it worked. Make sure to bring a waterproof speaker along so that everyone in your group can hear the stellar tunes, or just try accidentally throwing your non-waterproof speaker overboard sometime and then check to see if it still functions. Worked for us!
3. Water-Ready Shoes
Whether you rock some real-deal water shoes, like Chacos, Tevas or Crocs, or you employ an old pair of tennis shoes to protect the bottoms of your feet, a pair of shoes that you’re willing to get totally soaked is paramount to a successful river adventure. The river banks ‘round these parts are typically made of pebbles and rocks as opposed to sand, so walking barefoot can be both challenging and painful. Not to mention the occasional shard of glass, extra-sharp rock, or sunbathing copperhead that one might find while pulling your boat to shore! Foot protection is key, y’all.
4. A Cooler Full of Drinks — ALL The Drinks.
A day on the river isn’t complete until you’ve got a cold beer and a koozie. But a day on the river could quickly unravel if the only drinks you bring along are alcoholic ones; you’ve gotta pack a variety. Fill up some nalgenes with ice cold water, throw in a couple cans of La Croix, and maybe even stash a Gatorade or two in your cooler so you can juice up on electrolytes after spending so much time in the sun. The cold beers will taste so much better when they’re giving you a nice little buzz instead of getting you totally blitzed. Oh, and don’t forget to designate a DD!
5. Good. Deli. Sandwiches.
Listen - paddling on the river is hard work. Regardless of the conditions, you’re bound to build some heat and burn some energy while you’re out there. Deli sandwiches are like an insurance policy for making it to the end. Filled with protein, carbohydrates, and sometimes a stray vegetable, they’re like a well-rounded meal wrapped up all nice in a plastic baggie. I’ve been on the Bare Bones Butcher Bologna Train lately, and let me tell you what: I don’t plan to disembark any time soon. BBB’s bologna is made with just beef, pork fat, and spices and looks more akin to Genoa salami than the pink, Oscar Mayer stuff you grew up on... it’s like a bologna who just graduated with its master’s degree. Layer a few (a lot) slices of that with American cheese, dill pickle chips, mayo, mustard, and a slice of tomato, and Ooo Wee! Holy bologna. Of course, there’s more to deli meats than just bologna: you could make the sando of your dreams with roast beef, smoked ham, mesquite turkey, and/or any variety of cheeses you desire -- and don’t forget the condiments. Or if you’re really feeling lazy you could always visit your favorite sandwich shop and make them do all the creative assembling. But whatever you do, just don’t. forget. a sandwich. It’ll save your life and make your day.