Urban Kayaks is a neat little operation at the mouth of the Chicago river. They offer kayak rentals as well as guided tours of the city via the river or the lake. The office went out with Urban Kayaks last year and were desperate for a reprise, so I made it happen. We registered for the two-hour historical tour, which took us down the river to the fork before heading back to the lake. Huge thanks to several of our team members who took hundreds of awesome photos and allowed me to share them here!
Beautiful views of the riverfront architecture all day!
With the weather starting to turn, I was a little worried a mid-September kayak trip would be cold and miserable. That morning, though, the forecast promised 70 and sunny, and the Brookfield Zoo 5k that morning had definitely been bright, but I should have known from the windy morning that the afternoon might not be all sunshine and warmth! By the time we were scheduled to launch, it was pouring down rain. We delayed a little, and the rain let up, so we hopped into the kayaks for our safety meeting and brief tutorial, then plopped into the water and started paddling.
While many of the team members opted for individual kayaks, I decided to partner up in a tandem kayak, just in case my two races caught up to my energy level. My partner and I quickly figured out how best to paddle as a team, and we had no problem handling our kayak. The craft was surprisingly stable, and only maybe once did I think we might actually tip, but no one in our group ended up in the river - which, apparently, was not true of last year's trip!
Paddling was hard, even with two of us.
Less than halfway through our trip, the rain returned. In the interest of time, we chose to continue instead of hiding under a bridge hoping the rain would dissipate. It did eventually stop, but not before we all got completely drenched. This is where my trip started to sour. I hate being wet. I was also already tired, getting sore from the paddling, and as always, I am highly susceptible to cold weather. To put it bluntly: I was miserable. Stuck in that little kayak, all tensed up, working hard and soaking wet was NOT how I wanted to spend my Sunday afternoon. I quickly lost interest in our tour guide's Chicago stories, and focused instead on paddling us back as fast as I could.
Everyone else in the group seemed to have no problem keeping their moods high, so I put a smile on my face and did my best to enjoy the rest of the trip. After we pulled out of the water, I rushed to change into drier, warmer clothes, which definitely helped my mood. We all adjourned to our CEO's awesome rooftop patio, right downtown, and enjoyed some absolutely delicious BBQ sandwiches I'd arranged from Porkchop. Some of the others hopped into the rooftop hot tub, but I had already had a very long day and was anxious to get home to rest, so I bummed out a little early.
Even when I'm cold and wet, I still can't help being a little silly...
I almost wish I could convince myself to give Urban Kayaks another chance. The people running the operations were really cool and kind, and I know they are successful for a reason. It isn't anyone's fault that the weather didn't hold out so nicely for us, but it did have an impact on my impressions of the whole "kayaking" thing. If I do every go back, I might try their other location in Chinatown, to see a different section of river, or maybe do the Navy Pier fireworks tour at night. Either way, I will definitely be waiting for summer before I venture back out onto the water!
Have you tried Urban Kayaks? I'd love to hear better experiences, I know most people have much more fun!