Photo Story: Canoeing Down the Grand River

paddling tour in Grand Rapids-ochristine

Yep, that's us. Alex and Olivia. The traveling couple who always seem to be on an adventure in their FOMO-inducing photos. But what's really going on in their heads? What's the conversation like during these experiences?

Well, I thought you'd have fun reading about the real comments that went down in my head and in the boat as we canoed down the Grand River for 6.5 miles. 

  • Thanks to GR Paddling for taking many of these photos for me to share. Unedited photos are included with all their paddling tours, free of charge. Costs and tour details can be found in my outdoor guide to Grand Rapids.

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-1.jpg

Olivia: [Thinking] "Ok, left then right, then left. Or is it the other way? Is it too early to start counting it? Oh, crap we're going to get lost."

We actually started our journey at the Thornapple river before reaching the Grand River. I was in a bit of a daze during road transit to the launch site and realized pretty late in the ride that we would be canoeing without our guide. I frantically started trying to remember all of the instructions he provided in the van. Alex saved us on that one. 

Alex: [Sees our guide on an overpass] "There he is! I think he's about to take photos."

Olivia: "It's too far away to smile, we need to do something big. Hurry, raise your paddle!"

Alex: "Woooooooo!"

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-3.jpg

We canoed under the bridge and beyond, off to a great start with one checkpoint passed. The river was quiet and still. Were we going to have it all to ourselves? 

Alex: "Wow, this is beautiful. But where's the eagle's nest he saw?"

Olivia: "I don't think we're there yet. Do you think there are alligators here?"

Alex: "Nah... Look, turtle!"

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-4.jpg

Olivia: "So... want to sing a repeat-after-me song?"

Alex: [silence]

Olivia: [singing] "Hi-de hi-de hi-de hoooooo!"

Alex: [silence]

Olivia: "Alex, THIS IS A REPEAT-AFTER-ME SONG. You're supposed to repeat it!"

Alex: [offkey] "hi-de hooooooo!"

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-11.jpg

Olivia: [Feels something crawl on me.] "Is that a spider? Or sweat? Or my leg hair?"

Olivia: [Distracted] "Oooh, let me get my phone out, this is a classic 'I'm doing outdoorsy stuff' photo."

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-9.jpg
GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-10.jpg

Alex: "There it is! There it is! The nest and two bald eagles! One is flying and the other is on the branch. Do you see it!? Hurry, take a photo."

Olivia: "Oh my God, they're so close to us too!" [Tries to take photo] "Can't get a good shot with my phone, you can't really show how big they are without another bird flying for comparison."

Alex: "I'm getting closer. This is the best experience ever. I just want to sit here."

Olivia: "Look! They're both flying now! Why do they call it a bald eagle if its not bald?"

Alex: "I guess because the white feathers look bald"

Olivia: "But they don't. They look white."

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-5.jpg

Olivia: [Sees our guide] "There he is! Hurry, quick, look like we know what we're doing. We have to be in sync."

Alex: "You don't have to turn around to check, I'm supposed to match your paddling."

Olivia: [Trying to let go of control] "...ok."

Olivia: [Trying to regain control] "But do it right."

Yet another checkpoint, this time closer to the end. We met the guide at the riverbank and chatted about the heron and eagles we saw along the way. 

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-6.jpg

Alex: "It is sooo hottttttt. I'm sweating like crazy. Can I have some of your water?"

Olivia: [laughing and passing the water] "How did you drink the whole Gatorade so fast? We're not even halfway there."

Alex: "It's because I'm hot! Ughhhhhh I need to take off this vest."

GR Paddling - Canoeing - ochristine-7.jpg

Olivia: "I can't believe you really took off your shirt and lifejacket."

Alex: "It was necessary."

Olivia: [sees guide] "He's gonna be like, why does that fool have no shirt on?"

Guide: [to Alex] "I see you got comfortable!"


Read more about my canoe trip in Grand Rapids

Learn more about the logistics of our canoeing trip with GR Paddling, and other nature-filled things to do in Grand Rapids in my article on the best outdoor activities in Grand Rapids



Share this post

If you loved our canoeing photos share this post on social media and scroll down to leave a comment.

Canoe tours Grand Rapids - ochristine