Monday, July 12, 2010

U.S. Whitewater Center

A quick 20 minute drive outside the city brought me to the U.S. Whitewater Center, for a day on the water. It's a pretty cool place, and it's open dawn to dusk except for T-Day and Christmas Day. Parking is $5, and the grounds and trails are free for walkers and hikers. There's a restaurant, outdoor gear shop, restrooms and ($2) day lockers. Bring a change of dry clothes and a towel. If you're kayaking, a drybag is great to keep your wallet, camera and sunscreen handy. A $49 day pass gives you unlimited access to and equipment for mountain biking, hiking, rockwall climbing, ziplines, river rafting, whitewater or flatwater kayaking. I was just checking it out, so I got a $25 one-sport day pass, for flatwater kayaking. Dippin' my toe in the water...

I saw a big blue heron, it was at least 2 feet tall and had quite a wingspan. Also saw lots of turtles resting on logs, but they dove in when I got too close. I had my eye out for gator nostrils. Alligators are not native to the river, but every few years, a few are introduced to NC lakes through illegal dumping. Like Easter chicks that grow up...gators outgrow the bathtub.

The Catawba River is very serene, nothing but woods on either side, and no strong currents...quite unlike kayaking in the East River in NYC!

This pic courtesy of the Long Island City Community Boathouse.

Olympic kayakers train at the U.S. Whitewater Center. No doubt they dial up the waves in the man made river!

Apres-paddle, I had lunch and a beer on the terrace overlooking the manmade section of 'river.' Watched more than a few rafts lose a helmeted rider, but they were pulled right back in and everyone was high fiving and laughing.

On Thursdays at 7pm there's a River Jam with live music til sunset. I'll be going back for more--I'll add the zip line and rafting, and kick it up a notch. 

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