Sometimes we love going on a tour of a place.
A lot of the content on our blog might look like we go out and entertain ourselves, but some of the best experience we’ve had have actually been on group tours.
Like when we went on a food tour of New York City.
I find that when we’re in large cities especially, tour guides can give you a real insight into a place.
Activities on your own
But sometimes it’s just better to get out there and have your own spontaneous adventure.
And this was exactly what it was like to go on a Crystal River Outfitters self-guided tour of Crystal River in Glen Arbor, Michigan.
We were out in the wilderness on our own and that was exactly how we liked it.
Setting out for kayaking in Glen Arbor
We arrived early, wanting to make the most of our day.
The sky was pale blue and it was a little chilly before the full force of the day’s ray had beamed its fingers through the trees.
The Crystal River glistened and the trees on the banks were leaning over, dipping their branches into the clear water.
Our kayaks were loaded up onto a trailer and we were driven in a combi-van up the road and essentially up the river.
We were given some quick instructions on what to expect and then we pushed our kayaks out onto the river and jumped in.
Spiders and sunshine
There’s something extremely relaxing about paddling down a peaceful river, no one else in sight (aside from Dave but he doesn’t count) with the wide open blue sky above you, cool and crystal clear water beneath you, and birds chirping on either side of you.
So peaceful until… there’s a massive spider crawling up your kayak and heading straight for you!
There was nowhere to hide.
Trying to stay calm, I gripped my paddle and bashed the spider with all my strength, trying not to capsize my kayak in the process.
Unfortunately that was only the first of three spider to attack me (where were they coming from?!) much to Dave’s amusement.
Of course, Dave wasn’t attacked by any bugs, spiders or otherwise, for the whole journey.
Dave likes to paddle rather fast, whereas I like to take my time (some would call it ‘float’) down the river.
For once this tactic actually worked in my favour because there were parts of the river that were more like a stream and too shallow for the kayak to get down.
Because Dave was ahead, he got stuck on these little sand banks and while he grunted and tried to wrestle himself off the little mounds of sand, I was able to manoeuvre around him and float gently on by.
Shoot the tube
My favourite part of our two and a half hours of kayaking in Glen Arbor was ‘shooting the tube’.
Towards the end of our journey down Crystal River, a massive water pipe loomed ahead of us.
We could either pull our kayaks out of the river and walk over the road (for losers) or ‘shoot the tube’ (bad ass).
Of course, because we’re such daredevils, we decided to ‘shoot the tube’.
You have to paddle your kayak carefully to make sure you enter the tube at just the right angle.
You speed down the tube and then pop out the other side, kind of like sliding through a waterslide that has been carved out of a storm drain.
And just for a moment, I felt like a teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Where’s the best place you’ve been kayaking?
What you need to know:
Cost – It costs $28 per person to hire a sit-inside single kayak to do the Crystal River trip, and this includes paddle, life jacket and delivery to the top of the route. You don’t need to book, just turn up at the Crystal River Outfitters’ store.
How to get there – You’ll need a car to get to Glen Arbor in Michigan, because there’s no public transport nearby. Glen Arbor is on Lake Michigan and in a beautiful spot near The Sleeping Bear Dunes – make sure you check that place out too while you’re in the area.
When to go – It’s best to go kayaking on the Crystal River towards the beginning of summer so the water level is high. We went in July and it was quite shallow, even though it had rained a little the night before.