It’s been over two months since my trip to visit family and friends “back home” on the East Coast. It’s wild to think that one short week could generate so many great memories, but I suppose that’s the silver lining of not getting back as often as I’d like. One day in particular sticks out: a short canoe trip with my dad.

I saw the canoe sitting near an ancient foundation where my dad keeps his ever-morphing pile of wood and cast away building materials. As soon as I saw it there, I knew we would take it out on the river. Sure enough, he pitched the idea one afternoon and I was game (of course). We loaded the craft atop his Jeep; frankly I was amazed that we were able to make it work. Our “rack” was a mish-mash of bungee cords and short lengths of rope. Looked legit to me! I’m definitely my father’s son. We drove down to the Delaware River and parked in an overgrown lot near a shaded trail I had walked down many times as a boy.

jeep canoe river ryan malavolta
That ain’t regulation! Maybe not, but it got us where we wanted to go.

The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-70s: perfect river weather! We launched the canoe and began paddling upstream. Our pace was a leisurely one, paddling against the river’s current with no particular destination. We would take turns between drifting and scanning the river for fish, then paddling again. The whole time we made slow progress upstream. Eventually we reached a spot where rapids and rocks prevented further progress. There we sat, talking some, enjoying the outdoors and soaking up the sun. It was unspoken, but both of us wanted to keep going further upstream.

My dad instilled in me, whether he knows it or not, a deep desire for exploration and adventure. He was always the one suggesting we go a little further down a trail in the woods; always the one pressing past the point we planned to stop at. I always followed him, sometimes because I really wanted to keep going and other times because I didn’t want to be the one that turned us around. Now, when I’m on the trail, I see so much of that spirit in me. I will be forever grateful to my father for giving me this gift.

We eventually turned around and drifted back downstream. Past an old beach that he used to visit as a kid, and under the railroad trestle that we used to jump off of in my much more foolish days. We pulled the canoe out and hiked back up the trail; our trip was done. It won’t be the last trip like this that my dad and I enjoy, but as I grow older and more aware of time and my own mortality, I know there isn’t a plethora of these days left. That might be what made our time on the river that much more special, or it could just be that I still love hanging out with my old man.

delaware river train trestle ryan malavolta
Glass on the river; a fine day for canoeing