The Fifth Annual Bob Andrews Living Memorial
All Sycamore Island Downriver Canoe and Potomac River Appreciation Float
by Christine Berg
[This account appeared in the Sycamore Islander for August, 1984.]
Little did I know that, on June 17th, Bob Andrews and I would both canoe and float while appreciating the Potomac River on
Under gray skies (fortunately alleviating the usually torrid Washington summer day) a brave group assembled in the late morning on Sunday, June 17 at Old Angler's Inn. I was allowed the pleasure of sharing a canoe with the "Living Memorial" himself. The three other canoes were manned by well-seasoned crews. John Thomson, hale and hearty, served as guide and coach, especially through the rapids. In addition, filled with river lore as he is, he educated us in the history of the river. Kay Bachman was his partner. Robert Mitchell and Susan Parr occupied another canoe and proved adept at the rapids. Clifford Russell and Susan Greene trolled the quiet pools along the way making an valiant but unsuccessful effort to supply us with fresh fish for lunch.
We were off! Upstream to the Maryland Chute where we mingled with kayakers practicing their rolls. We then enjoyed our first "run down the rapids." From here it was a delightful paddle downstream passing Offutt, Hermit and Perry Islands. A private home on the Virginia bank is the only reminder of civilization. It is a rude interruption but secretly I believe we were all a bit envious of the view from their living room window.
At Yellow Falls we all disembarked to reconnoiter and receive instructions from John Thomson. The river no longer at spring levels rushed swiftly over exposed rocks. Humbled, we went back into our canoes to make our attempt. Bravely paddling stern, I managed to get us lodged astride several rocks. Then I watched my bowmate, Bob Andrews, appreciating the Potomac while floating on his back away from our canoe. I soon followed. John Thomson and kind kayakers rescued our canoe.
With a slightly dented canoe, the wet Bob Andrews and I ventured bravely on with the rest. Chastened, I was now in the bow and much more cautious.
Stubblefield Falls was next. No broached canoes here. Just a lot of excitement and a great deal of spray over the gunnels.
Soon thereafter, we reached Scott Run Falls, reminiscent of a tropical paradise. Kayakers rather than parrots provided the noise. We retired to a rocky island further down stream and ravenously devoured our lunches. Kay Bachman led the group in a conservation effort removing old beer cans.
From there it was a leisurely trip under the Beltway and along the left bank to our destination. Ken Fassler and the geese gave us a warm welcome. Then into warm, DRY! clothes and home.
We are all eagerly awaiting the sixth annual event. Bob and I will place more emphasis next year on the canoe and less on the float.
(Bob Andrews' added note of explanation:)
Christine Berg, the writer, is a young physician in medical specialty training at the Georgetown University Medical Center. She comes from Wisconsin with canoeing experience on Wisconsin rivers. She has a fine sense of sportsmanship, a deep-felt aesthetic appreciation, and a keen sense of humor.