Things come full circle. A little test concept eight years ago has re-emerged as our new Independent Rowing Adventures. It has been a fun journey in between, starting with that first road trip to test a concept.
Back in the autumn of 2012 I was evaluating whether it would be possible to start a rowing travel company. One key question was whether clubs would be willing to hire out their equipment to me and to rowers that they didn’t know, in a way very different from guest rowing. To test this, three of my fellow rowers from Prairie Fire Rowing Club in Winnipeg, Canada and I drove to Minneapolis MN USA for a long weekend of rowing, and lots of fun. It wasn’t necessarily how I envisioned my trips might run, since we essentially were self-guided. We took care of our own transportation, booked a hotel (which turned out to have a wee snafu, so we actually stayed in two different hotels), found amazing dining and entertained ourselves when we weren’t rowing.
We rowed at three different clubs. Each was quite a different experience, but with a consistently warm and helpful reception at all. I concluded that this rowing travel company had merit and continued with my research. In January 2013 Rowing The World was launched. We have had the privilege of sharing wonderful rowing experiences in over a dozen countries since then.
Along came 2020 and Covid-19. While keeping our rowing travel dreams alive, we have also been seeking solutions that are appropriate to the current and perhaps ongoing circumstances. It is still rather a work in progress, since both the rowing and travel situation remains fluid and constantly changing. We want to ensure that we follow all appropriate protocols. Clubs are also learning how to adapt to these circumstances.
In early July we launched our new Independent Rowing Experiences with four inaugural trips in the USA. Takes me right back to some old roots! Before Rowing The World I owned and operated a self-guided cycling and walking tour company for 15 years. This is familiar and feels right for the moment and potentially into the future. There are wonderful opportunities to meet rowers from around the world on our group trips. But not everyone likes that format or sometimes timing doesn’t work so a more independent package makes sense. I am looking forward to the next months to see how it all unfolds. With any luck it will be as good as our Minneapolis test trip.
One of the great things about travel is not only the planning and dreaming in advance or the fabulous experiences during the tour, but it is the memories that you gain. In recent emails the four of us were remembering our favourite moments from that trip. Not one of which the others remembered! Margaret said: “What I loved about our trip to Minneapolis (besides the whole thing) was Mavis’ stories and pictures of the swimming pigs.” Carolyne figured she must have been taking a shower at the moment of that discussion. Mavis replied “It’s true. You don’t remember the part when the crew gave me the slop bucket of veggies to dump on the beach and I got chased down by a very hungry sow!” Later Carolyne added “Minneapolis was so fun! I had no idea I was scared of walking down steep angles until that trip!” The rest of us had forgotten about that particularly challenging descent carrying another club’s boat …
My favourite story from that trip was learning the American rowing term “way enough” or however you spell it. The USA is the only country in the world that uses this term, although Canada has a fairly unique term too. We were innocents. On the two previous rows in Minneapolis, it was just us rowing. On the last row of the trip, we partnered up with four wonderful rowers from Minneapolis Rowing Club. We decided to row two quads, each with two Americans and two Canadians. Mavis and I were in one boat, she was stroking and I was sitting behind her. Off we went on the lovely Mississippi River. After a while, bow called “way enough”. Neither Mavis nor I had any idea what this meant, so we kept rowing. Then came a second and much more insistent “Way enough!”. We were quite confused why our weight was been discussed while rowing, yeah, we had had some big meals. Finally came “STOP ROWING!!!!!!”. Oh, that is what that meant. And by the way, row2k says that you can also spell it as “weigh enough”. Yes I do. What is your point?
I am delighted to pilot Independent Rowing Experiences in the USA. One day we will be willing and able to freely cross borders and row with our friends from other countries. When I am back in the States, I will know what all the commands mean. Looking forward to responding to my next “way enough”.