Tandem Kayaking, Testing Your Relationship One Paddle at a Time
There are plenty of activities in life that seem like a great idea, until you really sit down and think about them. Taking that final shot at 1:45 a.m. as if you weren’t drunk enough already or deciding to take a road trip to California from Houston with four of your best friends, only to realize that it isn’t half as much fun on the way back as it was there. Well, you can add one more to the list…The Valentine’s Day Couple’s Kayaking Tour down Buffalo Bayou.
The breeze on your face, the chance to be alone with nature, no cell phones, just you and your significant other enjoying each other’s company with no distractions. Those were my initial thoughts when I signed us up for the Valentine’s Day Couple’s Tour. About 30 minutes into the tour I began to realize that our romantic rendezvous was not exactly what I pictured.
Our Tour Begins
This kayaking idea didn’t exactly come out of left field. There were multiple times in the last few months that I heard we should go tandem kayaking down the bayou, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do something new together. Our tour began at 11:30 a.m. the Sunday after Valentine’s Day, since I, being a typical guy procrastinated too long and the Saturday tour was already sold out. This was probably a sign from God that I should I opt out of this idea and just plan a sunday brunch with some of our friends, but I forged ahead anyway.
We met in the parking lot behind the Sabine Lofts off of Sabine St. relatively close to where you would end the tour on the Bayou. We all loaded into an old beat-up mini school bus and headed out on the beginning of our romantic adventure. As we road down Memorial we stopped at the last gas station before our launch point to take our final restroom break for the next 3.5 hours. Once that was over with we ended our bus trip at Woodway Dr. and the 610 loop. This is where we were instructed to walk under the bridge for our quick lesson on how to kayak and then launch into the bayou.
Unde the bridge we were met by a gentleman that had ex-military written on over his face and his tutorial for how to tandem kayak was just as intense. There was a split second where I thought we were about to enter into Vietnam to battle the Viet Cong alongside our newly appointed Sergeant, but it turned out that he was just VERY passionate about kayaking. During the tutorial we were taught how to steer, what to do if the boat turned over, what to do if we got stuck, which thanks to me that final piece of knowledge came in handy later in the afternoon. We were also informed during the tutorial that the person that is in charge of the direction of the boat sits in the back and the person in the front gives the directions and helps paddle. Me again being the typical guy decided that I would be in charge of steering us through the bayou, which ended up being a bad decision in retrospect.
We were the first couple to load into our kayak and depart the launch location. We were instructed to go ahead and then park our kayak along the bank of the bayou to wait for everyone to get situated in their kayaks and meet up with us. Well, this is the point that I realized that there was going to be nothing romantic about our trip. As I tried to “steer” our kayak into a parked position the bickering back and forth began. “Go left, go right, we are going the wrong way, what the hell are you doing?” Those were some of the sweet nothings we kept whispering into each other’s ears as we paddled in opposite directions of each other. After 5 minutes of going in circles we finally backed our kayak into the bank. This was after we ran into another couple’s kayak, pushed off a tree limb that was sitting in the water, and got stuck on a sand bank. Once all of the couple’s got to our location we finally began our 8 mile, 3.5 hour tour, which could only get better. I mean, come on, what else could go wrong on this trip. Well, apparently a lot when you mix two Type-A peronsalities in a kayak for 3.5 hours!
As we pushed of the bank of the bayou we determined pretty quick that going forward and not having to park was a whole lot easier. We were instructed to stay behind the tour guide, but other than him we held the lead in the front of the pack. Not knowing until later that this lead was actually really important to the person sitting in front of me.
The first hour of our ride was relatively uneventful other than having to dodge a few tree branches. That all changed when we approached the biggest obstacle of the entire tour. There were tree branches sticking up on each side of us with lane about the size of two kayaks to make it through. We were weaving our way through the obstacles with ease until I made a bad decision and accidentally steered us directly into a large stump that immediatedly stopped us in our tracks. This was the point I thought my best option would be to swim to shore and call an Uber and just head home, but since my phone was still in the car that option didn’t exactly exist. To make matters worse as we sat stuck in place we watched all of the other kayaks pass us by. Which meant unbeknownst to me that now we were no longer “winning the race” that I didn’t know we were in in the first place. I managed to get us so stuck that our tour guide had to turn around and try to help us. He tried pushing our kayak off of the stump, but when that didn’t work we had to stick our paddles in the water against the tree stump and push backwards.
Once we got unstuck and began our journey down the bayou nothing was ever mentioned of our mishap with the tree stump. Actually that turned out to be the romantic topic of conversation for the next 30 minutes of our tour. Luckily for me we were about to approach another obstacle that ended up turning the attention to another couple. At this point in the tour you have to paddle quickly so you have enough speed to ramp over a pipe that is sticking out from the bayou. Well, I totally redeemed myself and we made it over with ease, but another couple was not as fortunate. They approached the pipe with not enough speed and instead capsized their kayak where they both ended up standing in the bayou. If that ended up being our kayak I wouldn’t have needed an Uber, I would have just walked the entire 3 miles left back to our car.
The trip wasn’t all about avoiding obstacles and staring at trash along the bayou. The tour guide did do an excellent job of pointing out various landmarks along the way and was also extremely knowledgeable when it came to Houston’s history. He informed us that Memorial Park was initially the site of Camp Logan, a World War I US Army traning camp from 1916 to 1923. Then the City of Houston took ownership of the land in May 1924 to use the land as a “memorial” park, dedicated to the memory of soldiers who lost their lives serving in World War I. We were also learned that under the Waugh Dr. bridge where it goes over the bayou lies one of the largest bat colonies in all of Texas. The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony consists of Mexican free-tailed bats that emerge nightly to feed on insects all along the Bayou.
The Bayou Tour without a doubt will test your communication skills with your significant other. If you are planning on taking the leap and getting married, please take one final test before walking down the aisle. Plan a trip down the bayou and see if you have what it takes to be together forever. At the time it seemed like we were never going to get off that water, but it ended up turning into plenty of hilarious stories we can tell our friends. Although we already said we would never do it again, we are glad that we have the experience to look back on. In case anyone is curious we ended up coming in third place….
Bayou City Adventures
Bayou City Adventures offers a wide variety of outdoor activities in Houston and around Galveston. We paid for the single tour, but they offer Basic and VIP annual memberships that can be purchased to do all of their activities for free all year.
- Kayak Rentals
- Guided Tours
- Kayak and Canoe Shuttles
- Kayak and Canoe Storage
- Kayak Polo
- Kayak Lessons
- Team Building
- Surfing Lessons
- Surf Camp
- Beach Camping
- Team Builders
- Burger and Bike Tour
- Houston Bike Guided Tours
- Mountain Bike Classes and Lessons
Stand Up Paddleboarding
- SUP YOGA
- Team Building
- Private Parties
- Coming this summer
- Coming this summer
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
- Coming this summer