Flow State: Great Piece Meadows Paddle

The waiting is the hardest part.

On Saturday morning, eight of us met behind a deli in the Pio Costa industrial park in Fairfield to canoe the Passaic River where it traverses the Great Piece Meadows. We’d hustled canoes down to the river bank and loaded our gear. Now three of us were waiting for the others to spot cars at the takeout twelve miles downriver.

egret in Great Piece Meadows

If you live in northern New Jersey, it’s almost certain that you’ve driven on Interstate 80. And you’ve probably traversed a seven-mile stretch of I-80 that cuts through the Great Piece Meadows.

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The Monster of North South Lake

I saw something once, something big and monstrous and unbelievable. I’m not talking about Bigfoot or the Lochness Monster, which I can’t bring myself to believe in. My monster was more mundane then an eight foot tall North American ape or a leftover brontosaurus. What I saw does exist. Nobody disputes that; it just wasn’t supposed to be where I saw it.

North South Lake boat launch

It was five years ago, while padding on North South Lake in the Catskills. I had the whole family out on the water, enjoying a sunny afternoon in our canoe. There were lots of folks out that day camping, picnicking, fishing, paddling, swimming and hiking on the footpaths around the lake and in the surrounding woods.

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Tappan Zee Bridge Tour

Several years ago, I saw a show on the History Channel focusing on America’s deteriorating infrastructure that featured the Tappan Zee Bridge prominently. The program highlighted the fifty year old span as the poster child for deteriorating infrastructure that was likely to collapse without warning — and soon.

Tappan Zee Bridge boat tour

That may have been overly dramatic, but the people I knew who used the bridge back then had formulated a plan to get out of their car if the bridge collapsed and dropped them in the river. I recall my sister talking about the order in which she would unbuckle her children. When New York announced we were finally getting a new bridge, everyone was grateful.

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