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Emagine Sheboygan and the Wandering Kayaker


Emagine Sheboygan and the Wandering Kayaker

Em and Kayaking 

I’ve shared a bit about myself and my interests here on this blog, how important travel is to me, my love for the city of Sheboygan, beaches, all things Halloween, my passion for the environment, and supporting tourism in small towns. One thing that I haven’t shared yet however, is how much I love to kayak. I started kayaking when I was 8 years old, and my first kayaking excursion was with my family in Door County on the Bay side of Lake Michigan. I shared a tandem kayak with my dad, my little sister sharing one with my mom, and from there, we all fell in love with the activity. That same season, my parents got us back out on the water and we started to learn to kayak with them, and on our own. From then on, kayaking became important to my whole family; we planned family vacations around where we could kayak and created a bucket list of places we wanted to kayak together.

We started small by kayaking rivers, the Green Bay, and various spots throughout Door County such as Peninsula State Park (Bay side) and gradually worked our way up to places like Cave Point (Lake side). At this time in my life, I’ve kayaked Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Tahoe, the Gulf of Mexico (and saw a sea turtle!), and Glacier Bay in Alaska. Probably the coolest place I’ve ever kayaked was the sea caves of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior- the weather and conditions, the views, the stamina and energy it took, all of these elements combined to make it one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Below are photos of me and my dad kayaking in Alaska and the Apostle Islands.

So when a new kayaking outfitter in Sheboygan hosted a ribbon cutting along the banks of the Sheboygan river, I had to check it out. I got to meet Paul, the Wandering Kayaker, and he graciously invited me and my team at Blue Harbor to go out on a kayaking tour of Historic Downtown Sheboygan. Just the thought of being on the water made me ecstatic. Because kayaking has been so central to my family vacations growing up, I wanted to share the Wandering Kayaker experience here on my blog, so you can incorporate a kayaking excursion with the Wandering Kayaker into your vacation at Blue Harbor Resort.

The Wandering Kayaker 

We met our tour guide, Paul, the founder of the Wandering Kayaker, on the banks of the Sheboygan River in Kiwanis Park. Paul provided all the equipment, so we only needed to come dressed prepared for the weather, with sunscreen, and a water bottle. If you haven’t gone kayaking before or are less experienced, I highly recommend wearing athletic clothing, especially quick-dry or wicking clothing because you will probably get a little water splashed inside your kayak from paddling. Paul had the kayaks and paddles of course, but he also had life vests for all of us as well. Even if you’re an experienced kayaker like me, you do need to wear your life vest. Respecting the water and weather is the number one rule of kayaking, because conditions can change on a dime and you always want to be prepared in case they do. Thankfully, we had ideal weather conditions, sunny and warm with a bit of wind but nothing dramatic.

Paul helped get everyone’s kayak on the launch and went in last after everyone else while everyone got used to the kayak and the feeling of paddling around. Then, we were off! The tale of Emagine Sheboygan and the Wandering Kayaker begins!

As we were kayaking from Kiwanis Park all the way to the mouth of the river (Lake Michigan), Paul was sharing facts about the area, the history of the town of Sheboygan, and even pointing out specific landmarks and buildings we passed. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Garton Toy Factory building, which is now been divided up into apartments but still has Garton toys in display cases on the inside, and boat island: a tiny island on the river that used to be home to goats that were ferried to the island to graze during the summer before it was turned into a boat repairing hub. On top of Paul’s knowledge about the history of Sheboygan, he also knows the river and its wildlife well. He could point out where there were birds before any of us could even see them, and he knows where to look if you want to see rare wildlife such as an eagles’ nest. We saw plenty of cute goslings and ducks, even a Great Blue Heron! I was also on the lookout for turtles on the rocks lining the sides of the river, but if there were any they were too well camouflaged or I was too busy noticing the birds and the landmarks along the way to notice them. However, there is plenty of neat wildlife that calls the Sheboygan River and Lake Michigan home, so if you are hoping to see some wildlife while on your kayaking excursion, just keep your eyes peeled and let Paul know- you’re bound to see some!  

Although we were one of the larger groups Paul could accommodate, he did a fantastic job making sure we were all doing well and going at a maintainable pace. Paul took us kayaking on a beginner level route that pretty much anyone can do. For more experienced kayakers, he can take you on a rapids route. Although Paul can take families with young kids out on the water, routes like the rapids are better for older and more experienced kayakers. The route we took was calm and peaceful. Do keep in mind for both yourself and others (especially if kayaking with children) that the sun can take a toll on you. Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a water bottle with you (even if it isn’t a particularly hot or sunny day, the sun can still burn you even when it’s overcast especially when out on the water). And kayaking is invigorating exercise, so you will get thirsty and need to stay hydrated in order to keep up your energy!

My favorite part of the trip was when we got close to the mouth of the river and were kayaking in between the Riverside Boardwalk and South Pier. You could clearly see the immense lake patiently waiting ahead of you, it’s expanse beckoning and calling to me the way large bodies of water tend to. I love going for walks on the Boardwalk on both sides of the river, and it was a completely different perspective to be in-between the two and admire them both from the water. You can see Blue Harbor, which of course I loved. But really, there is something so magnetic about being that close to being on Lake Michigan. It’s a force to be reckoned with, but it is so beautiful and mind-bogglingly big, it doesn’t matter how many times I see it, kayak it, or swim in it, it always fascinates me and calls to me. We did use this as our turn around point (entering the lake, especially there, is risky business) but I’m so thankful that Paul brought us all this way so we could still admire this spectacular piece of nature from a safe distance.

Between growing up and going on family vacations where kayaking was the driving incentive, and my experience with the Wandering Kayaker here in Sheboygan, I hope you feel inspired to take this excursion yourself during your trip. Staying at a lakeside resort like Blue Harbor and getting to be out on water experiencing nature is my kind of vacation. I know that many other people out there will agree.

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