Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Farrington Lake Moonlight Paddle
by Monica Orso

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A small but friendly group consisting of Robyn and Phil, Richard Howland, Henry Fernandez, Bob Wenke, Kate Liebold (with her brandy new canoe), Zoran and Liz Vukasovic, Lori Bauman and myself met at the put-in in East Brunswick at around 5:30. Reports of a sinkhole on the turnpike boggling traffic delayed our launch only slightly. We launched into calm waters below and cloudy skies above.

Within a minute or two we saw a great blue heron on shore, and then the ruckus began. An irate red winged blackbird was trying to attack the heron, who was just standing there. They let us get quite close, each one more concerned with the other than with us. The redwing was relentless, but the heron stood firm. This went on for quite a while, the redwing swooping and squawking in a frenzy. We paddled on and left them to work out their differences.

Not long after we made our way up the lake and the traffic noise started to fade, BAM…out of the woods to our right we hear organ music (really loud I might add) playing the famous wedding recessional. We pulled up to the establishment for a bit, contemplated raiding the outdoor bar (and I secretly contemplated popping all the purple balloons..), then continued on our way to explore a small cove.

As we proceeded down the lake, we spotted numerous adult turtles resting on logs and smaller turtles on lily pads, which were in abundance. A lone cormorant swam by us, uninterested in our presence. A few mallards and some ducklings were doing their thing. As we approached a bridge to paddle under, we spot another gathering at a local restaurant. By their attire, it was apparent that we had stumbled upon yet another wedding. This time, the service was amplified. They were very close to saying the infamous “I do’s” so we decided to wait and watch from the water, and cheer them on after the deed was done. Having done so, the crowd was as disinterested in us as the cormorant. Oh well, it was entertaining for US!

We paddled on to our picnic destination, Bicentennial Park. Upon pulling ashore we were greeted by a park ranger who seemed a little annoyed that we had parked our boats there and told me that there was an “official” launch site up the road. Apparently I said the magic words… that I spoke with Lee (the guy who books park events) about having a full moon paddle and picnic. His face lit up. All was well with the world, our boats and us were welcome there even though the park “officially” closed at dusk.

We took advantage of the facilities, then claimed a few picnic tables, spread out the goods and enjoyed a quiet dusk picnic complete with fresh fruit and guacamole. You could see a slice of the water from where we were and it sure looked like it was beginning to rain, the tree cover had protected us. We decided to pack up and begin the paddle back, even though it was not fully dark yet. Not knowing what the skies would bring, better to be closer to the take-out than caught in a downpour with possible lighting.

The paddle back was leisurely and not nearly as eventful as the first half. The water was like thick black ink and smooth as glass. Robyn compared it to just-made jello that hasn't set yet. The frogs were beginning to croak, a few bats flew overhead and a heron or 2 glided in flight a few feet above the water. Just before the take-out there was a section of the woods that was swarming with fireflies. There was no rain now, but there was no moon either.

Not losing faith that there really WAS a full moon out there under all those clouds, Robyn, Phil, Bob and I decided to stay and paddle back out. Fireworks went off in the distance as a farewell tribute to the others leaving. We all thought this might be fun to do again.

The 4 of us headed out again and paddled just far enough away to get out of street and restaurant lights. After a good while of chatting, the sky began to lighten in one spot. Could it be? Oh Luna di Luna, you haven’t let us down! It was indeed the moon! The clouds parted long enough for us to marvel at it, take a few pics, and then it slipped back into obscurity. But the evening was now complete.

We wound up leaving around midnight…a good time was had by all. Thanks to all who participated!