Hello from the Ottawa River: Mating in the Wild and Other Diversions
By Susanne Pacher
On July 23 and 24 my friend Leslie and I went on a weekend adventure: a learn-how-to-kayak weekend on the Ottawa River. We had a great time, combining sports and relaxation on a weekend away from the city.
As you know, wherever I am, I keep my eyes open for interesting travel-related story ideas, and one story idea decidedly hit me right in the face when we started socializing with the other weekend vacationers. There was a group of 36 people who had all come on a bus from Toronto to go rafting for the weekend, and the trip was organized by a company called Meet Market Adventures.
Their website says that Meet Market Adventures promotes singles travel in Canada & the United States for busy singles seeking adventurous singles travel vacations in Canada & the United States. Apparently you can choose from over 30 adventures for every interest in any month and enjoy the great outdoors with hiking, biking, sky diving, skiing and lots of other activities.
At breakfast on Saturday morning we got to know a few people from the group and they told us that this singles travel company organizes everything from after-work get-togethers in local bars to one or two-day weekend getaways, to week-long cruises and other outings.
Well, I am solidly married woman, so I am not personally concerned about finding a mate, but I have lots of single female friends who are experiencing varying degrees of frustration with the dating world and have tried everything from online dating sites like Lava Life, to speed dating services, to more personalized match-making services, with decidedly mixed success.
During the past weekend the hobby behavioural scientist in me made an appearance and I tried to study the dynamics of this group as much as possible. Friday night was a very rowdy night on the campground and I can only conclude that this group (probably the largest group on the campground) as well as some other smaller groups took advantage of a weekend away from home and really let loose. There was lots of hollering, loud music, obviously plenty of drinking, and from the sounds of it, people had a pretty entertaining time.
Saturday was the first day of rafting for these groups and since we went kayaking instead of rafting, we didn't have any interactions with the singles group during the day. In the evening we headed down to a dock by the river front and bumped into 6 members of the group: 4 males and 2 females who were chatting in a very orderly way and taking in the sunset. Everybody was very friendly and the ladies including us said goodbye after about half an hour to head back to the campgrounds.
We had a nice chat with one of the ladies from the singles travel group who said that she has participated in several major adventure events organized by Meet Market Adventures and she quite enjoyed them, although her dating results to date have been mixed.
Once back at the campground we briefly joined our white water kayaking colleagues at the campfire on the top campground, designated for "quiet campers". Here totally opposite dynamics were at play: these were 2 couples who had been together for 5 and 8 years respectively, and one of the couples just recently found out that they are expecting a baby. Definitely no mating help needed here...
After about 10 pm we joined Krista's "poise" performance on the middle campground which was the home base of the Meet Market travel group. Krista delivered 4 performances of poise, a martial art used by the Maori people that involves two wires with a wick at the end that is set on fire. It was an awesome performance, and the guys in particular seemed to enjoy it since Krista is not only talented, she's also a very cute-looking young woman.
As the evening went on, one of the single travellers declared himself the "leader of the tribe" and proceeded to play the bongo drums that had accompanied Krista's performance earlier. He certainly had an interesting concept of rhytthm and style. He also delivered a graceful dance around the campfire in a towel and for some reason kept referring to my friend Leslie and me either as "the kayak girls" or "the sacrificial virgins" (yeah right..), but overall the tribal leader turned out to be a lot less obnoxious than he initially seemed to be. I was wondering who was actually going to get voted off the campground by the end of the night....;)
My friend and I had a great time socializing with a few people from this group, jokes were flying the whole evening, we even went down to the 3rd campground level (designated specifically for noisy campers...) where the local residents had the biggest bonfire on the go that you can imagine. It was one of those evenings where you just feel giddy and laugh your head off, both Leslie and I unaided by alcohol since neither one of us actually drinks. Mind-altering drugs weren't necessary, since this was an evening of pure unadulterated, spontaneous and harmless fun.
Overall the single travellers seemed to have a great time. There definitely seemed to be more group socializing going on than individual mating attempts, and overall it seemed to be a pretty respectable way of connecting with other like-minded human beings, male or female for that matter.
Leslie and I headed to bed at around 1 am, but many in the crowd were still going strong. The next morning the group had another day of rafting scheduled and some people had been on the go until 6 am, when the cows made their wake-up calls and daily inspection and paddie-dropping run through the campgrounds. There were a few bed-heads and red eyes in the crowd and I didn't envy these folks for having to go rafting on whitewater for the whole day after a night of hearty partying.
The crowd returned at about 2 pm, and there were even more tired faces in the group. They were safely packed into their bus, ready to go home to Toronto, until next time. All I can say is that an adventure outing for a group of single adventure travellers seems like a pretty decent alternative for people who want to make friends with shared interests. Whether it is a good mating venue only time will tell.....
About The Author
Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions (http://www.travelandtransitions.com). Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features. You will also find stories about life and the t-ransitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.
Submit your own travel stories in our first travel story contest (http://www.travelandtransitions.com/contests.htm) and have a chance to win an amazing adventure cruise on the Amazon River.
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The travel story with photos is published at Travel and Transitions - Travel Stories (http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/hello_kayaking_3.htm).