ROSCOMMON – Calm summer breezes, hot sun hitting your skin and the sound of flowing river waters is what a Michigan summer is really all about. For a group of 17 from Washtenaw Community College, a journey on the Au Sable River was “pure Michigan” at its finest, and a day very well spent.
Organized by Student Activities Events Coordinator Rachel Barsch, the $25 day trip included a very comfortable bus ride to Roscommon, a meal at Subway and choice of canoe or kayak for the 10 miles of river paddled, all topped off with a pizza dinner before returning home to Ann Arbor.
The outing began at 8 a.m. with a timely departure from the WCC campus. After a brief overview of our itinerary by Director of Student Activities, Pete Leshkevich, a movie provided entertainment for the 2.5 hour bus drive to this Northern Michigan village a few miles off the I-75.
Upon arrival to Hiawatha Canoe and Livery River Outfitters, participants were eager to exit the bus and get into their canoes and kayaks. The trip chosen was called the “Chase Bridge Trip” and is estimated to take about three hours depending on your group and frequency of stops. The trip is designed for paddlers who plan on spending a bit more time on the river and enjoy the flowing current that essentially does most of the work, letting you relax and take it easy.
Even though a majority of us were strangers, when everybody got into their boats, conversation began to flow like the stream. The group began to joke around and the atmosphere became very friendly, leading to fun boat-bumping and races during the long straight stretches of river.
After an hour or so, a small group of paddlers got out of their canoes and kayaks and took a dip in the river. The cool water felt great for temperatures nearing triple digits that day in late June
Nearing the end of our roughly 10-mile trip, the entire group enjoyed a small break playing with water guns and enjoying the river water one last time before returning to the bus. Once back on solid ground, everyone boarded the bus and we made our way to a local pizza shop located two blocks from the livery. The group sat together, chatting and enjoying the dinner provided.
The bus ride home was quiet and relaxed and another movie delivered entertainment for those not snoozing off.
The bus arrived back at the WCC campus at around 6 p.m. Before departing, Alexandra Brock, 20, an engineering student from Milan, shared her feelings on the trip.
“It was awesome. I love it when WCC has trips like this. It creates friendships. It’s spending quality time with friends and co-workers while enjoying nature,” she said.
Eric Saly, 27, a zoology major from Ypsilanti, shared Brock’s sentiments. “I like the outdoors and it was a really enjoyable event. I loved getting out of the city and having an enjoyable time with the group,” he said.
The success and easiness of the trip made the fact that only 17 students enjoyed it all the more unfortunate. With great planning by Barsch and the Student Activities staff, it’s a shame that more students haven’t taken advantage of organized day trips like this one.
“The trip was a success. Many of the students who attended offered positive feedback,” Leshkevich said. “Student Activities will be exploring different options for day-long and weekend-long trips in the Fall. We have a few ideas, but we would really like to hear from the students.”
Not being too fond of organized group activities myself, especially the ones where you don’t know anybody, I was ultimately really surprised as to how enjoyable this trip was. The ease of it all really stood out for me, and I couldn’t understand why more students didn’t take advantage of this amazing opportunity to see a beautiful part of Michigan at its finest.
I urge and encourage more people to take advantage of these trips and bring their friends along to make it an experience that’s actually less expensive than dinner and a movie – and by far more rewarding and memorable.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next trip Student Activities offers. And speaking of Student Activities, Leshkevich and Barsch are interested in ideas students have for future excursions like this.
Coming activities and excursions planned by Student Activities
Michigan Renaissance Festival, Aug. 18-Sept. 30, tickets $5
Rolling Hills Waterpark trip: Friday, Aug. 31, $5
Zap Zone: Thursday, Sept. 20, $5 buys three games, plus refreshments!
Cedar Point: Saturday, Oct. 13. $35 includes motor-coach transportation, ticket and drink wristband
Charles Wright Museum of African-American History, Holocaust Museum , Friday, Oct. 19, $15 includes lunch at Rub BBQ.
Kalhari Indoor Water Park, Friday, Nov. 2, $30 includes entry, motor-coach transportation and refreshments
Other events include weekend getaways to UM football games and other sporting events, more social events, dinner/movie packages for Garrett’s Restaurant and Quality 16 vouchers, and much more