We were surprised to see that the feed store had a new owner, who has opened a bike and kayak rental business called Riverside General Store. He has cleared the bank and opened a nice canoe launching spot, which is open to the public. Don't bother trying to shop in the general store all it has for sale is some kitschy house decorations. The other closest bike and kayak rental business, at the old railroad depot in Todd, went out of business last year. The new owners told me that the prior owner had a drug problem and was evicted for non-payment of rent. Too bad.
We ate our picnic lunch on a large moss covered boulder in the shade in the edge of the river. There were just enough small rapids to keep things occasionally interesting. And there were enough deep sections for us to practice our coordinated paddling. A couple times we ran into the dreaded mid-afternoon upstream winds, but they were manageable.
We had quite a pleasant run. The air was plenty warm but not typical July hot. The water was pleasantly cool when we stepped in or trailed our hands in the water. There were the usual summer holiday groups of canoers, kayakers, inner tubers, fishermen, bikers, hikers and drivers. But all the groups were well spaced out and never crowded us. The worst part was seeing the dozens of new vacation / second homes going up beside the river. Friends, this river's bucolic and pastoral nature is going away. If you enjoy the New River, do it now, because it won't be the same for long.
The weather cooperated with mixed sun and clouds, until just after we finished our trip, when we had a thunderstorm for a half hour. Fortunately, during that exact half hour we were in the new business located at the old Todd railroad depot, River Girl Fishing Company and New River Adventures. The new RG / NR owner, Kelly McCoy, is a fairly young lady transplanted to Ashe County last year. She was formerly a wildlife biologist employed by the state of Florida. She and her partner are running the business. The partner works here part time, and in her other life she is a high level transportation insurance sales person covering the southeast USA. The partner counts among her clients several NASCAR teams and all the limousines in Florida.
RG / NR does a mixture of fishing lessons and guiding, custom rod building, fishing equipment & supplies sales & service, bike rentals, kayak & canoe & tube rentals and river running shuttles. I am introducing them to my Blue Ridge Outings, so we can exchange clients and information. Then maybe I can shift into professional guiding, and they can expand into hiking, backpacking, skiing and other sports.
When any of you guys are ready to hit the river, or the trail, or the creeks, or the mountains, or the coast, give me a call!