Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Canoeing on Lake Monroe

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Sarah and I have been canoeing a few times in the past. This summer I’ve been bugging her to go, but of course it was extremely hot for a while, and it’s not terribly pleasant to be out, exposed to the sun, when it’s super hot.

But, the weather has been incredible lately — lows in the 50s and 60s, highs in the 80s. Saturday the high was in the upper 80s, and Sarah suggested a canoe trip. A great idea!

We figured Lake Griffy would be our best bet — Griffy is a small lake on the north side of town — within city limits, if I’m not mistaken. It’s a beautiful lake, and canoe rentals are cheap there, so we headed up to go paddling.

Unfortunately, we found that the water level was quite low and the shallow, stagnant water was disgusting, covered in algae and who knows what else. Suffice it to say, it looked unappealing.


So, we headed out toward Lake Monroe instead. First we tried to rent a canoe at Cutwright SRA, which lies east of the causeway. This is significant, as the east side only allows idle speeds, whereas the west side has speedboats and the like. But, we came up empty-handed. They only rented pontoon boats at that location. They suggested we try Paynetown SRA, which is not far away but is on the other side of the causeway.

We headed to Paynetown instead, and indeed, they did have canoe rentals. We rented one for two hours. It was overpriced, at $35, but we really wanted to get out on the water, and the water looked great, so we went for it.



We’re not terribly experienced at canoeing, and it had been a while since our last trip, so it took a little while for us to figure out how to work together to move forward and, more difficult, steer. We were having a good time. We weren’t sure which direction we should go in, so we checked out a little inlet.



After some hemming and hawing, we decided we would make our way over to the quiet side of the lake. This meant we had to cross the lake, and then go under the causeway. It didn’t look too far … we were mostly worried about speedboats.

We were a little surprised how much the wake of the boats affected us on the water. The waves didn’t look big but they were rocking our canoe. Or if we were headed straight into the waves, the front of the boat would tip up and then smack back down, which Sarah found a bit frightening.

I think it’s a lot like riding a bicycle on a gravel road. It’s disconcerting the first few times your tires start to slip, but once you get used to a little float and realize it’s not the end of the world, you start to feel more comfortable. Sarah was a good sport about it, even though I know she was a little stressed during this part.






Pretty soon, we realized that it was a lot further across the lake than it looked. Also, we had to contend with some wind. We kept paddling and eventually we were going under the causeway. It’s a little weird paddling under it, as I have crossed it many times by car and bicycle, but I had never seen it from this perspective.



Once we were on the other side of the causeway, things did calm down considerably. It was much quieter and I would have loved to explore further east, toward Hoosier National Forest and some other areas that are familiar from land, but by this time we were getting tired. We made a small loop on the “quiet side” and headed back.



Our return trip was a lot more pleasant than the trip out. Instead of cutting directly across the lake, we more or less followed the causeway and the land. We did cut across a bit but it seemed like once 5:00 rolled around, about half the boats left the lake and it was much quieter, even on the side that had been hectic before. We enjoyed a peaceful paddle back.






We saw this crazy house, which I guessed (and later confirmed) is owned by John Mellencamp.



We returned back at the rental place in almost exactly two hours, having traveled 4.3 miles. ┬áHere’s a map of our trip.

After that, we decided to head out to the Scenic View Restaurant, which was right on our way home. We had heard good things about the place, but had never actually been there ourselves.

It was Saturday night, and there was a long wait for a table. At least the View was excellent, as promised.



I did think this statue was a little over the top …


However, once we got our table we really enjoyed ourselves. There was a live jazz band playing and the lake looked beautiful as the sun set.



We enjoyed some beer samplers (the beers are not all the same, I swear, even though it looks that way), some great food (including a corn fritter appetizer that was amazing) … and great conversation, of course.



Once the sun set, the torches were lit and the environment continued to be just wonderful. We’ll definitely be making a return trip, both to Lake Monroe and to the restaurant.

In the future, I’m considering renting a canoe from IU, which we could then take to any location we want. There are quite a few areas I’d like to explore by boat, and I’d rather not have to put in at such a busy location again, if we can avoid it. Plus, IU’s rates are cheaper for a whole day than what we paid for two hours …

8 Responses to “Canoeing on Lake Monroe”

  1. John Romeo Alpha Says:

    One fun thing about canoeing with your Loved One when neither of you has much practice is figuring out how to get moving in the right direction at a reasonable (or any) forward speed. It sounds like you accomplished that and more, and had a great time. Great pix, too.

  2. Steve A Says:

    One of my all-time favorite trips in Boy Scouts was a 50 mile canoe trip. Well, the portage wasn’t real fun, but the rest was a hoot.

  3. Bill Lambert Says:

    Something relaxing, but exciting, just being on the water.

  4. Tim Says:

    Well, thIs is just cool in every way.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    Looks like a good time! And beer sampling? Nice work!

  6. Doug Says:

    My parents have a canoe. They bought it in 1970 when I was 7 years old. We took that canoe on family vacations all over the country. It’s been in lakes and rivers in more than 30 states. In between trips it sat idle in the garage of houses in four different states. The last twelve years it was put to good use when my parents bought a retirement home on a lake in Michigan. They’re getting older now and are slowing down. They sold the lake house and moved into a one level town home. To make a long story short…..the canoe is now ours. We met up with them in Madison, WI in July. They brought the canoe and we brought it home to Minnesota. My dad still has the original receipt from 1970.

    It’s a fitting place for the canoe…in the state of 10,000 lakes. We haven’t gotten a Minnesota sticker for it yet. But we had hoped to get out on it this summer at least once. Maybe some canoed adventures in the future.

  7. Apertome Says:

    Doug: That’s so very cool! We hadn’t been in quite a while, but this was a great experience that left me wanting more. I hope you go on some fun canoe trips soon.

  8. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Canoeing is bliss Says:

    […] and I had so much fun canoeing on Lake Monroe the previous weekend that we decided to go again over Labor Day weekend. This time, we rented a canoe (etc) from IU […]

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