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Neighborhood Answers Call of the Wild

The group members will first pitch their tents at Andy Guest State Park and spend three days canoeing the south fork of the Shenandoah River. Next they’ll travel to Old Rag Mountain and hike it. Lastly, they’ll settle at a campground in the sleepy town of Richardsville and spend three days canoeing the upper Rappahannock River.

“We’ll probably have good weather,” the lieutenant governor predicts. Time being, in North Side, it’s hot and humid. A quick rain brings out mosquitoes. A slow departure brings out moms. “Are they going on a trip or are they just going to hang out in the yard?” Amy Cobb teases.

A handful of moms gather beneath a tree canopy to watch and assess the packing. They make vacation plans of their own, ordering up a day at the river without kids.

Wesley Bland sports a new buzz haircut and a bright orange cast on his left arm. “He can’t grip a baseball bat and he can’t grip a canoe paddle,” says his mom, Sydney Bland says. “But he’s waterproof.”

Shawn Hash pulls up in a silver 15-passenger van that tows a multi-tiered canoe rack. Dads call him The Outfitter; moms call him The Hunk. The kids cheer his arrival.

Dads John Knapp and Mark Askin pack up another van with the week’s edibles: pretzels, cereals, hamburgers, hot dogs and plenty of peanut butter. While camping, both Knapp and Askin will spend wedding anniversaries away from their wives, they say.

Woody Kaine, 11, sits atop a cooler stacked atop a kayak. He sips a Sprite. He and his buddies tote plastic bags filled with stuff for the ride — portable CD players, CDs and books. “What’s the most fun is when we get to a place on the river where there really aren’t many rapids. We play keep-away,” Woody Kaine says excitedly. “Kayaks versus canoes.” — Brandon Walters

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