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Kayaking trips lead to new venture

Staff writer

Barbara Anderson of Burns got her first experience kayaking while visiting her son, Nick Myers, in Cyprus. The family went kayaking in the Mediterranean Sea.

That was a challenging first experience, Anderson said. But she gave kayaking another try, this time in rivers around Lawrence with her son, Drew Myers. It was a much more leisurely experience.

“I decided I love this,” Anderson said. “It is so much fun.”

Anderson teaches at Flint Hills Primary School in Cassoday, but she is nearing retirement age and wants something fun to do when she retires. To that end, she bought a dozen kayaks and created her own business, Rural Excursions in Burns.

She has discovered that kayaks have some advantages over canoes. For one, kayaks are more comfortable than canoes, she said.

“They don’t tip as easily, and they’re more maneuverable,” Anderson said.

All of her kayaks — such as “Betty” — are named after animals from the family farm. Most are named after dogs, but one is named after a goat, and another after a cat.

In addition to kayak trips, Anderson will offer wildflower collection, identification, and pressing excursions; local historical trips; and geo-caching — which is using global positioning systems to find a landmark or stash of trinkets at a given set of coordinates.

There are many geo-caching locations in the area, especially in the Flint Hills, she said.

“You would be amazed,” Anderson said.

She spent summer 2010 researching and developing her business, which included kayaking on all of the rivers where she will take customers.

“I don’t want to take anybody down a river I haven’t been down,” she said.

Anderson did have one group of customers in 2010. She took a family geo-caching in the morning and kayaking in the afternoon, she said.

Additionally, Anderson said she might be able to arrange kayak rentals at local lakes and reservoirs. Kayaking at Marion County Lake would require the kayaks to be out of any other body of water for at least a week, however, to avoid introducing zebra mussels to the lake.

She said her family has been invaluable in starting Rural Excursions. In addition to her sons, Anderson has a daughter, Suzy Oertel, and three stepchildren, Mark Anderson, Jennifer Rock, and Melanie Olsen.

“They are all so supportive and helpful and back me 100 percent,” she said.

It’s too early to know whether Rural Excursions will be successful as a business, but that isn’t the only reason Anderson began it, she said.

“I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but I’m going to have fun doing it,” she said.

Anderson has a website for Rural Excursions, http://www.ruralexcursions.com.

Last modified April 13, 2011

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