Last autumn, the New River Land Trust (NRLT), as part of a fund raiser, auctioned off a canoe trip with me on the New River. For those unfamiliar with land trusts, they seek to preserve America's open spaces through having landowners voluntarily place their rural properties under conservation easements.
I am a member of the NRLT and the Western Virginia Land Trust and am a great admirer of what they are accomplishing. Elaine and I have also placed 412 acres of the land we own under easement as a way of protecting wildlife habitat for the future. The high bidders for a trip were Jackie and Earl Frith of Floyd County, Virginia, and today I met the Friths for the first time when we gathered with fellow river enthusiast Brett Moss for a float below Claytor Lake Dam. Like Elaine and me, the Friths have placed many acres under easement and, also like my wife and me, are very glad they have done so.
Earl and I floated together while Brett and Jackie did the same, and a delightful time was had by all. We bird watched, drifted through some mild riffles, and caught a few smallmouth bass. The high point, for me, of the day was watching two male Eastern kingbirds fighting for dominance out in the middle of the river. The aerial battle was short and decisive, as one kingbird left in ignominious retreat.