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On March 25th, Juerg and I made a little drive to Basel, Switzerland and crossed over into France to visit the play park in Hunnigue. It was a gorgeous, warm early spring day, and I was looking forward to taking my new Rockstar to this play park, which I had not visited for 5 years – the last time being a cold November day. Our first stop in town was at the Canadian Canoe shop run by our friend Norbert, who is half Swiss and half Canadian. We found the canoe shop but no Norbert so we left a message and went to the park. As we walked toward the river, everything looked suspiciously quiet and we quickly realized that no water was being released! Then we took a stroll over to the play park office and saw that the park was closed, still on winter hours. I couldn’t believe it, but Juerg suggested we stop in the kayak shop right next door – Globe Paddler and luckily, Lorenz, the owner was there. He warmly greeted us and told us the park was closed but that he would make a phone call and see what he could do.
In about 30 seconds, he told us that the water would be coming on any minute and to go get ready to paddle – I was psyched, as I really hadn’t expected this at all. I got in my gear and headed to the river. Though the air temperature was warm about 22 degrees Celsius, the water was freezing so I was glad to have my poogies and beanie on. As soon as I got into the whitewater, I realized the park would be an entirely different experience this time than it had been 5 years ago – now every feature was playable in some form or fashion, and there were ample opportunities to loop and try other related moves. There were way more waves to surf than I remember and two really great loop spots in particular – all with good eddy access. Pretty soon, Norbert showed up and I had a paddling buddy – that was really fun. He wanted to learn to loop, and I wanted to help show him how. With only two of us paddling in the whole park, we got pretty tired and when they finally did turn the water off, we were done.
Juerg and I thanked Lorenz for making my play day possible, and then we headed to Norbert’s for a look and a coffee. I must say that I was really impressed with both shops – both Norbert’s and Lorenz’s were really well stocked and had all kinds of fun gear to get lost in – something I am very good at doing. Also, I was really awed by the very friendly and supportive attitude each has towards the other. Instead of being cut-throat competitors, it appears that they want to help each other succeed and are aware that there is plenty of business to go around. Very cool! I look forward to going back to Hunnigue later this spring and summer, and if you find yourself in France, Germany or Switzerland – since all those countries’ borders converge right nearby – and you want to visit a really fun and friendly park, definitely don’t miss Hunnigue.