May 21—PERU — A new canoe and kayak rental service in Peru is offering four trips on the Wabash and Mississinewa rivers, including a 15-miles float from the city of Wabash.
Waapaahšiki Outfitters opens this weekend at McClure's Orchard and Winery at the Tollhouse, located on the Wabash River at 159 S. Broadway.
Travis Bowsher, who owns and operates the livery with his wife, Megan, said a 14-passenger shuttle bus will transport paddlers to the four locations, who will all float back and take out at the Toll House.
The four trips are from the city of Wabash and Old U.S. 24 on the Wabash River, and from the Mississinewa Dam and Seven Pillars on the Mississinewa River.
Bowsher said each trip offers paddlers access to remote sections of the rivers that are packed with scenery and wildlife, including bald eagles and blue herons.
"No one has really utilized the Wabash for this stretch, and we think it's a pretty cool area," he said. "It's all undeveloped, so you're out in the middle of nature."
Bowsher said the fact that no one else in the area offers paddling trips on the rivers was a major impetus to open the company in Peru. Plus, he was tired of working a factory job and wanted to start a business.
Bowsher said it was his wife who came up with the idea for a canoe and kayak rental. He said Megan's family owns McClure's Orchard and Winery, as well as the Toll House, so it made sense to make that their home base.
"It's all my wife's idea," he said. "I've been in industrial maintenance for the past eight years, so I was getting tired of the factory life and decided to do something different."
The outfitter now has around 30 kayaks and 10 canoes that the couple bought from a disbanded youth ministry in Chicago and from another company in Delphi. The boats will be rented from the rear of the building located directly behind the Toll House.
Bowsher said if all goes well with the business, they hope to add more boats, more trips and maybe another shuttle bus and employees sometime in the future.
"We don't know what's going to happen, so we're just going to roll the dice here," Bowsher said. "At this point, we're just going to try it ourselves and see how it goes."
And the name of the company? He said it's the name given to the Wabash River area by its native inhabitants, the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana, whose tribe is headquartered in Peru.
"We wanted to embrace the history," Bowsher said. "We have a decent-sized Miami population in the area, and people don't really realize that."
To get more info on the trips or to book a boat, call 765-431-0971 or visit the business' Facebook page.
Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, email@example.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.