Our day on the river started at King's Sport, on Main Street, in downtown Guerneville - at a leisurely 9:30, a time set by ourselves, which was a real advantage of renting from King's. After paying for the rental and picking up a few other helpful items in the store (King's is packed full of gear you'll find useful on the River, whether you're on shore or on the water), we were told to walk down to the boat ramp at Johnsons Beach, where we were met a few minutes later by King's cheerful employee with our canoe in the back of his truck.
He explained that there would be one spot further down the river where we'd have to carry our canoe around a small dam, and that we should ask the staff at Fern's Grocery Store in Monte Rio to call King's when we arrived at the Monte Rio Beach.
King's canoes are heavy-duty plastic. At first, I was disappointed because, aesthetically, I prefer the look of the aluminum ones. But it didn't take long for me to realize the advantage of their canoes - when we had to port, it was light and easy; plus, much more importantly, it didn't heat up in the glorious sun we enjoyed that day.
Since we were headed towards the ocean, the river flow was in our favor, but, it was a slow flow, so, some sporadic effort was actually required from time to time. (Don't be fooled by the mellow flow at top, however; once you get in the water itself, it can be a pretty strong pull.) We alternated between rowing together, floating, and taking turns rowing while the other person relaxed and soaked in the sun.
The scenery was beautiful, and we got to see lots of birds. Most surprisingly, when we pulled in to indulge in our picnic lunch, we enjoyed a good half hour of privacy. When we considered the number of people in town and at the beach, not to mention the number of canoes and kayaks and inner tubes and rafts, we passed on our trip, it was really magical to experience time to ourselves that way.
When we arrived at the Monte Rio Beach, three leisurely hours later, my friend stayed by the canoe on the beach full of happy kids and relaxed families, and I walked up to at Fern's, right on Highway 116. King's picked us up less than half an hour later, loaded the canoe into the back of the truck, and then drove us back to the store, and our car. King's gets five stars from me on this one! Efficient, relatively cheap ($55 for the day!), and super friendly service. I highly recommend renting from them. Enjoy!