Canoeing With a Friend

1It seemed like a splendid idea, this canoeing trip his friend Mike offered. Jim gathered up the necessary supplies for this great canoe adventure. Loading up Mikes truck, and firmly securing the canoe above, Mike looked over at Jim, and said “this is going to be one hell of a trip..” It sounded cynical, but really they had planned this first time trip for the kids, and JIm believed he had a firmer grip on this “great outdoors” idea than met the eye, so all should go well.

They drove to the drop off point and unloaded their gear, and readying the canoe. Once that was settled, they had to drive down to the end spot, and park, then walk back to the canoe. The hike was pretty fast, even with Jims two kids, Gabby and Kaine- who did not often enjoy a good walk, Jim realized this trip would be a piece of cake!

They got the kids into the canoe with no difficulties, and set off. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. Almost immediately the path was crossed with a fallen tree. “No biggie,” Mike said, “we’ll just start on the other side of it, don’t worry.” Jim actually believed him, and helped pushed the canoe, through the current across the river and away from the tree to the open side. Breaking a sweat, and wet half way up his pants, he thought to himself, man! this is what I have been missing from the great outdoors…

With the canoe afloat, they sailed easily down the river, caught up in a decent flow. It was almost nice, Jim was thinking. Then suddenly, Wham! Another tree, this one spanning the length of the river, “what the heck, Mike?!?” Jim exclaimed. “Hey, we will just get out, carry the canoe to the other side of the tree, and then, I’m sure we’ll be fine.” said Mike. Resignedly, Jim replied, “Yeah you’re right, you said your friend just kayaked this right… RIGHT?” Mike just said” uh yea yea, right.”

Alright, they were again back on track, making good time, enjoying the scenery, then out of nowhere..
A sand bar??? Since when do rivers have sandbars? Jim found himself thinking. This is a total nightmare, why didn’t I just let their mom take them, she actually enjoys this outside crap! Incidentally a canoe doesn’t go fast or far in three inches of water. So guess who got to get out to push? For about 300 yards, Jim pushed the canoe, listening mutely as the kids roared in laughter at this situation. Welling up to a clever tirade, he opened his mouth to tell them off, and… oops, drop off. Now Jim was soaking wet and forgot his rant. Dripping in the sailing away vessel he hears a noise. A high pitched, multi voiced orchestra of sorts…. ARGH! It stung and itched!!! Aw crap, of course the one item that would have not crossed the mind of a Holiday Inn camper, as essential to have was sadly forgotten. Bug spray, and in Michigan, where the state bird ought to be the mosquito, the wretched by-plane sized beasts are plentiful, even in the big cities. Michigan mosquitoes are no laughing matter. If you are caught with out the protection of DEET, they know, and they spread the word incredibly fast. Now in addition to unsightly welts that form from a bite, you also have a chance at getting diseases, oh wonderful. The only way to keep the parasites at bay were to go faster in the canoe, try to out run them. This motley crew of canoers were doing pretty good at keeping the pace just fast enough.

Up ahead they spotted a bridge, cool, Jim was thinking, I never canoed underneath a bridge before, this is really cool. Luck being where it was in regards to Jim though, quickly killed that thought process. Wouldn’t you know it, another damn tree…. Once again, they pick up the 200 pound canoe, and walk it to the other side of the bridge. So much for canoing under it, Jim bitterly thought. By now he felt they needed a break from carrying, pushing, and intermittently rowing the canoe down river. He tells the kids, who were raised since infant-hood on Lake Huron, to go ahead and swim if they like, He knows he will finally get a break from worrying. After a little while, he and Mike felt rested enough to carry on. They called for the kids and began boarding the canoe. As Kaine was climbing in, Gabby saw something on his leg. “LEACH!!!!” she screamed shrilly like someone had been murdered and pointed to Kaines leg. Mike was the more outdoorsy of the two, and used Kaine’s pocketknife to scrape the leach off his leg. Just in time for him to see one on his sisters leg. This was not going to be fun. “Gabby, I need you to relax, this will only take a second, ” Jim instructed her ” Dad, it isn’t that one I am worried about, Kaine pushed me into the mud and I am afraid their is one somewhere else, ” she answered shakily. So for the first time in eleven years Jim had to look at his daughters bare bottom, embarrassing both of them completely. Luckily she was further, leach free. They got in, hoping to never have to do that again. Rowing off into their adventure once again, they were all glad to be away from the leach beach. Rowing went well for quite some time, the guys were thinking they must be nearing the end of their trip, plenty of time had passed. Perhaps just around this bend they were coming upon, would be the path home. It was a home, of sorts, just not the home the canoers hoped for. It was the largest widest beaver dam they had ever seen. The dam blocked the river so well that a 500 yard strip of sand had formed another sand bar. Jim sucked it up, blinked the tears that wanted to pour and held back the anguished “why? oh why?” wail that filled his throat. He seemed to be getting used to this version of non traditional canoing. They head up the sand bar, feet sucking in, when Mike says. ” we should carry the canoe through the path in the woods instead of through this sand.” It made sence to Jim who said, “sure, why not.”

This is when Jim and the kids discovered an interesting plant. This plant is called nettles, or nicknamed fire-weed. Its nickname was cleverly devised from the feeling your body gets, like it is on fire, when you come into contact with it. As Jim’s legs began to burn, his mind drifted to an episode on survival in the woods, he had seen on television. Yay! for The Discovery channel! He began scooping mud up and smearing it onto his legs, instructing the kids to do the same, ahhh who knew mud could fell so good?
They finally emerged form the woods, to the sound of the river. Boarding the SS Fun-ride, they set off again, drifting down for almost an hour. An hour of uninterrupted canoing, when a new problem arises for them. A fork in the river, two choices, Jim looked at Mike and asked, “now what captain? which way?” Mike just said, “ah”. They decided to dock and mull things over, and luckily Jim being ever so outdoorsy had packed his G.P.S. in the pack of essential items. Later, telling the tale he would get laughed at for bringing the tom tom, but today he was a hero. The device headed them in the right direction, Yay technology!!
They were nearing the end of the trip, Jim checked the time, 6:30. It has taken five hours to go the two miles. Hooting with joy that they had made it Mike and Jim pulled the canoe ashore, noticing people staring at them. It took a moment before it dawned on them, yelling the way they were, and covered in mud, like a group of saved castaways, how pathetic. Jim, mulling over the day recalled Mikes words and realized how right he was that this would be on hell of an adventure, one they will not soon forget.

6 Responses to “Canoeing With a Friend”

  1. Lisa says:

    We love canoeing haven’t been able to get out even once this year and I’m usually out every weekend. Great story thanks for sharing it!

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