09 June 2009

The Canoe Trip

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome back. Now for the beginning of the canoe trip...

The canoe trip all-in-all was a great trip, there were a few details that stood out, however. We arrived at the outfitters on time and rented the canoe. We piled into the van, canoe in tow, with a very nice couple that we chatted with. We drove for a while and at some point I hazarded the question, "How long do you think the trip will take with the creek at its current level?"
"About four hours at a leisurely paddle," was the reply.
I figured since we could always paddle a little harder at points, that wouldn't be too bad. It was a little longer than we had planned, but that was okay. I don't recall Bernadette or I choosing an actual drop-off point. I think we went with "upstream" for maximum clarity.
The beginning of the trip was idyllic. We saw mother wood ducks on the water with their ducklings trailing dutifully behind. When we got close they would hurry their little tails as fast as they could away from us.

The Boy caught some frogs with a net and let them go after showing them excitedly to us when we landed. It was peaceful and both the weather and the scenery were fantastic.

I checked my watch and an hour had passed. We snacked a little and paddled on. After another half hour had passed, we passed a familiar bar that was visible from the creek. What was odd was that the bar, by road, wasn't terribly far from where we had been dropped off.
It was about then The Boy asked, "Are we at our destiny yet?"
Since we were nowhere near our destiny nor near our destination, Bernadette and I looked at each other and shrugged it off. I will admit that I did start to paddle a little bit harder at that point.
We found another place to stop for a while. No frogs this time, but we did find something else... mosquitos. Biblical plague types of numbers were involved here people. They loved our canoe. Its arrival must have been foretold in some ancient mosquito prophecy because pretty much all of them came to worship it in a highly mobile cloud. They seemed to be all males since we didn't get bitten at all. Had they actually bitten us, I don't think we would have made it back.
We shoved off and spent the next half hour alternating between paddling and swatting mosquitos until the bottom of the canoe was lined with their tiny, spindly corpses. It did serve to keep The Boy occupied. I know this because as soon as they were gone, we faced the return of "Are we at our destiny yet?"
We took it with aplomb though. Bern did make the observation that when you're in a canoe, with no real place to land — the banks were higher and steeper at this point of the trip — you're basically trapped. It's sort of like the movie Alien without the bother of someone's chest bursting open to release a peppy carnivore. Then again, the crew of the Nostromo didn't have to paddle the ship through space with a six-year old, so we'll call that a wash.
Time passed, we paddled. Not quite enough to qualify as feverishly, so we'll just go with avidly. Regardless of our efforts though, I noted that I could have outwalked our pace by at least a factor of two as I watched the shore slide by.
Luckily we had that aplomb going for us.
We passed the bear which was close to the point where our cabin was located. The watch read four hours into the trip at that point.
The trip by car from the cabin to our landing point takes roughly three minutes. By canoe, the trip takes about an hour. I now suspect there are small spots of curved space along that part of the creek that dilate time. I may go back and look for them later, without a six year old along, but I was too busy avidly paddling to care then.
We landed — finally — and I walked to the outfitters while Bern and The Boy stopped at the local country store for snacks. The outfitters is a 30 second drive mind you, but a 15 minute walk. With oars. And life vests.
Like I said, it was a great trip, but I did manage to take notice of two drop-off points that would have made for a shorter, much less "Are we at our destiny yet?" laden trip for the next time. I'll also evidently need to help the people at the outfitters redefine "leisurely paddle."

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