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A Canoe Tale

Posted August 10th, 2016 at 08:45 AM by Sylvano the Wasabus
I own a canoe. Iíve had it for 25 years, but Iím sad to say that I havenít used it 25 times.

The reasons are simple. It is stored elsewhere, because I have no place to store it. And I have to travel to places to use the canoe- rivers and lakes. Itís not like a bicycle that I can just jump on and ride. It involves planning, free time and a small carton of energy.

We have had some memorable canoe trips in the past. I usually go with my kids, my sweetie or friends. A lot of the canoeing places are natural areas and they are quite beautiful- forests and streams with lots of birds, vegetation, butterflies and wildlife. And yea, there was that time we saw the monster in the river.

This year my middle son was going away for the summer and so I wanted to canoe with him before he left. My eldest son asked to come along too so we were three.

They did not grumble when I set the leaving time at 7:00am. I wanted to be out before it got too hot and crowded too, since we were going to one of the areaís most visited natural areas. Sleepily we packed a few items, namely apples, water and ropes and climbed into the car. It was a beautiful morning, sunny but with a strong cool breeze.

The canoe lives in the garage of a friend in another town. Itís nice to have friends who will store your canoe (and use it if they wish). We arrived at the garage and loaded the 13í canoe onto the car roof and tied it down. Iím afraid I use a bizarre system of ropes and belts, some of which go through the windows of the car meaning that we close the doors with windows down and pass the belts through -which means that the doors canít be opened so we have to climb in and out through the windows. We get lots of interesting looks from other people but they look away quickly because getting in and out of your car through the windows is kind of hardcore. I may have gotten older but I can still slide in and out the window without too much trouble.

Then we started driving. We had a forty minute trip to get to the marsh and it was all back road country driving, so we had to make sure the canoe was securely in place. The speed can be high out there and the roads can be bumpy and you donít want that canoe taking flight and shooting out behind you while youíre driving. Or sagging onto the side of the car. We tied well though so there were no problems.

When we arrived at the natural area we still had to drive another twenty minutes to get to the marsh. Thereís not a lot of parking and in a park that gets over 300,000 visitors a year that can be a problem. I donít know why they donít chop down more trees to make more parking. Just kidding about that. It was early and we were able to park close to the water. It was a beautiful morning.

The breeze was still strong and that is both good and bad. The area is known for stable flies- friendly little critters than swarm on you and offer painful bites. The wind keeps them away but a wind is also a friendly opponent when you canoe. Itís your friend when itís at your back but your adversary when youíre paddling into it.

The marsh is beautiful- clear air- no cars, no trucks, no noise but the wind and very little human destruction. Itís also full of cattails and floating hunks of vegetation and wildness so the trip out to the open section is a little maze like.

With three in the canoe someone was going to have to sit in the middle. Usually the heaviest person sits in the back and that is always me- fat has its privileges- but I knew no one was going to want the middle so I took it on the way there. It was a return trip to a magical place, you see.

My middle son was paddling in the front and my eldest son was steering in the back and we were heading into a breeze which had grown up into a small wind. The cool air was nice but it was hard paddling. A little water had gotten into the canoe somehow. My sons were up on seats but I was sitting in the water, bum wet. It wasnít that bad. Thatís how we start in this life, after all.

The marsh maze opens up into a small lake filled with open water, lily pads and cattails. In the distance you can see trees and that was our goal. We paddled for forty minutes and the trees grew closer and closer. We could see portions of sandy beach. Finally we arrived and beached the canoe and began to explore.

I had been there before but it was the first time for my sons. Itís all sand, about thirty or forty feet wide and on the other side is Lake Erie. So itís a big strip of sand with trees on it and water on both sides. Lake Erie is big enough that you canít see anything but water in the distance. The breeze was coming in off the lake and it was cool, clean and tasty. Itís a place thatís completely untouched by the modern world. If you ignore the cigarette butts it seemed possible that we could have been the first people to walk there. Itís rather humbling.

We had a feeling of euphoria. Weíd made it, and the place was amazing. But you know we didnít want to stay too long. It was like we were trespassing, and we didnít want to ruin it.

We climbed back into the canoe but the wind was our friend now and we sped back through the marsh towards dirty civilization, our minds transformed by natural magic.
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Tornado's Avatar
Sounds wonderful.

Good to know you can still 'Dukes it' through the window.
Posted August 11th, 2016 at 12:41 PM by Tornado Tornado is offline
 
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