Canoeing to My Destiny
Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne
I decided to try my luck at fishing from shore. I have learned in the past, you may travel miles from your campsite to find good fishing, only to discover that the fishing was actually good, in the waters close to your own camp. I took off my boots to let my ankles soak in the cool refreshing water.
I found a comfortable rock to sit on and cast my lure out as far as I could. After casting in all the places that I could reach, I would sit and carefully study the world around me. The bright orange lichens, the green moss covered logs, and the red bark of the pines, all added to the beauty that surrounded me.
I watched an eagle soaring off in the distance. I thought of how the male and female will free fall from great heights, locked together, in an incredible mating ritual. I had heard about one male who failed to recover soon enough, and sailed right into the roof of a car. The driver had a lot of explaining to do when the ranger finally arrived. The ranger didn't believe his story until he walked over and looked at the damaged roof of the vehicle.
The campsite I had chosen was actually very nice. Someone had left a few stumps to use for seating. It was situated so that a nice breeze would come off the water and keep the mosquitoes away. The fire grate was in a good location and the tent pad was well drained.
The designated campsites were equipped with a square shaped wooden box with a round hole and a cover. The box is the place where you are supposed to deposit your biological functions. It's not the most pleasant experience in the world, but it is necessary. I thought back to the time when Sandy went up to use the wooden box while I stayed down by the water, enjoying the scenery. Suddenly, a chilling scream rang out from the direction of the latrine. Fearing the worst, I began running in the direction of the frightening sound.
As I ran, I unsheathed my knife. I was ready to fight to the death, to save my beloved. I stumbled for a second, and made a small cut in my hand. As I arrived at the box, I saw Sandy calmly sitting there, in no apparent danger. With my hand bleeding, and out of breath, I asked where the impending danger was lurking. Looking sheepishly at me, Sandy said she had dropped the tissues down the hole.
On many occasions, we had laughed about that story. As you grow older, you realize how important those little events are in forming a relationship that will hopefully stand the test of time. I would often tell Sandy, that if she were ever cloned, I would know how to find out which one was her. She would be the only one able to correctly answer the question about the tissues.
The rock I was sitting on began to get a little uncomfortable. I suddenly missed my reclining chair back home. Then another memory came to mind. Maybe that was the ultimate purpose of this trip, to take time to remember and cherish the many memories of my special girl.
Sandy and I had taken a special trip to Ireland. We both had some Irish roots and we both wanted to travel and see all the old castles that we had admired in books and photos. We saved up our money and then carefully planned our itinerary.
Once we arrived in Ireland, we rented a car and toured the countryside. One of our trips took us to the cliffs near Coumeenoole. There we found a secret cove with caves, boulders, and hidden beaches, just like the scenes that you see in movies. We watched as the waves pounded against the rocks. We watched the ebb and flow of the ocean. It was an incredible sight to see and experience.
Later in the day, we drove up the road and stopped at a pullout. There it was possible to look out over the cliffs and observe the ocean below. We watched as the birds drifted lazily on the currents of air. We heard the water crashing far below us. The sun shone brightly and there was a sense of magic in the air. As we walked along the paths, we noticed that the grass was exceptionally soft and the ground underneath was amazingly springy. I would compare it to a giant mattress, 12 inches thick, which conformed gently to the shape of your body.
Sandy decided to lie down, and, after some time, told me that she wasn't going any further. She said planned on just lying there and absorbing the sounds, smells, and breezes that were happening all around her. I decided to head down a sheep path to a high ridge that looked out over the ocean. If one could see that far, I was told, one had an unobstructed view of North America.
After my mini adventure, I arrived back to find Sandy in the same location. At first she refused to move. She claimed that she had found her perfect place. In the future, if asked to go to her quiet spot, I always knew where she would go. The memories of that special trip brought a lingering smile to my face.
Unfortunately, I did not have any success in my fishing endeavor. I was forced to resort to my backup meal of freeze dried food. Beef stroganoff and green beans were the food items of choice. After dinner, I did some reading and watched as the sun slowly dipped behind the trees. It was a moonless night and very dark. I sat by the fire for awhile, and then headed to my tent for some rest.
The next morning I awoke to the sounds and smells of a beautiful day. The sky was perfectly clear and there was evidence of just the slightest breeze. I was happy to see that the swelling in my ankle had gone down. My side still hurt and I began to think that I had cracked a rib. All in all, my body was beginning to mend. I finished my breakfast and spent the rest of my morning reading my book.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent carving a bear out of a piece of wood that I had found. As dinner time approached, I decided that I would try to see if I could get into the canoe by myself. Putting on my sturdy boots, I found I could slowly move the canoe into the water. Getting into the canoe was a little trickier, but I was slowly able to accomplish that feat also.
I paddled over to where I had noticed a drop off and soon had two nice walleyes on my stringer. I decided I would keep them both. I thought it might be a treat to have one of them for breakfast. I could leave him on a stringer in the deep water off the shore. There he would be free to swim around. He would also be relatively safe from crayfish, turtles or other predators.
I paddled back to camp and threw a rope up on shore, then slid my body onto a rock. When the canoe was secure, I proceeded to get a fire started and cleaned one of my fish. As I glanced out over the water, I was surprised to see a canoe out on the lake. It appeared to be heading in my direction. When it became evident that the travelers were coming directly toward my camp, I went down to the water's edge to meet them.
The sun was beginning to set as they landed their canoe and proceeded to tell me their story. The guy reminded me of Jared, in the Subway commercials. The girl was tall and thin, with a pleasant face. He was wearing only shorts and she was wearing what appeared to be a bra and shorts.
Their story was a common one. It was an example of how a trip in the wilderness could turn into a very unpleasant adventure. They had endured the rain, but not without some residual effects. Their sleeping bags and most of their equipment had become wet.
They had camped on a low campsite, near a bog, and had been eaten by swarms of mosquitoes. They had actually seen the mosquitoes coming across the lake in a cloud, just before sunset. Fortunately, they had been able to climb into the tent to escape the hungry little demons. Inside, they had endured the irritating humming as the insects frantically sought to enter their safe haven.
Their latest mishap occurred when they were caught in a rapids and their canoe capsized. They were fortunate, in that they were able to hold onto the canoe until they arrived in calmer waters. However, they did lose their food pack and also their map. They told me they were lost and had spotted my fire across the lake. Their sleeping bags and tent were wet, as well as most of their clothes.
They had stripped down to the bare essentials and had hung their outer clothes on the braces of the canoe to dry. They asked me the location of the nearest campsite and whether I would be able to direct them toward it. I told them that they could stay with me for the night. I assured them that I would make sure that they were safely and properly equipped for the remainder of their trip.
I instructed them to unload their wet gear and informed them that we would try to dry it out, as best we could. Hobbling around, I was able to string a line near the fire. There we hug the sleeping bags, in a location, where they could be warmed by the fire. I instructed the man where to find the other fish, and proceeded to finish preparing the meal. I watched as the two weary travelers sat around my fire. I could see a sense of hope return to their faces.
Fortunately, I had been catching fish to eat, so I actually had some extra food to share. As we sat and ate, I told them I wouldn't let them leave unless I knew they would be safe and well equipped. They evidently liked my cooking because I didn't see any leftovers on their plates.
I mixed up some chocolate pudding, which we enjoyed along with our hot cocoa. The night air was warm, with a gentle breeze. I instructed the young man to check on the bags frequently, to insure that they would dry evenly. I also showed him an area where he could set up his tent.
As we waited for the bedding to dry, I learned some interesting things about my visitors. They had been married for a year and they were both students at the university. Both had been on guided canoe trips before, but they had planned this trip so that they could enjoy the experience without others around.
After their bags had dried out, I instructed them to lie on top of the bags and wear their dry clothes to bed. I had them hang the rest of their clothes on the line and while they did that, I took a quick assessment of the rest of their supplies. I instructed them not to worry and assured them that tomorrow was going to be a wonderful new day. We said our goodnights, and I proceeded to make preparations for bed.
As I was making my final rounds, I happened to be passing by the couple's tent, when I heard some muffled voices. The fellow was telling his wife that it looked like everything was going to turn out okay. That little comment put a big smile on my face. It gave me great joy to be able to restore hope in the minds of these fellow travelers.