Monday, July 7, 2008

The Get Away from Hell

After about three days of badgering, I persuaded my husband to take a canoe trip down the Peace River as a quick day get away. It would be refreshing, exciting, adventurous, and relaxing. We had done it years ago, but in November, not slap dab in the middle of summer. We’ve been having a drought in Florida, though the rains seem to be returning recently, so the river was 22 inches low, great for fossil hunting. We got up early and made the 3 hour drive to Arcadia and checked in at the Canoe Outpost. One couple was running late so that held up the bus trip to our drop off point for about a half and hour. The bus ride was only 10 minutes (the road runs straighter than the river) but there was no AC on the bus. If any of you have been to Disney in Orlando during the middle of summer, then you feel my pain. The windows were open, but only the breath of hell blew through them. Finally arriving we stacked our gear in the canoe. The most humiliating point was when it was time for us to get in. The rule is that the heaviest person sits in the rear and the lighter in the front. It makes for more efficient movement through the water. Well, my spouse is a little skinny runt (who can eat anything, anytime, and does) who weighs the same now as he did in high school (only 14% body fat) and of course I have left those high school numbers far behind. Just before stepping in the canoe I looked at him and said, “In the back, right?” That was such a humbling moment. One other thing I forgot to mention is that the person in the rear also steers the canoe. For a man, the right to steer the canoe is kind of like being in charge of the TV remote. “No way,” he said, and then proceeded to shift the heaviest gear toward the rear of the canoe—with everyone watching.
Finally we launched and paddled down the river. The group of canoeists rapidly dispersed, some spinning circles trying to get the hang of it, others speeding along, and then some lollygagging. Everyone met up again at the first sandbar searching for shark’s teeth. By now I was a more than warm and had been pouring our drinking water on my head and chest, so I was anxious side to flop out into the water. In a little while, discouraged by the lack of any great finds, we were off again. Then, a little later we hit the jackpot. Near the bank we noticed a scattering of bones in about a foot of water. My husband got out and was holding the back of the canoe while graceful me climbed out of the front. Kind of. Unfortunately, I got out on the deeper side. My left leg made contact with the bottom, but my right leg was still in the canoe. The front of the canoe (do you call it a bow in a canoe?) began to swing away from me. Now my legs were drifting apart—painfully. I found that I couldn’t lift my right leg high enough to clear the canoe, and the shoe on my left foot was stuck in the mud. I couldn’t get back in, and I couldn’t get out. Eventually I just fell back hoping that my right foot didn’t get hung up or I’d be dangling upside down. I’d have laughed if the muscles and tendons inside my thighs hadn’t been on fire! Needless to say, I was quite a sight, and my hubby hasn’t stopped laughing or telling the story yet. My inside thigh muscles haven’t recovered from doing the spilt yet, and my butt bones are bruised from sitting on the metal seat all day. We did manage to pick up quite a few dugong ribs and some long bones of small mammals, but that was it. By the time we paddled to the outpost I was fried, sore, and incredibly humbled.


Keith Raffel said...

What we do for fun.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

This was hysterical and if you don't use it in a book, I will!

Mark Combes said...

Somehow boats and humans always make for the funniest stories. We never cease to make fools of ourselves around boats.