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My Last Canoe Trip

 

In the summer there are several modes of recreation to experience. A favorite American pastime in the summer is canoeing. Canoeing is an experience to share with family and friends; fun can be experienced by both new comers and those who have been canoeing before. It would seem canoeing is a recreation all would enjoy. Well, after you have read my experience you may change your mind.

My experience begins on a bright, hot Sunday afternoon in August. My friend Norman and I drove to White’s Canoe Livery in Sterling. The Sheriff Department was sponsoring a non-alcoholic canoe trip down the Rifle River. Now, Norman and I have been friends for ten years, and we have been canoeing together before. So, when the opportunity to go on this trip came along Norman and I were all for it. We arrived at around noon, and there were about thirty people there already. We first had to check in, and sign a waiver which took us about twenty minutes. Norman and I then proceeded to get a slice or two of pizza, and a bottle or two of pop the organizers of the trip made available. We sat at the picnic tables, ate and drank contently, while waiting for the buses to come, and start us on our trip.

We were still devouring pizza, and pop when the first of the buses arrived. By the time the third bus came we were done eating, and were standing by the parking lot, where the buses came in at. Norman and I got on the third bus along with several other people to start our long bus ride to where we would begin our canoe trip. The bus ride was bad, it felt as if we were smothering on the bus. None of the windows were down, and by the looks of them they would be hard to get down. The heat of the day, and the jostling of the bus made for a long bus ride. When we finally arrived at our destination the passengers piled out of the bus like bats leaving a cave at dusk.

We stood around, and stretched our legs, enjoying our escape from the bus. After a minute or two we started to walk down towards the river’s edge where the canoes were lined up side by side resembling sea creatures that had beached themselves. Slowly one by one the canoe tripper’s picked their conveyance.

Norman and I reached our canoe and we awkwardly got in, him in the bow, and I in the stern. We pushed the canoe out into the river, almost tipping right there at the start. As we pushed off of the bank, and were on our way, only problem was two other canoes decided to push off at the same time as we did. Norman and I had to paddle like a drowning dog to avoid from plowing into the other canoes.

Even though we were off to a rocky start, we were finally on our way. Norman and I paddled slowly but steadily down the river, enjoying the peaceful river banks, gently floating by. The quiet serenity was only slightly disrupted by the clamoring of tubers, who were slowly floating down the river. As we passed them they shouted at us and we waved to them a friendly hello.

Norman and I could see the rippling water ahead of us; we knew what was coming and we thought we were prepared. When we hit the shallow part of the river our slow pace came to a sudden stop. The bow of the canoe was stuck on the shallows, but the stern was still in deep water. So, when Norman tried to get out of the canoe to pull us over the shallows he didn’t make it out in time and the canoe tipped. I suddenly was under water, my glasses fell off into the river. I scrambled around in an attempt to find them. After what seemed like forever, I fished my glasses from the river bottom. I put them back on my face and stood up waist high in the freezing river, I was completely soaked, and I felt like a wet rat.

I helped Norman pull the canoe over to the bank of the river, where we proceeded to tip the canoe over, and dump the water out, being careful to remove the cushions, and paddles, and placing them on the bank of the river.

Norman carefully got back in the canoe; then I got back in. We then proceeded to push off from the bank. Norman was having a little difficulty, and being top heavy like he was, leaned over a little too far. Once again I found myself in the icy river. This time, however, my glasses managed to stay on my face as I emerged from the river.

I just stood there awhile in disbelief at the fact that we had tipped a second time. As I stood there looking at Norman, who had a big broad grin on his face, I thought to myself that if he weren’t already wet, I would have thrown him into the river. We emptied the canoe again, we pushed off from the bank once more, without incident. Norman and I sat in silence as we paddled slowly down the river, I was soaked from head to toe, which would have been refreshing if it weren’t for the fact that when I went in the river so did my wallet and cell phone. I wouldn’t know the fate of these items until after the canoe trip.

We encountered a shallow spot farther down the river this time, however, I got out first followed by Norman. We pulled the canoe over the shallows into deeper water. We were once again traveling down the river. We passed a group of canoe trippers that had their canoe’s clustered together, making a makeshift island in the middle of the river. We navigated around them with ease.

Farther down the river we saw campers on the edge of the river next to the camp ground, we waved hello as they returned the gesture. The shallows were upon us once again, and we almost made it across without incident, but Norman lost his balance and we both went into the river again. This time, however, I was able to keep my head above water. Still my wallet and cell phone got wet. Tipping our canoe wouldn’t have been as embarrassing if it weren’t for the chorus of laughter coming from these passing canoe trippers. Norman said to me, “Those people are laughing at us.” I said, “Never mind them, Norman. Help me fix the canoe.”

At this point, we both were ready for this canoe trip to be over. We paddled steadily along not encountering more shallows. Our pace wasn’t fast, but we paddled eagerly anticipating the end of this ordeal. Finally, in sight was the White’s Canoe Livery dock. We paddled with earnest as we approached the dock. The current was strong by the dock. So, strong that when we tried to maneuver up close to the dock there were other canoes in our way. I strained to paddle our canoe against the current to jockey us next to the dock, but we got pushed up against the rail of the dock, and we tipped, plunging us into the river a fourth time. This time, however, my watch broke, and I had to catch it before the river swept it away. Now, this last time it was entirely my fault, and I told Norman as much. Norman and I crawled up onto the dock after we handed off our water logged canoe to the dock handlers.

We walked up the hill toward the parking lot, not daring to make eye contact with the crowd which was present. We both got into my car and I proceeded to drive Norman home in complete silence. I dropped Norman off at his house, and I then drove home to dry out my wallet and my cell phone.

If you go on a canoe trip, either leave your valuables in the car or put them in a zip lock bag. Canoeing is a favorite American pastime, and as long as you take precautions and expect to get wet, then you will be fine. I feel that canoe trips are for the young or the young at heart. My miserable experience should be a lesson to others who are planning a canoe trip. You need to prepare yourself for the trip or make the decision, which I have made, and not go canoeing again.