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June 20, 2010

Canoe Trip on the Namekagon River

On Friday night, we joined Boy Scout Troop 331 for an incredible weekend of camping and canoeing on the Namekagon River in  Wisconsin!

Our old buddies, Karl and Aaron, talked us into joining them for the adventure.  I think secretly they like watching us endure pain.

We went more than 15 miles on Saturday and about 5 miles on Sunday.  Before we went, they told me it was really easy to do because the current of the river would carry us the whole way.  Well, I gotta tell you.  My little arms did an awful lot of paddling during these two days.  So if that's an easy trip, I'd never in my life attempt to do a hard one!

This picture was taken very early in the trip.  You can tell because they're both still smiling in it.  By about mile number two, any time they'd get near each other, the oars would instantly start swinging at each other's heads.  I kept trying to tell them to use that energy on the river, but they just wouldn't listen.

Karl had a very interesting technique for rowing.  Every 5 minutes or so, he'd spin the oar wildly above his head ten or twelve times, then pound the canoe in front of him, and then slide it into the water finishing with a quick yank backwards.  I have no idea how it worked, but he stayed ahead of us on the river for most of the weekend.

We canoed for a total of about 8 hours over the two day period and this was my view about 60% of the time.

This was my view the other 40% of the time.  

If you want the translation of Avery's look here it is as follows:

"Dad, quit taking pictures and help me row the damn boat!"

I know this look seems very similar to the other photo, but it has a slightly different translation.  This one reads:

"Dad, quit taking pictures and help us put up the damn tents!"

The camping involved "Roughing it" more than we've ever done in our lives.  We had to eat every meal from the same plates and had no running water to wash them!  I really liked the mustard, mayonnaise, peanut butter and jelly we had for lunch, but when it was later mixed with the chicken alfredo fettuccini we had for supper, it didn't taste nearly as good.

No running water also means no plumbing.  Thus we had to go potty in the woods.  There wasn't even a place to go number two except a big cone with a seat on it that just led to a hole in the ground.  That might have not been so bad, but it appeared that the object for most people was to pee all over the seat and cone.  There was even some stuff on there that I wouldn't even want to try to identify.  Miss Sheri really seemed to enjoy these arrangements, but I did my best just to hold it for the entire weekend.  I was about 90% successful.

Sleeping was also pretty tough because everything we brought had to be carried with us on the canoes.  Since this was our first canoe/camping trip, we decided to err on the side of caution and pack as light as possible.  This meant no sleeping pads or air mattresses or anything like that.  Just a light sleeping bag, the nylon tent, and whatever rocks, sticks, and pinecones wanted to work their way into my back.  All that and Luke still slept fine.  Except when I'd wake him up every ten minutes or so in a panic and go "What was that?"

The best part of the weekend was all the ticks we found on our bodies and in our clothes.  I had one stuck to my belly and Luke found a few running around his body as well.  But that was nothing compared to Miss Sheri.  She found a tick in her pants.  Later, I found one on her forehead.  Then when we got home, she found one on her belly that she asked me to remove.  Naturally, I told her to relax and proceeded to do something else for a couple of minutes.   Well,  when I was ready to go at the thing with a pair of tweezers, we discovered that it had dug deeper into her skin and now I had no chance to pull it out.  So now she's at Urgent Care as I type this and the doctor had to cut it out with a knife.  She'll also be starting taking antibiotics for the next week or so as a precaution against her potentially getting Lyme's Disease.  I'm guessing that the next time my wife has a tick anywhere with 20 feet of her, I'll be expected to drop everything and run over there with a flamethrower to take care of the thing.   Either that or I'd really better get used to sleeping on the ground outside.

Since we had a lot of free time on Saturday night, the boys found fun ways to keep themselves entertained.

Luke was  very excited to climb out on the tree to join the other boys, but his sense of balance is not the best, so he wasn't ready to climb back by himself.  Since he's got such a great mom, naturally she went out there to help him get back to safety.  The second time he did it, she still was happy to help him.  The third time he did it, I could tell she wasn't as thrilled to go out there and help him.  But the fourth time he did it, I sensed she was getting just a little bit frustrated with the boy. 

One of the best parts of the trip was getting to meet our new friend, Paul.  He's a great guy and we had a lot of good laughs together.  We even said some swear words to each other that you really aren't supposed to use at Boy Scout camp, but luckily no-one else heard us!

This is the Bear Man.  I didn't get the guy's name, but I'll call him that because he helped prove to everyone else that I'm not a crazy person.  Here's my story.  So they told us not to keep food in our tents because there's bears in them thar woods.  Well, on Saturday night, I woke up at about 2am because it was cold and I wasn't zipped into my sleeping bag.  I sat up, struggled with the zipper for awhile, and then finally got it done.  Because it took me a minute, I was wide awake and laid back down and tried to fall back asleep.  After a few minutes, I suddenly heard a loud sniff about two feet away from my head.  My first thought went to thinking about  the food that was in my bag.  The second thought was to yell at Miss Sheri in the next tent over and ask her to check things out for me.  But instead, I laid there and wondered if it was my imagination.  Nope.  I heard several more sniffs, then a large grunt, then I heard something distinctly walk away in the sticks and leaves around my tent.  I stayed up for about 15 minutes wondering what the heck it was until I finally saw somebody walk by my tent with a flashlight.  Since they didn't appear to see anything, I dismissed what happened and fell back to sleep.  Well, I told several people my story the next morning and everyone had a different theory from squirrels to raccoons to possibly a bear.  I didn't see anything messed up around camp, so I assumed at worst it was a raccoon.  That was until I told the guy in this picture.  He said "Nope, it was a bear.  I smelled him come near my tent and then  I sat up and saw him.  He stayed in our camp only 3 or 4 minutes before running off." He then told me that it looked to be about 150 pounds.  And he was only two feet away from my head sniffing my cashew covered granola bars.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I think that by surviving an incident like that, it makes me the bravest man who ever lived.  That's my story and I'm sticking with it! 


Quote of the Week

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
-- Jack London, Author
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June 13, 2010

Second City at Mystic Lake Casino




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