Don’t Pay the Ransom Honey, I’ve Escaped

The title is a little blast from the past for all you Nat Stuckey fans out there. It’s also an admission that the blogging has been light lately, and is likely to continue that way for a few weeks. After all, it’s vacation season (no, wabbit season!).

My eldest spent a week at swim camp recently. He says it went well. He says he’d go again. He says he’s hungry. He doesn’t say much else, but what he does say is in an increasingly baritone voice. I can hardly wait until teen-dom really sets in.

Meanwhile, my younger son and I spent a week together at the lake. It was great to have a chance to torment a kid one-on-one for a change. I tried to drown him one day, but it really didn’t work so well. It was a very blustery day. The kind of a day which could send a small boat soaring and sailing into the air, whether a small boat wanted to or not. Ours wanted to, so we hopped on my ancient WaveRunner and headed into the waves.

There was a dark cloud on the horizon, but showers had been passing all day, and I figured this was just another one coming. We head out to the main part of the lake, hopping waves and having them break over the bow and soak us. Junior is loving it. I happen to glance over my shoulder and notice that a wall of water is about 100 yards behind us. The rain is approaching fast, and I cannot see a thing behind the wet curtain. So I tell him to hang on, that we’re headed in. Unfortunately, “in” is parallel to the storm, not away from it.

It doesn’t take long for the storm to catch us. The rain is hitting so hard it stings your skin, and visibility drops to about 10 feet. Fortunately, I know the lake well and can dead-reckon us home. I notice that once we have to turn and drive into the storm that he is trying to shield his face with one hand and hang-on with the other. I was worried he was scared, but there really wasn’t much to do about it just then. Finally, we get to shore and are securing the boat. As he gets off, I can see the ear-to-ear grin on his face.

However, when we got to the porch, Grandma did not have an ear-to-ear grin on her face. Grandpa was relieved to see us too, but I suspect that’s mostly because Grandma would stop asking him what he was going to do about us being out there in the storm.

The following week, the kids headed south with their mom. Beauty and the Blogger headed back north to relax at the lake. And this time, I decided to try and drown me – or rather, the beavers tried. We took a kayak trip one day. We were told by a neighbor about a beautiful gorge and splendid scenery that was up a creek I’d never been up before. (And mind you, I’ve been up quite a few creeks in my day, with and without paddles.)

The trip started serenely enough. It was quiet easy paddling. We encountered a few areas of heavy weeds, but nothing we couldn’t navigate. Then came the beaver dam. It was a small dam, only 6 inches or so high. But it certainly didn’t lend itself to paddling over it. Unfortunately, the ground to either side of the creek was quite swampy in both directions, so beaching and portaging around would be pretty difficult.

So I had me a brainstorm. I’ll get out of my boat and stand on the dam. Then I can pull her boat over it with her in it, get back in mine, and upstream we go. You see, one of the problems with being an engineer is that some of your plans that look really damn good on paper, don’t scale up so well.

I managed to get out of my boat and pull it across. I then pulled her boat across without tipping her over. I figured it was all downhill from there. And it was. As I tried to get back in my boat, I tipped the damn thing over and dumped myself in the beaver pond.

You may not realize this, but beavers are not good housekeepers. The pond is only 4 feet deep or so, but the bottom is pure muck. I finally manage to get both myself and my sandals unmired and get back on the dam. But the boat is still full of water. Now I’d done a bit of canoeing before, and emptying a swamped canoe is no big deal. It turns out that kayaks don’t empty so easily. Getting the water out of that little hole in the top while balancing on a dam is damn hard. But after a fashion, I got enough out to declare victory, and managed to get my muck-encrusted butt in the seat without scaring any other wildlife.

Fortunately the trip was worthwhile anyway. Not because the gorge was gorgeous. We never found it. We were forced to turn back when the creek got too narrow and weedy to navigate. But it was worth it because it provided blog fodder. And it should be noted that the Beauty was a very good sport about the whole debacle.

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