"An armed society is a polite society," - Sam Colt, inventor of the Colt revolver.
On my trip, I took a .22 caliber rifle with the sole intention of never firing it. I took a 12 guage flare gun with me for the same reason. I never wanted it to get bad enough for me to set off either one, but I took them just the same.
Some Guy and Skyler's Dad have provided a multitude of "Deliverence" jokes. To this very day, I become antsy at the sound of banjo music and I probably shouldn't be.
I passed through the land of friends and neighbors who spoke with the same twang as I, not to mention that I had probably dated at least one member of their immediate family.
On second thought, perhaps there was good reason to bring the gun.
On the trip there were a few constants that we continued to encounter. One was a head-wind against us the whole way and rain. The other was a small parade of grey-haired old men fishing, not in the vain hope that they would catch something, but more in the sense that an afternoon fishing for nothing was better than an afternoon spent at home listening to the old lady carp on about something he had heard a hundred times before. These guys didn't wave. They nodded their appreciation in our endeavor to escape, or tipped their hat if they had one on.
To me, the most remarkable person of the whole trip was a small boy of seven or eight.
We slipped up on him as silently as our paddles would allow and we had spotted him fifeteen minutes before he noticed us. He was down at the water's edge, turning over rocks and looking for bait.
I noticed the three fishing poles they had propped up on shore and steered a wide left to miss them. When we did this, we made enough noise to attract his attention.
"Dad! Dad!," he shouted, "c'mere and see this!"
"What is it?" his dad asked from behind the veil of trees but all the boy could do was stare and point. The dad walked through the path in the brush and saw his son's point. "What is it dad?" he asked.
"It's a canoe," his dad answered with candor.
"What's that big thing in the middle Dad?"
"It's all of their stuff covered in a tarp," he responded matter-of-factly.
"Wow!" was all he could say before he waved at us for a quarter mile. We tipped our hats and smiled at the boy and marveled at how our own innocence at the world had been lost.