Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Canoe Trip, or "To Build A Fire, For The Best Night Of Your Life"

I believe there is such a thing as "getting lucky" and not just in a sexual way. Sure, who doesn't like having their bell rope pulled occasionally, but you must admit, there are occasions when fortune comes your way other than sex and winning lottery tickets.

Well Err and I had to go around a 450' dam on our canoe trip. To put it bluntly, it sucked. It sucked in ways I never imagined and I am hesitant to recall it even now as the memory is still tender and painful. (Really, I'm still sore, not to mention the scar!)

The flip side of this coin is the fact that the twenty minute "quickie camp" that we made that night was the best of the whole trip.

"Why?" you might ask. Let me tell you.

First off, the good folks at Dinty Moore make the world's best stew and it can be cooked and served in it's own can. Even a dirty plastic spoon couldn't have cheapened this marvelous dinner. It makes a wonderful warm spot in your middle that can only be heightened by alcohol.

Secondly, we took alcohol and cut it with campfire coffee. I know most people don't like to have coffee before bed, but on this kind of outing you need something to give you enough "umph" just to drag your tired ass to bed.

The third, and in my mind the most important, was the fact that the spot on the river that we picked had a soft sandy beach and enormous fallen tree, that in the act of falling had broken itself into large amounts of easy to handle chunks of dry firewood.

Earlier I mentioned the "quickie camp" and perhaps I should explain. Any camp you can make in twenty minutes is a "quickie camp". The "quickie camp" consists solely of having the tent up, finding some food & water, and building a fire. None of the other amenities of camp have been seen to, such as digging your latrine, finding your semi-dry toilet paper, putting together your bed, or finding anything else that might make your life more livable, and if you do stumble across it while looking for the toilet paper, it will be wet or useless, or both. A "cold camp" is all of the above but without a fire.

That night we happened upon a smorgasbord of firewood, from matchstick size on up to logs of ten to twelve inches and three feet in length. Needless to say, I built a fire accordingly. We had a good old-fashioned bonfire and dried everything we brought with us. I found a large branch with many forks in it and wedged it above the fire and we watched the steam roll off our clothes while we sat in comfort and took turns topping off our coffee from "The Jug".

I can't tell you what a moral booster this was for us. It was like Christmas, your birthday, and the second time you had sex all rolled into one*. For the first time that day, we laughed. We laughed long, and hard, and deeply. For the first time in a long time, we were DRY**. We were dry, and full of a hot meal, as well as being a little drunk.

In the cool damp night, I got naked and changed into clothes that were still hot from the fire, and I warmed my ass as I did it. As I sat down, Err asked me, "Have you got your flashlight on you?"

"Sure, what do you need?" as I couldn't at that time think of a single thing that we were lacking, unless he was going to dig through his backpack and produce several showgirls and I would have been mighty pissed off if he had, as those broads would have been a lot of help hauling our stuff around the dam.

Err dug through his stuff and pulled out a tiny set of speakers and plugged them into an MP3 player the size of a small box of matches. I gave him a quizzical look and he muttered something along the lines of, "Give me a minute..."

I finished my third coffee/vodka and lit a cigarette as he fumbled with the wires, but in a moment his eyes lit up, he pressed a button and hurried back to his seat by the fire. "You're going to like this," he smiled and stared deeply into the blaze as the music started.

What he played was "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", the original British radio show by Douglas Adams, and to top it all off, he played the whole thing while I looked up at a million stars. To put it shortly, it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Winning the lottery couldn't feel this good.

We stayed up later than we should have, but this evening will live on forever in my memory as one of the best of my life, and even though we slept a little late the next day, it was worth every second of agony to drag our stuff around the dam to have a night like this.

* The first time usually isn't that great. By the second time, you have a much better idea what has to happen.

** You can't imagine what warm and dry means unless you have spent an extended amount of time exhausted, cold and wet.


  1. I have been there, in the cold and wet mode many times Doc, so I know your comfort.

    And I am now going to use the line "the second time you had sex" as my gauge for all things wonderful! It is a perfect description!

  2. Skylar's Dad- The line about the second time you had sex just seemed to fit. I'm glad you've enjoyed my little canoe stories and since you have been so good about dropping by, I wrote you something special and it will post Friday morning.

    Take care old friend,

  3. Now that's what I'm talking about - finding a perfect moment in an imperfect day and then being able to laugh about your portage over the dam. I can picture it now.


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