You would think after one, even two, traumatizing experiences all involving the same event, one would learn their lesson. But you know what they say. Third time's a charm.
So what is the event at hand that has caused so much grief and memories to shudder at in my life? Canoeing. That long and skinny boat and two beady little ores leave nothing but a sour taste in my mouth.
The first happened at a fairly early age in my life. It was a cool Wisconsin day, and my family and I were enjoying our time at the cabin.
My dad decided it would be the perfect day to spend some quality time with his daughters and take them out on the lake in the canoe. Sounded like a good idea to me. At the time.
We gathered up our life jackets and set into the canoe. My sister and I were both pretty young and lacking strength. We tried to help by steering with the other ore, but my dad was responsible for a majority of the work. A noble undertaking. We were paddling around and enjoying ourselves. Staying close to shore and in fairly shallow water in case anything happened.
We caught some pretty good speed and my dad's rhythm was a perfect match to the waves of the water as he pulled the ore in and out while simultaneously switching sides to produce a swift forward direction.
We were laughing and talking and were completely oblivious to the tree hanging over the lake that we were fast approaching.
Then it caught our attention.
My dad tried to desperately slow down, and in a matter of seconds all I remember was...
"It's pretty tall.....I think you're short enough....you should be fine...no wait! DO! Duck! GET DOWN---"smack. The tree quickly met my forehead. Knocked to the ground, luckily the boat didn't tip.
Occasion number two.
It was August. And my friends birthday. Her dad drove us (about five girls in total) to the river where we rented our boats and set out on our adventure. Everything was going well. We were enjoying each others company. One by one we started tipping. Getting back into a canoe in a shallow river isn't too hard. Getting into a canoe in a river with water above your head--a bit more difficult. We had to paddle over to the side so we could climb up the bank to get back into the canoe.
Then it started to rain. Then there was some more tipping. Some more tipping as people tried to get in and eventually surrender as some girls swam while others continued to row.
There was one girl who just could not catch a break. She was mad and swearing and wanted it to be over. Her anger increased with every tip. You knew when she was down. Sometimes our group got far enough spaced out that all we would hear was a splash in the distance soon followed by a loud and slightly dramatic scream of anger and frustration.
Guess who's down?
The adventure was coming to a close. And she was in the front of the group.
"OH MY GOSH. What is that--? Is that...a....COW?"
Yes. Yes indeed it was. A cow. Just standing in the river. Not another cow in sight. We made sure to paddle as fast as our little middle school arms would carry us. It's not every day you come into that close contact with a wild or potentially AWOL cow. What if he was dangerous? Or rabid?
The third and final one takes the cake for traumatizing canoe experiences. I would even take it against canoe horror stories of others. That's how bad it is.
It was a hot summer day and we were vising our friends in Wisconsin (coincidence? Doubtful). They had planned a canoeing trip for the day. I was worried, since canoeing had not proven itself loyal in the past.
We packed up some snacks and set out on our adventure. We arrived at the starting location and everyone that was in our group loaded a bus and we drove out to the river that we would be spending some quality time with. We stepped off and they had a little stand with all of the canoes stacked up that we checked out to use for that day. Now, calling these boats canoes would be generous. They were the dinkiest little things you have ever seen. They looked as reliable as an airplane made out of cardboard. And they were made out of fiberglass. Whoever thought of that money saving, eco-friendly idea should be fired immediately. Have you ever touched fiberglass? There's a reason you probably haven't. Because it hurts, it makes you itch and leaves a rash.
The boats were only big enough for two people. Everyone paired up. I was paired with my dad (I'm starting to see a correlation. Summer, Wisconsin, my dad...). These boats were incredibly prone to tipping. I think we had tipped our canoe at least 10 times within the first several minutes. You had to sit just so and any slight movement from either party dumped you into the lake.
We were going and going.
Scratch my foot.
Someone tried to pass us.
You get the idea.
We were nearing the end of the first stage of the canoeing drip of doom. We had traveled through a pretty substantial distance of river and little side rivers that led us to bigger rivers. I had totally lost count of the number of times we had tipped or how many times I had to chase my ore down the river and with every passing tip my fury only enraged. My increasing fury and tip after tip was quite the entertainment for the rest of my family and friends. Which only got me more worked up. Surely you can sympathize.
Then all of a sudden our boat started scraping the bottom of the river and then suddenly the river stopped.
Everyone ahead of us jumped out of their boat and in one swift motion they popped the canoe onto their shoulder and pranced off into the distance like it was their job. It didn't look too difficult, and the boats didn't seem too heavy. Yet somehow it turned out to be a miserable experience. My dad and I couldn't quite get the timing right. He would lift his side up to his shoulder and I would drop mine. He'd pick up his walking pace and the canoe would be lurched out of my grip. When we finally reached the end of the blasted portage we had arrived at the bank of the nastiest lake I had ever seen. Complete with all sorts of slime and murky water. I carefully tiptoed into the boat. If this boat even thought about tipping us, it would be done for.
I was itchy, mad and hungry and there was no way I was going to let this lake or the boat be victorious over me.
We made sure to keep our distance and go at a glacial pace so our boat would not tip. I was determined. I didn't care how long it took us to paddle across that lake, I would not end up in it.
Then I saw it. Face to face with my current nightmare. One of the boats in front of us tipped. They tipped into the nasty abyss of dirty lake water. My hart sank and started racing at the same time. I couldn't take my eyes off of them. They both were down and out and struggling to get back into the boat. My worries were quickly interrupted.
"Hey Christine...did you see that?! How bad would that be if---"
"don't. you. dare."
I didn't care what it took, I was not going down in that lake and my dad was only trying to egg on my fury. As you can imagine, I was beyond a foul mood by now.
We safely made it through the lake without a single tip and once we were back on a river my eyes could not have beheld a more glorious sight. The end. People were getting out of their boats and pulling their canoe to shore.
We were so close. And we hadn't tipped in quite some time. I was trying to pick up speed while maintaining balance so we could be done with this nightmare. Little did I know my dad had his own plan too. He was PURPOSELY rowing like a maniac and schlepping water INTO the boat so that it would sink. So it would SINK. My dad sunk the boat. On his own flesh and blood. I had HAD it. Had it. Done and done. I stomped out of the boat and left him to finish out the journey solo while he sat there like a fool laughing his head off.
My friends and family were rolling. Laughing like hyenas. Which I did not appreciate nor find nearly as funny I was still itchy, still mad, still hungry and now sopping wet. And you know what? I couldn't even sleep with a blanket that night I itched so bad.
And that's how I came to loathe canoeing. It's been some time since I've set foot in one. Perhaps I'll give it another try and I'll let you know if it leaves me with yet another traumatizing number four.