Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life on the Diablo Part II

It is hard to turn off the Olympics to get down to work.  I hope you all are watching.  I love Karani James, the way he traded race bibs with Oscar Pistorius at the end of the semifinal heat of the 400 meter race.  Oscar Pistorius is the man with two prosthetic legs who wanted to be allowed to race in the Olympics.  The Olympic committee finally decided that his prosthetics wouldn't give him an unfair advantage on the field.  Wasn't that lovely of them?  I find that even deliberating that question was offensive, somehow.  Karani James made his opinion clear in that simple act.  I also loved that he already knew that all of Grenada was celebrating his gold medal today immediately after he ran.

I promise I'll get back to work soon.  I really will.  When we last met, Nick wasn't feeling well and I wasn't even sure I'd get a two day canoe trip for my anniversary present from Mike. 

8-2-12 after dinner

We ate spamghetti, watched the barred owl and its parents, and I sat at the picnic table as Mike and Nick went into the tent to play cards.  Bugs are out. 

We're in Colonial Creek camp by the boat launch, but it's nothing like Thunder Point.  Stuff is put away.  The cars are locked up.  I can hear Nick and Mike slapping their cards down onto the sleeping pad in the tent.  Buddy is in with them, in his bed or on mine. 

The barred owls are finally quiet after sounding like a broken whistle all evening.  I'm going into the tent to sleep in a minute, but I figured I'd take advantage of the last light of the evening.  I can hear people talking, a fire crackling, and the guys laughing in the tent. 

We amped Nick up today with some healthy food, lettuce, carrots, dried apples, and Hudson Bay bread and he seems to be doing better tonight.  It was a long night last night, but the moon was so beautiful rising through the clouds that I didn't mind.  It was probably harder for Nick since he didn't have any place to lie back while I read to him.  Poor kid. 

This morning, he agreed to go on, but we took our time leaving the beauty of Thunder Point.  We finally got out on the water at about 1:00 pm, but by then, the wind had picked up.  We paddled North, crossing the channel first since it looked as though the water was pretty rough further up and our take-out at the dam was on the right. 

At that hour, nothing we did would have made a difference.  We came to a point beyond which the wind whipped the water into a froth of waves.  We beached and Mike walked around the point to scout the water.  He's a smart man.  He understands safety.  It took a while and Nick had a hard time holding the canoe in position.  Even in the lee, we were getting buffeted. 

Finally, I moved my kayak up parallel with him and held the canoe while I braced with the paddle.  It seemed to take forever for Mike to get back.  Before I could hear what he could say, I saw the look on his face and I could see we weren't going around that corner.  He said it was solid chop a ways up the lake with standing waves slapping up against sheer cliffs on the right bank.  There was no way for us to go back and cross open water through the stiff wind and waves to get to the left bank.  We were not going to the dam today. Later, when we were alone, Mike told me that the two of us might have made it, but Nick's inexperience and lack of power would put us all at risk next to those cliffs.

As we were paddling back, Nick said he was tired and nearly stopped paddling.  Then, we pulled back out into the wind again.  He was suddenly alert and paddling hard.  My eyes filled with tears.

"Everything I love is in that boat, Mike," I said, "everything I love."

"Seth isn't in here!" Nick yelled over the wind as he paddled.  He was invigorated by the wash over the front of the canoe.  I just could not imagine surviving if I lost them all only to be consoled by Seth sitting on my lap while I watched TV.  Oh, moms imagine the worst.  We were paddling near enough to a gentle shore, we might have lost some gear, but in our life jackets, even in the fifty degree water, we would have been fine. 

We headed back to the landing where we'd have to figure out what to do next.  We had to go there anyway since we'd have to drive to the Ranger Station to reorganize our permits.  These beautiful campsites are free, but you have to reserve them 24 hours ahead of time on a first-come first-served basis.  Paddling to the boat launch, the water was just as rough as the night before, but at least we knew what we were in for and we understood Nick's abilities a little more than we had.  It didn't take us long to get back.

By the time we got to shore, Nick decided he didn't want to go back to Thunder Point.  He was afraid he'd feel sick in the night again and if we stayed at the campsite by the boat dock, we could take down the tent in the middle of the night, load up the cars, and drive home.  Mike was disappointed.  He'd wanted to stay at the paddle-in campsites.  We were all a little down as we loaded the cars with our gear in preparation to drive them a quarter mile to a car-camping site.  It felt like our canoe trip was over, but that site was where we met the barred owl and his parents, where we invented spamghetti, and where we landed, still on our feet, for the night. 

Will Nick feel ill in the night?  Will we pack up and go home at 3:00 am?  Stay tuned for the next episode of 'Life on the Diablo.' 

Thank you for listening, jb

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