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  • I’ve already told about our camping trips as a family. But there was one trip that included a canoe trip down the Current River that bears telling. My folks were heavily involved with many social activities like the Plaza Dance Club and the Hawthorne Players. One summer they decided to invite a lot of their good friends from both areas to go canoeing with us for a weekend.

    Now many couldn’t go, but there were about seven canoes full, counting the two from our family. As we became aware that some of the “campers” couldn’t swim, we came up with a plan. My mom always insisted that we all wear life jackets, though usually Gary and I sat on ours. After all, how can you dive in and enjoy the water with a life jacket holding you back?

    Anyway, everyone was jacketed up and in their canoes as we started out. My brother and I were assigned the rear position so as to be able to help anyone that tipped over. We would occasionally pull up midway during a slow moving serene section of the river and then drop back in line for the rapids.

    Usually the rapids were just a very shallow part of the river where the water moved quickly and you scraped bottom a few times. But there were a few places where they would dump into a hairpin turn and a deceptively deep hole. This is where most people had problems negotiating the turn without turning turtle.

    People back paddled and tried to watch the canoe in front of them for pointers on a safe passage. Everyone pulled into the bank below that set of rapids to collect themselves and rearrange their canoes. Gary and I were busy pulling the empty canoes up after rescuing the “floaters”, those that tipped over.

    While everyone was taking a breather and eating lunch on the bank, we dove into the deep hole and brought up coolers full of soda and beer, along with cameras and binoculars and anything else that had found its way to that hole.

    Oh, this wasn’t from our group! Some of the coolers and stuff had been there for days. But the soda and beer were ice cold. We liked to think of it as doing our bit for the ecology…cleaning up the stream as it were. Right!

    It was funny because a lot of the people on the trip had never been camping or canoeing before and you could see them gradually relaxing and getting into the rhythm of the river. They would be back. For them once would not be enough.

    But some of the ladies who had carefully applied their makeup and coiffed their hair were appalled at what the outdoors and the river had done to them. They endured and complained. Now this was only about a four hour canoe trip so the roughing it part was very limited. When they got home they had stories to tell their friends and family about surviving in the wilderness and floating down the raging river.

    To Gary and me it was just another day floating on the river. Maybe a little more work involved than usual, but nothing to brag about. Any day on the river was a good day.
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