This story is based on my life so it is basically non-fiction just not using real names of family members.
Family Canoe Trip
By Tessa Dean June 2020
The lake opened onto a small river perfect for taking a leisurely canoe trip. Usually Allen and I went alone, without the kids, but we decided that they were old enough to come with us. That eliminated the need for a babysitter as well.
A busy highway separated the lake and river and there was a very small shoulder on the side so you had to pile all the equipment as close to the edge of the woods as you could. There were several canoes going so there was a lot of equipment on the edge of the highway.
Sharon and Susan, our daughters, were running around and getting uncomfortably close to the highway. “Girls get over here and away from the road, there are too many cars riding close to the edge,” I called up to them. We were just about to carry our canoe and cooler down to the landing where there was only room for one canoe at a time. I had to yell one more time to get them to come over to the railing separating the highway and the path down to the river. Allen lifted them over so they were finally away from the highway.
We put our canoe into the water and I stepped in and walked to the front and then Allen pushed the boat out some. He lifted each girl in. They were each given a bottle of soda to eliminate the constant requests for a drink. Allen told them to not lean to either side or we could end up tipping over.
Once everyone was loaded we started to paddle out and head on down the river. We were headed for a beach area where we would stop for lunch. There was a lot of branches overhanging the water and quite a few trees that were sticking up out of the water due to the lack of rain recently. That meant getting everyone out of the canoe and lifting it over and then reloading again.
Occasionally we would encounter a lot of bushes on the side of the river bank and there were lots of overhanging branches. As Allen and I paddled along I would invariably paddle the wrong way and we would head into the bushes. He would shout, “Tessa aren’t you ever going to learn how to paddle correctly. I am tired of landing in the bushes. Really, this is ridiculous. We have been canoeing for years now.”
I don’t know what he was complaining about because I was the one who ended up in the bushes since I was in the front. It annoyed me no end and we fought about it constantly. Now we weren’t the only one fighting. I swear there should be a divorce court at the last landing because most of us were ready to divorce at the end of the trip. We had people actually get out of the canoe and refuse to ride with whoever they were with. It was amusing if you weren’t also fighting.
Things calmed down and we headed out again. We were approaching a large tree with long branches hanging down over the water. It was off to one side and there was enough room to go around it, but I managed to steer us right into it and all four of us leaned to the same side. Whoops, the canoe overturned.
Rising to the surface Allen and I searched for the kids. They had life preservers on and were brought to the surface, but before our eldest daughter surfaced we saw her arm holding her soda up in the air. We all had to laugh at that one.
However, we now had a problem on our hands. Not only did we have to empty our canoe that was filled with water, gather the floating stuff that hadn’t been tied in, and get back in, but our daughters were crying and refused to get back into our canoe.
Allen tried to pick one up and put her in and she kicked and screamed at him. Same with the other one. They weren’t going to get back in. Some of our friends had stopped when we overturned in case we needed help. One of them offered to take the kids with them. We had no choice, but to agree. They weren’t getting back in with us.
We managed to get back into our canoe that had water in the bottom. It is hard to empty a canoe completely when you can’t get off onto dry land to empty it. Everyone took off again with us trailing behind. Allen couldn’t stop complaining about what I did. I wasn’t the one who decided that we should all lean the same way. Maybe we should have made a decision on that before leaving. We had never tipped over before. Others had, but we hadn’t. I was more concerned about the kids. That was pretty traumatic for them although it did not stop them from going canoeing again. It was also the last time we tipped over.