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I started working on this blog-post on Saturday night, February 11, 2023.
Which is part of what is shaping up as a busy weekend. One part came earlier today when I started packing up the basics for my next paddling adventure, a five-day canoe trip into the Okefenokee Swamp. Tomorrow will be even busier. I have to be at church by 9:00 a.m., for a special meeting, then take my sweetheart to lunch after church. Then I get to finish whatever packing I can do, aside from last-minute stuff on Monday morning. Then I’m heading to a Super Bowl party in Stockbridge. (Riding with a friend, so by the time I get back to his house I’ll be “sober as a judge,” fit to drive back to my house.) Then – as early as possible on Monday morning – I’ll drive down to Folkston GA to meet up with my brother and his two canoes.
Then on Tuesday, the 14th, we’ll head into the Okefenokee for those five days of canoeing.
As I started packing up – and otherwise getting ready – past canoe-adventure memories started coming back. That actually started last Thursday when I put up my alleged “six-person” tent. The one I used in the last canoe trip we did, which I previewed in On my “new” Missouri River canoe trip. The July 2020 canoe trip in which I survived an 80-mile-an-hour windstorm that ruined my brother’s tent, and snapped a hold-it-up fiberglass pole for my tent.
You can see the proposed (preview) of the trip in the “new” Missouri post, but one thing we didn’t count on was that 80-mile-an-hour windstorm. It happened on the Iowa side of the river, and my job last Thursday included sweeping out the river-bank sand from so long ago. For some reason I didn’t do a follow-up post on that trip. But my journal from 2020 noted the “[stuff] hit the fan,” the night it happened, from 1:10 a.m. to 1:50 a.m. That’s when I thought “my time had come,” pinned to my cot as I was for 40 long minutes by the front part of my tent. As the wind whirled around us, tore off the tent flap designed to keep rain out, and otherwise blew all kinds of equipment hither and yon. Next morning, a Sunday, July 12, 2020, we “picked up the pieces.” The first thing we noticed, No canoes! Or at least not where we left them, tied up so carefully to tree branches high up on the bank.
But not high enough, as it turned out.
We did find the canoes, eventually. One was sunk in the river, or practically so, up to the “gunnels,” about 20 feet out. The other was downstream, tightly lodged in some dead tree parts piled up on the bank. And not only did we find the canoes, and paddles, we managed to paddle the remaining 25 miles to Omaha, where that trip ended. (With a steak dinner and two beers.)
Which brings us back to my next adventure, and some more good news. As I found out last Thursday, wiith the judicious use of duct tape, that snapped tent pole can still hold my tent up for the trip into the Okefenokee. (Even though I had to duct tape one joint together, so the dismantled segments don’t fit neatly together in their bag like they used to.)
Then too, the ritual of putting up the tent – then taking it back down again – brought back some memories from past canoe trips started. Like each morning having to dismantle the tent the same way, together with the swanky cot I got for that last trip, not to mention the ordeal of stuffing all that into their respective storage bags. And the regular morning breakfast of lukewarm coffee and one and a half breakfast bars.
Then memories came of later in the day, after paddling a canoe for hours – the best part – of having to set up the tent, cot and other camping gear. Followed by the one hot meal of the day, then my “slooshing” out the dinner pans and dishes, then washing and rinsing them in the water boiled nicely on the Coleman stove. (By custom, my brother cooks and I do the dishes.)
Followed by some prophylactic swallows of O-be-joyful.
I’ll do a follow-up post once I get back. (The plan is to drive home Sunday, the 19th.) Hopefully with tales of relaxing days canoeing in the peaceful Okefenokee, with chirping birds and alligators who mind their own business. But for a review of our last canoe trip before the one with the 80-mile-an-hour windstorm, see The “Rideau Adventure” – An Overview, from September 2018. But before that I did a preview in Next adventure: Paddling the Rideau “Canal,” from July 18, 2018, and later that month – July 31 – “Naked Lady” – on the Rideau Canal? Here’s a heads up: I didn’t see any naked ladies on the Rideau Canal in Canada in 2018. But come to think of it, we did go through some severe weather on that trip too, paddling to Colonel By Island
That overnight campsite included a violent rainstorm and raccoons breaking into our plastic food containers and taking our supplies of breakfast bars, crackers and trail mix. That in turn was preceded by us paddling through a veritable monsoon, on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21[, 2018].
And that’s why they call it adventuring. As in an “enterprise of a hazardous nature,” or preferably, an “unusual or exciting experience.” Or maybe just relaxing? Either way, Wish me luck!
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The upper image is courtesy of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge – Image Results. From the article, National Wildlife Refuge System celebrates 114th birthday.
“Alleged six-person tent.” It seems tent sizes are always overstated. After the 80-mph windstorm my brother shared the tent with me, a combination of two people, and it was a really tight squeeze.
“O-be-joyful” is a code-word for ardent spirits. We brothers – originally four of us – started packing samples in past canoe trips, like down the Missouri River from Fort Benton, MT. That was a way of following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and other American pioneers. Back in the old days of our country, whiskey – for example – was used instead of hard currency:
One of the first media of exchange in the United States was classic whiskey. For men and women of the day, the alcohol did more than put “song in their hearts and laughter on their lips.” Whiskey was currency. Most forms of money were extremely scarce in our country after the Revolutionary War, making monetary innovation the key to success.
See Why Whiskey Was Money, and Bitcoins Might Be. It’s in that spirit that I take some “O be joyful” along on such trips. As in “I just had my fifth swallow of ‘Oh be joyful,’” and then, “Which helps a lot.”
The lower image is courtesy of Swamp Water – Wikipedia. That article describes the “1941 film directed by Jean Renoir, starring Walter Brennan and Walter Huston, produced at 20th Century Fox, and based on the novel by Vereen Bell. The film was shot on location at Okefenokee Swamp, Waycross, Georgia, USA. This was Renoir’s first American film. The movie was remade in 1952 as Lure of the Wilderness, directed by Jean Negulesco.”
Here’s what I wrote about the film in 2105, in Operation Pogo – “Into the Okefenokee:”
I saw the movie Swamp Water back in the early 1960s. (When I was around 10 or 12.) The part I remember best was watching Walter Brennan getting bitten in the face by a snake. In the scene, he kneels over and parts the bullrushes to get a drink… As Walter does all that, the viewer can see a grinning cottonmouth off to his right. (The viewer’s left.) The grinning cottonmouth then proceeds to bite him “right on the cheek.”
I’ve been fascinated ever since…
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