Well, our old canoe has been transported back to the family lake cottage, which means my back might finally recover — and I now have enough room in our garage that I don’t have to pull in my gut while exiting the car.
I already miss The Fiberglass Fish, my name for it. But my friends have gotten too old to want to mess with the rigors of hoisting a 17-foot canoe onto the top of a vehicle and then fighting the winds and currents on the St. Joe River.
Truth be told, maybe I have reached that point, too.
Taking it back to the lake was not without noise but without my wife. You’ll understand her absence when you read the following story that I wrote in 2018 about bringing the canoe up to South Bend.
I’ve added hearing aids since then. Maybe The Fiberglass Fish had something to do with that. You can draw your own conclusions on that.
Thanks for reading this “golden oldie” (although the canoe is more yellow in hue).
If I had closed my eyes — which wouldn’t have been smart — I could have imagined myself some 40 years ago in a gosh-awful noisy deuce-and-a-half truck and heading up to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for another two-week Army Reserves summer camp.
With the windows down … with the wind blowing at gale-like forces … and with my Spec 4 driver singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of his lungs.
Actually, it was louder than that.
I was driving home from my family’s cottage on Lake Shafer near Monticello with a canoe on top of our SUV and I have never heard such sounds come from an inanimate object. The canoe was making noises that would have caused Greek gods to seek shelter.
My wife sat beside me with her sweatshirt tied around her head and encasing her ears. With a camel, she could have been an extra in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
At one point, she thought that rolling down the window made it less cacophonic. But then, she narrowly missed getting drenched by a gush of water thrown across the highway by a one of those giant field irrigation systems. Wouldn’t that have been great?
We both decided at that point just to stew in silence — our silence, certainly not the car’s or canoe’s.
Have you ever had to withstand the almost deafening decibels of an MRI tube? Multiply that by 10. It was that awful.
I don’t know why. Over the years, I have transported canoes on top of cars with nothing near this clamor. I don’t know if it was our SUV, the canoe, the straps or the wind that was protesting so vociferously. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above.
Years ago, I would place the canoe — named the Fiberglass Fish — directly on a car top. But when we moved on to mini-vans and then SUVs, there were crossbars. Those obviously help keep the roof from getting scratched but they may also allow the wind to play a torturous tune while circulating under the canoe.
And when the canoe would shift a few inches on our recent trip, the sound went from the garbage truck that wakes me up in the morning to a 747 taking off. So about every 10 miles, I would pull over to re-position the canoe and give our pounding heads a break.
Seriously, if you have any suggestions, I’m all (damaged) ears.
Between Rochester and Argos, my wife wondered aloud about hitch-hiking the rest of the way. I, meanwhile, was thinking where I could dump it along the road and return to fetch it with a pair of ear muffs.
Of course, the faster I would go, the louder it would get. But as you know, if you drive under 60 miles an hour on U.S. 31, you might as well be Jed Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies in his overloaded jalopy trying hard not to get rear-ended.
Somehow, we finally made it home with only minimal hearing loss (I don’t have much to lose there anyway). I think the canoe is staying up here for a while although other family members expect it back by the fall.
At my wife’s urging, I’m now looking at waterways that might allow me to paddle it back.
Contact Bill at [email protected]