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Things that interfere with or otherwise screw up canoe trips

Glenn MacGrady

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Covid. Gas prices. Money, in general. And then HEAT.

Well, we've all had bad weather prevent the start of, or accelerate the end of, canoe trips; and anyone is free to rant about examples of that in this thread.

However, I had a different kind of "canoe trip" delayed and ultimately screwed up by the things in my opening paragraph. For years, I had wanted to give a proper small tandem canoe that is also solo-able to my granddaughter in Florida. It is my only way of leaving a trace of my lifetime legacy of canoe loving to the only person left in my family who might care about it. But none of my old fleet is suitable or in good enough shape for a legacy gift of love.

Then Covid hit and I couldn't even travel to Florida anymore. Meanwhile, age inexorably advanced. Wife retired as a nurse of 52 years because of Covid, and family income plunged.

So, I spent about nine months of 2020 and 2021, during the "15 days to stop the spread," looking at internet ads for used canoes from all over the country every day. What a drag.

During that time, Mike McCrea kindly offered to rehab a $100 Old Town Pathfinder for me at cost, but I declined on the grounds that I wanted a small tandem that was in much better shape and lighter than that Royalex Pathfinder. Mike's Pathfinder ultimately became the elaborately rehabilitated and outfitted FishFinder.

Finally, in the spring of 2021 after getting twice jabbed and hoping Covid was tamed, and having found an almost new, 40 lb., aramid Nova Craft Bob Special for sale in West Virginia at a reasonable price, I decided to bolt from Covid prison and buy it. This was a 1,000 mile round trip that included an overnight motel stay. Just the beginning of my expenses for my legacy canoe trip.

2021-03-18-canoe-Heap-0002.jpg

Of course, Covid didn't stop but mutated all over the world, the media and people's fears. So my wife and I, who are right in the bullseye age of death probability, kept postponing the canoe delivery and instructional trip. On and on and on. Two more jabs. Spent money painting the house, fixing the tractor and the cars.

Then the spring and heat of 2022 arrived. Gas prices rocketed up. The constant trip delays and our advancing ages became too intolerable, and we finally said "the heck with it all" and decided to drive to Florida in mid-June—not the time to paddle in Florida—with the Bob Special atop our sedan.

Canoe on MB at Lake Waramaug.jpg

Tallahassee here we come!

Finally, I would get to deliver the canoe I'd been planning for years and had bought 15 months earlier. And to spend many hours teaching my granddaughter tandem and solo canoe strokes on their small lake. I even planned a tentative trip with site member Woodpuppy (and perhaps one or more of his kids) on the Wacissa River.

None of that happened. The HEAT every afternoon was between 98° and 104°, a huge heat wave all over the South with sopping humidity. I was concerned about my own out-of-shape, 77-year old self in such heat, much less an ability to rescue a 10-year old if necessary. I cancelled the tentative river trip with Woodpuppy and even the on-water instructionals on the small lake. All I ended up doing was delivering a strange craft and 15 minutes of instruction on the lawn.

At a cost of over $5,000 for the canoe, the trip to West Virginia, and the two weeks of gas, food and motels on the trip to and from Florida.

What a disappointing, screwed-up ending for 2½ years of hopes and planning for a what was supposed to be a special "canoe trip"!
 
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Love your pic..A great example of a secure tiedown. Note that there is almost a rectangle instead of the insanely ineffective parallelogram.
What F ed me up? Getting Covid 12 days ago and am STILL positive. I had places to go and boats to deliver. I am kind of feeling buried under the need to dispose of boats in my garage that are not mine. Their owner is in Alaska in her mind in a nursing home locally.
 
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A big STORM! When I finally got to the Adirondacks this for a 4-5 day loop through the Whitney Wilderness area, I got stuck on Lake Lila, the put in lake, due to high winds and waves. Then rain. Then horizontal rain. Then tent bound for 14 hours. Then a forecast of rain and wind for the next four days. Full trip report in American Trip Reports section (Whitney Wilderness Trip or Sometimes Things Don't Go As Planned).

Still had fun on the trip though.

.
 
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As I write this from my couch, my wife lying down next to me and both of us with positive PCR tests...

September 2019: I had just returned from an Algonquin, Pinetree-Sylvia, there-and-back trip with my nephew. Earlier that year, my wife and I rented an H2O Prospector 16-4 and this time my nephew and I tried a Souris River Quetico 16. Having crossed both of those off my list, we headed to Quebec City (the closest Nova Craft dealer) to try out a few other options. We tried a Pal and a Cronje - both in Tuffstuff and decided on the Cronje, but in Aramid Lite. Arriving home after the 7 hour round-trip, I placed my order for pick-up next Spring - hopefully in time for the May long-weekend (21st or thereabouts). Little did we know what was about to happen.

In the meantime, I decided that I needed something smaller for solo travel and I had been tossing around the idea of building a cedar strip. You can read about that here.

By May, intra-provincial travel was being restricted and we worried about not being able to make the trip back to Quebec City. No biggy - even if Algonquin wasn't shut down, we couldn't even cross the border to Ontario. The call came informing us that it was ready for pick-up so we headed out anyway and managed to complete the transaction and made our way home with our new vessel.

2020 being basically a write-off, new canoe prices at an all-time high, and having gained confidence building the Bob, I sold the virtually brand new Cronje and began planning a Freedom 17 build. It was December by the time I got my "stuff" together. While having it complete for a Spring trip would be technically possible, I figured we could use the Bob in a pinch. Well, my beloved Drahthaar got sick and we ended up losing her in May and so that put a major damper on things, to say the least.

We are a 2-dog household, and losing one introduces the sticky situation of "how long to wait" before getting another. We decided on a sporting lab. Agnes was born July 13th and we picked her up in September. She's a peach.

In February 2022, eager to end the 2.5 year hiatus, I booked a short, 3-night stay in Algonquin - Achray, St. Andrews and back. We were to leave the Tuesday following the May long weekend. The Friday prior to our booking, as we started our vacation, I came down with a bronchial infection. Hopeful that it would pass, I waited until Sunday before conceding defeat and canceling our trip.

On the positive side (there had to be one, eventually), I completed the Freedom 17 build and have now rebooked our previous trip - albeit with an extra couple of days and an extra lake (St. Frances). I'm not a superstitious guy, but at this point I'm not doing anything that would potentially jinx this trip - other than, of course, documenting it here.
 
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Usually weather. That prompted me to cut a few trips short. If the final day gets forecast to be nothing but rain I’ll leave early. I avoid having to pack up wet gear if I have an option.
 
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Not a canoe trip, but I just returned from a mega road trip to Nova Scotia. We were going to come back through Maine and the States and maybe surprise a few people......but we both got the covid. After spending two years in classrooms with snot encrusted rug rats, but managing to stay free from any disease, the damn covid nails us on vacation.

Hoping to be better by next week for some more port clearing.
 
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All I ended up doing was delivering a strange craft and 15 minutes of instruction on the lawn.

Hmm... I'll bet that you did more that that... Hopefully, you delivered something that will intrigue her enough that she will learn, feel connected to her grandfather and cherish the memory far after that canoe needs refurbished again.

Our actions often have a ripple effect far beyond what we anticipate and I'm glad that you (finally) got it delivered.

As for trip delays, My BWCA trip was kicked back a year due to covid (the restrictions, not infection) but I got it done in 2021. I have several more trips in the planning stages but I hate to beat up my old Sawyer (especially on the rocky PA rivers). All are, therefore delayed until I can build some strip canoes to be sacrificial and, hopefully, I'll have more trip reports to post in 2023.
 
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Most of my canoe trips have gone off without a hitch, going solo enables me to be somewhat flexible. Sometimes I have picked out a week to go but then a family event or issue requires me to alter my plans.
Weather has shortened trips, but for the most part I have been able to hang in there.
Last year I had some problems crossing the border into Canada because of the Covid test requirements and my own mistakes dealing with it but it only dealayed the trip.
One trip I pinned my canoe in a remote area and ended up cutting the trip short. Fortunately, I met some nice Canadians on a logging road who helped me out.
 
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I’m sad I missed out on Glenn’s trip to Tally, and he’s not wrong. It’s been HOT down here. Other things that keep me from paddling include a summer dance schedule for the kids that interferes with my ability to escape with or without a paddling buddy, and the grass just won’t quit growing. Heck I’ve only been to one archery shoot this season!

Work has been taxing lately too, I’ve had to do some unplanned fieldwork and am looking at a bunch more. I’ve had a driller’s assistant vacancy since last year and my driller passed away in June. One of my other staff who was fitting in and performing rather well has just put in his 2 weeks. So at the moment I’m the only one who I’m confident can run our wireline coring rigs and has a water well contractor license. I’m the only one who can run the geophysical logging tools. I’ve got positions advertised and will be trying to interview candidates in between work trips. Not a fun time of year to be drilling. It’s more than just uncomfortable, it’s plain dangerous.
 
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4 or 5 years ago I had to cancel a trip due to a bad case of the piles. You see, I organize stuff in piles before putting it away. This particular year I had just gotten done with a remodeling job and all of my tools, from plumbing to painting, ect, were in piles in the garage. I was also going through my work tools before the season started which is another 4 separate piles and I'm sure there were some other piles too. When it came time to get my tripping stuff together, which I also organize by piles, I had no room for any more piles. I did the mature thing and decided I better stay home and put my garage back together.
 
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Once upon a time long long ago we were all stuffed in our steel on wheels cubicle crawling south on the 400 optimistically in the fast lane when we passed a fellow traveler likewise southbound at their own brisk walking pace. They too were packed into their little car and it appeared they'd just closed the cottage. Heaps of summer camp comfort was piled all around this happy couple and threatened to escape out onto the highway if their windows hadn't been all the way up. I could tell they were happy. This older couple looked to be laughing and singing. Singing. In the middle of bumper to bumper late summer holiday traffic on blistering tarmac with no offramp anywhere in sight. I eased off the gas and took the speedometer from 15 down to 10 just to get a good look at this couple of old loonies. Yup. They were singing. And laughing. Muttering to myself that they must be touched or out of touch to be so happy in all of this when their vacation is over...
And that's when it hit me. They were still on vacation. Unlike my holiday theirs didn't end the moment they got in the car back at the docks. Theirs might last until they pulled up to their front door at home, or who knows, maybe late tonight after an evening glass of wine with dinner. Their holiday was all in their heads. An idea, a perspective, an attitude way more than merely a physical destination. I pondered this revelation and soon adopted it as my own mental readjustment to travel plans. Being a daydreamer totally into escapism the change was immediate and easy. I apply this positivity to staycations as well. If on days 3 and 4 of a canoe trip the heavens open up and dump cold driving rain into our camp then I continue the trip all the way home, and shift into plan B, whatever that trip plan happens to be. A canoe trip turns into a driving trip turns into a backyard trip with that glass of wine with dinner. All good.
In the same vein life in general all too often gets in the way of a canoe trip. Last minute family fun and/or crises are the usual fly in the ointment for us. But remembering to start a vacation way early and end it way late I go with the flow and try to spin a new holiday direction out of the old. I have few regrets.
In short, although trips have often been interrupted by inclement weather or cancelled altogether by family stuff nothing is ever "interfered with nor screwed up", but simply replaced with other simple pleasures filling our lives. It's all in my head, because when my glass looks less than half empty, to me it's potentially overflowing.
As a ps I'd like to add that I do not believe there's always a silver lining to every dark cloud. Sometimes unfortunately bad traumatic things do happen for which no amount of happy positivity can alter. But I do believe we fixate too often on those dark clouds and get our priorities mixed up.
 
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Outstanding outlook.

On our July drive from Florida to Michigan to see family, we almost got rear ended in Atlanta. Now, I have been super grumpy about Atlanta for at least the last decade or so, but had allowed myself to be convinced it was still the fastest route. I can say 1. I no longer care about fastest route and 2. It isn’t the fastest route anymore. Finally, I don’t want to die in Atlanta. So on the way home we stressed out our GPS and made it recalculate many times as we drove around Atlanta. I don’t mean on a 3-digit bypass highway, I mean we drove to Columbus then down through Albany and Camilla. Unless a future destination is Atlanta, I’m never driving through it again. And you know what? Like your neighbors in the jam we were happier and I’m pretty sure it didn’t even take more time. If it did who cares? We were better off.
 
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Things that interfere?.....

Foremost is a concerned wife who thinks this nearly 70 year old with heart disease shouldn't venture out alone in my canoe!

Somehow It's OK for me to continue working in the building trade, framing walls and roofs, shingling those roofs, working on scaffolding on the exteriors, using shop & job site power tools... all pursuits which have contributed to more injuries than any outdoor pursuit of mine. Just sayin'...
 
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In my case it was a bad case of poison ivy exposure on my legs from which I now react systemically. I am almost 3 weeks into this misery. I have seen the dermatologist twice, the first time getting steroid injection which was supposed to halt the spread. Didn’t work so well. Now I am having outbreaks in spots not directly exposed.

The saddest part of this ordeal is that I was exposed while training for a Manitoba trip that was to start tomorrow. My training routine is going to a local nature center where I am a volunteer and carrying a 60# canoe around the trails. I have been using this routine for the last six years and it with some lap swimming really prepares me for trips. Unfortunately some of trails are growing in with vegetation which my legs push through. And guess what some of this vegetation is? This never happened to me in past years. I am a lapsed Master Gardener of 14 years, I should know better.
 
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Things that interfere?.....

Foremost is a concerned wife who thinks this nearly 70 year old with heart disease shouldn't venture out alone in my canoe!

Somehow It's OK for me to continue working in the building trade, framing walls and roofs, shingling those roofs, working on scaffolding on the exteriors, using shop & job site power tools... all pursuits which have contributed to more injuries than any outdoor pursuit of mine. Just sayin'...
same here, I've got a bad ticker and an even worse back, but I think a lot of it stems from the benefits we've received through my construction contacts- we needed a new kitchen sink- plumbing company owed me some favours, new double- bowl, stainless waterfall sink appeared at the front door. Needed tile- boxes of 4x4, 8x8, and 12x 24 were magically found in the back of my truck. time for flooring- got 1200SF of oak floor at mfr's cost.
Paddling costs her money though, even though the fringe benefit of improved mental health outweighs the financial cost in my opinion...
 
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Health... in general. This spring my bad back was acting up and caused me to postpone a trip to Michigan I had been planning. But, as others have written, when sick or injured, it's tough to get going.

In 2010 a planned canoe trip got scratched because I got stuck on a tropical island! We joined my wife's friend on a trip to St. Kitts. Their trip overlapped with a planned canoe trip in the Carolina low country. The solution was, I traveled to St. Kitts with my wife and her friends for a few days, but booked a return flight ahead of them so I could join the canoe trip. Luckily, as it turned out, the airline canceled my flight due to the huge blizzard that hit Baltimore in February, 2010. So there I was, marooned on a tropical island. Woe was me. But, it was actually lucky for me, because the boys had to cancel the canoe trip. The same weather system that shut down the Baltimore area had dumped massive amounts of rainfall in the Carolinas, and the rivers were in flood.
 
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