October 19, 2018

There is a Boat in my Backyard too

The Ally series will continue next week

One of Michael Spencer’s most poignant posts was about a boat that sat in his backyard, a constant reminder of the relationship that he did not have with his father.   There is a boat in my backyard too. A sixteen foot, red fiberglass canoe. We bought it 40 years ago… second hand. Our family had just come back from Africa, and didn’t have much money, so second hand was all we could afford. As I have moved over the years, the boat has moved with me.

The boat is covered in scratches. In fact there are scratches upon scratches. And cracks, and repairs, and more cracks, and more repairs. And broken seats, and more repairs. And broken thwarts, and yes I had to look up the word, and more rep… oh wait, those still remains to be fixed before my next trip.

I would say that every scratch is a memory, but there are way too many scratches, and way too many memories to match them all up. Some of my earliest memories are with canoeing and camping with my father before we got this canoe.  The pictures below help capture memories I have made with my children and friends.  I want to encourage our readers to try and make your own memories with your family and friends.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  For us, a $200 canoe has made us more memories than we could have imagined. (You can click on the pictures to see them in greater detail.)

Memories,

 

… Of sunsets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… Of building friendships, playing card games, songs around the campfire, marshmallows, and spider dogs.

 

 

 

 

…Of waking up in the morning after sleeping under the stars, knowing that you got to watch the Milky Way make a dazzling appearance as a cloud of light across the night sky, with the fireworks of shooting starts accompanied by the symphony of loon calls and coywolf howls.

 

… Of the early morning mist rising from the lake in front of us and the narrows behind us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… Of needing to use a bathroom that lacked a little privacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories,

 

… Of exploring into new areas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Of seeing the island that you first camped on fifty years before

 

… Of jumping rocks and white water swimming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… Of playing in a waterfall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories,


…Of setting up camp at the end of a long day of canoeing and “trying your luck” for a few minutes

 

 

 

…Of going out early in the morning and catching a fish with nearly every cast

 

 

 

 

…Of hiking into a remove lake that you knew was stocked with Rainbow Trout back in the 1950s, and finding they were still there

 

 

 

…Of tasting the freshest fish you could possibly imagine.

 

 

 

I had two more canoe trips on my bucket list.  Last year I did the first of the two.  Just me and my son.  The best companion that I could have ever wished for. One day.  Twenty-one kilometres by canoe.  Seventeen portages, with a waterfall at everyone.  We did our last portage as night was falling, and ran our last rapids in the dark, praying that there were no hidden rocks.

Here is some of the beauty of that area.

 




This old canoe of mine has hopefully two more trips in it. I am going to repeat the river trip with a friend I made not long after we first bought that canoe. And next summer there is an area of remote wilderness that I have wanted to explore for years. Then maybe it will be time to retire that old canoe for good. I think though that will keep it in the back yard so that every day I will be able to look out at the boat in the back yard and remember.

Comments

  1. Ronald Avra says:

    Interesting photographs. It appears that wildlife, other than that in the streams, is inclined to avoid your presence. The fish would probably prefer to have avoided you as well, but their environment likely wasn’t as sensitive to your presence. Glad you have had the opportunity to enjoy it.

    • Michael Bell says:

      Lots of Wildlife – Will often see snakes sunning on the rocks of the portages, or swimming in the water. We used to have an old beaver come and swim along side our canoe. It was HUGE! Had that happen again on my river trip last year. Will sometimes see deer, though the area is hunted in the fall, so they are shy around humans, and I am more likely to see them around my house! Have seen bear a couple of times. My Dad decided to carry a rifle after encountering one on a portage a couple of times. We always keep our food pack away from the tent and strung high in a tree. Snapping turtles are around and we see them from time to time. If you leave your fish on a keep chain over night, you will likely have only the heads left the next day. Racoons will raid the campsite if you leave stuff out. They will even swim out to the island! We will often see Red tailed Hawks. Great Blue Heron’s are spotted on just about every trip.

  2. Do you have to retire it?
    My mom sold the family cabin after 50 years….she didn’t even give us kids the chance to buy it, she didn’t keep it in the will/trust as my dad intended..so that we and succeeding generations could enjoy ….a true legacy of my dad’s.
    Broken-hearted, yes. Memories, yes.
    Hopefully in your canoe’s retirement the memories are preserved…great pics.

    • Michael Bell says:

      Probably more like me retiring from it. It may be around for future grandchildren at some point. They may want to create their own memories with their own canoe. This one will be 60 years old by the time they are ready to use it!

    • Christiane says:

      Charlie, that is sad.

      My cousin had a ‘chalet’ cabin up off of the Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts which he inherited from his parents, filled with memories of his youth. He sold it to help pay for his son’s university fees. So many memories the whole family had of visiting there.

  3. john barry says:

    M. Bell, Wish young people could read this and take to heart. What you have is a boat load of great memories, as Visa commercial says priceless. Your $200 dollar canoe memories could not be purchased at any price.

    One of your “ordinary” canoe trips in that beautiful country side would be a great experience for my family years ago.

    As they say it is not the destination but the journey that is what your life and memories are. Thanks for sharing your canoe journey.

  4. Clay Crouch says:

    In the1990’s we took our two sons on multiple backpacking trips in the Tetons, Rockies, San Juans, and the Sangre de Cristos. We would pack up the Jeep and drive straight through from North Carolina to the destination. We once did a three week circuit through Wyoming and Colorado. Best. Memories. Ever. The upshot of it all is that both boys moved west after college and have been there ever since. We wouldn’t have it any other way.