Paddling Poetry

Missing Massawepie

Kathryn, Eric, Matt and I took advantage of the Massawepie Scout camp being open over Labor Day weekend.  We camped Friday – Sunday and had perfect weather; caught several large bass, went swimming, explored adjoining ponds and the Massawepie Mire.  I am not sure how it could have been better.  Re-entry into regular day life was rough for a day or so.

MISSING MASSAWEPIE

No caterwauling owls nor loons wailing through the night.
No chattering red squirrels dropping cones from pine tree heights.

No fog lifting slowly burning off in morning’s light.
No canoes along the shoreline glistening golden bright.

No canoeing adjoining ponds shaped like a Boot Tree
Returning to our camp in time for shared High Tea.

These things once were; and in our mind they will be
Until we return again to Massawepie.

EIGHT STROKES A SIDE

You might remember a Tennessee Ernie Ford hit song called “Sixteen Tons” with the chorus “You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store”.

Skip, Steve and I went canoe camping at Stillwater Reservoir and up the Red Horse Trail to Salmon, Witchhopple and Clear Ponds.  Usually time spent paddling results in a “Skip Song” and this was no exception.

 EIGHT STROKES A SIDE

(With apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford and “16 Tons”…..  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRh0QiXyZSk )

Well let me tell you the story of our camping trip; me and Steve but this tale’s about Skip.
We canoed across Stillwater Reservoir; it’s a place we all have paddled before.

Well, Skip he is a paddling man, he paddles just as fast and hard as he can.
He knows all kinds of paddling strokes, Skip is one paddling bloke.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

Skip can paddle the stern if you want him to steer, but if he paddles the bow you better stay clear.
His paddle starts flashing in the sun, ‘cause Skip is a paddling son of a gun.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

We got up early before the wind starts to blow, it makes the big waves that are dangerous you know.
Paddle an hour, then paddle some more, I hope we all make it safely to shore.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

Skip’s paddling fast and his boat leaves a wake, it goes a little faster with each stroke that he takes.
I’m paddling out and what do I see, Skip and his boat go flying by me.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

Nestaocano Rap

Our friend, Bill Blain, invited Skip and I on a canoe trip down the Nestaocano River, Quebec.  Bill said “Pretty river with not much development for the first 40-50 miles.  Special invitation to you and Jim. Extra poutine for Jim if he can come up with a song that rhymes Nestoacano. Carol is willing to be the one who makes the party an even number. She can go  or not go. She’s kinda 50/50 on it anyway.”  I responded with the Nestaocano Rap.

Rhyming this trip takes no braino,
‘cause if I was canoeing the Nestaocano.
I rap some lines, drop them free form,
Twist the words, and make them deform.

Rap about Bill and maybe his boat,
Drop a quote if the boat don’t float
Dump in a rapids and go for a swim
I hope it’s not me, rather it him.

A splendid trip that’s not too long
I’d have plenty of time for song.
My only regret is if Carol, the queen,
doesn’t get to see me eat the extra poutine

Spanish River 2015

During our 5 day trip down the Spanish River Skip had several ‘songs’ composed in his honor.  It gave Jim something to do while paddling and proved mildly entertaining to the rest of the group.  There were variations of Canoeing in the Rain, and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall (became 30km to Paddle Today) and this summary of the trip.

Spanish River 2015 (with apologies to New Riders “Henry”)

Every year about this time we plan a canoeing trip,
bringing all our canoeing buddies the group is led by Skip.
Heading north to Spanish River, there are sights to see,
paddling down those Spanish rapids, classes II and III.

The Spanish landscape is beautiful and a wondrous sight,
we saw ducks, ospreys, moose and the full moon at night.
But the lure of the river was running down those waves,
we ran all the rapids except those named as graves.

Now we’re paddling the Spanish River going fast splash, splash;
if we dump at this one it will be our last.
Paddling Spanish rapids, classes II and III;
help me keep this canoe straight through these rapids if you please.

Paddling down Spanish River for all of five days
Skip consulted all the maps we thought he knew the way.
Lakes and swifts and rapids, the water ran downstream
We paddled 30 kilometers every day ‘cause Skip was mean.

Bouncing off the rocks and boulders paddle Steve and Ski,
Following right behind them paddle Tim and me.
Jack is ruddering, Skip is prying, trying to keep them straight.
At the bottom of the rapids we will quietly wait.

Now we’re paddling the Spanish River going fast splash, splash;
if we dump at this one it will be our last.
Paddling Spanish rapids, classes II and III;
help me keep this canoe straight through these rapids if you please.

Now it’s looking dire for our boys and their sideways canoe,
They are floating towards the rocks and we don’t know what they’ll do.
Watching beers and chocolates floating down the waves.
Leaving Jack and Skip alone, it’s snacks and beers we’ll save.

Canoeing in the Rain

Have you ever gone on a camping trip that looked like a disaster from the start?  Kathryn and I and were invited by our friend Rich Roman to go canoe camping on Stillwater Reservoir in the Adirondack Park.  As we drove from our house to Stillwater the light sprinkle transitioned to a heavy downpour.  With a feeling of impending disaster Kathryn and I made up this poem as we bounced through potholes on the dirt road into Stillwater.

This is sung to the Cowboy Ballad “I Ride An Old Paint” (I lead an old Dan).

Crazy Rich Roman had a wonderful thought:
“Let’s go canoeing with the maps that I bought.”
So to Stillwater Lake we all did proceed,
now it looks like some dry clothes we all soon will need.

Chorus:
Ca-noe-ing, Ca-noe-ing in the rain.
Our hands are all callused, our shoulders in pain.

We paddle on the left, we paddle on the right.
Jim calls out “Hup” and we paddle through the night.
It’s dark and it’s gloomy, the clouds fill the sky.
We search but we can’t find a campsite that’s dry.

Chorus

Everyone got wet, but only one didn’t care.
That one was Choice with the waterproof hair.
He sat in the middle with a smile on his face;
The rest of us wondered why Rich chose this place.

Chorus

Broadback River

After a day of paddling with Bill Blain I modified our Canoeing in the Rain song to make it The Bill Blain song.

Papa Bill Blain had a wonderful thought:
“Let’s go canoeing with the maps that I bought.”
So to Broadback River we all did proceed,
now it looks like some dry clothes we all soon will need.

Chorus: Ca-noe-ing, Ca-noe-ing in the rain. Our hands are all callused, our shoulders in pain.

We paddle on the left, we paddle on the right.
We got a late start so we paddle through the night.
We hit an R2 and Bill calls for forward speed.
But more than one paddle moving is what this boat needs.

Chorus: Ca-noe-ing, Ca-noe-ing in the rain. Our hands are all callused, our shoulders in pain.

Stuck in Chibougamau

At the take-out location, a bridge at HWY 113 at Km 376.3 we loaded our canoe and gear into Skip’s Forester and headed out to retrieve Ken’s SUV from the put-in.  We cruised along at 55 mph on the gravel road.  Part way there Skip expressed concern if he would have enough fuel left to return to Chibougamua once we had completed the shuttle.  Upon reaching the put-in we checked to ensure Ken’s replacement tire was still good – it was.  Skip detected the smell of oil and so we checked the dip stick which was dry.  Looking under the engine we saw a pool of oil and a small stream emanating from the oil pan.  We surmised that our speed caused a stone to be thrown up against the oil pan and causing a leak.  We extracted day packs and food from Skip’s car and returned to the group at the take out to share the news noting on the way the low fuel situation in Ken’s SUV.  Our plan was to extract ourselves to Chibougamau where Skip could get cell phone coverage, contact AAA and arrange for a tow truck to come in the 120km and retrieve the car for repair.  Fortunately Skip had recently upgraded his AAA coverage to include a 100 mile towing range. Riding out in Ken’s SUV we closely monitored the fuel and estimated our drop dead location based on the SUV’s calculated range.  Ken drove a steady 35mph to enhance our range.  Once the low fuel warning set off the car’s computer no longer provided range information.  Our hopeful goal was to reach the ranger’s station located 107km from the turn off to the put-in.  At the ranger’s station Skip was able to secure phone numbers of two towing garages while Ken and I  dumped in about 12oz of Coleman’s fuel and set out for Chibougamau.  Those following us detected white exhaust plumes but we experienced no problems and managed to reach Chibougamau and a gas station where we pumped 18.33 gallons of fuel into an 18.7 gallon fuel tank. Skip departed the group to ride with the tow truck and direct him to the Forester.  The repair shop would not be looking at Skip’s car until Monday AM. The punctured oil pan kept Skip in Chibougamau for five additional days during which we exchanged occasional emails.  I sent Skip this rendition of  “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady.

Dead! Dead! My car is broke and dead.
I couldn’t drive it home even if I want.

Weep! Weep! My eyes tear and seep.
When I think of the bills that are ahead.

I could have stayed all year!
I could have stayed all year!
And spent winter in Quebec.

I could have camped some more.
No one would hear me snore, ‘cuz I was left here by myself.

I’ll never know to speak in French.
If I did, I’d propositioned that wench.

My dear Chibougamau, what will I do with you?
I could have stayed, stayed, stayed, all year!