Or maybe cheap cameras and klutzy photographers are just a bad combination. As I mentioned earlier, I hoped to be able to present a dazzling photodocumentary of a recent AYMF Club canoe outing on the Little Miami River. Since I didn’t want to risk dunking my Nikon 5700, or even my Canon Rebel, and I haven’t figured out a way to get pictures from my cheap little digital camera without a Windows system, I took a cheap little 35mm. The lack of a decent lens was only the first of my problems; when I got home, I had trouble rewinding and unloading the film (couldn’t have been the beer), which resulted in a lot of washed out and streaky pictures. I would have thrown the whole batch away, but I couldn’t bear to let the 25th anniversary AYMF Canoe Outing go totally undocumented, so I’ll use some of the least ruined ones to illustrate the narration. (I would say none of these pictures are worth a thousand words, but some might question whether my words are worth anything either).
The crew was somewhat smaller than some of the early trips back in the good ole days, but it included most of the hard-core regulars of more recent years. Aside from myself, Charlie was the only one on this trip who had been on the inaugural cruise in 1978. (There have been a couple of years when the trip didn’t happen, so it’s not actually the 25th trip. But we’ve been fairly regular since 1978, so I think it’s fair to call it the 25th anniversary trip).
Along with us grizzled old-timers were the more recent regulars, the Sullivans; and Crash, who was with husband number 5 for the second year in a row. (It was agreed that he’s a keeper because he somehow managed to keep the canoe upright and between the banks, in spite of the handicap in the bow). And, making a debut voyage, we had a pair of youngsters who weren’t even born when this tradition started.
With a beautiful sunny day, and a reasonably vigorous crew, we opted for the traditional 12-mile trip, instead of wimping out with the 6-miler as I hate to admit we have done on a couple of occasions. We still lacked some of the ambience of some of the very early trips. Our transportation to the starting point was a van of fairly recent vintage, instead of the traditional retired school bus groaning up the hills in bulldog gear. And without the school-bus atmosphere (and without Dog), nobody was tempted to lighten the coolers until we hit the river.
And, speaking of coolers, I made a serious tactical error. Being a loner in a kayak with little storage room, I have to rely on others to carry my beer supply. The kayak’s superior manuverability makes this a satisfactory arrangement, as long as I pick a canoe that’s not likely to tip. But this year, it ended up in the youngsters’ canoe, because Michelle thought they should take the lightest one, and my beer was lighter than Michelle and Rob’s food. As it turned out, we should have weighted the damn thing with rocks. The whippersnappers were totally unimpressed by the pace set by their elders who just wanted a leisurely drift, and for much of the trip, they were barely within sight of us.
That wasn’t a major problem for the first part of the trip, as I actually enjoyed shuttling back and forth between the beerboat and the drifters. But as usual, I was undone by my own bravado. I decided this sign only applied to canoes, not kayaks, and I boldly ventured past it instead of taking the right fork as instructed. Eventually, the reason for the sign appeared, and it was equal-opportunity. No boat of any type was going to get past that, unless it was carried.
So I got a good workout paddling briskly back upstream to the fork, and then pursuing my beer supply, which had been travelling merrily downstream during my ordeal. Fortunately, I had grabbed a fresh beer right before taking the road not taken (otherwise I might never have survived), but by the time I was reunited with my cooler, I was way past ready for another one.