Far right is city cousin, Peggy, cousin Sandy and myself, in the drivers seat, off on a canoe trip with one of the canoes that my Dad built, way back in the mid 60's. The trip was in Aug. of '68., the year we all graduated from high school.My cousin Sandy and I had the best of times the last summer before we headed off to college/tech school, and most of that fun, started and ended with one last ride in the old '51 Chevy. ClaraBelle, as she was so rightly named, after dear Aunt Clara, carried us around all summer from one venture to another.
This particular day, we were determined to wet our feet while drifting down the Flambeau River from Nine Mile to Oxbo. This time, we did not even take a fishing pole, or any more food than a sandwich and a jug of water. Our goal was to just enjoy the sunshine, whiling away the day, as we took a float trip, dreaming of what our further education would bring as well as one last day of fun together. We knew things would never be the same. Mostly, we talked about how much we would miss each other and making ' pinky swears ' of how we would do this every summer.
Normally, a glide down the river from those two points takes about 5 hours. Oh, it can be done faster if you were to race it as had been done many times back when we were growing up until about 20-some years ago.
For some reason, those races no longer take place. Getting a bit off track here, I remember my Dad racing the river when I was a kid, and he and his neighbor won, not once but several times. Another year my hubby, Bill and his best man raced and won. That was the year we got married and also, part of a bachelor party. The last race I remember was in '86 when our son Stacy and his buddy, raced during Flambeau Rama, our towns big summer festival full of fun and fireworks. I think we all were stronger and far more active, back then. Anyway,
It took Sandy, myself, and Peggy, at least 8 hours to glide that trip. We took our time, checking out each creek that emptied into the river, and took pictures in our minds of the deer getting drinks, the muskrats and the beaver teaching their young how to prepare for winter, tho it was far off on this hot summer day. The eagle were fishing, but not us. We had an easier day planned.
There are several camping places along the river where canoe and river boat enthusiasts can take a break from the hot sun, the fishing and the trek down stream. That's today. Back in ' 68 when we pulled over, we rested on a knoll just past Big Barneby Rapids and off to the south of the river. With all of the sultry heat in the air, we were not on shore long. The mosquitoes were having a field day picnic out of us, and city girl Peggy started to cry, swearing she would never, ever again, go on a river trip with us, that we must be nuts. Sandy and I were sympathetic and holding back our laughter out of sheer respect for this poor cousin who obviously was no longer enjoying herself with her crazed cousins.
Needless to say, we gave in,( chewed up ourselves,) but never admitting that it bothered us tough country girls, we appeared reluctant to Peggy, but were glad to be back in the breeze of the rivers bend where the WI. state bird, the mosquito, was no longer a threat to our good humor.
It's been over 40 years, and we never did take another river trip together. I see that needs to change. ClaraBelle is a car of the past, a very bittersweet past. She now sits at the edge of the farm, a rust heap, full of sadness as a hornet nest rests in her rear fender.
The ol' 51 Chevy was to be restored at one time, but money never proved available, so as she sat waiting in the old shed at the farm, for years, finally Dad pulled her out, needing the room for other things. Mom was just telling me that it still makes her mad, the day she was dragged out of the shed and her front axle was broken. She said she just knew that we would someday have to funds to restore her. Now we finally could start, but ClaraBelle is sadly, beyond repair.
You know what they say, ' it was not meant to be.' Sad, but reality.
As for the float down the river, who could ask for more than good times just drifting the day away, just one last time.
Have a ' daydream day ' and