Sunday, June 28, 2009
I spent most of yesterday on the water and I did not have a paddle in my hand. That fact, along with the calendar indicating that it's the last weekend in June, meant that once again, for the 37th year in a row, I would be attending the Eau Claire River Float Trip.
In addition to getting older, many other things have changed with the float trip over the years. The river itself, which I first experienced as a Boy Scout in 1968, is constantly changing its channel, creating new islands, and turning existing islands into part of the mainland. As the masthead on the blog indicates, we have also become experienced as a result of bad judgement. No trucks have been rolled, no 2nd degree sunburn suffered, no dehydrated floaters, indecent exposure, or people unable to make it out of the river under their own power for the last several years. Its a fairly laid back, sometimes mildly risque event, and there is a core of people who look forward to the last Saturday in June for most of the month.
This is not to say the event is without problems. This year it was raining when I started my 100 mile drive eastward and I knew that the weather forecast of 70% chance of showers would chase away some of the wimpy, wussy, weak tit, fair weather floaters. You know who you are. Of course it was warm and sunny for most of the day and the one shower we did get lasted all of 10 minutes. You would think people would learn after 37 years but I guess bad judgement doesn't always result in experience.For the hundredth time I was stunned and shocked that the weather forecast was 180 degrees wrong. Another problem that has not yet been solved is supplying the floaters, drifting sedately down the river in their inner tubes, with an adult beverage when they require it. We have a canoe where all the small coolers and dry clothes are stored and the plan has always been for the canoe to be close to most of the tubers to replenish beverages. A monkey wrench has been thrown into this plan year after year by the occupants of the canoe, my sister (Help him you assholes!), and her partner in crime GuzziSuzy. They seem unable to focus on staying within a reasonable or sometimes even shouting distance of their customers. During planning discussions this knotty problem was brainstormed and it was suggested that a couple monkeys from the zoo would do better, be more trainable, and have a much friendlier disposition than the two incumbents. My sister, upon hearing the suggestion, remarked to "be sure to get the ones with the big red butts". She was certainly not talking about the kayaking condition that results from sweating in a neoprene Farmer John when the air is too warm and the water too cold to avoid wearing it.
A call to both the Como Park and Apple Valley Zoo revealed that renting monkeys was not part of their operational charter. So I decided to do the next best thing. When we got off the water from Oak Island a couple weeks back, the VOR pointed out the monkey store across from the restaurant we were eating at. A short walk produced two monkey visors. When I got home I went online and was once again amazed at what the internet could offer. I simply Googled 'monkey butt costumes' and they popped right up. We did wonder what the guys in the factory in China making monkey butts thought of we Americans but that was beside the point. Their outfits were complete and I explained to the ladies that a sun protectant for their delicate faces and a new wearable seat cushion for the canoe could only make the trip more comfortable. They were extremely grateful.
I'm sorry to report that they monkey costumes did nothing to alleviate the problem that inspired them. The women were still miles ahead, surly, unresponsive, and self absorbed for most of the trip. I suppose raising our own monkeys would be the logical solution but I hate to invest that sort of time and money for one day a year. I'm sure we'll think of something. In the interim, enjoy the clip of a young man attempting to get out of the river and up the bank. Note the monkey-like belly scratching. A possible candidate for next year??