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PostPosted: January 18th, 2023, 1:45 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
wotrock wrote:
You cannot make anything idiot proof because the idiots will outsmart you every time!! :D :) :(


That aphorism from Wotrock about organizing group shuttles got me thinking about past challenges. It’s winter, it’s slow and I know y’all have shuttle stories. Let’s hear ‘em.

I’ll start, with one of my favorite people. On group trips Anita, a regular companion on day paddles and campers, one of the University cohort, with a PhD in Microbiology, would routinely attempt to “help” me coordinate the shuttle.

“Why don’t A, B & C take cars X, Y & Z?”.
“Uh, well, Anita, we won’t have enough room for the passengers”.
After a few minutes pondering that obvious flaw she would follow with “How about if we just take D, E and F cars up to the put in and leave XYZ here?.
“Uh, well, Anita, we won’t be able to bring all the canoes in one trip”.

Every. Single. Time. Luckily Anita is a fun and good natured companion, otherwise I would have thought she was just screwing with me. But every trip she would explain her novel shuttle solution that saves time, gas and travel. Which, admittedly, is doable if you leave a few boats and paddlers behind.

Many shuttle mishaps involved vehicle keys, fewer once I started requesting that passengers “Show me your keys, jingle them aloft in the back seat so I can see” before I would even start the van. The adult version of “Let me hear your seat belts click”

“Oh, your keys are in your dry bag? Just reach over the seat, pull them out and let me see”. I know that sounds clip board & whistle authoritarian, yet a couple times . . . . . Trust, but verify.

A pre “Show me and jingle” mishap. We were paddling with a novice couple. I know I “asked” about keys; their car was left at the take out as our ride back. They did have their keys at the take out. In the ignition of their car. Their locked car.

I knocked on the door of a nearby manse and asked “We locked our keys in our car, do you have a coat hanger?”. The answer was no. Geeze, thanks a bunch. May I speak with the Master of the House?

We eventually managed to find a length of scrap wire alongside the road and popped the lock. Ever since then “Show me your keys, jingle them”.

Sometimes they don’t jingle, as on a downriver trip with friends Doug and Tom. Tom is notoriously pokey at put ins, as are other folks, especially novices on group trips. Or maybe my wife and sons are just incredibly efficient. OK, no “maybe” about it, their readiness has ruined me for aimless putzing about at puts ins, waiiting to go.

I adopted the technique of a local guidebook author who led frequent club trips. Once he ascertained that everyone was there, with the requisite boats, paddles and PFDs at the put in, he would get in his canoe and announce “I’ll be waiting downstream in the first eddy”.

Smart man; I didn’t come here to stand around the launch exasperated, watching folks mill about. Tom was dawdling, so I paddled off to wait on the water. The first good eddy was but a short distance downstream, just around a bend. I waited. I waited some more. I had a smoke and waited some more.

Even Tom should have launched by now, so I paddled back upstream to the put in. Doug had Tom leaned up against my van, frisking him. Tom had checked just before launching and could not find his key, which he had when he arrived.

Key, singular, not on a ring or fob, just a single naked key. Tom had searched. Tom had emptied his PFD pockets and gear bags and searched. Doug had searched Tom. Both had looked the one ground, and in their canoes, and under their canoes. In Doug’s pockets and Doug’s gear and other less than likely places. No key. It simply vanished!

I was about to suggest a full body cavity search when Tom stuck his hand deep in his dry pants pocket. And found a small hole at the bottom. Tom’s dry pants were tucked into his Mukluks. As was his car key, slid down his union suit leg to rest nestled unfelt flush between boot and socks. It was a shoes-off TSA screening long before there was TSA screening.

In the usual friend finger pointing I was to blame; I had given Tom those dry pants.

I truly have been to blame a few times. There was the time I cabled and padlocked a friend’s canoe to his car when we left it racked and unused at a remote marsh put in. And later watched him drive away, neglecting to unlock it or give him the key. Oops.

At that same remote marsh put in I once loaded four family canoes on the van while the wife and sons loaded the gear in back. I needed to move the van up a few feet to load the last canoe. Backed up, threw the keys on the dash and shut the door. Shut the door a millisecond after the van keys hit the dash, triggering the door lock button on the fob.

Those dash triggered set were my primary driving ring of keys, but I had a duplicate ring in my essentials bag, and a spare van key in my PFD pocket. My wife likewise had her primary key ring in a dry bag, and a duplicate van key in her PFD. If you are counting that is five van keys.

All were now locked inside the van. I should mention it was a tidal-waters-still-unfrozen winter trip. Standing around a locked van, cold and windblown late in the day was not prove to be quality family time. I was all for throwing a rock through a widow, but it was an eastern shore marsh trip; there wasn’t a rock, or anything firmer than pluff mud and Spartina grass within 50 miles.

It took considerable doing to get a road service lock-out deep in the marsh boonies, and the van soon got a magnetic hide-a-key in the frame. I wonder if that hide-a-key is still unrusty usable. I wonder if I can even find where I stuffed it.

Shutte stories? Let’s hear them.


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PostPosted: January 18th, 2023, 2:09 pm 
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Don’t have any shuttle horror stories but did recall one trip to Labrador when you mentioned the hidey key. It was only one canoe and two people.
I had driven the Trans Labrador highway before and knew what a pounding the truck could be subjected to. Rather than a magnetic container I wrapped a key in a Ziploc, then wrapped that in electrical tape and then fastened to the frame with tough electrical zip ties.
Had to arrange with a local to store the truck in his driveway (with the ignition key of course) while we were on the river. As luck would have it he was not at home when we arrived back after the trip.
A minute with the Leatherman and we were driving to get fast food and a hotel room.
I think I sold the truck with a spare key attached. Forgot all about it until your story.


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PostPosted: January 18th, 2023, 9:51 pm 
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It was a club trip on the Wildhay River which is in the Alberta foothills north of Hinton and south of Grande Cache. I was with a group that planned to do a run from a provincial group campsite down to a Highway. The run is not all that long but the shuttle is fairly long and most of it is on gravel roads. We figured out how to get all of the boats and people to the top while leaving a vehicle with enough room for all of the drivers at the bottom. All good but no mandatory "Mike McCrae key check". We are such trusting souls.
Anyway, it's not hard to guess that when we got to the bottom of the run, the owner of the shuttle vehicle discovered that his keys were in his friend's vehicle at the start of the run. What to do? We decided that we would send out hitchhikers - one pair to try to get back to the start of the run and another individual would try to hitchhike back to our campground, which was in the opposite direction, and where there was a spare set of keys for the shuttle vehicle.
The pair who chose to hitchhike back to the start of the run were two middle aged men with moderately large beards and not overly athletic builds. One of the two described themselves as zz Top members. The lone hitchhiker was a trim, athletic, good looking young man. They stationed themselves on opposite sides of the 2 lane highway - the pair trying to go north and the individual trying to go south. They were situated so that all of the rest of us could watch and offer words of "encouragement" as vehicle after vehicle went by - all of the comments were, as you can imagine, very supportive. It wasn't too long before the two suspicious characters got a ride - well before the attractive young man. We were very surprised by that turn of events.
In addition, I think everyone assumed that the two bearded wonders would be able to get a ride to the start of the gravel side road but would have trouble getting a ride on that seldom travelled road. Surprise, surprise - not only did they get a ride first, but the driver of the car gave them a ride all the way down the gravel road and all the way to the put in site. We were able to complete the shuttle and learn that there's no accounting for the allure of middle aged zz Top clones.


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PostPosted: January 20th, 2023, 3:01 pm 
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We had a group trip in the 90’s that stands as a classic of comedic shuttle mishaps.

One of the infamous “Gentleman’s trips”, eight guys off for a weekend of car camping and day paddling along the Paw Paw Bends section of the Potomac River. The usual Paw Paw Bends trip starts at Paw Paw WVA and ends 22 miles later at Little Orleans MD.

Usually done as an overnight camper, this time we planned to car camp at a primitive site midway long the river and float the upper and lower sections as day trips beginning or ending at camp. Great plan, we’ll all meet midway at Bond Landing, set up camp and self-shuttle from there.

The shuttle route to Bond’s Landing runs through Green Ridge State Forest, with miles of dirt roads, stream fords and many unnamed, unmarked turns. I had suggested that folks unfamiliar stop at “Bill’s Place”, a funky bar/general store to pick up one of Bill’s hand drawn map copies for a dollar.

Bill was known as Dollar Bill; the ceiling of his establishment was covered with dollar bills folks had annotated and stapled in place. I hope, when it burned some years later, Bill got a good settlement; that was a couple grand in dollar-billed ceiling.

https://www.mdmountainside.com/bills-place

One year during bow season I was bellied up to the bar at Bill’’s for a quickie when a deer hunter came in with a wild turkey, bragging rights intact with his arrow still through the body, and laid it “Drinks-on-me” bloody on the bar. That kinda place, I’m distraught to see those backwoods establishments disappear.

Most of the fellas did stop (“Most” will become important later) and arrived that morning, one of them surprisingly with Ben as a passenger. Ben’s van had died five miles up the mountain, en route in.

Leading of course to a group of non-mechanically inclined guys standing around the raised hood of a disabled vehicle, suggesting helpful hints like “Did you jiggle all the wires?”

Ben deduced it was the fuel pump, and I volunteered to drive him to Paw Paw, where there might be an auto parts store. The rest of the boys would set a shuttle vehicle down at Little Orleans and launch from camp without us.

(There was no auto parts store in Paw Paw WVA. There isn’t much of anything in that part of WVA. After a scenic day long tour of where Jesus lost his sandal we located a fuel pump. Not the correct fuel pump, which jury rigged did not work)

Meanwhile the last of our group, Harry, had arrived late, delayed by picking up his brand new car so he could show it off. Already late Harry did not stop at Bill’s Place for a map. Harry was another of the PhD crew from the University (now Chair of his department at “Prestigious” U). Harry don’t need no stinkin’ map, Harry could figure it out on his own.

Harry did not figure it out on his own. After driving to and fro, hither and yon and making various turns he elected to drive back to Little Orleans. Not to pick up a Dollar Bill map mind you, but to start afresh from the beginning. Harry proceeded to stop at each side road, look around and ponder the meaning of a life still lost.

Eureka! At one intersection Harry found a directional signpost with arrows. None of the arrows were labeled “Bond Landing”, but still, it’s a clue.

Someone knocked over the wood post, shearing it off at the base. Harry later described, in great wood-fiber-strata-detail, trying to prop it back up with the splinted ends aligned. In the scientific method negative results are still results. Even if they don’t get you more found.

Harry continued aimlessly driving State Forest roads, making every turn, down every dirt side road he encountered. Down, and up; why Harry thought a riverside camp would be higher up in the mountains may be a PhD “Try every possible solution” thing. It’s called Bond “Landing”, I doubt it is along the ridgetop.

At one point, late in the day, Harry was on the road down to Bond Landing when he saw Ben’s van parked along the track. Using his PhD wisdom Harry deduced that Bond Landing must be a hike-in site somewhere on the mountainside and, by his own admission, spent considerable time wandering through the forest shouting "HEY, YOU GUYS", "WHERE ARE YOU GUYS?” and “DAAMMIT, COME ON, THIS ISN’T FUNNY ANYMORE”.

If Harry had but driven a few more miles to the end of the road he would have found our camp. He did not.

Harry eventually gave up beseeching forest help and continued his driving tour of Green Ridge State Forest dirt roads. It was getting dark when Tom’s van, distinctively laden with a pyramid of canoes (we were short Ben’s van and my truck), passed him going in the other direction, en route back to camp after their late start day paddling start.

Found at last, found at last, good god almighty I’m found at last. Harry spun his car around and floored it, afraid to lose his guide to camp. Tom noticed the smuggler’s turn and the rapidly approaching headlights, thought WTF, and went faster. Harry was having none of that and closed the gap.

Faster and faster. Tom, hearing banjo music and “Squeal like a piggy” in his head, was throwing a rooster tail of dust and pebbles and careening across stream fords at full speed. Tom had passenger encouragement, “Faster Tom, faster, he’s still right behind us”.

All the way down the mountain to Bond Landing. Where words of various sorts were finally exchanged.

The shade tree fuel pump fix was a failure. Ben & I spent the following day arranging a back woods tow for his van while the rest of the crew floated the upper Bends down to camp. Harry went home to have his brand new car repainted.

That trip was so memorable that we returned to Bond Landing for Gentleman’s trips for years afterwards. And infamous events continued to occur, that place has a weird Voodoo juju.


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PostPosted: January 20th, 2023, 4:12 pm 
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We need a L I K E button!
Good, and humorous, write up.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2023, 9:56 am 
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Good thing I can type without looking at the keyboard- I have rivers of tears running down my face from laughing! Not from the unfortunate events (I have had my own), but the way the stories are told. Does anyone want to publish a myccr book? :):):):):):

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"I've never met a river I didn't like. The challenges are what we remember, and the experiences will make great memories for when I can pick up my paddle no more". Me


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2023, 12:23 pm 
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While not on the funny side of things, I have found that Mike's observation that recognized intelligence and/or the number of college degrees does not make a "shuttle organizer" to be true. I have witnessed a number of people of unquestionable intelligence (for many things) get completely flummoxed when it came to the seeming endless variables to consider when organizing a shuttle. Shuttles seem to require some special kind of spatial and temporal awareness to be successful. Those intelligences/skills are not always linked to other areas of intelligence.


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2023, 7:17 am 
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Ralph wrote:
Shuttles seem to require some special kind of spatial and temporal awareness to be successful. Those intelligences/skills are not always linked to other areas of intelligence.


I may not be the sharpest tack in the box, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Smileyface thing.

I organized monthly group trips for 25 years; day trips, weekend of rivers trips, paddle in campers. Try organizing a shuttle for this group trip.

ImageEK_0045 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was an annual novice trip, “Anything that floats”, 13 miles down the Potomac from Brunswick to Mouth of Monocacy. Usually a dozen+ boats, but one year when I was active in two local canoe clubs I listed it on both of their cruise schedules.

I should have been more specific about “Anything that floats”; a co-worker once showed up with a Zodiac inflatable and oars. It seems those are not designed to be rowed for 13 miles against the wind. He later became one of my bosses, and didn’t hold it against me. And got a canoe, coming on trips with his son for years.

Listed on two club schedules 64 people showed up at the take out, and as I was figuring out the shuttle late arrivals kept appearing. I recalculate a shuttle plan several times and eventually got them all to the launch at Brunswick, with enough left vehicles at Mouth of Monocacy haul the drivers back upstream.

The launch was chaos, 20 cars with 40 boats showing up all at once. Telling the assemblage that we would meet up at the confluence with Catoctin four miles downstream on river left for a picnic lunch I started sending them off in groups of 8 or 10, each group shepherded (cat herded) by a couple of experienced paddlers.

I took the last group so I could paddle sweep. One couple had their canoe blocking the boat ramp, a courtesy no-no, and I told them “Ok, you two are coming with us, let’s get going”

Their response was “Who ARE you?”. They weren’t in fact with our party, and had wondered WTF when a motley crew of 40 arrived all at once.

The weekend of rivers trips were their own special shuttle hell. Dozens of paddlers tent camped in a State Park, paddling a different river or creek each day. I had photocopies of river & shuttle maps and would distribute them the night before. “Ok, we’re paddling Nassawango Creek tomorrow, leaving camp at 10:0am”

At 10:00am I would park my truck on the camp road headed out and the participants would line up parked behind me. Wagon Ho! That should work, right?

“Oh wait, I forgot to pack a lunch”. “Has anyone seen my water shoes?”. “Wait, lemme use the bathroom first”. “Yeah, me too”. As soon as one came back from wandering off I’d lose two more. 10:00 am often became 11:00, and sometimes noon.

That was also an annual trip and I eventually took to declaring “I’m leaving at 10:00, anyone who is parked behind my truck can follow me. Otherwise use your map”. At 10:15 I would drive away. That usually worked.

Usually, but not always. One day’s paddle was the down the Pocomoke through the cypress swamp, taking out at the Pocomoke Canoe Company dock in Snow Hill. We had already left cars at the canoe company take out and driven upstream to Porter’s Crossing when a late getting started group arrived at the outfitter shop.

They had somehow missed the “Porter’s Crossing” part, and asked the proprietor Barry, who was familiar with our yearly visits, where we had gone. Barry directed them to Whiton Crossing, a 5 miles upstream of Porter’s .

The year before we had launched at Whiton. Never, ever again; Barry’s bread and butter is Porter to Snow Hill, and he keeps it relatively clear of strainers. No one has ever removed the strainers below Whiton. Dozens and dozens of strainers, some so closely spaced we didn’t even get back in the canoes but instead simply swam the canoes another 50 feet downriver. That section had the most haul over giant cypress trees trip I have ever seen, and it can be disheartening to clamper atop a giant river blocking cypress only to see another just ahead.

Although cleared of strainers there are partially submerged “speedbump” logs below Porter’s Crossing, and even those present an unchallenging challenge. We might have a dozen boats headed downriver, so I would tell folks “Get up to speed, lean back and as you glide over the log lean forward. Wait for the next boat behind you to bump over in case they need help, then head downstream while they wait for the next boat to bump over”.

That seemingly simple instruction was too much to comprehend. In all parts. Too many novice paddlers would paddle hard only to stop paddling well short of the speedbump, glide 1/3 of the way over and get stuck. I would stick around to holler encouragement “Paddle, paddle hard, keep paddling!”. Even that proved to hard to understand.

Other folks didn’t want to miss some comedic episode, so they would wait and watch with cameras ready. Each easy speedbump log could take a half hour to get the group over, and it could take six hours to paddle & bump 5 otherwise unobstructed miles.

One late start trip I realized that, with a mile or more still to go, we were not getting off before dark. I abandoned the slow moving group, paddled like hell to Snow Hill, affixed a big D-cell flashlight to my bow and paddled back for them.

The crew that mistakenly launched from Whiton had an adventure to remember, arriving back at camp after dark, wet and muddy, scraped and scratched and plumb exhausted. And the select part of that crew who came the following year were lined up behind my truck by 10:00 sharp, ready to go.

If perchance you think parts of that embellished (who me?) this Pocomoke trip report from Kris Wolpert is a classic.

https://www.bluemountainoutfitters.net/ ... is_02.html

The BMO crew and found family are not the only paddlers to spend an unintended night along the Pocomoke. Some years ago there was a scathing post on a local canoe club board from a couple novice guys who also spent the night hunkered down in the swamp, tearing guidebook author Ed Gertler a new one for his time and distance notation for Whiton to Snow Hill.

Distance, 10.5 miles. Correct.
Time, 4.0 hours. BWAHAHAHA

Gertler paddles a C1. Vigorously and non-stop. Anyone who has ever paddled a river using Gertler’s book knows to nearly double his time estimate, even without any obstacles.


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2023, 10:10 am 
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Great stories - yours and Kris Wolpert's. All's well that ends well. Wolpert's story reminds me, again, to always go prepared especially when you really don't know the run very well.

At the risk of high-jacking this thread, these stories remind me of Bill Mason's discussion of "rigor" and "adversity" in, I believe, "Song of the Paddle". He maintains that a little rigor is good but when rigor moves into adversity, it gets old in a hurry. I've had this discussion a few times with paddling companions and I have reached the conclusion that what constitutes rigor and what constitutes adversity are very personal based on general attitude, personal fitness, preparedness, etc.
I'm impressed with the positive attitude of the people in your stories.


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PostPosted: January 24th, 2023, 11:04 am 
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Ralph wrote:
I have reached the conclusion that what constitutes rigor and what constitutes adversity are very personal based on general attitude, personal fitness, preparedness, etc.


Perhaps include age combined with experience. I have zero desire to ever do another strainer trip from hell. Done that enough when I was younger, stronger and more agile, and at times actually thought it was kinda fun. Wet tee shirt contests notwithstanding.

ImageEK_0019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I got an e-mail from a like-age local guidebook author recently, letting me know that one of our favorite streams has five challenging strainers in the first mile. His group struggled past the first five, came to the sixth, said “To hell with this” and turned back.

He noted, with some unpublishable emphasis (although such language would make for unique paddling guidebook prose), that they now needed to struggle over the same five strainers getting back, so ten strainers to go two miles.

Nope, time to cross another trip down James Branch/Hitch Pond Branch off my list of familiar favorites. In the cop buddy movie vernacular “I am getting too old for this shit”.

Ralph wrote:
I'm impressed with the positive attitude of the people in your stories.


It helps that everyone maintains a sense of humor. A few more tales of “adversity” from Bond Landing trips.

A friend brought a large whole salmon as a group feed treat. Two novice “fishermen” in the group inquired “Where did you get that?”. Instead of replying “At Faidley’s Fish Market” he told them he had caught it a couple miles downstream, “In a pool just below a rocky riffle”.

They were gone a very l o n g time. That was not the last time they fell for an unintended spur-of-the-moment fishing spoof. Maybe humor, mixed with some naivete.

There were of course libations in Gentlemen’s camp. One night while the rest of the group was still going strong I stumbled (operative word) over to my truck and was overtaken by a sudden urge to take a nap under the bed cap; bending down to unzip my tent seemed overly challenging at the time.

Sometime in the wee hours I awoke, still fully dressed but uncovered quite cold, with the fire out and everyone else gone to bed. I got out, unzipped my tent and instead of crawling inside dragged out my sleeping bag and returned to the truck bed.

The next morning I heard companions stirring and began disgorging myself from my sleeping bag. Noticing the tag on the hood I thought “That’s odd I thought, we don’t own a Slumberjack bag”.

In the dark I had unzipped Tom’s identical Timberline tent and pulled his spread open sleeping bag off his inert body. Tom awoke shivering some time later, cursed his so called “friends” and spent a one-dog-night spooned beside Bob the Hound for warmth.

One more Bond Landing story. Bond Landing stories are legion. As are Tom Stories.

It was a Bond Landing trip with a large numbers of attendees. I had huge green heavy duty poly tarp, something like 30’ x 60’, originally used to cover a house roof crushed by a falling tree. I had made a bunch 8’ tall side poles for it and, because it was a freaking circus tent, made a 20’ tall center pole from two telescoping poles joined together.

It was getting stormy, and we guyed & staked the bejeepers out of the side poles. For lack of anything better we stuck a 5 gallon plastic bucket on the end of the tall center pole as tarp puncture protection.

We were pleased with the extensive coverage, it got seriously thunderstorm windy, and we had a fire going at one end of the mega tarp. Tom was standing at the fire end of the tarp, snapping wood over his knee when he went down in a heap with a cry of anguish (which later proved to be a torn ACL).

We helped Tom back to his camp chair with uncharacteristic sympathy, where he sat rubbing his knee and groaning in pain. A huge gust of wind lofted the tall mega tarp and I watched in awe as the 20’ center pole & bucket wobbled and swayed briefly, deciding which 360 degree topple angle to fall unsupported. The wavering pole and bucket made up its mind.

Tom was seated precisely at that topple angle. Tom was seated precisely 20’ away. The bucket hit him square on his still bent over groaning noggin. With a resounding CLONK I will never forget.

I, and the other gents, to this day have never apologized for bursting out laughing. Brian spent part of the next day carving a hardwood crutch for Tom. Any yet Tom came on Gentlemen’s Trips year after year.

Tom is a comedic legend of sundry mishaps. Continuing to this day. He dropped off a canoe a few days ago that needs work, and brought up a six of beer, apparently I work cheap.

We were sitting in the shop talking refurbished outfitting when he cracked a beer and, not wanting to be appear a crude swiller straight from the can, decanted it into a cup.

Unfortunately what Tom grabbed off the bench was not a cup. It was a foam beer coozie.

Who would have imagined that foam coozies were not made for that purpose? The hole in the base proved far from leakproof, and he was holding the coozie directly over his lap. When I finished laughing I told his dog Finn “He really isn’t all that smart, is he?” Finn may be a West Viriginia Porch Hound rescue, but Finn nodded in agreement.

Someday the story of Tom, the frozen Butterball turkey and the tumescent pony bedpartner. God bless friends like Tom; I lack the imagination to write fiction.


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PostPosted: February 4th, 2023, 9:12 am 
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We had a locked car last year that forced us into two extra car trip legs, but in the end really only cost us an hour.

Mike, I enjoyed reading about your Potomac adventures...I learned to paddle as a kid in the area around Harper's Ferry, both the Potomac side and the Shenandoah. We'd usually do two or three nights out each time, but the Staircase and White Horse were always the highlight.


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PostPosted: February 4th, 2023, 12:29 pm 
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sns wrote:
I learned to paddle as a kid in the area around Harper's Ferry, both the Potomac side and the Shenandoah. We'd usually do two or three nights out each time, but the Staircase and White Horse were always the highlight.


That’s a great area to be a paddling kid. Also a fine area for leading novice/practiced novice group trips. For a couple dozen years I led a trip a month, including lots of stuff out Potomac way, and had shuttle “issues” on Conocoheague Creek and elsewhere, even a few on the gentle Monocacy.

Reprised, one of those Monocacy mishaps from the ‘80’s, entitled “Is that a hacksaw or are you just happy to see me?

It was a beautiful day to be on the river. Our paddling party met at the take out to drop off vehicles only to discover a newly installed gate across the access road.

Hmmm, that's odd. We’ve used this take out before, and the area isn't posted, but there is a chain & padlock. Wait, no worries, they are just loosely wrapped around the gate and not actually locked. I guess it’s OK then, lets drop off the cars and head back upriver.

At day’s end we arrive at the take-out, rack boats and gear and drive up the hill to the gate.

LOCKED.

First, let’s all perform the "What now?” drill (in other words mill about aimlessly for a while) and then we'll consider our options.

I have a pair of bolt cutters in the back of my truck at the put-in. Yup, right there on my anal-paddlers gear checklist, between "ammo box" and "come-along"..."bolt cutters". I'll just hitch hike back, fetch my truck, nip that baby off and away we’ll go.

I stick out my thumb, doing the mental color commentary as vehicles crest the hill coming towards me. "Young mother with toddler in a station wagon - nope" . . . ."Suit & tie in a gleaming, late model SUV, no freakin' way". . . . "Old man in a rusty pickup truck? Hot damn, here comes my ride".

I hear a few war stories, listen to some bitching about "Them damn lawyers down in Warshington" (nodding in agreement) and get chauffeured straight to my truck door. Old men in rusty pickup trucks will always take you the extra mile. Except for the rusty part I now fit that bill, and will go the extra mile.

Get my truck and arrived back at the take-out to discover that another member of our party has hitch hiked off in the opposite direction, found a yard sale he remembered passing earlier, and bargained down the cost of a used hack saw to the amount of spare change he had collected.

Fortunately, before commencing work on the lock, we spent a few minutes at the gate admiring each other’s implement of destruction and while we're jawing away ("H.K. Porter #5's, those are damn nice cutters", "$1.27?...man, you got a good deal on that hacksaw") the local farmer who - surprise - owns the gate, lock and chain, not to mention the access road, pulls up.

Trying to look innocent while holding a conversation with a local whom you need to favorably impress while concealing a hack saw hurriedly stuffed down your pant leg isn’t easy.

Maybe it wasn't that hard; he probably calculated, given my stiffened gait and awkward posture, that I was just a harmless though muddle-headed paddler. He produced the key, freed our cars and showed us where he lived so we could pick up the key in the future.

The moral of this story is: “Speak softly and keep your hacksaw in your pants”.
Or maybe “It was fun, or at least memorable, to be young and stupid”.


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PostPosted: February 6th, 2023, 10:04 am 
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Joined: August 11th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6007
Location: Sunny Wasaga Beach
Catching up on some of your stories here, MM. Priceless! I'm glad I poked you. I don't have any first hand shuttle stories but even if I did they would pale in comparison to your.

You should really put some of this stuff in a book. I have read canoe stories in books that were told with much less flair, style, and humor than those.

The only shuttle story I can offer is second hand----The Minesing Wetlands, near us, is a popular day paddle that is best done using a shuttle. A group we paddled it with a few years back arrived at the takeout and suddenly realized that they had actually forgotten to do the shuttle! :P

BTW---it's a popular but confusing paddle. There were at least 2 emergency rescues done last summer and that is certainly not the first time rescues have been needed.

https://globalnews.ca/news/9095603/kaya ... elicopter/

and then there some real duffuses(duffi?) https://www.bayshorebroadcasting.ca/202 ... aga-river/

_________________

Old canoeists never die---they just smell that way.



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PostPosted: February 6th, 2023, 1:41 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2534
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
wotrock wrote:
You should really put some of this stuff in a book.


A lot of shuttle tales have seen print. A few in paddling magazines, many in club newsletters. When I was active in local clubs one of them published a multi-page newsletter of trip reports. Ah, the days of the quarterly newsletter delivered in the mail. It was like Christmas four times a year.

I was one of the few people organizing novice/practiced novice outings, so there were usually one or two such trip reports in each issue, some with shuttle oopsies. Those were gentled down for a more delicate general audience.

The Duckheads also mailed out a “newsletter” for years. Trip reports from the last quarter, next four month’s “schedule” of trips. Some Duckhead trip reports were the anti-Vegas; what happens on a Duckhead trip gets told and retold on future Duckhead trips, and for posterity less wholesomely NSFW written and distributed.

Another tale of Potomac tributary tribulations for once Potomac local sns.

We were doing a group trip down Conococheague Creek, taking out at Williamsport on the Potomac. This ended up being a trip with four couples, guys with their wives, and me as a 5th wheel. My wife, for some heaven-sent reason, could not make it that day.

At the take out the 5 gents piled into the shuttle car to head back upriver and fetch vehicles, leaving the wimmen folk to wait with the boats.

The gentlemen contingent had driven all of 100 yards up into Williamsport when one declared “I need to take a leak”. “Look, there’s a bar. Pull over!”

Great bar in Williamsport back in the 80’s. Let’s just stay for a beer and warm up. I should here mention that this was an off-season trip, and it was chilly out.

Cheap pitchers? Sure then, we’ll have a pitcher. Free shuffleboard? I’ll play the winner. Great juke box, we can’t leave yet, I’ve still got three songs left. Wait, who ordered this pitcher?

When we finally exited the bar we were shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that it had gotten rather dark. We have since calculated that this is, in fact, quite feasible if you go into a bar near dusk and come out an hour later. We still had the entire shuttle to run.

We might have gotten away with it if we had coordinated our stories. Unfortunately, when we finally arrived back at the take out, to a not-just-Fahrenheit chilly reception, we all blurted out a variety of excuses. “We had a flat”, “There was a really long train”, “We were abducted by aliens”.

Being the image of spouseless guilt I could only offer that “It wasn’t my fault, they made me do it”

Honestly it wasn’t me who suddenly needed to take a leak 100 yards up the road, or me who said “Look, there’s a bar. Pull over!”. I may have played a part with the juke box and second pitcher.

After that unchivalrous shuttle the gents were not permitted to run shuttle without supervision. And we worried for years when the wives would say “Oh, we’ll run the shuttle. You boys just wait rightttttt here”.


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PostPosted: February 8th, 2023, 1:31 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2534
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Mike McCrea wrote:
Someday the story of Tom, the frozen Butterball turkey and the tumescent pony bedpartner. God bless friends like Tom; I lack the imagination to write fiction.


There were many comedic parts to this trip, not all of them involving Tom, but he did play a leading roll in several.

For some years the Gentleman’s trip was a mid-winter camper, a canoe-in trip on Chincoteague Bay behind Assateague Island. A tidal trip, no potable water, so anything thirst quenching had to be paddled in. Winter, so there was no need of ice to keep beverages cold. Nuff said.

Tom is a skilled camp chef, famous for his group dinner repasts. Or maybe infamous for his well-after-dinner repasts; whatever you call a delicious meal that is, with regularity, ready to eat at 11pm. Tom was also famous for packing the kettle portion of a Webber grill. Tom needed a periscope to see over his bow on some trips.

Part A. I’ve told this favorite Tom tale before.
One February trip Tom decided to treat the Gentlemen to a full turkey dinner and brought along a Butterball with all the fixin’s. Packing his van Tom discovered that the Butterball, probably removed from his freezer that very dawn, was still frozen solid.

Not a problem. Tom was driving a Ford Aerostar, voted “Van with the biggest dash ever made”. Tom thinks “I can set the Butterball on the dash, turn the defrosters all the way up and thaw that puppy on the three hour drive down”.

It was a plan. Perhaps even a workable plan ‘til Tom needed to brake suddenly. The frozen Butterball slid forward and cracked the windshield. When his is wife later asked what happened and Tom told her “A bird hit it”. True that.

The Butterball was thawed in time for a post-midnight feast by the second night. Packing tents-light our fearless crew had erected an MSR Pavilion tarp as both barrier island wind shelter and group sleeping quarters.

https://www.moontrail.com/msr-pavilion.php

The windproof Pavilion made a wonderful shelter, a picnic table of roasted Butterball and other delights set sideways at the far end, with room to spare for all inside

After digesting the midnight turkey and partaking of other treats our plucky crew turned in for the night, bedded down together in the Pavilion. They did not manage to clean up the Butterball’s skeletal remains on the table, nor shut the fly panels at the open end of the pavilion.

Part B. This is really Topher’s story, and he tells it better.
Sometime in the wee hours Gent Topher awoke with the feeling that something was not quite right. Opening his eyes he found he was looking the belly of an Assateague stallion, standing overhead feet-on-either-side-of-his-sleeping bag, licking at Butterball remains on the table.

The stallion seemed quite enamored of the Butterball leftovers, tumescent in fact. Faced with a very real image of engorged happiness dangling inches from his face, Topher elected to quietly turn over and go back to sleep. Topher tells that story with understandable “What else was I going to do” nonchalance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5_asj1BGFs

Assateague Gentlemen’s trips were the stuff of legend, including other meal mishaps. Doug D and the missing prime rib, and idiot Aussie Dave’s steaks “cooked” outback style.


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