“You’d better turn back around and watch where we’re going,” suggested Tarzan as their canoe bounced off the bank for the first of what would be multiple up-close and personal encounters with both sides of Current River in a short stretch of shallow fast-rolling water. As Nancy Drew hunkered down and shielded her face from a dense canopy of overhanging branches, he asked if she had ever seen the movie Deliverance. The kids were referring to that in their snickers on the duo’s departure. She had not so she made a mental note to ask him about the plot during some lazy floating on their 5-day trip. First matter, though, was getting to the middle of the river which seemed just a paddle-length away.
“River” didn’t fit this scene. It was a narrow, shallow creek that had obviously weathered flash flooding multiple times from the looks of the high gullied banks. Maneuvering it should have been nothing more than a playful zip through a chuckling stream, the banks close enough that even Nancy Drew could have tossed a rock from one to the other.
Getting to the center proved to be an unexpected dilemma for the canoeists who considered themselves proficient paddlers. When they zigged, the river would suddenly zag. Nancy Drew initially relied on her oar for protection. Then she started using it to shove the canoe away from the bank as she frantically tried to avoid the creepiness of all that vegetation.
There had been much excited chatter about the excursion in the planning stage. Where had that exuberance gone? It had morphed into debate, a loud one, about who was at fault for the embarrassing situation. (Thank goodness there were many sharp curves behind them; their canoe was not visible to the church kids.)
T—When are you gonna put your paddle in the water?
N—When you keep me off the bank!
T—-You’re the lookout.
N—Surely you can see over my head. Oh, maybe not, it has stayed in the trees.
T—The trees won’t hurt you. Paddle!!
Maybe they looked safe to him. She was eyeing poison ivy everywhere, and the grapevines entwining the limbs were starting to look like snakes.
N—Maybe if you wouldn’t put so much force into your strokes, we could go straight. You overpower me!
T—-Maybe you should put some muscle in yours. (Add a few unprintable words here, and turn up the volume. You get the drift.)
Nancy Drew continued her analysis of the situation. To her it was obvious that a change in seating was in order, but that suggestion was not even acknowledged.
…Keep on doing what you’ve been doing, and you’ll keep on getting what you’ve been getting…All have heard some version of that. Apparently Tarzan had not, and was not impressed. Nor was he impressed with the recounts of all her successful canoe adventures sitting in the back. He was not switching.
The fact that the distance between the zigs and the zags had lengthened somewhat became apparent when the entire canoe floated under a low hefty limb serving as a sunny perch for a colorful hefty reptile. Both leaned WAY back to avoid contact.
N—We can’t keep on this way! WHAT IF THAT HAD FALLEN INTO THE CANOE!!!
Tarzan agreed as they pondered that perhaps it was the extra weight that was creating the problem. They were accustomed to transporting little more than lunch on their outings. He had to fix this, or he would be stuck with a petrified lunatic for five whole days. There was no other choice but to keep going. At first stop he would check the map to see where there might be a phone to plan his…their…rescue.
Suddenly the river zagged again, and with a deafening roar it catapulted the canoe right into a deep cleft in a sheer rock wall, engulfing it with a tight grip. They began to take on water.
( Next week-Bottom’s Up)