“Umm, where are the keys?”
“Don’t you have them.”
“Let me check the bag. Dammit, they’re not there.”
“We’ll have to call AMA, I guess.”
It’s a conversation we’ve all had, and it can really ruin a day.
Especially a day that, up until that point, had been wonderful.
It was a sunny June day and I had just recently finished my winter project, completely refinishing a cedar strip canoe.
The canoe doesn’t look pretty, the epoxy is uneven and bubbly, the fibreglass sheet is evident and the gunwales are very poorly put on. I can admit, I’m not much of a wood-worker. But dammit I tried.
When it floated without leaking on its test run at Three Mile Bend, I was thrilled. Warts and all it worked.
After the test run, I needed to put it to good use. My first mistake was thinking Crimson Lake near Rocky Mountain House would be that good use. As my tow truck driver said later, Fish Lake near Nordegg would have been better. He was right.
But my wife and I packed the canoe up and with the dog in tow we set out. Launching was easy and it wasn’t long before we had paddled into less traveled waters. The noise of power boats on the lake permeated everywhere, but they couldn’t get into certain shallower parts to the lake, and that’s where we wanted to go.
Lunch on the far side of the lake was pleasant, but a quick step in to the lake was short-lived after noticing a couple of leaches nearby.
The day was hot, but thankfully the water was cool. My wife, her pale skin roasting in the sun, pleaded with me to find a floating dock she could jump off of.
Settling on one that looked relatively vacant she got out, closed her eyes, held her nose and jumped in. Much to the confusion of a group on a nearby dock.
But the water was refreshing for her and we made our way back to the boat launch.
By this point I’m doing most of the paddling, years of practice compared to my late learning wife. We get to the shore and that’s when the key conversation begins.
Realizing we would need assistance, I had to portage the canoe back to the car. After a day on the water, it had gained weight and my poor boat-building had put the thwart far from the dead centre, making it an awkward and unwieldy thing to carry.
We got to the car, out of breath, and put it on top.
An hour later the tow truck showed up. He unlocked the doors, I strapped the canoe down and I thought we would get on our way.
But he was allergic to dogs. So she had to sit in the car with the windows up as we went to his yard near Rocky. There he figured out which circuit would roll down the windows so Mia could have some fresh air and wouldn’t roast as we head back to Red Deer.
There we were, on Highway 11, with my car angled up by the tow truck, my canoe acting like a giant sail as it caught the air.
Yes we made it home safely, yes the canoe’s full test was a success, but keeping my keys in my pocket. That didn’t work out so well.
Murray Crawford is an Advocate reporter/editor.