Sunday, November 7, 2010

Memories Of The Paddling Geek Squad

I don't usually have the speakers on while reading blogs, but I did today and heard some beautiful music coming from J'ellen In The Black Hills' blog.  Apparently you can play music from on your blog for free.

I asked Retro Man what we should play on our blog.


Ah yes, Dueling Banjos.  It is so fitting for so many reasons.

With all of the strange circumstances that seem to follow me at Tree Ring, like our Camping trip, or when I thought the neighbor was going to attack us, or when we thought we had a Sasquatch, I am always expecting some Deliverancy kind of thing to happen.  These are just the ones I've chosen to write about.

However it didn't just start with Tree Ring, and it is just me.  Retro Man is just an innocent bystander.

The best, and perhaps first, Deliverancy situation happened 20 years ago before Retro Man and I were married.  I was right out of college working at my first IT job.   My co-worker Dave, who was older and generally a trouble maker, thought it would a great idea for eight of us right-out-of-college software engineers to go on a 3 day canoe camping trip in West Virginia in October.  Most of the engineers had never been camping, much less knew how to paddle a canoe.

At this point in the story I urge you to turn on your speakers.

Dave taped the entire Deliverance movie on his tape recorder, and played scenes every day at lunch until that weekend.  We all thought it was really funny.

The morning of the Big Day, Retro Man fortuitously decided to bring some motorcycle rain suits for he and I to wear, because a cold front was coming and it looked like rain.

We all met at the Canoe Outfitter, who asked how many people had canoed before.  Only Retro Man and I raised our hands.  The Outfitter was worried, but reluctantly loaded us up in a bus and took us to the river anyway.  The Outfitter turned to me and asked which way is upstream.  I made a guess, and apparently it was wrong, because he shook his head and looked up in the sky.  He turned to RetroMan and showed him how to make an emergency shelter with the canoes.  After asking all of us about 10 times "Are you sure you want to go", we were off.  

Dave, who wore a T-shirt and a down vest, had bought a cool fishing hat into which he hooked a giant neon pink fishing lure.  It was really funny.  His Canoe partner was John, the youngest software engineer.

We were out about 2 hours and the rain started falling harder.  It started getting colder.  But we really didn't notice, because it took a lot of effort to paddle down the river.  After a couple of hours, we pulled the canoes over to eat.  Thankfully Retro Man had brought pepperoni, cheese, and bread.  Everyone else brought wine, beer and cigarettes.

The West Virginia river was in the middle of a deep valley.  There was no bank for all of us to stand on because it was raining so hard.  So we climbed 20 feet up the mountain and stood in a line passing the pepperoni back and forth.  Then the cheese.  Then the bread.  After about 20 minutes of silently passing food back and forth in the rain, we were all shivering and shaking and got back into our canoes to warm up.

About an hour later, Dave and John's canoe got stuck on a rock.  Dave just hopped into the river to free the canoe, but it took off without him, so he jumped up onto the rock and waited.  The rest of us sat in our canoes watching John desperately paddling to try to get the canoe back to retrieve Dave, who decided this was a perfect time to light up a smoke and wait.  In the freezing, pouring rain, with a T-shirt and a vest, and his pretty pink fishing lure sticking out of his fishing hat, he smoked a 1/2 a pack before John was able to retrieve him.  

At this point we all hoped we were close to the camp ground where we were supposed to spend the night.  The Outfitter told us it would be at a corner near some uprooted trees.

Well that was an understatement.  There was a log jam of about 15 giant trees piled up 40 feet high on the river bank.  We found a spot to pull in and immediately Retro Man had everyone turn the canoes over and lay them next to each other on the giant roots of ones of the uprooted trees so we could get some protection from the rain.

Fortunately, Doug brought some kerosene, which we used to light a fire on some wet wood using Dave's lighter.

At this point, Dave started to shake pretty violently.  While all of us were dangerously close to hypothermia, Dave had it full blown.  Fortunately he had some dry clothes in a plastic bag.

Under the canoes, next to the tree roots full of spiders and cob webs, with the rain falling softly around us, we all pretty much stripped in front of each other to get on dry clothes.  At this point, it was a matter of life or death.  After most of us warmed up, Doug noticed a road across the river and commented that he couldn't believe he was going to die within sight of civilization.  After a time Dave started to shiver less, and we all decided to put up our tents and try to get some sleep. 

Retro Man, always prepared, saved his geek future wife's life by having warm sleeping bags, air mattresses, the rain gear, and a water proof tent.  I wasn't sure everyone else would all make it through the night.

I am so happy he knows nothing about computers.

At first light we all got up and could finally see where we were.  About 100 yards away there was an outhouse with just one toilet.  

That was the camp ground.  

Doug pulled out the Junior fishing pole set he had bought at Kmart.  Still in the box, he broke it half over his knee and cried, "I hate camping!  This sucks!"

Just as we all decided to end the trip and try to find a phone to call the Outfitter to come get us, a rusty, red '64 Chevy Impala that tilted slightly to one side came towards us out of no where.  A heavy set woman with some missing teeth got out of the car, and asked us to pay up for the night at the camp ground.

Restraining Doug so he couldn't rush her, we decided to pay her so that we could use her phone to call the Outfitter.  We asked her if she had a phone.  No, but her neighbor did.

An hour later, the Outfitter came and rescued us.  He seemed very relieved  and said it was supposed to snow that night.  Back at the Outfitters, everyone except Retro Man and I threw their camping gear into the dumpster before they left for home.

Years later, everyone on that trip went on to become multi-millionaires during the Tech Boom, and most don't have to work any more.

Except me.  I moved to Florida to have a less stressful life and have babies.  

Retro Man and I still have the rain suits, and we can go canoe camping in the rain any time we want.

But we probably won't.

So I added Dueling Banjos to my Blog.  I hope you enjoyed the story and the song as much as we do.


  1. Great story. So, I guess MacGuyver type skills didn't pay off during the tech boom???:)

  2. Well, hello there Nicolezmomma! I loved this story!! First of all, let me say that I didn't hear any dueling banjos. What a disappointment. Yesterday I decided to update my ipod bc it didn't play some video I found online, and it said before I could update it I had to update my iTunes. And it offered an updated safari browser, so I installed that, too, to wean myself away from MS and IE. So I'm using my newly updated safari browser, which of course is missing all sorts of plugins and nothing works right. I, too, am an IT chick, but I hate working on the home computer. I do enough at work. It would be so easy to spend all my time at home on the computer, but I have too many other chores around here. and they aren't going to get done if I don't get up off the computer! So I let my husband think he's the computer geek and he deals with the home computers most of the time (until he calls for my help!)

    Wait a minute - I'm an IT chick, but am not a multimillionaire. Something's wrong there! You said all your friends were now well-off from the tech boom. Hmmm, I think I know what I'm doing wrong - I work for the govt in Washington DC...

    Well, anyway, I just wanted to say I love this story. I love a blog that tells a story and makes me laugh. I'll have to read your other stories...