“I think I might have found it,” Richard hollered after spitting out some of the brown river water. “Could someone help me up the bank?”
I tossed him a partially-inflated, red and white plastic life saver with the faded letters T-I-something-A-N-I… I couldn’t make out the rest… He freed three Cypress minnows from his shirt pocket, grabbed the life saver while sitting on his butt and stood.
The ladies ambled over to where I was trying to haul Richard up the slippery bank.
“Need any help?” Kathy asked.
“I got it. Do you think this is your legendary Pigeon River?”
“Probably. I found this in the debris of the old building. It appears to be a price list to rent a canoe to float down the Walter Pidgeon River. Should we rent the canoes for two hours or half a day? It’s only a dollar more for the half-day rental. No out-of-state checks accepted. Cash only.”
I let go of the rope and Richard tumbled back into the river.
“Honey, you shouldn’t be swimming right now. You need to help us decide what to do about the canoe rental,” Kathy said.
Ten minutes later Richard stood on solid ground. We read the four page rental agreement thoroughly.
“The proprietor is requiring a coonskin cap from each member of the rental party as a deposit in case we don’t return the canoes.”
“Maybe he would settle for a twenty dollar gift card from Montgomery Ward,” my wife suggested taking one out of her toiletry bag.
After discussing the matter, we decided to leave the unopened box of Ritz crackers Kathy had hoarded in her purse. Fortunately, we discovered a stack of paddles in a small shed behind the remains of a one room log cabin on the west side of the clearing.
“These look brand new. They’re in mint condition,” Richard said checking the balance on one of them. “They’re Tyler brand paddles. They’re supposed to be the best.”
“We should each take one,” I suggested.
“I don’t plan to paddle,” my wife said. “It would ruin my nails.”
We chose five paddles of varying lengths from the stash, and eventually maneuvered the canoes down the embankment to the water’s edge.
“Be careful getting into the canoe,” Richard said. “You could tip-a-canoe and lose Tyler, too.”
“This isn’t my first time in a canoe,” Kathy said. She sat quickly before losing her balance.
Fifteen minutes later Richard had shown us how to keep the canoes going in a straight line by paddling on opposite sides of the canoe.
“I think we got the hang of it,” I said as I turned our canoe to face downriver.
“Look out for the overhanging tree trunk,” Richard said twenty yards farther downriver.
“Got it,” I rubbed my forehead.
“That’s going to leave a mark,” my wife said while inspecting her nails. “Can we go any faster?”
“Where’s this undiscovered waterfall?” I asked three days later.
Kathy checked the atlas and shrugged.
“I hear something ahead,” Richard said as the current picked up. “It sounds like a jet engine.”
Those were the last words I heard as we roared out of control through a five-foot-long section of Class I rapids.
“Wow! That was awesome,” Kathy hollered after we passed through the rapids safely.
We floated for an hour through a section of calm water.
“I’m hungry,” my wife said shifting her position in the canoe.
Though I tried to stop it, the canoe overturned, spilling both of us into the two-foot-deep river. At least I managed to hold on to my Tyler paddle.
“Do you need any help?” Richard asked as Kathy laughed.
I got the canoe turned right side up and helped my wife back in.
“My nails are ruined,” she sobbed.
We took a break that afternoon on a sandbar in the middle of the river. We found a few berries to eat and got back in the canoes. The ladies dozed off for an hour.
“Where are we?” Kathy asked later. “Did we find the waterfall?”
Richard shook his head. “No waterfall, but that building is the Lucas Oil Stadium.”
We paddled to the bank, helped the ladies out and dragged the canoes out of the river.
Kathy sighed and asked, “Who’s going to call Wrecks-R-Us and tell them where we left the CJ?”