It’s a fairly innocuous travel snapshot, the above. My daughter, dog, and I, kneeling on a walkway somewhere in northern Minnesota. Right after this photo, my husband took the dog back to the truck, since the walkway was slippery and he didn’t want to risk falling. My daughter Brandy and I are of a more adventurous mindset, though, so we followed the walkway down to a quiet little lake.
And, oh, look! There’s a boat!
We hurried down to the edge of the lake to where a forest service sign read – “Use the boat and return.”
What a nice offer!
We proceeded to push the solid metal rowboat sort of like this one:
But heavier. MUCH heavier, we discovered.
Shove, grunt, shove, grunt
We moved it three inches.
Cue some more shoving and grunting.
We got it several feet past the mud and reed-covered bank. Well, good. We were getting somewhere.
“Get in!” I told Brandy.
She clambered aboard and tried to row.
“It’s heavy!” she complained.
I got in and tried to row.
There was more shoving and grunting.
Now the boat was ten feet into the lake. But it weighed 800 pounds and we couldn’t get it to go anywhere.
“Let’s take it back to shore,” I said, gasping for breath.
Brandy jumped out of the boat and assisted me. We dragged the dang thing back three feet. Sweat dripped from our limbs and obscured our vision. No musclebound lumberjack offered to help us. In fact, there was no one anywhere nearby except for the mama wolf and her cubs watching us from the woods. An owl hooted in the distance.
“I can’t do it anymore, mommy,” Brandy cried, plaintive.
She collapsed on the shore, overcome with fatigue. I sagged down next to her.
Horrific visions clouded my mind. The mama wolf and her cubs would pounce upon us at the earliest opportunity, shredding our flesh and cracking our bones. The fluffy youngsters would lick out the marrow with their plump pink tongues. Brandy and I would be able to do nothing to save ourselves, since we had both torn muscles and exhausted ourselves to the point of no return. Need a visual? Watch what happens to this guy and you’ll have a good idea:
A while later, my husband and the dog came down and found us, and dragged us to the nearest emergency room. There, nurses pumped fluids and electrolytes into our depleted forms. We eventually recovered, but not without much woe.
Well, all right. I may be exaggerating slightly. Because that sounds a lot better than what really happened.
We attempted to push the boat back to shore, and failed. The boat sank. Oh no! We tugged energetically. More sinking. Mud, flies. Ick and physical depletion. Then:
Aw, to hell with it.
“Sorry, rangers!” we called as we scampered back to the car, leaving the boat drowned near the shore.
“Time to go!” we urged Dave, who threw the truck into gear and squealed the tires as we left in a spray of pebbles.
Brandy and I shared a nervous giggle. I tried not to think about the curses that would echo around the pleasant lake when some poor federal employee had to dig out the boat.
Sorry, Minnesota. You meant well, you really did. You just didn’t gamble on two weaklings trying to use your solid metal boat …