I had expected to have most of Friday morning to myself, but my cousin, Giovanna and her husband, Chase turned up right after breakfast. They must have gotten up at the butt-crack of dawn to make it down here from Seattle that early, and on Memorial Day weekend at that!
Their dog, Loba, looked right at home in camp. Walter was glad to have someone his own age to play with.
Jason took the day off and showed up a little later. Gio brought a cooler full of beer, fresh ice and more food and Chase had packed some more firewood, just in case, so we were all set. We broke out the pie irons and had Ham sammies for lunch. I pawed through the ice chest and selected a beer. Life continued to be very, very, good.
I threw some broth and veggies in on top of the remnants of the chili and set it over the fire to make some soup for dinner. We washed it down with more beer. Jason sipped wine. A good time was had by all.
Saturday morning, Gio put together her brand new propane grill and made eggs for breakfast. I whipped up some pancakes and bourbon, brown sugar syrup. We gorged ourselves.
After the breakfast dishes were done, Gio put together some snacks and sandwiches for our afternoon excursion. My brother, David had sent word he had a Saturday Regatta planned for Disappearing Lake so I put on my regatta clothes we packed the canoes and kayaks and headed for the lake.
We put in at the nearest impoundment, only a mile from camp. Chase and Gio had matching, lime-green kayaks, I had my blue sit-on-top and Jason was in the 18′ aluminum canoe.
Jason is a big man. He sat in the back of the canoe; the front two thirds of the boat was out of the water. I suspose this weight distribution reduced the drag, but it also decreased the directional control, and increased the windage. I don’t know how he kept from going in circles.
The weather man had promised warming and clearing, but that is not what we got. Not at all. It was cold, drizzly and gray. And the water level had dropped a foot or more since Wednesday, when Scott and I had the canoe out. We nosed around the edges and fingers of the lake, looking for David and his party and trying to find a way through to the main body of water. Finally we gave up on finding a passage and portaged across a low, narrow strip of forest, divided by a small stream we had to negotiate to get to the other side.
Giovanna steered a course through the flotsom that clogged this lee shore, and we followed her into open water. We never had our picnic; it was too cold and wet. Instead we explored the three branches of the main lake.
While we were crossing the middle pond, my cell phone acquired a signal. David had sent a text: the weather forecast had changed. It was to be cold and stormy all weekend. The regatta was postponed until Monday. Well that don’t feed the bulldog! We were on the lake already, and Monday would be a busy day; I’d be spending it striking camp and packing up.
We’d been paddling around for several hours. All of us were cold and wet, and we had explored most of the nooks and crannies around the lake. It was time to head back. I was hoping we could find a passage to the other lake from this side, and get back to where we’d parked our trucks.
Gio and Chase were behind me. I saw Jason over near the opposite shore. What the hell was he doing? It looked like he was standing up in the back of the canoe. Before it really registered, well before I could get my camera out, it was over. He stretched his arms out to either side, as if addressing a congregation or reaching desperately for balance. His hands started describing circles in the air, small circles at first, then wind milling wildly, before he executed a perfect back-flop, the surface of the lake erupting in a geyser of displaced water.
Giovanna was the first to get to him. She helped him get to shore and drag the swamped canoe up on the bank. They were able to tip most of the water out of it; I used my paddle to scoop water out of the bow, where they couldn’t reach.
Jason claimed the lake wasn’t that cold, but he looked like he had gone numb. We paddled over to the nearest take-out. Chase and I hiked up the road to retrieve the trucks. Jason and Gio stayed with the boats until we got back and could load up.
Back in camp, we got a fire going in the lodge. Jason changed into some dry clothes and crawled into his bunk to warm up. Once he was feeling human again, he rejoined us and we all sat around the fire, eating the picnic lunch we had neglected earlier. This some how morphed into a salmon dinner which Gio also made. From there we moved on to bourbon and vermouth and before I knew it, I was waking up to Sunday morning.