Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Just sit right back and I'll tell a tale...

You may want to make yourself comfortable, perhaps grab a drink. Snacks might be good to if you don't mind a gooey keyboard. This is going to be a long post, so sit back and read on.

It was like a Bizzaro world O.J. Simpson chase. I was slowly driving down Cypresswood Dr. past McMansion after McMansion with a six-deep line of Mercedes, BMW's, and Jaguars pacing me about thirty yards back. Tied precariously to the roof of our Honda Pilot with yards and yards of blue rope was battered, partially burnt, forty year old aluminum canoe. This explained why all the lovely cars of this subdivision were keeping their distance.

Hmmm, perhaps I should back up a bit. I bought a canoe! Well, most of a canoe anyway. It had seen some rough times over the many decades of it's life. The owner claimed he had bought it second-hand over thrity years ago. It's a bit crumpled. The most recent damage occurred when a large tree branch fell on it while it sat moldering in the owner's back yard. It had been sitting there for the last eight years after an owner's friend borrowed it and managed to pour burning gasoline into the bow floatation chamber. This melted the big chunk of flotation styrofoam and scorched the inside front of the canoe. To put out the fire the friend ripped the top bow panel off the canoe. Sometime between the fire and the branch the wood of the front seat rotted away, causing its aluminum shell to fall out. $80 and the beast was mine! The owner helped me tie it to the roof of our SUV while his wife entertained Miniwether with a can of Diet Pepsi and the Cartoon network. (Sidenote: Your bargaining position is greatly strengthend when you show up with an incredibly cute little girl.) Once it was tied on I went to open Miniwether's door and realized why I didn't like this guy's method of tying down the canoe, we had tied the doors closed! The choices were to either spend twenty more minutes in the burning sun redoing the ropes or "Dukes of Hazard"-ing ourselves through the windows. Do you have to ask? Miniwether thought going through the window was really cool and now wants to do it all the time.

Okay, now we're to the spot where you came in. To get home I had to drive through one of the ritzier parts of town, hence the parade of luxury cars. None of them wanted to get close to me. Actually, I get that quite a lot. Anyway, once home I realized I couldn't climb back out of the Honda's window so I had to untie the knots by feel. I had briefly considered just cutting the rope, but an adventurer NEVER cuts rope unless it's a life or death situation. Rope is valuable. I could have called Misseswether on my cell phone from our driveway, but I didn't feel up to the teasing I knew would follow. So, after a few minutes of puppet show/bondage games I was free of the SUV. My neighbor helped me get the canoe down and Miniwether jumped aboard it yelling, "Kaynoe! Kaynoe!". Hey, close enough for a two year old.

After a quick supper I was back outside admiring/fearing my purchase. With repeated blows of a rubber mallet the large dent loudly began to be beaten out. Miniwether thought that was great fun and convinced me to let her help. (Sidenote: if you let a two year old help you pound out dents with a large hammer be sure to hide the hammer when you are done. Otherwise she'll continue to help you by pounding dents out of end tables, frying pans, cats, etc. Thus speaks experience...). An hour of pounding had smoothed the dent out somewhat and driven all the neighbors in earshot completely nuts, so I turned my attention to the burned, panel-less, melted-styrofoam front end. I did have the panel, it just wasn't attached to the canoe. Preliminary examination of the panel and the canoe revealed that the canoe had sprung open about four inches wider than the panel. It was going to take some creative squeezing to get everything back together. Night was falling so Miniwether, me, and my hammer went inside. Twenty minutes later and a percusion discussion with Miniwether, the hammer was placed on a high shelf. Sometimes being an adventurer means the occasional hammer-shaped bruise on your knee.

The next day the lawn needed mowing before I could tinker with the canoe. I finished up mowing and trimming and as I was putting the weedeater (biggest friggen horse-power unit on the civillian market!) away I had (at the time anyway) a brilliant idea. The canoe had a line of three-inch tall registration letters/numbers on each side. Texas doesn't require them, so I wanted them off the canoe. I fired up the weedwhip and gunned it to full throtle. The plastic "whip" of the weedeater made a bizzare sound as it struck the aluminum canoe, kind of like an army of cicadas fighting back an alien invasion from space. I'd seen this thing cut through 3/4" weeds like butter so I figured nylon decals would be blown away. Nope, they didn't even show a scratch after three minutes of serious weed-whipage. However, the mold, mildew, and burn marks were coming off! Cool! I started running the weedwhip over the rest of the canoe to clean it up when out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone watching me. Actually, just about everybody was watching me. Did I mention that the canoe was in my driveway?Most of my neighbors were standing in their front doorways staring at me and exchanging glances with each other. They seem to do that a lot.

I put the weedwhip away.

Later that night Clark came over and we tackled the damaged bow. I gathered a collection of tools I thought we might need, a large hammer, assorted peices of wood, pliers and a vicegrips, a pop-rivet gun, assorted rivets, an electric drill, rope, and all the chunks of styrofoam I could find. Two hours and five pop-rivets later (all in the same hole) we were frustrated, sweaty, covered in mosquito bites, friction burns from the drill and red welts from misfired rivets. We were ready to give the damn boat to the recycling center. Suddenly the second rivet went in and stayed! And then another!

And then the first rivet popped out again.

At this point another neighbor showed up with his dad's WWII-era rivet gun. It turned out his dad had been a commercial airline mechanic and he had passed all his tools to this son (a commecial pilot) upon retirement. The pilot fired up his monster of a rivet gun and proceded to have no better luck with riveting the canoe than either Clark or me. This made us feel a bit better. The bow was being squeezed together with a combination of ratcheting tie-downs and a dangerously tightened rope which was beginning to give way one popping strand after another. With a mad flurry of hammer blows, pop-riveting, prayer and testosterone we finally got the panel back on. Releasing the tie-downs and rope did not result in an explosion of rivets, aluminum, and styrofoam chunks, so we're thinking we are now sea-worthy. However, our significant others are requesting that our trial run take place in a nearby lake on a calm day. Hah, we are adventurers and we scoff at such advise! Scoff I say. Scoff! Scoff! To the river we go! Ignore the flooding! Ignore that strange squeeking noise!

Well, maybe not quite yet. I still need to do is rebuild the front seat, finish scrubbing off the mildew, and buy some paddles then we are good to go. Oh yeah, Misseswether just reminded me that I need to get life jackets, too. Smart adventurers listen to their wives, it's just easier that way...

Anyway, the canoe is looking much, much better now. Once the repairs are finished and it's cleaned up it'll look like it just rolled out of the factory (and then down a flight of stairs and into some light traffic...). But hey, it'll float and that's what's important! I still need a name for this lady. I want some that captures the beauty of gliding silently up rivers at dawn, something that gives a Tolkien-esque feeling of elven magic I get in the woods, something that isn't overly poofy. Right now I'm leaning towards "River's Mist". Other names include:
Far and Away
The Dawntreader
River Lady
Venus Descending
Morning Star
Far Traveller

Leave a comment on which one you like or if you have a name you think might be good.

A hard bargainer:

Almost done...

Adventure! Excitement! Exploration!

1 comment:

Oliana0 said...

I am a Dawn Treader fan!

Venus Descending sounds like it could be to prophetic. Is that a word?

How about "Starter Yacht"?