winnar…and continued

winnar…and continued

i won nanowrimo and almost won kablpomo. good enough!
my kitties get along well enough. good enough!
then onto the real deal.
continued from the anxiety-setting bwca trip my parents sprang on me last minute… [link no worky due to great blog migration of 2012]
i was going to the bwca. i was so excited for it. most of us had never been in a canoe, so on a saturday before we left, everyone convened at east side lake in austin (which was no great lake, let me tell you) to try out canoeing. we paired up and got in the boats, then paddled around for a bit. it was a perfect day, so everyone caught on fairly quickly.
the night before we left, we gathered in the cafeteria of Queens where we packed. two people shared a voyageur’s pack lined with large black plastic bags. into the pack went everything of yours, including sleeping bag and pillow, so each pack had two pillows, two sleeping bags, and two sets of clothes. i shared a pack with mandy i-can’t-remember-her-name. then all we had to do was sleep.
i don’t remember much about the next morning. there was a trailer, and lot of driving. we drove from austin to two harbors, i believe, where we spent the night at one of the chaperone’s friend’s large, large house. we went to church because we were good catholics. i tried hanging out with people i didn’t necessarily like because a dude i was into was there, but left, disgusted, after he made a pass at one of the girls. i spent the night sleeping on a window seat, looking out the window at trees and dark.
the next morning was glum. the whole trip was glum. i’m not sure how many days we spent in the bwca, but i would bet that it rained 9/10 of the time. one of the required items on the shopping list was a rainsuit that you wore, obviously, when it rained. my parents, being of limited means, purchased the least expensive one, hoping maybe the sun would shine the entire time?
the rainsuit lasted me maybe two days. after the first day, i gave up and just wore the coat until that started tearing, then just dealt with the wet. (years later, when i would go on another canoe trip down the missouri with my dad et. al., i made sure to get a heavy duty rainsuit that would stand up to rigorous use. i still have it.)
there were portages. hoisting a canoe over your head and walking it up and down a bumpy dirt path for half a mile. there were shortcuts to the portages, through marshy wetlands and a short waterfall where we got out of the canoe and lowered it down to the river below.
there was weather. a lot of it. one day was so foggy that a compass and map were absolute musts. the trees and lake appearing out of a mist were creepy enough, then to think that we were miles from anything on top of it? another day, or the same day, the wind was up and the water was choppy beyond belief. our time at east side lake had not prepared us for this, and in my head i can still hear my mantra of “vertical to the waves, vertical to the waves”.
at some point, somewhere along the line, someone began singing “cat’s in the cradle” by ugly kid joe, and then “man on the moon” by REM and to this day, whenever i hear those songs, i think of the bwca.
our group camped on an island, safe from bears. another group camped at a spot where a large outcropping of round rock welcomed visitors.  i never saw where the third group camped.
some people went fishing. some people paddled around the lake. i think i brought a camera, but i don’t remember if i took any pictures. if i did, i didn’t have the film developed. and then we all went cliff jumping.
on one of the few sunny afternoons, somehow we all got the word to paddle out to a sheer cliff maybe 30′ in the air. i chose not to partake, but others did, climbing up the side of the island up to the top and jumping off. mandy and i sat in our canoe, on the lookout for any bwca rangers because there were definitely more than 10 of us in one spot. ellie jumped and we all held our breath because she was underwater for longer than the others.
but more than anything, i was homesick. the rain certainly didn’t help, but my overwhelming thoughts were that i wished i could be home and why did i come. i envied beth, whose dad was along on the trip.
but then all too soon, it was over. the rain cleared for our final day and the sun shone brightly down on us as we were packing up. we got in to austin, and my mom was there to pick me up, with devastating news.
we were moving to new london.
this trip was the last time i saw many of these people. after that, a few went different ways, some to the public school, some to rochester, some (me) completely out of the area altogether. and that was it, the culminating point of the great Queens’ 8th grade class of ’93. here’s to you and the bwca. “It’s been sure nice talkin’ to you”

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