Canoeing Down Elkhorn

When our son, Josh, was growing up, one of our favorite summertime activities was canoeing down Elkhorn Creek near Frankfort, Kentucky, with our dear friend, Dave. This particular occasion was a special one because at the end of the day we were going to camp out along the creek and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area.

The fishing was great and the weather was perfect. The depth of water was just right to guide the canoe through the rocks and rapids even though occasionally we would all jump out and pull the canoe through a particularly shallow section. But there were also deep fishing holes that gave up enough “red-eye” bluegill and small mouth to keep us anticipating the next tug on our lines.

Dave always took a six-pack, and on that day he stored away a second six-pack since we were on a longer trip. In the late afternoon, Dave had exceeded his imbibing limit and was not as steady in guiding the canoe as he usually was. At one crucial bend in the creek, we came to a rapid with a couple of big rocks partially blocking the way. Dave started to maneuver the canoe through the rapids, but his movement was not quick enough and the canoe went sideways, caught between the rocks. We jumped out and waded to shore.

After unloading our supplies, we three sought to loosen the canoe and pull it out. The rapids were too strong, however, and we had to leave it. We hiked back to the road through corn fields and barn lots. As we hitchhiked to our destination for the evening, ironically, the man who gave us a ride had an open bottle beside him in the driver’s seat.

To add insult to injury, the following day when Dave went back with some expert help to pull the canoe from the creek, someone had stolen the canoe. He could see tractor wheel tracks where the canoe had been pulled out. This was not just any canoe; it was a Grumman—the Cadillac of canoes.

Dave had several years earlier taught us how to sit in a canoe and he had a saying he would often repeat: “Man who stands up in canoe has rocks in head.”  Since his inebriation kept him from remembering his own rule, we also learned the hard way to limit his intake of beer on an all-day fishing excursion in a canoe.