Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ode to Canoeing

As a boy, I learned canoeing from the best. Ross Terrell lived around the corner, and taught me everything I know. His son Jim eventually made it on the Olympic team, competing in the C-2 (two-man canoe) 500 meter flatwater event. Last I heard, he was an Olympic trainer working in South America. I didn't keep up with it much, but my brother did. This morning he had a 15-foot fiberglass model strapped to his car, and was heading out. He has five other canoes in the shed, plus three kayaks. They're like guitars; one is never enough. You need one for flatwater, one for whitewater, one for racing, and so on, and so on ...

When I was in high school, I was still a Scout with Troop 120. I wanted to start an Explorer post* which specialized in canoeing and kayaking. I had at least two guys and two gals on board, and probably could have gotten my brother. Ross was to be our Advisor. But alas, and for reasons I cannot remember, the resurrection of Post 120 fell through. I stayed in the Troop, got my Eagle, and became a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. By senior year, I had a job, and moved on.

The last time I did any kayaking, it was the summer of 2003 in Seattle. I hadn't done it in twenty years. The trick is to steer by the seat of your pants, literally. Always had a problem with that. But that day, it was like riding a bike. Of course, Paul just had to try it himself, which he had never done before, ever. It was like riding a bike for him too. Oh well ...

I have two inflatable kayaks in storage; a one-man and a two-man. Never used them, not yet. Eventually I'll decide between one and the other. Or I'll clean out half the storage room to make way for a non-inflatable kayak, one of those short stubby variety that are popular these days. Maybe someday, I'll take on the class VI rapids on the Potomac at Great Falls. If you click on the image at right, rest assured that it is every bit as dangerous as it looks.

Obviously I'll have to get up the practice. Not to mention the nerve.

* The predecessor of Venturing crews until 1998, by which time Exploring was totally career-specialty oriented. Venturing is devoted to high school and college-aged youth, both male and female.

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