“We’re back to our old selves!” I brazenly announced. Paul and I cruised down I-81 towing our brand new 20-foot Lund boat. We headed to a canvas shop to have a roof and bow-cover installed.
A year ago, I lamented that we found ourselves boat-less for the first time in 40 years. Our retirement home sat within sight of Lake of the Isles, a St. Lawrence bay. Just beyond the neighbors’ docks, the water taunted us. Naturally, we had access to Reed’s Lund, moored on the Canadian side of the river. Yet, I insisted that we needed a U. S. boat to shuttle guests to Boldt Castle, for jaunts to waterfront restaurants, or simply to cruise among the islands. I cajoled and whined. Reed lobbied my cause.
“I will go along with it, only if we get a slip nearby,” Paul placated, fully doubting we would. Nevertheless, I procured the slip. Paul kept his bargain.
Boats are significant to our relationship. Paul picked me up for our first date wearing checked pants. He drove a yellow Corvette that he’d borrowed from a friend. Even at the time, neither the pants nor the car impressed me. Next date, Paul picked me up in his used Pontiac Cutlass, a canoe fastened to the roof. He wore army fatigue pants which had been altered into cut-off shorts. We floated down nearby stream. Looking back, I believe that was the day I fell for him. We married a year later.
We always owned some kind of boat. First, we had a small aluminum boat for fishing the Allegheny River and nearby lakes. When Reed came along we traded it for the “Red Flasher,” our 16- foot Lund which suited local and Canadian lakes. In time we upgraded to a serious muskie-fishing boat. When Reed moved to Ontario, he took the 19-foot Lund with him. As empty-nesters we downsized back to a small aluminum boat. Paul had a used row boat, the “Pal-O-Mine Minnow,” allowing us to float on nearby French Creek. Neither of our boats would suit the waterways in our new region. So we landed in the Thousand Islands without a boat. Until now.
All the anticipation of having a boat on the river also comes with tedious tasks. There’s the question of a motor: the proper horsepower, the best-rated brand, the installation. There’s the registration of the boat and the trailer. There’s the matter of insurance. There’s the installation of the graph and rod-holders. Yikes! The last time we handled issues like this had been twenty years ago.
Over the past weeks we’d completed the paperwork. Now, to outfit the boat we would head directly to Cabela’s after leaving the canvas installers. First to be purchased: life-jackets. Paul explained that he always wore a life jacket, not just for his own safety. If he tumbled into the water, he didn’t want to jeopardize others if they had to jump in for a rescue. I had to admit that should I go into the water, I couldn’t even doggy paddle to stay afloat; and no way could I hoist myself up into a boat. To meet these safety concerns, our boat had a boarding ladder on the back. And we would have plenty of rope and even a long-handled hook for someone to grab onto from the water. Okay, life jackets purchased: two for us, two spares, and two for the granddaughters.
If safety is our first consideration, comfort is our second. We would need a Luggable Loo, that’s a portable toilet. The two generations with the least bladder control, seniors and kids, will be the most frequent passengers. We obtained the plastic bucket with seat; Paul tricked it out; I named it Loo-us.
I consulted the shopping list. Rain gear: check. Extra deck cushions: check. Buoys for docking: check.
We would need a First Aid Kid on board. It was unlikely we’d ever treat a burn, but Paul recommended we add extra gauze, bandages, and tape. Gashes from muskie teeth and lures could be nasty. I cringed. I expected to merely need tweezers and Band-Aids in case of splinters from the docks at the waterfront restaurants. I made a mental note to add plenty of Tums, Dramamine, and low-dose aspirin. Probably wouldn’t hurt to throw in some Pepto-Bismol, after all…seniors and kids.
Following our Cabela’s shopping spree, we checked into the hotel on site, Home2Suits by Hilton. A trendy chain I had never heard of. Early the next day we entered the continental breakfast area. All sleek and silver and modern, we could hardly find the food or utensils. Breakfasters would eat at a long cold bar with stools and electronic-device hookups. Paul read my mind, “Are we on another planet?”
Paul found dehydrated omelets hidden in a recessed vat. He passed.
At last, I found bagels in a stainless steel cabinet that looked like it should hold beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks. No toaster in sight, but a strange conveyor belt seemed intended for that. I sat a bagel onto the rotating chain platform. It did not go into the conveyor, so I gave it a little push with the tongs. It stuck. Smoke emerged. Flames erupted. I frantically clawed with the tongs. “Uh, help!” I softly cried. Paul grabbed the tongs and widened them to grip the flaming bagel and pull it out by the sides. Miraculously, no smoke alarm sounded. The attendant showed up and I pointed to the charred lump.
“Didn’t you cut the bagel first?” she looked at me as if I shouldn’t be without supervision, ever.
We quickly headed to our room, grabbed our bags, slipped out to the truck, headed toward home. We weren’t back to our old selves after all. We’re an older version of our former selves.
I admitted to Paul, “We might need that burn ointment on the boat after all.”
“And a fire extinguisher!” he quipped.
I looked up the schedule for the boating safety course. I better take every precaution.