Down the St. Lawrence, by canoe

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
Down the St. Lawrence, by canoe
NICK & KEESHA - SIGN - HITCHHIKING to PRESCOTT (Photo : Nick Wolotchatiuk)

Samuel T. Coleridge wrote, “Water, water everywhere…”, but when canoeing, I don’t recommend you drink straight from the St. Lawrence. Bring frozen bottles of water in an ice box. After two days, the ice will have kept foods cool and eventually you’ll have cold water to drink. You’ll need lots of water to drink.

Be sure to take along some high energy, convenient snack foods: Oranges are bullet proof. So are coconuts, but… Crisp apples are ‘Delicious’, but pears and bananas are fragile. Hard-boiled eggs travel well. Genuine baguettes deteriorate almost as soon as they are out of sight of the bakery. Gorp [‘good ol’ raisins & peanuts’], a classic snack food, is also known as ‘trail mix’. In this context, it can’t be called ‘trail mix’, as there is no trail on the St. Lawrence, unless you’re referring to a channel indicated on a chart or penciled on a map.

I assume you brought an umbrella. Come rain, shine or wind, it’ll be useful. Come rain, it’s a parapluie. If you need shelter from the blazing sun, it’s a parasol. When the prevailing wind is brisk, the ‘bowman’ (guy or girl up front) holds it to act as a sail.

When you feel you’ve “Gone with the Wind” [1939 movie based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel] and gone with the current far enough downstream, it would be pointless to struggle back to your starting point by U-turning and doing some ferocious paddling.

Find a place to land. In our case, Juliet (my wife) stays with the canoe, preferably in a port of call with a cozy bar, such as the one in Rockport. I amble up to the adjacent highway, my thumb flags down a kindly motorist. My paddle and life jacket indicate how I got there, and my bold destination sign says where I want to go. My Tilley tells locals who I am. Those five items tell a story that has always worked.

From 1998-2010, my cute dog Keesha was my greatest hitchhiking asset.

Hitchhiking is not everyone’s cup of tea, but since 1954 it has served me well, taking me from coast to coast across Canada, and back home from Florida and Maine after some one-way flights.

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