Bryan planned a perfect birthday trip for me. It was completely ridiculous and vaguely useful, and it sounded like a ton of fun.
Someone had found a jonboat pinned in a spot halfway through a ten-mile stretch of Cadron Creek, and we were going to go unpin it and get it out. It was far from simple: We’d need to put together a group of people to float down to the boat, then get the boat loose from the current that was pushing it up against a large rock in the middle of the creek. We’d need to take a kit of rope and webbing and pulleys to unpin the boat. We’d need to take a motor with us so that if the thing would float, we could ‘drive’ it a few more miles downstream to a takeout.
What if it was damaged too badly to float? We’d have to have a way to get it out. What if it had been reported stolen and we were caught with it? We’d have to plan for that, too. Our friend Cowper spent hours finding nearby property owners and securing permission to access the creek near the boat. In the process he made contact with the father of boat’s owner, too, so that we couldn’t get into trouble for taking it.
Bryan and I stopped for a grocery-store cake on the way to Conway that morning, and we put it on the tailgate of Cowper’s truck, and Cole wrote my name on it with icing. We worked together to load a raft frame onto a trailer (for a different trip) and then I made everyone wear hats while I served the cake onto Hannukah-themed paper plates. My birthday party was off to a great start.
After the raft was loaded and the cake eaten, Debo went off to win an award of some sort while the boys and I drove to the property near the pinned jonboat. We drove down through the hayfield to the creek, where we found a jonboat in the woods. Well, shit, we thought. Someone’s already pulled the jonboat out of the creek. It was disappointing, but we are not people who give up easily on a project, so we walked down the creek to the offending rock. We found, indeed, there was no boat pinned there. We climbed around on the big rock and jumped off it. We put on masks and swam around under the water and found things that had fallen out of peoples’ boats when they hit the trees pinned against the big rock. (Not unexpectedly, we found a lot of fishing poles and sunglasses. Less predictably, we also found a wallet. And a machete.)
After some considerable time spent diving for treasure, we decided that we should practice some unpinning, even if no boat was available. We used our pin kit and no small amount of energy pulling a the very stuck trees off the big rock. It wasn’t the jonboat we’d hoped for, but it WAS a useful thing to do.
After changing into dry clothes at the edge of the tick-infested hayfield, we loaded the jonboat we’d found in the woods onto Cowper’s big truck. We left it at the top of the field near the house, along with most of the things we’d pulled from the creek. We thought the family who’d tipped over there would be grateful to get their fishing gear and glasses back.
And guess what we found out the next day? That the boat in the woods wasn’t the pinned boat at all. The boat in the woods belonged to the hayfield-leasing farmer, who had left the boat right where it was on purpose and wasn’t going to be too pleased that we’d moved it all the way up the hill. The formerly-pinned boat in question, the one we’d come after, had actually been stolen sometime during the few days previous to our visit, and hasn’t been seen again.
But those are all just entertaining details. They aren’t really important. I got to spend my birthday – a warm, sunny Saturday in June – in the water with some friends, and later sitting at a table eating pizza and drinking beer. And that’s all I really wanted anyway.