S. S. Minnow

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    • #680

      Growing up on Jackson Lake, I always wanted a canoe. I finally got one on Mother’s Day in 1999. My eldest son agreed to take a trip with me down the Ocmulgee River in Central Georgia. It was supposed to take about 3 hours from Hwy 18 to downtown Macon. The first thing we did was capsize the boat, getting everything wet, including our tempers. We reloaded the canoe, climbed back in, and we were on our way. We found our paddling rhythm and were having a good time until we ran aground, again and again and again. Due to the ongoing drought, portage became the theme of the day. The highlight of the trip was when we “shot the rapids” or more accurately, sped down little drops on the shoals. It was so much fun that we found ourselves crisscrossing the river, searching for shoals to ride.

      The scenery and wildlife on the river were amazing! And so peaceful. We were paddling along, communing with nature, when my son came straight up off of his seat and hollered “What the…!” I started laughing as I watched the gar, that prehistoric throwback of a fish, continue swimming calmly alongside the boat. As we approached Plant Shearer, we noticed that we weren’t seeing any fish, birds, or turtles. I stuck my hand in the water and was surprised to find that it felt like a hot tub! I knew that Georgia Power used water from Lake Juliette to cool the towers where they burned coal and made steam, but I didn’t realize that they dumped the hot water into the river. I was extremely distraught at the thought of what that hot water was doing to the river’s carefully balance environment. I ranted as we continued to paddle, keeping our hands inside the boat, and eventually reached cooler water. We knew that it was cooler because the fish, birds, and turtles reappeared.

      We had finally reached some deeper water and were making good progress when it started to rain. Then it started to storm. Then it started to really storm with thunder and lightning! I could hear my mother’s voice in my ear telling me to get off the water while it was storming. She had told me the same thing all of my life and, as usual, she was being quite insistent! Unfortunately, we were at a place on the river where there was no access to the bank; the underbrush lining the river was thick and tangled. We paddled steadily and I did the only thing I could do: I prayed. I prayed for protection, I prayed for safe passage, I prayed for the strength to keep going, I prayed that my son would still be speaking to me when we got home.

      Thankfully, my prayers were answered. The rain stopped, the sky cleared, and we soon found ourselves gliding towards the ramp in downtown Macon. We were entertained by the variety of items hanging high in the trees lining the river; leftovers from the epic flood of 1994. There were garden tools, water hoses, a Styrofoam boogie board, and many other items, faded now from the sun. There was even a bedstead; complete with headboard, footboard, and rails, wedged in the top of a tree! Amazing! As we neared our destination, we realized that the batteries had died in our cell phones. So my son had to climb the hill, cross the bridge, and walk to Wendy’s to use the pay phone to call my husband to come get us. Our maiden voyage was complete. We were hungry, thirsty, and tired. Our clothes were damp from a combination of river water, rain, and sweat. What should have been a “three hour tour” had turned into an eight and a half hour voyage. As a result, my turquoise Old Town canoe came to be known as the S. S. Minnow and has proudly sported that name ever since. Gilligan and the Skipper would be proud!

      P. S. My son told me that if I ever wanted to go down the river again, he’d buy me a friend! Gee thanks!

    • #682

      Portage = pulling canoe over sandbars with a rope while someone sat in the back of the canoe.

    • #683

      Now that’s a GREAT story! Wish I could take that trip with more water in the river! I like the name of your canoe probably because I watched so much Gilligan’s Island when I was growing up.

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