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My Adventures in Canoeing

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-By Don Mueggenborg

It’s been over 70 years since I first paddled a canoe at Boy Scout Camp Delevan. I have had my share of adventures and fun.

Maybe my first adventure was at Camp Delevan. I had just earned my canoeing merit badge and that evening Dale and I went out for a cruise. A couple boys just got their swimming classification and were in a canoe for the first time. They dumped – we rescued them. They would not get back into their canoe so I transferred over and paddle back in their boat. Instead of praise, we got heck for not making them get back in their canoe.

Since this is my story, I won’t tell of the times we screwed up. I won’t tell about the time in the Sangamon All-Craft Race when we – 3 of us in a tripping canoe – started with kayak paddles and decided to switch to canoe paddles. Someone, I won’t say who, leaned a little too much when stowing the kayak paddles. Swift current and the banks were clay – we could not get out for a long time.

Sangamon All-Craft Race – they subtracted 1 hour from the john boat time and added 45 minutes to the racing canoes. Missed a shortcut but managed to beat Skeet and Doug by a boat length. I can see the paddle we won engraved “Best Time” Year 1982.

I could tell you about the times we made a great buoy turn in the Current Buster canoe race to beat Brad and Fred, but I won’t tell you about the time called for a cross-bow at that same turn and my partner’s paddle got caught on the rope holding the buoy. We swam while several boats passed us with the “are you ok?” smile on their faces.

I won’t tell about my first race – Des Plaines in 1969. Got sucked under Ryerson dam – lost a paddle – ruined our lunches (20 miles with no lunch?), ruined the radio – wasn’t very good music anyway.

I won’t mention the time we lost Joe while we were paddling across Illinois (he was ok, only had to make a pit-stop). But I do remember camping along the Hennepin Canal and going to sleep to the sound of the water flowing over the old lock. Great camping on the canal.

Or the time on that trip when a cabin cruiser on the Illinois put up a ten-foot wave (seemed that big) and we had more water in the boat than I usually did in my bath tub. We did make it to shore as did Joe and Ben – barely.

Or the crazy race with Voyageur boats at Ouitetenon. We had to turn and cross the finish line backwards. We were leading when I called for the turn. Tom in the bow started to turn left while I was turning right. We realized it at the same time and switched. Two canoes passed us before we got our act together. Embarrassing – but they ruled the other canoes turned too late and did not back across the line and we won. I said a crazy race.

The Skokie Lagoons race – Ice Cream before and after the race – Stan the sponsor standing on a bridge telling you where to turn or his helper doing my portage for me (never could figure out how we did not have a portage going around the island, but had one on the other side) and following the bubbles in the water left by the heat ahead of you. Fun and low key.

Hope my reminiscing took your mind off the virus and got you planning to paddle again.

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