Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Canoe Trip: Amber’s Version

August 27, 2011.

Yesterday Chris and I went to the 2nd annual karate camping weekend to enjoy the campfire and some canoeing. I was looking forward to it because it was an activity I loved as a child and thought it would be a new and active experience for the two of us to share together. Chris asked me multiple times “Have you been in a canoe before?” and I always responded “Yes, I’ve been canoeing before” with an air of attitude and annoyance that suggested I thought he was crazy to think I couldn’t paddle a canoe. This was bad sign number one.

Chris has canoed multiple times with his dad through white water rapids. His dad canoes rivers where you travel at 50km/hour without paddling. My canoe experience is limited to my days at Girl Guide camp or on the calm shores of a summer cabin rental. So when Chris asked me if I canoe I understood his canoeing background, but I failed to detail mine and simply answered exactly what he asked..

As we picked up the oars a friend pointed out that we were missing a key piece of equipment – our life jackets. We shrugged it off noting we could swim fine without them. This was warning number two. Chris hopped into the back of the canoe. I was going to push us off the bank with the assistance of a young teen girl then hop in myself. At this point I thought to myself ‘This doesn’t sound like the best idea. We’re probably going to tip.” That was warning three – but I failed to relay it to Chris. We barely lost contact with the bank and I flipped the canoe. Chris was not impressed. He stood up in the knee deep water shocked that I had flipped us and sore from scraping his hand on the rocky bottom. Those on the banks tried not to laugh. We were fully dressed (camera in Chris’ pocket) and drenched head to toe.

We reset with a lot of “I can’t believe you flipped us!” comments from Chris and we tried again. We entered the canoe from the water and I flipped us yet again. At this point Chris asked me why I was trying to sit on the bench. Apparently when you are an adult you should kneel on the bottom to keep yourself grounded. With this new knowledge we tried for the third time and succeeded.

Chris never got over the shock of being flipped (he’s only flipped once going through rapids and I’ve never flipped). We went upstream for awhile and learned how to communicate with each other as Chris called out terms like “draw” expecting me to know what to do – I didn’t. Once Chris learned that my “yes, I’ve been in a canoe” actually meant “I sat in a canoe and paddled a bit twenty years ago” we managed a whole lot better.

For me, this was an adventure. It was an experience to share with my husband that we will not forget. I’m sure Chris would rather rewind to before I flipped the canoe to plan accordingly, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We learned so much more about working together and communicating with each other this way. It was an awesome day. To read Chris’ version of our canoe trip visit his blog at

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