The Old Town Has Had its Last Ride

The Old Town Has Had its Last Ride- A Pictorial Ride Down Memory Lane

An old friend of mine has passed on. The ancient Old Town Tripper, serial number 211999, has had its last ride. It rode atop my van to the Seminole County landfill, where it was unceremoniously dumped. It deserved a better ending.

The lady at the entrance to the landfill said I had to pay to dispose to it. She said the free disposal county residents got only applied to household trash, old furniture and such. I said that although it looked like a canoe it was actually an end table from my living room. She laughed. I still had to pay seven dollars.

In Crawford Notch, NH, preparing for the Saco.

In Crawford Notch, NH, preparing for the Saco.

Jim Tedesco bought it in 1976 from Fernald Marine, on the River Parker, in Newbury, Massachusetts. A couple years later he moved to California. Before he left I bought it from him and had it until about ten years ago, when I sold it to son Maxx. He used it for canoe jousting. It has been sitting in my yard, providing wonderful habitat for insects, for about five years now. It was old, beat to hell, and really had nothing left to offer. Sadly, it was time to dispose of it.

Jim Tedesco, on Maine's St. Johns River.

Jim Tedesco, on Maine’s St. Johns River.

I learned to paddle whitewater in that canoe. I’ve taken at least ten trips of ten days or longer in it, in Maine and in Florida’s Everglades National Park, used it on rivers in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina as well. I had it when I was a canoeing counselor at Camp Chickawah in Maine and a pioneering counselor at Camp Regis-Applejack in New York. My first trip to Florida included a six day canoe trip in the Everglades from that boat. My first salmon, first bonefish, first redfish, first tarpon, all caught from the Tripper.

With Peter Camuso on the Westfield River in Massachusetts.

With Peter Camuso on the Westfield River in Massachusetts.

I’ve slept in it, once. It was not a comfortable night.

With Jim Tedesco in Carrot Rip, Machias River, Maine.

With Jim Tedesco in Carrot Rip, Machias River, Maine.

Both my sons had their first canoe trips in that boat. My son Maxx and his friend Brian enjoyed their first whitewater paddling in the Tripper, on the Tuckaseegee and the Nantahala, back when they were still in high school.

Susie O'Brien, Third Machias Lake, Maine.

Susie O’Brien, Third Machias Lake, Maine.

I’ve fallen out of it quite a few times, with quite a few different people. One memorable dump preceded my swimming through the Dumplings, on Vermont’s West River, on the Saturday before Columbus Day one year. There were hundreds of people watching, shouting advice. I held onto the boat and self-rescued.

What needs to be said???

What needs to be said???

Most memorable, though was rolling it over off Cape Sable with my pregnant wife in the bow. I was running it with a little outboard and when it started to go there was no way to brace it. BAM! We were both in the water. When Maxx was born there was a wind knot in his umbilical cord. Susan and I know how that happened.

Sue relaxing.

Sue relaxing.

When I think back on it, it amazes me that a molded piece of plastic could have provided such a theme around which to wrap my life. BOATS! On the one hand a canoe is only “stuff,” but it provided so much pleasure, so many memories, so much access to wilderness not to be enjoyed any other way.

Ken Shannon tends the campfire in Everglades National Park.

Ken Shannon tends the campfire in Everglades National Park.

To say I felt a twinge of emotion as I drove home from the landfill would be understating the obvious. Fortunately there is another canoe in my yard.

My first tarpon, Bear Lake, Everglades National Park.

My first tarpon, Bear Lake, Everglades National Park.

Maxx and Dad, Saco River, Maine.

Maxx and Dad out canoeing.

Alex and Susan, Saco River, Maine.

Alex and Susan, Saco River, Maine.

Power Ranger ready to paddle!

Power Ranger ready to paddle!

Using the Old Town on a no motor zone charter, Banana River Lagoon.

Using the Old Town on a no motor zone charter, Banana River Lagoon.

Camping on the chickee, Everglades. My boys were 13 and 11 at the time.

Camping on the chickee, Everglades. My boys were 13 and 11 at the time.

Another day, another car, a different companion. Same canoe...

Another day, another car, son Maxx. Same canoe.

No motor area, Everglades National Park.

No motor area, Everglades National Park.

Maxx battles a snook, Mud Lake.

Maxx battles a snook, Mud Lake.

Maxx and Brian Jaye at Nantahala Falls, North Carolina.

Maxx and Brian Jaye at Nantahala Falls, North Carolina.

I feel a need to go paddling…

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.