Pedal, Paddle and Peddle 2001

On Monday morning, May 28 several Gonzos performed an admirable vehicle/kayak/bicycle juggling act. The plan was to drive to Gordie's and drop our bikes off, then drive to Fairbanks Centre, on the Shubie Canal, where we would unload our kayaks and leave our vehicles while we paddled toward the Lake Thomas Marina. At the Marina we would refresh ourselves on the lawns, and washrooms, of the Warnica Mansion, then cycle back to Shubie to pick up our vehicles, load the bikes and drive back to Gordie's to pick up our kayaks. Thus the name Paddle, Piddle and Peddle. (Amazingly, our team of technical experts designed a transfer system that actually worked, with not loss of kayaks, bikes, vehicles or bodies.)

Most of us were to meet at Shubie at about 9:00am. Naturally, the Higher, Further, Faster Quartet (Gordie Warnica, Bruce Duffy, Bruce Murphy and Richard Cameron) opted to start in Lake Banook at 8:00am, thereby gaining an additional hour of bragging rights on the rest of us.

Most of us included Malcolm Pain, Jeff Warnica, Bernie Levy, Mark Stein and yours truly. We were at the appointed starting location, at the appointed 9:00am starting time, to welcome the HFF Quartet ashore. Missing was the vehicle containing our female contingent (Nancy Warnica, Collette Cameron and Judy Hunt). Did they get lost? Could they have had an accident along the way? Could Malcolm have done a crappy job when lashing the three kayaks to the roof of Nancy's car, and could the kayaks have commenced to slip off the roof as the car headed toward Shubie, forcing two stops to re-lash them?

Nancy claimed Malcolm's complete incompetence (possibility #3 above) as the cause of their delay. In his own defense, Malcolm claimed that no knot is invincible, and any good female should have the ability to manage the simple task of retying a knot without whining about it. It got pretty ugly from that point on, falling barely short of the need for the remaining Gonzos to wrestle the pair of them to the ground.

We headed out on the waters at 9:45am.

Stage #1 was a delightful 5 minute paddle up through the canal. One could only wonder what the Micmacs of yesteryear would have thought had they been able to look into the future to see such wild screaming colored watercrafts with occupants sporting poofie PFDs.

Stage #2 took us onto Lake Charles (I think) with an ample breeze, thankfully, at our backs. Those with rudders on their kayaks headed directly for our destination; those of us without rudders took the scenic route.

Stage #3 brought us our first shot at deciding whether to portage of plow on through. Rumor has it that "portage" is the french word for "chicken" so we all gave it a shot, with admirable results.

This was followed by another set of rapids that was tested by a only few of us, with no horrific experiences, I might add. Nevertheless, most opted for the "chicken" route.

A third set of rapids was considered to be a mandatory portage..........for most of us. I recall seeing Jeff heading downstream in dry clothing. My next image of him was when he was walking back up the trail toward us looking like an extremely wet dog, but still smiling. These particular rapids are no match for kayaks due to the damage they may cause to the craft, but, what the heck, Jeff was in his father's kayak.

Then brave young Murphy thought he'd also give the rapids a try (also in a kayak owned by Gordie). Interesting expression on his face as he accidentally got turned around and shot down the rapids backwards..........followed thereafter by a rather large splash.

Stage #4 was Lake William (again, I think). This was a long, l-o-n-g paddle. We could see our destination, the Irving station, with hot Riverdale coffee, off in the distance for what seemed like hours. But we all arrived safely.

Since there was only about 6 inches of space between the flowing water and the Rockey Lake Road bridge, by the Irving station (with the hot Riverdale coffee) we all opted to portage this one...............although Malcolm figured that a perfectly timed Eskimo roll just before the bridge, with a calculated resurface just after the bridge, might do the trick. Needless to say, he fell short of actually testing his theory.

Stage #5 was the re-entry on the other side of the bridge. It seemed harmless enough. The water was going by at a good clip, and there was a tree with low branches on the right, but it seemed to be a friendly spot to get back in. Bernie went first and, although not as pretty an entry as he would surely have produced had he been in his more familiar canoe, he got through with beaming pride.

Malcolm TOLD me I was next, as he pushed me and my kayak down the wooden ramp and into the flowing water. In an immaculate two strokes (pun intended) of good luck I somehow managed to clear the tree branches and was on my way. I was told that I handled the task well, by someone who was unaware of the contents of my underwear just then. (I guess it doesn't matter how good you are at doing something as long as you look like you know what you are doing.)

Ah, then came Mark. Again, Malcolm provided the send off down the ramp. But this time, Malcolm stumbled and was on a head-first trajectory for the water. Mark and his kayak lunged forward, rolled to the left as he struck the tree branches and.......kerplunk! Bravely, Mark wrestled his craft back to shore and got in again. Seems he had so much fun falling out the first time he opted for an encore, as most other paddlers simultaneously grabbed their kayaks and scurried overland to a more serene launching location.

But not Duffy. His forthcoming dumping was voted to me much more picturesque than Mark's. While Mark gets top score for the look of horror on his face (both times), Bruce gracefully leaned to the left to avoid having the tree branches gouge his eyes out, and sunk his craft in slow motion splendor.

Stage #6 was heading to our destination over Lake Thomas.

It took us 3 hours, including portages............and dunkings. The distance was somewhere in the 9 or 10 mile range. The wet squad consisted of Jeff, Bruce and Bruce and Mark (times two). We were, however, a bit puzzled to see how wet Bernie had become during the journey, although he swears that he didn't dunk anywhere along the way. The jury is still out on that one.

For the "Piddle" section of the voyage we stuffed our faces with home made lunches, and barbecued Warnica Dogs.

OK, time to climb on the saddle and bike back to our vehicles. But, no, not yet. The "Voice of Reason" ruled that she was not yet prepared and needed another 15 minutes to ready herself. So, we waited for her, only to discover that she had successfully talked her hubby (Gordie) into biking back to pick up her vehicle for her. (I wonder what promises were made?)

Several others found reasons to not take part in the bike section. Murphy whined about having to go paddling in a war canoe later in the day. Judy found the direct route to her house to be shorter and far more appealing. Not sure what the Camerons were using as an excuse and we all know that Bernie and bicycles don't communicate with each other very well. As for Jeff? Well, he ain't stupid - he didn't have a vehicle at the Fairbanks Centre. Nap time.

That left Bruce D, Gordie, Malcolm, Mark and myself to do the "Peddle" section. Did I mention that Nancy (the Voice of Reason) whose idea it was to do a paddle and a peddle remained at home, with her feet up?

The 18km bike trip took us about an hour. It was fairly windy along the way and we were reminded of our place in life when two young stallions, on $4,000.00 cycles, swooshed by us and disappeared from sight within seconds. That was impressive, but not near as impressive as the amazing fact that we all remembered to bring our vehicle keys with us as we biked to pick up our vehicles. With this gang, anything is possible (perhaps predictable?).

It was a great day. Thanks to all, especially to the Warnicas for their hospitality.