Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Smuggs getaway part 3

(Note: Although Postcards from the Mothership is now live at http://danigirl.ca/blog, I'm continuing to cross-post for a couple of weeks until I get all the kinks out. See the original post at Smuggs Getaway Part 3: The world's longest canoe trip)


I was a little bit anxious leaving Simon in the day camp all day while Beloved and I enjoyed a day at Smuggs on our own. Partly, I was nervous about leaving him on his own, when he's used to doing everything side-by-side with Tristan. Moreso, though, I was worried about his newly acquired potty training habit.

Of course, I needn't have worried. In fact, when Beloved and I puttered through the Village Green on our Segway tour, we spied him and his daycamp compatriots on a little expedition of some sort. He seemed to be perfectly content, and I was greatly reassured.

When I finally picked him up at 4 pm, he was still in the same shorts and underwear I'd put him in that morning. (I'd packed two extra pair of each and a pull-up. You just never know.) The first thing he said when he saw me, before even "hello", was "I need to go potty." He was indignant when I tried to lead him into the ladies room, after having used the men's room by himself all day. To add insult to injury, after remaining dry all day, I was glad to have extra pants packed for him after an unfortunate aiming incident. Oh well, he did better than I would have ever given him credit for.

I won't belabour our dinner experience, except to say that the deli at which we intended to eat was closed and so we did the pizza and pasta thing for a second night in a row. Our window of time shrank through various bathroom shenanigans (I swear, between being 18 weeks pregnant and the two boys, I don't think there was a bathroom in the place that we didn't grace with our presence several times over three days) we had just enough time to head back into Jeffersonville to hook up with our scheduled evening activity, the evening wildlife watch canoe trip.

In retrospect, this was an error in judgement on my part. In my enthusiasm to enjoy our short vacation to the fullest, I may have overestimated the boys' (ahem, everybody's) capabilities for a busy day. After being on the go all day at day camp, Simon was nearly falling asleep over his pizza at dinner. Tristan had a bona fide meltdown on the way to the car, insisting tearily that he didn't want to go anywhere else, he just wanted to go home.

As I suspected he might, he did calm down once we got in the car, and was raring to go by the time we parked the car outside the canoe outfitters. Our hosts and guides for the evening trip were two young fellows with the most distinct Southie accents I've ever encountered outside the movies, sounding for all the world like Will and Chuckie from Good Will Hunting. We truly had no idea what to think as rather than simply loading into a canoe on site, we were herded into a shuttle van pulling several canoes and driven waaaaaaaaay upstream. I'm not sure how far we went exactly, but I'm sure it must have been somewhere near the Canadian border for all the time it took us to paddle back (thankfully!) downstream to our waiting cars.

The 300 mile voyageur imitation wasn't even the worst of it. As we pushed off from shore, the guides suggested we remain quiet in our canoes lest we frighten away the wildlife and ruin the trip for the rest of our fellow canoers. Seriously. I have a three- and five-year old in my canoe who have both already vastly exceeded their daily alotment of patience and cooperation, and you want me to keep them quiet? I can't keep them quiet on the best of days.

In the way that only three-year olds can do, Simon interpreted this instruction in his own unique way. For the entire TWO AND A HALF HOURS that we paddled relentlessly down that river, Simon did not stop talking once. He spoke, he babbled, he sang, he bellowed. I shushed him, he whispered for about eleven seconds, and went back to chattering in his usual "outside" voice. I kid you not, that child uttered more syllables in that one evening than he has cumulatively to date in his entire lifetime.

Aside from the constant stream-of-consciousness commentary, Simon was also reluctant to heed our constant exhortations to stop lurching over to the side of the canoe to peer over the edge. Tristan did better, sitting rather calmly and well-centred in the canoe bottom for most of the ride, but that left us perhaps less prepared for the few times he did shift or turn, bringing us precariously close to tipping on more than one occassion.

(On that note, you'll note that photos are conspicuously absent from this post. Beloved opined, rather vocally, that the best place for the new digital SLR was safely hidden in the car and not, say, at the bottom of the Lamoille River in Vermont. Seeing as how we didn't actually see *any* wildlife, aside from the bunny rabbit that Tristan was petting in the parking lot, we didn't miss too many photo opportunities. There was one gorgeous old covered bridge that we passed under, and some ruggedly lovely spots... but none worth betting the seaworthiness of our canoe against our ability to remain upright and out of the water.)

Dusk was settling quickly into official nighttime by the time we approached the landing where we'd parked, and both boys were done like dinner. I had hardly finished exhaling my sigh of relief before the guides motioned us to paddle over to the side of the river 200 yards away from the endgame. They told us that we had one last "tricky spot" through which we'd have to manouever, a bit of white water (!) with rocks to the right (!) and a giant submerged tree stump (!) to the left. Had I had any energy left whatsoever, I might have laughed. They lectured us for a few minutes on exactly how to navigate this final injustice, including how to orient your body should you be tipped into the drink, and I figured for sure we were all going swimming. To the boys' credit, they must have read something in either the whites of my eyes or my white-knuckled grip on my paddle. Regardless, they were nearly still - and blissfully silent - as we shot the rapids with nary a splash.

Final analysis? Our next vacation needs more Segway and less canoe. I'll bet if the voyageurs had Segways, they would have forgone the canoes, too.

(Disclosure: I was offered a complimentary visit to Smugglers’ Notch Resort after Smugg’s PR folks read my Ottawa to Bar Harbor posts earlier this summer. Our condo and all activities were complimentary but in no way conditional on a favourable review.)