by Allan Green
This is a true story of what happened to me one May 24 weekend while kayaking down the Saugeen River, in Ontario Canada.
I was flowing down the river with the current towards the city of Goderich on Lake Huron. The wheels you see on the kayak (pictured below) are part of a folding system, which expands out and fits on the bottom of my kayak and is then secured by bungee cords. This is a great tool for portaging, instead of having to lift a full kayak of 120 lbs. on my own.
As is true with the nature of the May 24th weekend there was a lot of partying on the shore as well as fishing and drinking. I chose to have a natural high on the river which was peaceful and the weather perfect.
On the river I met two guys who had made a raft out of three oil drums, with a piece of plywood on top holding them together. On top were a barbeque, cooler full of beer and two lawn chairs. No rudder, no paddle they were just drifting where the river's current took them. They were completely stoned or drunk out of their minds.
Enter me and me kayak into their space. I passed by them within a few feet, because they were in the middle of the river. Now all they could see was me down in the kayak in the seat and the wheels behind my back.
They started to taunt and laugh. "Ha, ha! “What’s the matter, man! Do you need training wheels or something? Can’t you keep it straight in the water. Ha ha, worried about tipping? Ha ha, new to the sport? Ha ha, a little wimp afraid of a big kayak are we? Ha ha."
They were laughing hysterically, which accelerated with each new jab they threw at me. I was right beside their homemade barge, only maybe three feet away and I was really quiet. They immediately stopped laughing. “What’s the matter, man," they said, "Can’t you take a joke?"
Still I remained quiet, and looking very hurt. They asked, “Why are you so sad and hurt, man?"
As they tried to focus, I told them that what they said wasn’t very funny.
"What a ya mean, man?" One of them being sarcastic.
"That’s my wheel chair you know!" I replied.
There was a long pause, "Oh, sorry man, we didn’t know…really sorry…would you like a beer? I just kept on going and never looked back. I never told them what the wheels were really for.
I imagined that when they finally sobered up or that when they remembered the day they would tell their friends and maybe grandchildren. "Wow we met this amazing guy kayaking who had no legs, what an inspiration for not being held back from what you want to do in life." Perhaps they really did tell the story to their children and grandchildren and added, "If he can do that you can do anything!"