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It is time to do the tasks to close up camp for the winter. While I know it is necessary to do this, it has always made me a little sad. This year our newest grandchild, Matthieu, made his first visits to our camp on the French River – sweet new memories for all of us.

So on Saturday October 5, Alex and I and our friends Rolly and Lynda drove down Highway 69 to the turnoff to Highway 64 to Alban, then onto Turenne Road to # 390, our camp driveway. The beautiful fall colours of the leaves made for a pleasurable drive on this rainy day. Alex and I had purchased a small motor boat in August – an impulse buy, which had already brought all of our family a lot of joy and fun. Exploring the amazing French River, the route of Samuel de Champlain in the 1600’s and many subsequent voyageurs, has always been a source of interest to us and our camp visitors. Alex was excited to take a last long boat ride to the Ouellette Rapids with Rolly and Lynda to show them the place where he and most of our family members (not me!) had body – surfed the rapids while wearing life jackets. It is truly a lovely spot! It was uncharacteristically quiet on the river this Thanksgiving weekend. Very few people were at their camps or boating on the river. The motor performed admirably and we reached the rapids after about 30 minutes. It was a smooth ride as the water was very still just the way we love it! The colourful trees were reflected in the water and it was absolutely magical! All four of us debarked to have a closer look at the rapids and it was obvious from the gleam in her eye that Lynda is most anxious to try body-surfing there next summer. We promised her she’d get the chance. Then it was time to return to camp to take the boat out of the water for the winter as we had planned. That’s when we got a most unexpected surprise! When Alex started the motor it growled just as in a car when the battery is low and that is what indeed it was! By now it was literally pouring rain! We were not prepared for that either!

There was nothing to do but start paddling down the French. Thank goodness we had remembered to bring our paddles! Rolly and Alex paddled as fast as they could which was not very fast at all. The rain kept coming down and in no time we were all soaked. However our spirits were not dampened as many jokes were told and we regarded the whole debacle as an adventure. Alex and Rolly kept comparing themselves to the voyageurs of old but Lynda and I had difficulty believing them. Much laughter and teasing helped lighten the situation immeasurably. There was absolutely no current and the water was so very still so we were not getting any help in that regard. At that point Lynda felt the call of nature. “Let’s pull into shore right there! That looks like a good spot!” The men directed the disabled boat to the land. As Lynda was climbing out onto some rocks her foot slipped as the rocks were slimy. More laughter! More dampness too! Being a woman makes this need so much more complicated! When Lynda returned to the boat both men decided that they also needed to relieve themselves but that was not a huge problem of course. Once everyone was settled back into the boat Alex tried to start the motor again. No luck! Not only did the motor not start we were now hung up on the rocks so paddling was impossible as well. Lynda climbed out onto the bow of the boat, I moved as far forward as possible and the men managed to push us out from the offending rocks leaving behind only some scrapings to mark our spot. Once more we were on our way. More reasons to laugh about our worsening situation. The downpour continued.

Slowly we proceeded down the river. Finally as we came around a bend, we spotted a cottage where a lady was tending a fire and her husband was on the dock. Hurray! We called out to him for help and he invited us to put in to their dock. Apparently he had noticed our predicament already and was waiting for us to come closer as he had no boat with which to come to our assistance. He insisted that Lynda and I go up the hill to his cottage right away to get warm while he attempted to help Alex and Rolly to start our motor with a small generator which he had already brought down to the dock. Gratefully Lynda and I followed his advice and greeted his wife who invited us in immediately. We used the bathroom and considered ourselves most fortunate that this couple was at their cottage while most campers were not. We introduced ourselves and discovered that the lady’s name was Lynn. She immediately began to make hot chocolate for us to help us to warm up. We appreciated her efforts and accepted thankfully. A short time later the three men came up to the beautiful very large cabin as they had been unsuccessful in starting the boat. That battery was dead! Paul introduced himself to us and told us that they lived in Barrie. After pouring a drink for himself and our men, he told us that he is a builder and is constructing this amazing three – storey cabin himself. During the conversation our new friends told us about the joyful birth of their first grandchild this summer. As we became acquainted, we learned that we knew several people in common as Paul used to bring his son to Sudbury to box competitively. They expressed their love for the French River which immediately gave us a shared interest. Conversation flowed easily with this couple and we felt a direct connection. Paul and Lynn Comuso were indeed gracious hosts as well as being our rescuers.

After we had warmed up somewhat and began to feel human again, Paul drove us to our camp in his truck. Lynn invited us to stop by again when we were in their area. Lynda and I stayed at our place while Alex picked up our extra battery and the men returned with Paul to try to rescue our boat to bring it back home. After a while, we heard the familiar sound of the motor bringing Alex and Rolly back to our dock. Our adventure had ended safely and what could have been a drastic situation had turned into a story we would tell our families eagerly. We had made new friends on the river with whom we would stay in contact as Paul had given Alex his card containing his email address as well as phone number in Barrie – a wonderful bonus.

By now it was getting dark, we were cold and wet, and getting the boat out of the water would have to wait for another day.

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