My Mom and Dad loved fishing. They kept it up long after my Dad gave up hunting. Eventually, they reached an age where putting a boat or canoe in the water was too much for them so they had to content themselves with fishing from the shore. That wasn’t particularly satisfying though, especially as most of the lakes with easy access were pretty much fished out.
Dad remembered a lake in the French River area that was quite a ways off the beaten track. He knew they were much more likely to succeed in catching something there so one morning they set out to find it. The car was loaded with lawn chairs, lunch, fishing gear and high expectations as they trusted to Dad’s memory and sense of direction to get them where they were going.
It all started out well. Dad easily located the narrow back road that would ultimately take them to the vicinity of the lake. It was a bit rough but he was an excellent driver and he had no trouble negotiating the ruts and potholes they encountered. It wasn’t the first time he’d taken their Chrysler Dynasty over roads that looked more like cow paths. The trouble started when they came to a creek where the bridge had washed out. Actually it was more like a river. It didn’t look to be very deep but it was more than three car lengths across.
They were faced with a choice. There was no room to turn around so if they decided to abandon their plan they would have to back all the way out to the main road which was only given that distinction because it allowed for two way traffic. The prospect didn’t appeal to either of them especially with no fish to show for their efforts. Dad got out for a closer inspection of the bank. There he could plainly discern the tire tracks of another vehicle leading straight into the water. When he looked to the other side, the tracks leading up the far bank and onto the road were easily visible. That settled it. If some other driver had made it across there was no reason he couldn’t do it too.
Mom was a nervous passenger at the best of times so I can well imagine her white knuckled grip on the dashboard as Dad put the car in first gear and drove into the water. What he didn’t know of course was that whoever had driven across ahead of him was most certainly not doing it in a Chrysler. Even so, they made it right out to the centre before the wheels sank deep in the loose gravel of the riverbed and they came to a shuddering halt. They were well and truly stuck and no amount of skill was going to get them out of this one. There they sat, neither one willing to look at the other, water seeping in around the doors until it covered the floorboards and sloshed around their ankles.
Who knows how long they might have sat there if not for the return of the vehicle whose tracks they had been following. It turned out to be two men in a 4x4 Jeep with a convenient winch on the front. The men could scarcely hide their stunned reactions at the unexpected sight of two very senior citizens sitting in tight-lipped silence in the front seat of their car while the river flowed around them. I’m quite sure they’d never before seen two unlikelier off-road enthusiasts. Fortunately for my Dad’s injured pride, they managed not to laugh once as they set about rescuing the stranded couple.
I can’t say the same for the rest of us when we heard the story. Of course by then even my Dad was ready to see the humor in it. The trip may not have netted them any fish but it was an adventure all right. Even senior citizens need one of those from time to time.