Summary: Encouragement for young couples

A true story

"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

In his song, “Slip-Sliding Away”, Paul Simon asserts that, “God only knows; God makes His plan; the information’s unavailable to the mortal man.” A rather pessimistic attitude, since the information is not entirely unavailable at all...and besides, who wants to know it all? It is the small surprises, whether pleasant or unpleasant, that add spice to life.

Take, for instance, the well-planned trip my wife and I took down the Brazos River in Texas, in 1993. We were to spend the up-coming Summer, from June 26 to the middle of August, with six children (all under age sixteen) so we decided that we would take an advanced well-deserved mini-vacation of our own.

Since my wife Lynnea had canoed down the rivers of New York State as a child and wished to share that rich experience with me, we took pains to find the ‘right’ place to go. We called the canoe rental place to insure that one would be available on the mid-week day, we sat down and carefully composed an itemized list of every conceivable comfort we may desire while on the river, we farmed out the kids, put extra food down for the dog/cat/guinea pig...and we were off.

From the moment we left our driveway the vacation spirit prevailed. Even driving westbound LBJ Freeway at 7:45 am on a weekday could not shake my sense of freedom or my anticipation of solitude and undisturbed fellowship with my beloved wife. We laughed, sang songs, joked about how we should have made a sign for our car window for all the rush hour traffic to read, saying “I’m on vacation, where are YOU going?” Yes, it was a wonderful morning!

When we reached Castle Canoe Rentals, located about five miles West of the Western edge of Mineral Wells, the temperature had climbed to about 89 degrees. The humidity made it feel more like 99, and by midday the actual temperature would be close to that. But nothing, absolutely nothing, had the power to snatch our festive mood from us. We paid our money, watched the young man hook up a trailer laden with upside-down canoes to the back of his Blazer, and listened carefully as he told us to look for a board painted pink and hanging from a tree, marking the end of our six hour trip and our pickup place. Then we climbed into the back of his truck with our Igloo, towels, and overnight case containing suntan lotion, snake bite kit, allergy meds and pocket knife, and he took us down to the banks of the nearby Brazos River. As he drove away I watched his retreating license plate and thought, That’s it. For the next six hours, nothing but the quiet of the river, the coveted company of my wife, and our sandwiches and Dr Pepper. I felt my shoulders relax. After helping each other apply #15 sunblock, we shoved off the land, climbed into the canoe, and floated to freedom...and destiny.

The first three and a half to four hours of our trip were just as we wished them to be. Uneventful. We discussed whatever came to mind, teased each other when our paddling got out of synch and our canoe turned around backwards, munched a sandwich and braved the precarious balance of the vessel as we handed Dr Pepper cans back and forth.

Having deliberately left our watches behind, we estimated the time to be approximately 1:30 (we had started at 10:00 am) when we looked up and saw a pink board hanging from a tree. Since we had chosen the six hour trip instead of the four hour trip, we surmised that this must be the four hour pickup spot rather than the six hour spot, and were lightly perturbed at the rental guy for not telling us that we were to look for the SECOND pink board hanging from a tree. Yes, the thought did occur that we may have reached the six hour spot, but we concluded that if we had, we had been ripped off, and did not want to sit there until 3:30 waiting to see if he would show up. After about ten minutes of deliberation we agreed that we must be at the four hour spot, and continued down stream.

After enjoying another estimated two hours of paddling, cheerful banter, and basically drawing closer to my wife and best friend, I began to wonder if indeed there was another pink board. So did Lynn. Each time the subject came up however, our conclusion was the same; that we could not have reached the six hour spot in only three and a half hours; and we continued on.

By now the sandwiches were gone, the grapes were greatly diminished, empty Dr Pepper cans littered the floor of the canoe, and I was working on the ice. For some reason my thirst had become virtually unquenchable. The sun, beating down relentlessly on my forehead had given me what Lynnea aptly calls a ‘banger’, and my arms and shoulders were long-since past being simply tired from paddling. Occasional comments from Lynn confirmed that we were sharing these experiences also.

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