A Haggard canoeing catastrophe

When I got back from Coeur d’Alene last Wednesday I came home to not only one Haggard man but three. Justin and Jared, Jason’s brothers were in town for a visit, from Atlanta and Great Falls, Montana, respectively.

Most of the time we just hung out, ate and talked. But on Saturday, the brothers’ last full day in Seattle, Jason suggested we go canoeing at UW. Since it’s been especially hot and four people in a 450 square foot apartment makes things even hotter, I thought getting down to the water would be a refreshing break.

Justin and Jared were mildly (and that’s an exaggeration) interested in canoeing. But we went anyway. And, as you can tell from the title of the post, they were even less amused by the event when all was said and done.

Jason and I put our swimsuits on, filled up our backpack with towels, sunblock and other “essentials” and dragged Justin and Jared into the car. When we got to the UW waterfront stupid mistake #1 happened – we grabbed the backpack (which included our cell phones, wallets and dry towels) to bring with us on the boat.

At this point in telling the story I am asking myself “Who talks on their cell phone while maneuvering a long, skinny, cumbersome boat across a busy canal–especially when their pregnant and trying to maintain their already-impaired balance?” I don’t know. Certainly not me. So why did I bring my cell phone???

Needless to say, we hopped in our canoes no problem (backpack and all). But as we did, I realized I forgot to bring the camera. “Oh man! This would’ve been great for the blog!” I thought.

And so marks stupid mistake #2 – thinking that bringing my really nice camera into the boat was a good idea in the first place. In my common sense brainfart I mentally kicked myself for missing this photo opp.

In Jason & I’s canoe we (and when I say “we” I mean Jason) immediately came up with a military plan of action. He was to do the steering (of course) from the back and I was supposed to paddle as hard as I could. I whined about forgetting the camera about every time I had to switch arms from exhaustion.

The first thing we had to do was cross the busy canal without getting hit. Jason and I moved quickly. I remember looking back and seeing Jared & Justin behind us, somewhat half-heartedly paddling, all the while giant yachts approaching their boat. They didn’t seem to be concerned. Jason started yelling at them to keep moving and they picked up the pace.

Despite the mild drama, we were able to safely pass through the canal without getting hit by anything. We then passed under the 520 bridge and into a much calmer area. I started feeling a lot cooler so close to the water and enjoyed seeing all the ducks swimming around.

Within less than five minutes of canoe toodling, stupid mistake #3 happened. Jared had discovered the ducks as well and as I looked to my left I saw him start paddling hard, pulling him and Justin as fast as he could to try to hit a nice, cute little female mallard with their boat. She was swimming away with all her might, her wings almost out of the water as she went.

This continued for maybe three yards. Then Jared & Justin effortlessly tipped over and sunk into the water. In the thrill of trying to kill an innocent duck Jared had gotten reckless in his paddling and lost his balance. I don’t know what Justin was doing in the back, but he didn’t put up any fight in going down with his brother.

After the immediate shock (and relief that the duck was able to get away), I quietly chuckled to myself and thought “I’m glad that wasn’t me.” Stupid mistake #4 – thinking I was immune to involvement in, what was to be, a several-part disaster.

At first we couldn’t see Jared or Justin behind their capsized canoe. But as we got closer I spotted Justin bobbing in the water with his life vest on, his arm stuck straight up in the air holding his cell phone. This is probably the most intelligent decision made during the whole ordeal.

Jared was next to him with a goofy look on his face, forgetting entirely that his own phone still remained in his pocket, at least a foot under water.

As we pulled up to the scene of the accident I started to get a bit nervous. I wasn’t that concerned about getting wet, but I mentally started to tally how much replacement cell phones would cost. I decided that ours were NOT going to have the same fate as Justin & Jared’s. I was not in the “we’re all family, so let’s stick together” mood. In my mind it was every man for himself!

Jared & Jason were able to flip over the canoe and rid it of water. Jared quickly scrambled up into it before we could discuss what to do next. Jason wasn’t sure if Justin should also try to get in or just swim to nearby shore. Stupid mistake #5 – they decided to try getting him in the boat.

Jason: “Here, I’ll hold on to your canoe and Jared, you try to keep it in balance, too. Elisabeth, lean to the right of our boat to offset the weight.”

“But wait, that doesn’t seem right. That’s not offsetting the weight, that’s adding to it. I should lean to the left. I DON’T WANT US TO GO DOWN, TOO!” I said.

“Elisabeth, it’s right, just trust me! You’re not going to get wet.”

Stupid mistake #6 – Jason having enough confidence in himself to make that kind of promise to his wife.

At first there was a glimmer of hope–Justin scrambled up about halfway into the canoe. Maybe stupid mistake #5 wasn’t so stupid after all.

But then stupid mistake #7 happened, which completely trumped stupid mistake #5. Either Jason had told me to lean the wrong way or in my directional dylesxia (I get left and right mixed up), I picked the wrong side to put my weight on.

That coupled with Justin giving way back into the water, and we all proceeded to go down in flames (or I guess splashes would be a better word).

Something inside of me thought that if I just kept sitting inside the boat (as it tipped over, filled with water, and began to capsize) that somehow I would escape the situation (stupid mistake #8). With one hand I was holding onto the side and with the other I was trying to keep the already soaking wet backpack dry. My leg must’ve hit the side of the boat because the next day I discovered a big bruise all the way down my calf.

Finally Jason had to say “Elisabeth, just let go! You’re already in the water!”

At that point, I did let go–of the boat and the backpack. But I held onto my anger and the tears that were start to welling up as a result. “The CELL PHONES! All that MONEY!” I kept thinking. I started having flashbacks to that time (or maybe it was times) in high school that I hit something with my car and was awaiting my dad’s arrival on the scene (and lecture) about how much money it was all going to cost us. Like father like daughter.

In my mental chaos I started scurrying around, trying to grab the flip flops, hat, sunglasses, paddles and life vests that were floating around us, mostly because it made me feel like I was in control of the situation (like mother like daughter).

But, as I swam to get a paddle and saw Justin aimlessly bobbing in the water, having given up on his cell phone after the second full immersion, I started to laugh out loud. That was God’s grace to me and the anger started to dissipate. What was done was done and, well, it was pretty funny.

Several other canoes of young people came by and offered their condolences and their help. They were nice enough not to laugh (to our faces). They even offered to take our stuff to keep it as dry as possible. It was pointless, but I gladly handed it all over.

Justin continued to bob around, that is, until he spotted a hook on the back of one of the the nice people’s canoes and hitched a ride to the shore.

Jared, trying to be resourceful, hobbled into his half-full-of-water canoe. I’m not sure that he even had paddles at that point, but at least he felt like he was doing something.

As much as Jason is the man for any mission, it took him a while to figure out what to do. I informed him that there was no way in hell I was going to get my ever-increasing belly up over the side of a canoe. I also mentioned that it was doubtful I would let him live down the fact that he had attributed to a pregnant woman falling out of a boat.

So, we started swimming to the nearby shore. Or, in other words, maneuvering through muddy, seaweed-infested waters. Jason towed our canoe back with him. Our backpack and other stuff were there waiting there for us. At least they didn’t get all mucky and gross.

We emptied the canoes, got inside and paddled back to the docks. When I sarcastically asked “Does anyone want to keep canoeing around for a while?” I did not receive an answer.

As you can see, there are no photographs to document the event. On the way back I realized the camera was safe and sound at home, and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. Cell phones are one thing, the digital camera is entirely another! I thanked God for my forgetfulness while also being quite humbled by my part in the whole ordeal.

Though a part of me (the stupid part), wishes I would’ve had the camera to document the Haggard boat summersion adventure (as if it would’ve remained dry). Or, had some supernatural power to hover over the situation just to give you the amusing visuals.

But then I come to my senses and realize that if you know any of us Haggards, my words and your imagination will be more than enough to reenact the story with a chuckle.

As for the cell phones . . .

Jason dried them out using alcohol and then left them in the oven (turned off, of course. We’re not that stupid). The combination of the alcohol and the warm pilot light in the gas oven resurrected Jared’s phone, though he lost the back to it somewhere in the scuffle. His contract is up to get a new phone anyway.

Justin’s phone works, but only if you plug it in. Which he did in the airport when he missed his flight the next day (another story)–though he couldn’t call any of us to come get him. He does have insurance and can get it replaced for a minimal fee.

Jason’s phone works, but doesn’t vibrate. And I can call people with mine, but the screen is dark. So, if I don’t know the phone number of someone I can’t call them. And I certainly don’t know who is calling me when it rings or if I’ve received any voicemails.

Thankfully, Mom & Dad Haggard and Dad Krohn are sending us their old phones.

So, despite all the stupid mistakes we made, God provided anyway –both bruised egos and replacement cell phones.

4 responses to “A Haggard canoeing catastrophe

  1. What a great story! I’m so glad everyone is ok and that there were nice people around to offer support even if it couldn’t undo any of the damage done to your things. This will make a great story for Baby H to learn about an adventure he had even before he was born. Our kids still love to hear about things that happened while I was pregnant with them.

    Caroline and I look forward to seeing you again in a couple of weeks for the shower.

  2. Great account of that day, I’ll have to start directing everyone to your blog since my story telling isn’t nearly as funny. By the way, my mom and dad have the cell phones and are going to send them to you. I thing we have two razors and one LG, so let my mom know which you want. The LG is the best if you ask me.

  3. Loved the story. You had me laughing really hard. I’m sure at the time, it was pretty traumatic, though. It reminds me of a similar incident with a canoe, last year, probably around the same spot: http://amyletinsky.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/get-out-of-that-boat/

    I’m glad we now have this in common. =)

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