The story began on a dark, cold winter evening. I was in full "Lazy Sunday" mode; loafing around the house and watching television. But the relaxation would soon end when Mrs. Dude returned from her weekly trip to the local Target store. As she carried in the first of many red and white Target bags, she casually remarked, "In case you're interested, I just saw a canoe out at the trash." This was huge! So huge in fact that I am amazed at how casually Mrs. Dude threw out this monumental news. In retrospect, maybe she was acting low-key in the hopes of keeping me calm? Mrs. Dude knows how crazy I get over a good trash pick, particularly when it's something as insane as a canoe! But it was about to get more insane when Mrs. Dude then added, "Oh by the way, it sort of looks like an Old Town canoe."
It takes a lot to move me off the couch on a cold Sunday evening, but this news hit me like a thunderbolt! I jumped up and sprang into action! If you're wondering why, it's because Old Town canoes are the Cadillacs of the lakes...the Harley Davidson of the streams...the Apple computer of....well, you get the idea. They're the very best canoe on the market. Oh yeah and one more thing....they cost a lot of money!
So while Mrs. Dude was calm and non-chalant over the canoe...I was the complete opposite! With lots of lakes and creeks in my area, I knew a canoe was not going to stay out at the curb for very long. Jumping on one leg as I tried to slip a boot on the other, I told Mrs. Dude that we had to get that canoe right now! Mrs. Dude was not thrilled with the idea of joining me on this recovery mission. It was dark and cold outside with a few of inches of frozen snow on the ground. (The kind of depressing mid-winter night that causes people to Google Florida trips and Caribbean cruises.) Giving me one of those, "Do I really have to go?" looks, Mrs. Dude suggested I grab one of the kids and use my truck to retrieve the canoe. Imagining my canoe slipping away, I pleaded with her, "No, No, No...we don't have much time! It'll be gone by then!" Seeing that I was getting hysterical, Mrs. Dude let out a sigh and grabbed her keys. We headed out into the darkness, Mrs. Dude as the driver and me once again serving as ninja trash picker!
Although our destination was only a few minutes away, I worried that some like-minded picker would beat me to the canoe. Seeing another person pick up that canoe would have crushed me emotionally for weeks! But as we pulled up to the house, I was relieved when the canoe was still there resting in the snow. I instructed Mrs. Dude to pull up alongside the canoe, thereby establishing our rightful claim by reason of proximity. The house where the canoe was located was for sale. Jumping out of the van, I heard people talking in the garage. Quickly looking the canoe over, I confirmed it was definitely Old Town! Looking further, I noticed the bench seat was broken in half and the plastic bow cap was missing. Other then that, it looked darn good!
Still unable to wrap my head around the fact that an Old Town canoe was out in trash, I decided to check with the homeowner. The owners were busy in their garage packing moving boxes. The wife stood up to talk and I sputtered excitedly that I just happened to be driving by and was wondering if the canoe was being thrown away? She confirmed that it was, explaining they were ditching the canoe to avoid the hassle of moving it. Still thinking there had to be some kind of catch, I asked her if there was anything wrong with the canoe? She explained that although it floated, the canoe had been damaged after washing down a creek in a rainstorm. The extent of the damage? The broken bench and missing bow cap I'd spotted.
|Great for family excursions and keeping firewood dry!|
Using my truck would have made more sense. After all, a truck has something called a "bed" which is designed to transport large items, like say....a canoe. But as I wrestled the 15 foot behemoth into narrow confines of the mini-van, I explained to Mrs. Dude there was no way in God's green earth I was leaving without the canoe. I knew that if I left it, even if it were for just a few minutes, I'd never lay eyes on that canoe again!
So we stayed put and with each yank and grunt, I slowly pulled the canoe into the van. It was a miracle I didn't throw my back out! I finally stopped pulling when my backside was up against the front dash of the mini van. It was a dicey situation to say the least. Had Mrs. Dude floored the gas, both me and the canoe could have flown right out the back! But it was a risk I was willing to take. After bracing myself and gripping the back of the canoe, I asked Mrs. Dude to begin the slow drive home. With my body jammed up against the front dash it was an uncomfortable ride for me. In fact, I am pretty sure my rear end changed the radio station every time we hit a bump! After a few minutes and a couple of station changes, we made it safely home.
Despite all the challenges involved, my trash picked canoe was well worth the effort. While the canoe had some minimal damage, it was remedied with some easy repairs. I tore out the busted seat and replaced it with a wood seat cut out of scrap wood. I then ordered a replacement bow cap from Old Town that snapped easily in place. After total repair costs of around $50 dollars the canoe looked great. I also saved a ton of money when compared to buying a new canoe. The exact 15 foot model I salvaged from the curb sells for $1500 dollars at LL Bean! Not too shabby, right? Since making the repairs, the canoe has been on many family excursions down local creeks and lakes. Like I said, some finds are definitely worth keeping!
What kind of awesome "keepers" have you found? Tell us all about it in the comment section!
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