Tales from the Cabin
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We All Scream for Ice Cream: A tale of two dessert lovers

By I Scott MacKellar
Published: April 1, 2007
My wife, Laura, and I are generally fit people and when we indulge our dietary vices we try to work it off.  
I was in this frame of mind one weekend day when I asked Laura, “Do you want to go out for ice cream?” (words not often uttered on our off-the-grid island in central Ontario). “You see,” I ventured as I pointed toward our topographical map, “we can take the double-kayak down Bob’s Lake, through the channel to Crow Lake and then run it stem to stern to the Crow Lake General Store. I’ll buy!”
A raised eye-brow told me Laura was considering the 7-mile route I had sketched. Then I had another great idea: We could carry the kayak across a 1-mile portage on the way back and cut out 3 miles on the water. Surprisingly, Laura agreed.
The first leg of the journey was pleasant and a mounting tailwind had us sailing along beautifully. But as we made our way into a much more open Crow Lake, whitecaps filled the 3-mile vista. Tantalized by thoughts of frozen dairy treats, we doggedly paddled on. For an hour and 20 minutes we paddled into the wind with chants of “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” encouraging us to ignore the lactic acid building in our muscles.
And then we had our ice cream.

We even chased it with some potato chips.
But the hubris of the chips must have incensed the Caloric Gods, because from this point on things started to deteriorate.
Homeward bound, the wind we were hoping would scud us back down Crow Lake dropped. Yet, buoyed by dessert and calming conditions, talk of the portage began. Never mind that neither of us had portaged an inch in our lives.
When we spotted the portage, we discovered we would have to fight a Deliverance-like maze of bulrush to get to shore. The slog through the underbrush to the road left us breathless and would have been a harbinger to most.
Now a double kayak is not an easy thing to get aloft. Once we got it hoisted overhead, Laura ended up with her forehead behind the collapsible seat in such a manner that every step we took, unless perfectly in stride, provided her with a little knock on the forehead. I on the other hand, was busily using the    top of my head to take some of the weight from my quickly tiring arms (not a recommended practice – the bruise from the top button of my ball cap lasted a month!).   
Thankfully the rutted tracks at our feet were easy to follow as we trudged on blindly. I tried to get Laura’s mind off the methodical rapping on her forehead by joking, “I hope there are no other kayakers walking the other way. It would be embarrassing to bump into them.” Lack of response told me the afterglow from our ice cream date was slipping away.
“I think I need a rest,” I panted.
A lesson in torsion greeted us as we tried to set the nose of the kayak down. The corkscrew effect could easily take off one’s head!
Overheated, I rummaged in the storage well for a water bottle; the empty chip bag lay mocking me.
We endeavored to carry the kayak suitcase style for a while until our fingers pleaded otherwise. “Let’s try overhead again,” I suggested. “It can’t be long now.” But we tired much more quickly this time before repeating the onerous task of getting out from under the load.
Realizing another shoulder-level carry was beyond us, I unfurled the map. Landmarks revealed the worst: We were only halfway. That’s exactly where you don’t want to be if contemplating giving up.
“We may have to suitcase it from here,” I confessed. And that’s what we did. In lessening stints we alternated sides and toiled on.
Finally, with a new-found respect for the early voyageurs, we caught glimpse of water through the trees and rushed toward it.
As the nose of the kayak gracefully edged into the water, a medium for which it was designed, I turned to Laura and asked, “Do you know something we’ll never do again?” After a shake of her otherwise sore head – “That!”
Our quest for ice cream started at noon and ended over 6 hours later back on the island. Back home, we cracked open a couple of libations, replete in the knowledge we had earned them too.

When not dragging his wife on crazy outings, Scott is a grade 2 teacher in Ontario, Canada.

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