This is the last canoe story. This story doesn't have Nancy and Larry in it nor Linda. In this story I have my long time high school buddy Ralph helping me. This story took place after the boys got big enough that we had a hard time getting them and enough gear into our red canoe for a weekend float trip. Canoes are expensive and we couldn't afford two of them so I thought about building one. Just as the thought was with me I saw an ad in the paper for a canoe kit. Only $50. So I called and rushed right over and bought it. When I got it home I found I had a bundle of wood, a roll of canvass and a couple of sheets of directions. But by the end of the month I had what resembled a canoe. I had a wooden frame with canvass stretched over it somewhat like the old Indian bull boats. The canvass was painted with white house paint to fill the pores then painted with marine varnish to waterproof it. so it ended up being a kind of vomit yellow color. So I called up my buddy Ralph and told him, "Hey Ralph I just built a new canoe, want to help me try it out!" Ralph usually went along with most all my schemes, I mean ideas, so I got the canoe on top of my Chevy Malibu and picked Ralph up at his house. "Where are we going to try it out Sarge?" asked Ralph. "Lake Jacomo, the biggest and best lake in the area, my friend." I replied. "Uhh, that is a pretty big lake for a little canoe like this," Ralph said cautiously. "NO sweat Ralph, I am an experienced canoeist, we will just make a few trips around the lake just to see if there are any leaks." I happily replied. "Leaks?" Ralph said. "Don't worry Ralph I ran the hose over it for a few minutes and couldn't find any leaks, will maybe a few damp spots but they will swell shut I am sure." I said. So here we were at the boat ramp of Lake Jacomo, Missouri. Boy, the wind was picking up. Just about blew the canoe off the top of the car after we untied it. "Hey Sarge, it is getting pretty windy," mentioned Ralph. "No Sweat, Ralph it will just mean we don't have to paddle as much." I remarked So we each took a end of the canoe and started toward the boat ramp. Just about then a couple of fishermen were leaving the dock in a square sterned canoe with a small motor on it. As soon as they got out past the wind break the now cloudy and gale wind storm hit them and over they went. "Ahhhhh Sarge, those guys just tipped over in a canoe, I don't think we should do this." complained Ralph. "They were just loaded too heavy, my friend, and probably not in our league as 1st class canoeist." I flippantly remarked. "Now lets get this canoe into the water, uhhh this thing is getting heavy, (looking back at Ralph) Ralph you are not walking I can see the two tracks where I am dragging you." "I don't want to goooo." Ralph moaned. "Come on Ralph have I ever gotten you into anything I could not get out of?" I said "Yeah there was that cave we were lost in and the time we got lost in the forest and how about that camping trip with the snakes." Ralph said. "Oh Ralph we got out of those didn't we, now come on start walking I am getting tired of dragging you and the canoe." I commanded "There we are Ralph she floats like dream, didn't I tell you so." I bubbled. "Ok you up front and me in the stern, I am the power paddler. OK HERE WE GO!, SHOVE OFF!!" I yelled. And the next thing we knew the wind hit us. "WOW, that wind is fierce!" I yelled so Ralph could hear me over the howl and white caps hitting us. Turn to the North, so it is on our stern!" I hollered. "See Ralph didn't I tell you it would be OK we hardly have to paddle." I smugly mentioned. "YEH but that is because we are being blown clear across the lake toward the DAM." yelled Ralph. "Yeh I see what you mean, paddle toward that cove on our right." I said. Paddling hard, and Oops Ralph lost his paddle. "Grab the spare paddle Ralph hurry, we are getting too close to the dam." I yelled into the wind. To keep us synchronized I called, "Stroke, Stroke, Stroke!" And Ralph got into the mood of things too but he was calling "Help, Help, Help" So there we were paddling like H*ll when a pontoon boat goes by heading in because of the storm. They come along close to us and one of the men calls, "Hey you guys need any help?" By now old Ralph is back to his old self and enjoying it , He calls back. "Send Help and lotsa sandwiches!" "Sandwiches, Ralph?" I question. "Yeh" Ralph answers, "I'm hungry." So we make it to the cove and decide the only way for us to get back to the car is to follow the east shore all the way around and come into the dock from the south when we have the wind at our backs. Two hours later we finally get to within sight of the windbreak on the south-side of the dock and decide to just pull over here and carry the canoe back to the parking lot. We are afraid if we go around the wind break we will get blown across the lake again. Huffing and puffing we finally get the canoe on top of the car and head for home. "You know Ralph I bet it would be more fun if we came back tomorrow after this storm is over and bring some fishing tackle. What do you say Buddy?" I inquired. "Well, I guess so, it did float all right, so pick me up tomorrow." Ralph said with his customary lack of enthusiasm. (next day) "Boy, Ralph the weather is great, the fish are bound to be biting, and we got the whole day to fish, wow, isn't this great." I gushed. "Yeh Yeh just great, if we don't sink or get blown over the dam." Ralph said with a sad voice. Pulling in to the parking lot we were amazed to see it full of trucks and cars at this early in the morning. Most of the trucks were fire engines, ambulances and police cars. "Gee Ralph some poor soul must have had a boating accident,lets go down and see what happened." I remarked. When we got there we heard two guys that vaguely looked like those two that were on the pontoon boat, telling some by-standers that they saw two boaters in a canoe that were crying for help and one said that they were leaking and sinking. They were last seen over by the dam and that the search and rescue had been dragging the lake all night and all they found was one of the paddles. I looked at Ralph, he looked at me, we turned and went back to the car and quietly left the parking lot. "You suppose we ought to go back and ask for your paddle back?" Ralph said. The end.