A week ago, our family hauled four kayaks to the Dowagiac River and went for a three hour get-away. We took two cars and parked one our ending point and took the other with the kayaks to our starting point. That way we had a vehicle available as soon as we finished.
We got on the river in the early evening. The day had been hot, but the water was cool. Donovan hung his feet over the side and relaxed. The water was not too fast, but not too slow. Monty (our dog) rode along with Kristi. At several points, trees nearly blocked the river, and we could only get over them by paddling as fast as we could and shooting over them! At one of these, we actually had to have Logan zip over the log and pass Monty to him so Kristi could get up the speed needed to cross without tipping over.
Because of these types of situations, the trip took a little longer than we expected, and we were racing sunset to finish. We were so relieved when we finally saw the bridge where we were getting out. After we hauled the four kayaks out of the river, Kristi beckoned to me for the car keys. I thought she had a set of them with her, but she didn’t (after all I had driven this car) she had the keys for the car at the other end of the trip – and I realized that I had left the keys for this car in the vehicle that was parked 3 hours up river, about a 8 to 10 mile walk. None of us had brought our phones – it was supposed to be a time of relaxing. So there we were with no keys, no phones, and it getting dark fast and the mosquitos were coming out in force.
Several things could have happened at that time. We could have started yelling at each other and playing the blame game. I could have blamed her for not having her keys, even though I knew I was responsible for it. She could have yelled at me and pointed the blame at me that I certainly deserved. The boys could have yelled at both of us. But what good would that have done? Instead, I immediately accepted responsibility and apologized for my mistake, and we simply went to work on solving the problem.
Our first thought was to knock on the doors of homes in the area and ask for a ride or to use their phone to call for help. But none of them would answer their doors. (I suspect that they get a lot of lost kayakers and simply have decided to ignore us).
Kristi then pointed out that the Crystal Springs United Methodist Camp was only about a mile walk from where we were, and we could see if there was anyone there that could help. So she and I started walking, and left Logan and Donovan at the locked car with the kayaks. By the time we reached the camp it was very nearly dark. We knocked on the door of the camp director’s home and were greeted by Dan Stuglik’s welcoming face. He immediately understood our situation, got his car keys and hauled us to our car. From there we were on our way, and after apologizing again to everyone, all was forgiven (except the mosquitos).
The lessons of this adventure are many. They include the importance of staying calm, of not blaming each other, of accepting responsibility, of having good connections with friendly United Methodists, and remembering my keys!