Saturday, August 8, 2009

No Pictures of Petroglyphs

After the incident with the bees, we drove to a location on the river just below the Williams Dam on the Kennebec River. The dam is quite a sight, with a small hydroelectric plant on the left side (as seen from downriver) and sluice gates on the right, with an old unused railroad trestle over the top.


The river is especially high this year, so the sluices were dumping huge quantities of water into the rocky gorge below the dam. We walked up there at one point and watched, awestruck, at the millions of gallons of water tearing through the gorge. In this picture, we’re standing three feet from certain death. Those smiles are fake.


At the put-in site, there’s a lot of old equipment lying along the banks, washed downriver, or left there by logging companies. This thing appears to be the front of an old boiler, but it reminded me of the entrance to some mysterious military installation.


We had three canoes and two kayaks. Everybody had to cross the raging torrent to get to the other side, where there was a nice, calm passage behind an island. Normally this time of year, the passage is dry. I know this doesn’t look like much of a torrent, but to a bunch of weekend softies like us, the two-foot standing waves were intimidating. I should mention that it wasn’t intimidating to everyone, but I’ll talk about that shortly.


Everyone made it across, and we enjoyed the thrust of the rushing current for the rest of the day, barely needing to paddle. Even better, there were no mosquitoes over the water.




Even in calm water, canoes can be unstable, so I was uncomfortable when I saw people engaging in risky behavior, such as this moment when my wife and J* applied suntan lotion to one another while slipping downriver at a good clip.


It came as no surprise to me that someone got dumped into the river. But I was surprised when it turned out to be me.

D* pulled over to the bank to show us a large rock that was covered in petroglyphs. I’d like to show you pictures of the petroglyphs, but I can’t. As we maneuvered to the bank, we got caught in a sudden current and the canoe started to go over. I realized in an instant that I could bail out and keep the canoe upright, or we could both go in the water. So I bailed.

As I came up sputtering, I felt my face to see if I had lost my glasses. Thank God they were still there, because I hadn’t brought a spare pair. My wife said, “Maybe you should put your camera in the canoe.” And I realized I still had it around my neck. That’s why I don’t have any pictures of the petroglyphs.

The next day, D* and my wife decided to take the kayaks to the base of the dam and shoot the current. D* nosed out into the rushing water and immediately went upside-down. My wife paddled over to him and helped him to shore, so nobody was hurt. But D* lost his glasses in the adventure, and didn’t have a spare pair at the camp.

Because he’s nearly as blind as I am, one of our other friends and I drove him home that night, which cost me another day in Maine. But I got to have lunch with an old friend in Boston. That was nice, but it cost me $22 to park for an hour and a half. Lunch in Maine is a lot cheaper and parking is free.

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