Wacissa River Trip Sees Rookies Run Afoul of the Law
Wacissa, Florida--August 11, 2007 saw thirteen paddlers make the short paddle from Wacissa Spring to Cedar Island and return. After the return paddle most of the paddlers traveled to Miccosukee for a turkey frying celebration at Art and Janice Shelfer’s place called by some Fort Shelfer, by another Shiloh, and by the Shelfers the place of peace.
Paddlers began arriving around 8:30. Charlie Stines Diane Stines, and Donald May used the Exhibition to bring down the repaired pink trailer and the necessary canoes. Their first stop was at Fort Shelfer where Art and Mark Mitchell loaded the Edmund Fitzgerald onto the trailer and then boarded for the drive to the spring. Once there, the Ellis family came. Donna and Jerry brought their son, Brad, and his daughter Megan, for their rookie voyage. Arthur Tucker arrived shortly thereafter, as did Margie Massey. Sam Olmstead and Catherine Bryant followed Charlie’s directions and made a left when they should have made a right so they were a little late for the launch. But they could legitimately blame Charlie. Laura Holley stood up the group.
The initial entertainment came when Charlie spotted a good sized snake in his Canadienne. Brad immediately identified it as a rat snake, picked it up, and handed it to his ten year old daughter, Megan. Megan handled the snake like it belonged to her but eventually released it to the water where it swam gratefully away.
After Sam arrived everyone picked a boat and the paddle began. Jerry and Donna were in their individual kayaks, Brad and Megan used a tandem kayak which was sort of a hybrid canoe-kayak. Arther Tucker and Margie Massey paddled the Gunn boat (Penobscot 17). Since Laura did not come that left Donald to solo the Penobscot 16. Charlie and Diane used the Canadienne. Sam and Catherine paddled the green Tripper. Art and Mark initiated the Edmund Fitzgerald Grumman aluminum ghost boat which was rescued from its grave in the Shoal River.
The weather was supposed to be scorching hot but the Weatherman was a little cooperative and it only reached sizzling hot. Other than that, it was an excellent day for paddling. The Wacissa is noted for bird life and this day was no exception. Gallinule, limpkins, coots, ducks, great and little blue herons, egrets, anhingas, and numerous unidentified birds played in the area. There was at least one alligator seen. The best treat was the otters. Otters are not commonly seen on the Wacissa but several were seen this time. They were swimming and doing their rolls. This may not be as much fun as watching them slide down a mud bank into a river, but God made otters to remind us that some animals always remain teenagers at heart.
The group had almost made it back to the head spring when the Florida wildlife wardens appeared. They asked everyone to show their lifejackets. Most complied. But the Weatherman was called over and given a written warning because the life vest was somewhat frayed. He could legitimately blame Charlie, but Art said he just told them that his name was W.H. Stines and got the warning under that name (which was the name written on the lifejacket!) Sam and Catherine were not quite so fortunate. Somehow they had managed to get into the Tripper and no one had put lifejackets into the boat. They could legitimately blame Charlie. Sam did the gentlemanly thing and let the warden write the ticket to Catherine rather than to himself.
After loading the boats onto the trailer Arthur, Sam, and Catherine decided to skip the cookout. Everyone else traveled to Fort Shelfer. Art started heating the oil to fry the turkey. He had managed to find some peanut oil so he did not fry the turkey in diesel oil as at first threatened. However, he forgot his duties as Weatherman and allowed a tremendous wind and rain to come. His shelter is at least twenty-five feet wide but the rain and wind were so severe that water was blown almost entirely across the floor. The wind managed to blow Art’s Kawasaki Mule across the floor and into a table. This blew the soft drinks onto the floor. Napkins were flying uncontrolled through the air. Unoccupied chairs resembled amusement park rides. But finally the wind and rain ceased. It took a while to cook the turkey but Janice had been thoughtful enough to fry some chicken wings for appetizers. They were all eaten.
Once the turkey was done it was tested for taste and was overwhelmingly approved. The whole bird was eaten along with slaw Gloria May had brought, salad Donna had made, a pound cake Margie baked, a key lime pie Diane made, bread that Sam sent, and lots of other goodies. No one was underfed.
After supper the group sat around and told a few lies before going home. It was the first gathering for Brad and Megan but they certainly made a good impression. Sam and Catherine were rookies, too, but they got the group in trouble with the law and then skipped supper. They will need to make a better impression next time.