June: Canadian Interlude

Babes In Boyland, a Mad In Pursuit Diary


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sunset on the lakeDay 1

How is it that two responsible women with master's degrees in public health can let it all go to hell so fast?

Maria and I set out from Rochester today about 9 AM and arrived at our cabin at Christie Lake about one-ish. We hadn't done much planning... bedding... cameras... lawn chairs... fishing gear... coffee maker... CD player... and an agreement that we would not bring candy but would bring chips, salsa, and fresh guacamole. A stop at the duty-free at the Canadian border got us stocked up with liquor and, okay, we did wind up buying a couple of bars of Cadbury chocolate, but only because we were hungry and what better to go with mugs of coffee?

We toasted our arrival with rum and Diet Coke (uh-oh, no ice in the freezer) then went to pick up our motor boat. The lake was calm and deserted. Perfect. 

About 4 we set off on our first fishing excursion, only half organized (and half in the bag). Maria caught a fish, but it swallowed her hook and had to be cut off the line. Oops, forgot to bring any extra tackle with us, so that was that. Then my straw hat flew off into the water, allowing us to demonstrate our dexterous boating skills in rescuing it before it sank. A little more challenging was the fact that the gas line kept falling out of the motor: a survival crisis on that deserted lake. We had enough moxy to figure out how it attached, but not enough to keep it attached. Back at the dock, Maria hailed a bare-chested young buck to problem-solve for us. Unfortunately his little woman arrived swiftly behind him to assure he didn't get carried away by the distressed damsels. 

Over supper we switched to Maria’s pinot grigio. Supper consisted of tortilla chips out of the bag, with scoops of guacamole, while we stood around the kitchen gossiping and listening to music.

But the day's adventures weren't over. We got out the video recorder and began our trip documentary, interviewing each other out on the dock and then figuring out how to use the night shot mode to do taping after dark.* Our blue plastic wine cups were never empty. Hey, let's get some footage of Maria in the boat... okay, great... oh SHIT! Maria falls overboard. Do I panic? Hell, no. I just keep filming. 

Hours later: I wake Maria from a sound snooze on the couch to take our blue wine cups over to the bonfire next store. Happy Canadians... happy Babes in Boyland.

my bass, Christie Lake, Ontario Day 2

Our plan to start the morning's fishing with a Thermos of coffee + Bailey's vanished with the pounding in our heads and the queasiness in our stomachs. 

At Maria’s party in the fall, we'd set the standard that a good drinker could sustain a fine buzz without crossing the line to stupidity or nausea. Today we can swear to each other that we did nothing stupid (falling out of the boat was just a little clumsiness – the landlubber finding her sea legs sort of thing) and neither of us threw up, but we had muffed our opportunity to sustain a 48-hour buzz. We hit the high seas this morning toting only bitter coffee.

Whatever, we proved ourselves to be worthy fisherwomen, filling the day with three sorties out in the boat, this time with all the right equipment -- including the video camera. I'd been worried about my extravagance in buying a $70 waterproof case for the camera, but saw immediately how wise it was as we piled into the boat. Later, when my own sea legs betrayed me and I went sprawling along the dock, video case flying ahead of me, I was also happy for all the foam padding inside.

Our first two trips out we were hauling in the bass – better at catching than releasing. There are a lot of bass out there today with brain damage from too much air and concussions from flopping around on the bottom of the boat.

So we were pretty good with the worms. Now for bigger challenges. Malone, for a laugh, had found a book for us at a flea market: Advanced Bass Fishing Techniques. We studied. We prepared our artificial baits and our shimmery plugs. And there it was that we came splat up against the boundary of our skill. The same fish who went crazy for our worms looked askance at our poor excuses for injured minnows and whatever it is pumpkin-seed-flavored plastic is supposed to be mistaken for.

Satisfied that we had finally entered our incompetence zone, we headed back to the cabin and opened a can of Chickarina soup for the first non-tortilla-chip meal of the trip and poured our first glass of wine of the day.

stella and her fish, Christie Lake, Ontario Day 3

Yesterday we faced the shallowness of our fishing competence: "good with worms." This morning our last outing made us face the shallowness of another skill: boating.

The lake level is down -- the propeller on the motor digs into the sandy bottom at the docks, so you need to paddle the boat out before you get her started. Easy if the air is still. But today a stiff breeze was blowing into shore. We jumped into the boat and took our usual seats, me at the stern preparing to start the motor, and Maria up front, untying us, and seated facing me. We shoved off, using our paddles in our typical half-assed way, a little poling, a little rowing. I'm bad at rowing but Maria doesn't have a clue. We'd get ourselves past the end of the dock, I'd start the motor (which always took several tries for me), it would stall out and sure enough we'd be grounded again. The more we tried, the worse we got. We looked around for someone to help – yes, we were willing to play the damsels-in-distress card again – but there wasn't a soul in sight (probably because our Canadian friends had partied till 5 AM outside our windows).

About this time I got the little voice in my head: Give up, go home, you've had a great weekend, this is too hard, you have so many other things you could do today, give up, give up, give up. This is the voice of Lazy Susan, not Susan The Great Dame. We shouldn't give up, but clearly we weren't going anywhere.

"All right, this isn't working," I said to Maria. "What d'ya say we tie up, go in and pack, and maybe the breeze will die down?"

It was a plan. We packed up, put everything in the car, swept the sand out of the cottage, and brought our trash to the recycling shed.
The air had warmed, but the breeze was still strong and Maria was still game. I was pessimistic. What to do... what to do... Ah! Of course! We needed... a strategy!

"Ok, here's what..." I said and we proceeded to work out a coordinated and disciplined approach to paddling the damn boat out as far as our girlish shoulders and bad technique would take us to buy enough time to drift during the inevitable motor stall-outs.

We did it.

Off we roared for another couple hours of good-with-worms bass fishing. Maria landed her Big One of the weekend. Of course, we nearly killed the poor thing, trying to get the hook out of his mouth. It became a project. Both of us grappled with the unlucky beast -- and managed to keep taping video all the while. By the time we got the hook out, he was moribund and I remembered reading in a book about rocking a fish back and forth in the water to get some oxygen through his gills. After long minutes of swishing him around in my net, he swam away.

Success. The Babes in Boyland left Christie Lake and Canada feeling like Great Dames.


* Cosmopolitan Productions (originally known as Red Lipstick Productions) was born at Christie Lake. The one-minute thriller that emerged from our evening video shoot can be seen here: Lakeside Encounter.

Fishing at Christie Lake, Ontario, Canada

Christie Lake Recreation