|Once again I made the trek the
messabout at Lake Monroe near Bloomington, Indiana. It
just took a lot longer than last year to get there.
picking up small-craft-designer Jim Michalak, we hit
the highway East-bound, with a Michalak-designed Toto
canoe strapped to the roof and a Michalak-designed AF4
power cabin skiff trailered behind. Despite a
constant gentle rain we made good time until about 20
miles from the lake. There we were stopped at
a road block; a Tornado had struck a small town ahead
just moments before, and all traffic was being diverted
to a two-lane blacktop that lead to the South.
We proceeded down this detour, following
a motorhome which was following a semi-truck.
About 12 miles down this detour, and almost with-in
spitting distance of our destination, the semi truck
ahead of us miscalculated a curve and slid into a ditch.
With the tractor of the rig extending across both lanes,
and no shoulders to drive on, we found our progress
blocked for a second time.
Since it was obvious it would be hours
before the truck was pulled from the ditch, Jim and
I un-hooked the trailer and swung it around manually,
then turned the truck around, re-coupled the trailer,
and headed back through territory we had already seen.
Retracing our path back past the first
roadblock, we headed up a side road that lead North,
hoping to find a way to cut across to a major highway
to the East, across a river.
6 hour canoes
We soon enough discovered that our
planned Eastward movement was hindered by yet another
police roadblock and yet another tornado-damaged town.
So we proceeded North while we wished we were headed
South, and out of desperation took a chance on a couple
of un-marked local roads which, to our surprise, placed
us on the highway we had been so desperately seeking.
Once we were rolling
Southbound again, we started to see the damage.
A major Tornado had moved along this stretch of highway
literally for miles, and there were thousands of
shorn-off trees, hundreds of damaged or destroyed buildings,
and a look of general devastation. Traffic on
the highway was halted for about 30 minutes while an
semi-truck was righted. A boat dealership had
been hard-hit, with aluminum pontoon boats scattered
We arrived at the lake about 2 hours
later than we had planned to discover another surprise.
In addition to the 5-dollar-a-day fee that the state
of Indiana charges to just enter their state park, the
price of the "primitive" campsites had gone
up from 5 dollars to 13 dollars. The nice man
accepting some of our money told us this was due to
the new "bath house." and that the prices
would rise again next year.
So, after we paid the 5-dollar-per-day
entry fee, the 13-dollar-per-day camping fee, and the
5 dollar boat launch fee, we proceeded to set-up camp
in the light rain.
The next day dawned sunny and cheerful
and the home-built boats began to arrive and the world
began to look a bit brighter. True to form I neglected
to get names but I always remember the boats. There
was a Bolger Teal, a pair of 6-hour canoes, a Weekend
Skiff, a Stevenson Weekender, a Shellback Dinghy, the
afore-mentioned Toto and AF4, and host Bob Bringle's
exquisitely-executed strip-planked canoe and his factory-built
but still darn-good-looking Venture Newport 23-foot
The usual looking and trying-out and
yakking occupied everyone for a beautiful Saturday,
and as night arrived, the group was joined by the world-famous
boat-building McDaniels, who are in the process of building
a 48-foot, welded-steel Bolger design. They brought
a model of the craft, and also the infamous hand-cranked
ice-cream machine, which provided a dessert fit to follow
the dinner, which effort I should point out was orchestrated
by John Sellers and his wife. A pleasant evening was
had by all.
Sunday morning dawned foggy, but it
was time to pack-up and head home anyway.
Definitely a nice meet to go to.
If there was just some way to tell
Indiana that easing-up on the fees might promote repeat
You can shear a sheep every year,
but you can skin him only once.