Canoeing vacation with an exciting intervening rain by
(20 Stories)

Prompted By Rainy Days

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Namekagon river, Wisconsin

What could be more glorious than a weekend on the Namakagon River in Wisconsin? A group of female nurses, myself, my 12-year-old daughter and her friend, Emily,  drove under a bright sky across rich agricultural land through the St. Croix river’s national forest finally stopping at a roadside rest over the river. Our group planned a weekend canoe trip. We portaged the canoes down the banks of the river to a camping spot. The weather promised us a wonderful weekend where we could cook, play, swim, and paddle. We did not anticipate the storm that split our weekend holiday,

An idyllic spell filled our first two days with laughter, luscious recipes, and camaraderie. The canoe trips through scenic passageways and smooth rapids lived up to their amicable reputation. The small tents with their sleeping bags spread over drop cloths warmed us in the cool Wisconsin night.

We prepared for the last glorious night with an array of homemade specialties eaten at a campfire with plenty of hot chocolate. Except for me it was an all-female evening with no booze or awkward relationships. Just as we were closing, a sudden unexpected legion of dark clouds, wind and lightning threatened our evening. Before we could repack the dishes, the storm broke. The deluge of rain threatened to flood and knock over our tents. The ground cloths that were to provide a soft surface for the sleeping bags became drowned in running water, thus providing the campers with wet chambers.

I hurried the children into our tent. Then fled out to get the last cups of hot chocolate to warm them up as well as calm them down. They cried out that they were too cold to sleep.

I told them to shut their eyes while I told them a story. “Concentrate on my voice, fall into the story, fall asleep.”

I had much practice in this technique with my daughter. I often told her Morpheus inducing bedtime stories which I read, plagiarized, or came from my own inspiration.

So, I began. Once a storm struck a boat filled with children. Fortunately, it was near a small island and was able to crash on the shore. The children were wet and frightened. However, they spied a light house on the cliffs above. Struggling up to the door, they found it was open. And warm. They climbed to the top where they could observe the lightning and listen to the wind in safety. Old blankets for the lightkeeper were found in a closet. They curled up to sleep.

But, before dawn, they heard animal noises on the stairs. Rats who had also been on the boat were also seeking refuge in the lighthouse. They were scared.

By now my children had fallen asleep. In the morning, my daughter complained that she did not hear the end of the story. She asked me what happened to the children and the rats. Since I had been watching my daughter and her friend gradually fall asleep, I had not planned an ending.

I could have assuaged their fears by saying that along with rats were the cats also kept on the boat. These cats came up the stairs to eat the rats.

Or less grim, as the dawn arrived, the rats ran back to their burrows to get a good day’s sleep.

Or I arrived to save them.

In the morning we pulled our canoes through the muddy slope to the river to the cars above. We drove back the way we came into the sunlight, across the prairie, and to homes with warm beds. The storm, like the trip, became an adventure in itself.


Profile photo of Richard C. Kagan Richard C. Kagan

Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. Wonderful story Richard, with such a poignant touch as you comfort the children with your story!

    Glad that Wisconsin storm is now an adventurous memory!

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    I love the way you stepped up and comforted the children with your stories. How perfect in an otherwise grim evening. And, as you noted, the event was even more memorable due to the adversity overcome. Great story.

  3. Jim Willis says:

    Nicely told, Richard. A good saga of going out to enjoy the great outdoors and finding adventure in the rainstorm instead! Thanks for sharing.

  4. pattyv says:

    I love camping and water. Your story had me sitting there right next to you enjoying it all. I imagined that last meal, fire, delicious camping cuisine, hot chocolate. The storm was my favorite part, as long as daddy Richard guarded us through it all. What an instant and brilliant distraction your storytelling became. So what was the ending? Did you save them all?

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I love the way you calmed the kids with a bedtime story. Too bad about the rain and rats. There was really no great way to get rid of those rats except for having them go home and sleep in their burrows. Or super-dad could save them I guess. Great rain story.

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    How wonderful that you told the children “Morpheus”-inducing stories to lull them to sleep during that scary storm, Richard. Either by invention or memory, that was the perfect antidote and quite an inspired way to get through the evening. Thank you for sharing the story with us. It is raining where I am this afternoon too.

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