Lifes Coloring Book A column by Suzi Walls for The Daily Herald

Whatever Walzie does becomes an adventure: for instance, his hunting trip into the Canadian wilderness. He has always claimed that he wanted to be a mountain man. Well, northern Ontario in early October can quickly change a fellow’s mind.
He and his friend, Terry, arranged to go hunting at Terry’s wilderness cabin. After a long eleven-hour drive north from good old Tyrone, and another thirty minutes off of the interstate on a dirt road to seemingly nowhere, they finally arrived at the floatplane dock. After buying a few groceries at the trading post, they set the bags on the dock and returned to the Scout for the rest of their gear. Upon returning to the plane, they found the pilot’s mangy bloodhound chewing on a newly purchased ring of baloney. That should have been the first sign of trouble.
Finally, they had the plane loaded. Walzie was nervous about flying in a “beaver”, as those floatplanes are called. As the one-prop engine roared, the beaver rocked on its pontoons, and slowly taxied out onto the glassy lake. The engine backfired, the old plane shook, the pilot cried “Yahoo”, and slammed the throttle forward. They could hear the bloodhound bellowing from the dock. Walzie gritted his teeth and held on tight. Carrying two big guys and all their gear along with a not so tiny pilot, the beaver balked like a hundred-year-old pack mule. With his eyes squeezed tight, Walzie’s only sensation of being airborne was when his stomach wormed into his throat.
Finally, they were soaring above the mountains. The plane’s windows were open and the crisp October air was refreshing. The lakes below looked like a million crystals reflecting sunlight. After forty-five minutes, the beaver banked and began its sharp decent onto Lake Happy Isle in the Algonquin Wilderness.
With a name like Lake Happy Isle, I pictured something from Disney World. Walzie quickly informed me that my thoughts were entirely wrong.
The pilot dropped them and as the noise from the plane vanished, a heavy blanket of silence closed in. Finally, they heard the cry of a far off loon.
“Where’s this cabin?’ Walzie asked.
His buddy pointed to a pathway through brush and overhanging pines. They loaded their stuff on their backs and trudged up the pathway. Finally, they stepped into a small clearing. Before them was a particleboard shack the size of a garden tool shed. The windows were sealed with duct tape and bear droppings littered the front porch.
“Wonder where the privy is?” Walzie asked.
“Ha ha, looks like right here on the porch,” pointed Terry. “Just kidding, it’s out behind those bushes. Just remember to take your gun when you go, there’s no door on it.”
“Trappers use this place in the winter,” Terry said. “Looks like we’ve got some cleaning to do.”
So Walzie and Terry spent their first day cleaning the cabin. By dark, they were beat. Lowering the flame on the kerosene lantern, they then each climbed into their sleeping bags on plywood bunks. Now, Walzie absolutely cannot sleep when it’s quiet. He says that trait was branded into his hide in Vietnam. There was no electricity, of course, no television, and no radio signals. Only overbearing silence punctuated by an occasional wildcat’s scream or the cry of a loon. He lay awake most of the night listening for any sound.
Around two or three in the morning, he bolted upright.
“Terry,” he whispered. “Did you hear that? Something’s on the roof.”
“Holy cow, Walzie,” he said. “Where’s that shotgun? Make sure it’s loaded.”
Suddenly, the window behind the sink exploded and a snarling bear poked its head through. In the shadow of the lantern, it looked to weigh a thousand pounds. Walzie pulled the trigger on the shotgun; the bear let out a deafening roar, and disappeared. The men heard a crack that sounded like a tree snapping and part of the roof caved in on the cabin. They figured that there was an even bigger bear on the roof and when it sprung off, it broke several of the roof trusses.
They decided that one night in the wilderness was plenty. The next day, they radioed for the plane, cleaned up the mess as best as they could, and were sitting on the dock waiting when the pilot landed.
As the day was beginning to wane, they were safely at the Scout. They reloaded all their gear, kicked the old bloodhound away from the tires, and headed south. While driving down the dirt road, unexpectedly, a moose appeared in the headlights. Terry laid on the horn.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Terry,” Walzie said.
“Oh yeah, what’s a moose gonna do? We gotta get him off the road.”
Suddenly the moose dropped his head, pawed the dust with his front hoof, and rammed his six-foot wide antlers into the front of the Scout. He picked up the vehicle as if it were a toy and set it down over the shoulder of the road. The men were awestruck, and the Scout was stuck. The moose went on his merry way.
“Now what the heck are we gonna do?” Walzie asked.
“Well, see that blinking red light over there? Must be a fire tower; gotta be a ranger nearby. We’ll hike there and get help,” Terry suggested.
The two men stumbled through the darkness for quite some time. Finally, Walzie piped up, “That red light seems to be getting further away. Listen. Hear that noise? That’s not a fire tower, we’re following a gosh-darned airplane, you idiot.”
Luckily, their pilot happened along behind them and towed the Scout back onto the roadway. The rest of the eleven-hour trip home was uneventful. But, know what? The next time Walzie gets it in his head to stay in the wilderness, it’ll be at the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World.

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