I learn online that a 'hood ornament' is the bow seat person in a canoe. The term is sometimes pejorative, especially when the that's a woman and the stern seat person is a man, because some women don't "pull their weight" when they've got a big strong man behind them. I vow to not be a slacker. I learn that the person in back does the majority of the steering because the taper of the stern makes it easier to steer from the back. I watch some short videos and it doesn't look very difficult. I read a brief primer on terms and techniques.
When I arrive at Chuck's camp two weeks after our last rendezvous, I am ready to learn from him. I see that his truck has been modified to carry a long canoe. I'm expecting shiny aluminum, but his canoe is some sort of green plastic. He explains that his canoe is long, wide, heavy and very stable. Oh, and it "steers like a supertanker". It is designed for canoe camping trips and is more than is required for short trips like today's. I notice a bandage on his arm, but we are so busy packing his truck that I wait before asking him about it. He consults a checklist before we leave to ensure we have everything. It includes a lunch and a cooler and some bags he calls dry bags.
Our lands are located close to the transition from primarily farmland to primarily forest and as we drive away from an abundance of human activity and into the state forests and Indian reservations of Northern Wisconsin, he becomes more relaxed. I ask about the bandage. "Sarah cut me." He explains that she's entered stage four of the disease and that she got hold of a knife and tried to stab it in his chest while he was trying to feed her.
"While I was at the clinic getting stitched up, her sister, Catherine, reported the incident to the sheriff and two days later, Sarah was in the psyche ward of the med center. I was mad at first, but it's for the best I suppose. She'll be with professional caregivers until the end now."
I see that he's sad but of course he's also relieved of a very emotionally draining burden. Fortunately, it's hard to remain sad on such a beautiful day and when we start passing over rivers, he starts to hum a Grateful Dead tune. Soon we're both singing it. He's surprised that I know the lyrics, but it was a favorite at this strange pub I enjoyed visiting in London. Finally, we cross over a large river and I see several canoes floating on it. There is a parking and launch area on one side of the road and some people are launching canoes and kayaks and turning downriver while others are arriving from upriver. Chuck slows his lorry and I ask if this is our put-in site.
"Not here. This is our take-out."
We turn onto a gravel road and drive another mile through dark woods. We turn onto an overgrown two-track and go at least another quarter mile, stopping in a small clearing. I look around and there are no parking spaces or rubbish bins or even a river. It does not look like at all like a launch site. I watch as Chuck unloads the canoe from the truck, unable to help with the unwieldy craft. He shows me where I'll be sitting in the canoe and we begin to load and stow our gear from the truck into the canoe.
"What's in the drybags, Chuck?"
"Mainly things we might need. A first aid kit, towels, clothing, overnight stuff in case we have a mishap, a limb saw."
"A limb saw?"
"You never know when we might need to amputate."
I must have looked horrified, because he laughed and said, "Sometimes trees fall across the stream. If I clear a path this time, I won't have to drag the canoe around it next time."
Chuck consults a checklist to make sure we have everything and then tells me to "sit tight". I suddenly grasp that he is about to drive away while I sit with the canoe in the middle of the woods.
"But Chuck, what if a bear tries to eat me."
He chuckles and gives me a big hug. "Try not to look so damn delicious."
"There probably isn't a bear within a hundred miles of here."
"Nice try, Sensei. I've been seeing bear crossing signs along the road for the past forty miles." Then I feel something sliding down into my shorts at the waistband in back. I reach behind me and find the grip of a handgun in a leather holster.
"Around here, it's the two-legged predators you might have to watch out for, but almost nobody knows about this place. Just remember your training." I draw the handgun, check that it has a full magazine, the chamber has a round in it and the safety is on. I slip it back in the holster, a bit peeved that this is happening, but then I guess that my Sensei is testing me and I know that accepting the situation is the correct response because really, the only other option is for me to park the truck at the take-out and walk back while Chuck is the stationary bear bait.
"I'll be back in about 20 minutes."
So I wait. At first the woods seem kind of sinister. There are insect noises and bird calls and scurrying sounds in the bush. Eventually I relax, but I try to stay alert. When I suddenly hear a twig snap very close by, I turn to see Chuck about five feet away, holding a broken twig in his hands.
"Let's go, Grasshopper," he says with a playful smirk.
He drags the canoe by its painter down a trail for a surprisingly short distance to a very small creek that is concealed by the brush around it. I can touch the banks on both sides with a paddle and I have to push branches up and over me as we float slowly down it until it meets a bigger stream. The water in this larger stream is moving slowly and it doesn't take me long to learn that when he says "on your right" He means to paddle on the right and if there's a rock or an island ahead of us he means to pass it by going left of it, which you do by paddling on the right. Yes, simple. Soon we reduce it to just "right" or "left" as if wasted words are blasphemy in this sacred solitude.
"What's the name of this river, Chuck?"
"I'm not sure. It's just a tributary of a much larger river, so it might not have a name. It's really only a crick."
"A creek. A small river. Less useful for transport. I'll see if I can find the name."
We're mostly drifting, paddling only enough to keep the canoe in the flow and properly aimed. The current does the work. The stream meanders a lot and being in the front allows me to be the first to see around each bend. Not far along, I see a blue canoe tied along the bank and I turn to look at Chuck. He motions with his finger to be quiet and then he sets his paddle crossways in his lap and runs the forefinger of one hand in and out a ring he makes with the thumb and forefinger of his other hand. I listen and hear the sound of a woman having sex off in the bushes. We drift on by and I can barely suppress a giggle as she comes.
Their boldness inspires me to remove my halter top. I put sunscreen on my breasts and then put my paddle in the canoe and sit with my head high and my chest thrust out and my arms raised back behind me like wings. "Very funny, Alice." I laugh and thank him for inviting me to be his hood ornament.
I see deers, ducks, geese, herons and swimming mammals that he tells me are river otters. We round one bend and a bear with two cubs runs from the stream. I look back at Chuck and he says, "less than a mile." I open up to the beauty surrounding me and note all the wildflowers and the fish and "mudbugs" in the water. They look like lobsters only very small. The trip takes on a bliss filled dreamlike quality and suddenly Chuck tells me we're past the halfway point and it's time for lunch.
We bank the canoe, untie a drybag and haul the picnic up a hill to a sunny level area where Chuck lays a blanket on the ground. He steps to the side "takes a leak" and I remember when I first saw him. The sound of his stream splashing on the ground makes me have to pee and I walk behind a bush and squat.
"We could just agree to call it Split Moon Creek."
"Very funny, Chuck."
When I get back he hands me a wetnap to wipe my hands with. I make sure to drop the foil wrapping and used towelette in the litter sack. We feast on sandwiches and icy cold Yank beer that really doesn't taste half bad. I notice that we can't be seen from the river, so I strip off my shorts and panties and ask Chuck to put sunscreen on my arse.
As he's doing that, I hear a woman singing and I peek carefully through the bushes to see the blue canoe that we saw earlier approaching. The hood ornament is a sweet young pixie, probably college age. She's completely naked and singing in a clear beautiful voice and I recognize her. She sang in a pub or rather a bar that Mickey took me to in Green Bay. Behind her is another woman, also naked. She's larger and her hair style is the classic American mullet. Of course, this totally destroys my fantasy of what was happening as we passed by them earlier, but love is love and I'm happy for them.
Chuck has also seen them pass by and his application of sunscreen has turned into sensuous caresses. Chuck's POV
Alice rolled onto her back and I sensed that her mood had changed. "I want you naked," she said.
I peeled off my T-shirt and shorts. The shorts were designed as swimwear, so I wore nothing under them.
"Going commando, I see. I like that. Would you like a back massage?"
"Sounds wonderful." I laid on my front and she climbed up on my back. I felt the warmth of her ass on mine and the wetness and hair of her pussy on my tailbone. She began to rub my neck and shoulder muscles, which felt really great after all the paddling. Her hands moved lower on my back and after she moved her ass down to my thighs, she massaged my ass cheeks.
She climbed off and told me to flip over. When I was on my back, she climbed back on top of me and stuffed my semi-hard cock into her wet pussy. No woman had ever done that before. She started rolling her hips around gently and I felt myself stiffen. I reached up to caress her breasts and her breath quickened. She began to rock back and forth on my cock while continuing to roll her hips around. Suddenly we heard voices and she dropped down on top of me, her boobs pressed against my chest. We kissed as she slowed her stroking on my cock and waited for another canoe to pass.
When she was satisfied that they were past us, she sat back up and verified that we were again alone. She picked up her pace and was just starting to moan when I started coming. "Sorry," I said.
"It's okay. Nobody's fault. I got distracted." She kept rolling as I enjoyed the rest of the orgasm and then she kissed me, rolled off and laid on her back. I crawled between her legs and brought my face within inches of her pussy when she stopped me with a hand on my forehead. "No. Your cum..."
"It isn't poison. It can't even get me pregnant." I pushed against her hand and she let me in to lick her pussy. She pulled her knees up and spread them wide.Alice's POV
I feel so raunchy all splayed out as Chuck starts dipping his tongue in my pussy, right near my taint where his fresh cum is oozing out. No man has ever licked my pussy just after coming in it. It's exciting. His tongue reaches my clit and relights the fire I had given up on. He circles and jabs at my clit and I sigh with delight. He licks it harder and faster and I take one of my nipples in each hand and tug and twist them. I moan as the fire inside me gets hotter. "Yes, Chuck. That's so good. Oh, yes, lick me." I come and he continues to lick as waves of pleasure pulse outward from my pussy.
As my moans subside, I hear giggling from another canoe that's passing by. I know that they might recognize the canoe when we get back on the river, so I ask Chuck if we can just stay there for a little while. He lies beside me on the blanket and we open our senses to the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest. I enter a sort of trance and then I just... surrender. I become the property of the moment, the place, and everything else about the situation. I tell Chuck that I might be pregnant. I'm a week late on my period and I'm normally quite reliable. He congratulates me and Mickey and assures me that it won't interfere with my deer hunting this year. I laugh at his single-mindedness. I feel so relaxed that I want the trance to last forever, but I come out of it when I have to pee again.
"Damn Yank beer." I go back around the bush where I peed before.
"How is Miller Lite like having sex in a canoe?"
"I don't know, chuck."
"They're both fuckin' near water."
I laugh, not because it's particularly funny, but I suddenly imagine us trying to fuck in the canoe. I wish the center seat was removable.
We tidy up the site and get back on the river. I'm paddling starkers like the singer and her mate. Chuck's wearing his shorts because he say guys have to worry about getting reported for exposing themselves on the river. It's a silly double standard, but some people are like that I guess. Soon, Chuck sees something on the bank and warns me that we'll soon be joining the faster and busier river that takes us back to civilization. I get dressed and the flow merges into the much wider faster river. There are canoes, kayaks and tyre tubes both upstream and down from us.
Soon I see the bridge and the take-out. We paddle harder than any other part of the trip and run the canoe onshore. The trip ends and I thank Chuck for making it happen. "Any time you need a hood ornament, ring me." I know that the memory of this day will be as powerful as the memory of the day we met. We're both facing big changes in our near future, but for these few hours I was able to find that elusive sense of Inner Peace that Chuck told me about.
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