ELVIRA THE ALBINO RHINO AND THE GOOGOLTEENTH ANNUAL JIM MCCLOSKEY MEMORIAL CANOE TRIP
BEEP . . . BEEP . . . BEEP. Samuel Adams. Brewer. Patriot. The twin diesel exhausts competed with the leaf-blower whines for audio supremacy on this otherwise quiet morning in the sleepy Bergen County town. Neighbors yawned nonplussed as they came out to get the morning papers, nothing out of the ordinary. Another weekend shipment for the Walsh household. With a Churchill planted securely in his mouth, Chris would offload the cases into his Audi TT. When done, the convertible had been transformed into a hops-infused modern day version of the Clampett jalopy. His cargo intact, he made haste. Destiny called. Its return address was the Delaware River.
It was time once again for that vernal rite of passage organized by Andy Steinberg. In its googolteenth year, the Jim McCloskey Memorial float down the Delaware has been around since Colonial days. In a solemn duty passed down through the generations, Andy has continued to organize this trip, providing access to excess.
As Chris pulled into the parking lot at the launch, a smile creased his face. Heaven here on Earth! Due to some miscommunication in preparations, Andy had arrived with a sedan load of He’Brew, the Chosen beer. Even better, due to some last minute cancellations, the only partakers of this hopfest would be he, Andy, and Big Al. With luck, they just might have enough to last the night.
Al had done his part. He had gone to Restaurant Depot and gotten Spam. With enough fat to clog the arteries of everyone at Maguire AFB and enough salt to turn Lake Hopatcong in an American version of the Aral Sea, there would be plenty of victuals to go around.
With creature comforts in tow, how many canoes would they need? To be safe, Andy grabbed them all. He and Chris would lead the parade. The remainder would be tethered together into a floating flotilla of fixin’s. Al would bring up the rear, viewing everything from his lofty perch, a throne affixed to a small pontoon boat. Several years back, Al’s boat had a breach of etiquette (and water). Since that time, Al has vowed that never again would he be cast into the muddy Delaware.
Ski area melt-off and early Spring rains had elevated the normally somnolent river into a raging torrent worthy of being classified. They glided easily over the hull-ripping, jagged, riverbed crags; laughing mirthfully at the rocks. “Better luck next year” they guffawed at the grimacing granite.
With several tons of beer consumed, they floated higher on the river as they approached the Portland-Columbia bridge. Looking up, they shielded their eyes from the glare. Not from the sun, the glare seemed to be from some bulbous and luminous white body climbing over the handrails mid-span. Chris and Andy were ecstatic. Could this be a new prop to recruit for the Masters front row? The shimmering mass would hit the water, sending forth a splash nearly as tall as the Freedom Tower. Several hours later, after the rocking had subsided, the boys looked around for their new teammate. A YUUGE appendage protruded to the surface from below. Chris, Andy and Al looked at each other and nodded appreciatively. Then 2 huge eyes broke the surface, followed by nostrils the size of a Volkswagen. The jumper had turned out to be Elvira, the albino rhino. Barnum & Bailey was to open in Stroudsburg tomorrow, so Elvira took the opportunity to go for a swim. Not normally an aquatic mammal, Elvira had a predicament. She was not submerged, but her belly flop had splashed away most of the water. Plus, she was knee deep in river muck and couldn’t move. Luckily Big Al was on hand. He had not drained himself since going to bed the previous night, so he was more than a little backed up. He carefully inserted his catheter. With one end in his bladder and the other end in the Delaware, the river would rise once again. Gingerly, Elvira would break the silt suction and free her considerable, cantankerous cankles and cavort over to the shore. Safely on land, she would wiggle her tail teasingly at the travelers, then mince off down the road to rejoin her troupe in Stroudsburg. Once again, the show would go on.
Their good deeds done, the lads would continue to float, looking for the traditional woodland glade to hole up for the night. They were spent. How could they expect to get the remaining beer and Spam up onto shore? Enter stage left (that would be the Jersey side of the river), a sloth of bear-ly legal, naked females. Young black bear sows, out on the prowl and ready for some action. In addition to being combat medic certified and a gourmet chef, Big Al is also fluent in Ursine. He translated a simple transaction. The bears helped them bring the supplies safely up on the knoll. In exchange for a few cases of Spam and a few six-packs of beer, the bears agreed to not eat our heroes. Before they left, they did have one proverbial question that has been plaguing bears since the beginning of time: Does a Steinberg poop in the suburbs?
The sun rose and everyone broke camp and pulled into the landing zone. As their cars were 100 miles North, there was nothing to do but hoist the canoes over their heads and start a leisurely jog upstream. Another successful Delaware canoe trip. Planning for next year’s trip has already begun. Rumour has it that Anthony Bourdain wants in.
One final note. I was not there. Neither were Andy, Al and Chris. This was all a figment of Al’s imagination. . . . except for Elvira. She was real!!
Ralph Scoville firstname.lastname@example.org