An Jaundiced account of Silver Lake by Russell Dushin
By Friday, my hopes of making up to Silver Lake in time were fading. I'd spent the evenings before doing the oils and getting the hardtop together so the canoe could come along. This required yet another windshield swap (a long story), and new glass had to go in-but only after the "Basic Nigel Green" was stripped from the galvanizing, etc. etc. I returned from work on Friday afternoon in record time, but still had just too many last minute things to do......a coolant flush, rereset the timing, dump the water filled sediment bowl. Surely, we were going to miss a good chunk of the fun. We didn't leave this humble southeastern NY abode until around 8pm, and crashed the night in Syracuse to dreams of raging festivities in the Wild Northland.
Saturday am we hit an hour of traffic at the border. Once at the booth, our cheerful agent asked us just three simple questions: "What is the purpose of your visit to Canada?"
-"To imbibe in the bush with my brethren."
"How long to you intend to stay in Canada?"
-"Until the Advil kicks in."
"What do you intend to leave in Canada?"
-"A long trail of 90 weight."
With smile and a wink she waved us on. After a refreshing ride through Ontario farmlands we arrived at Silver Lake, scarfed a campsite, loaded up on many litres of gas, and moved on to the Bday bash. As we pulled in the pair of Toronto 101s graced the hillside and pumped-up our psyche. The smell of Bates and Co.s' first feeding was adrift and added to our enthusiasm. A small crowd of what I thought were friends gathered as we got out and we moved towards them. Most walked right past.....a quick nod or hello and they moved on to meet daNige. I heard comments like "nice paint job!" - "has it been field tested?" - "his slip is showing" - "solid truck 'cept what's up with that rim?" - "Oi" - "bloop, bloop" - and more. I got some much deserved abuse.
Dixon, not well, and an attentive Sandra were amongst the fray. By his looks alone he confirmed my worst fears. His chin to his chest, one eye nearly open, and dangling by feeble grasp to a can of Ginger Ale.......we had cause for concern. Right away I inquired- "What Happened? What'd I miss? Wow, you OK?" Dixon mumbled ".....mbmbmubammuch Beer....." then turned a lighter shade of green. I got him some Advil and he gradually returned to your basic jaundice. Nonetheless, I had faith he'd recover, even if he really was born an American. I left him with Sandra, the Queen of Rehydration, who kept pulse, and followed the crowd over to the food trailer. In the midst of my dog I realized I hadn't even sign the waiver yet-so I moved around the other side and took the time to do it then and there just in case.
Dale, in the bug bomb, soon arrived to every one's surprise and proudly displayed the latest prototype from Desprey electronics-the fully manual starter switch. I had hoped he would have brought that two steppin' woman we've all heard about, but it turned out to be the ever so helpful Roger Sinisohn, who had flown in from the far coast and grubbed a ride in exchange for indentured slavery throughout the weekend.
It wasn't long before the heavy off-roaders and an other contingent of light off-roaders (me included) had completed their rounds. Afterwards, a dip in the lake, a cool shower, and another trip to the food trailer for Bates' finest bbq'd pork and chicken served to replenish our batteries and provided much need inspiration for the evening festivities. Ready and rolling I realized Dixon was not (still), so I tossed him my keys and ordered him to the showers in hopes that he, too, would return fully recharged. He didn't, but his state was much improved.
Ben Smith, that maniac who drove his 88 from southern California (and back, via NJ then Owl's Head), had brought a cash of 24 oz. Black Dog Ales that he picked up en route from OVLR member Roy Caldwell in Helena, Montana (Thanks Roy!). These, along with a fine assortment of other microbrews, provided liquid fodder for enhancing the social activities that tore on through the night Can't exactly say I recall much of the conversations that took place.....something at one point about a woman who carries a compression gauge in her purse and a goat in the passenger seat....but it has all long since faded into a mere blur of fond memories. I do recall, however, that as I began to loose control of my senses I looked about the one circle of staggering fools that remained. Counting, I saw eight or nine Americans and just one Canadian left-Dale. Mention of this was enough to inspire Dale into action: he thrust forth a handful of seven-ones, scolded us for drinking lesser beers (despite their enhanced flavour), then rallied a challenge for a round of arm wrestling (which he won handily). My only conciliation for making it that far was praise from Russ Wilson for being the only non-attached male still standing.....my accommodating compatriot, Elizabeth, had long since gone to sleep across the front seat of my 88. Naturally, Russ' comment made me think yet again of Dixon's state of affairs.....but he hadn't been seen for hours, although he subsequently claimed to have been awake and listening from the safety of his (horizontal) bedding at that point in time. Yeah, sure.
With a lantern serving as a campfire, a banjo and guitar were retrieved from somewhere and those nine or so who remained performed like Camp Fire Girls well into the star sprinkled night. Percussion, always off beat, was provided by the endless swatting of mosquitoes. Eventually the instruments were put away but the desire for some to sing continued-Dale and Jon being the primary participants. One by one the party dwindled as folks staggered off to bed. Leaving Nigel behind I, along with a bleary eyed Elizabeth, caught a ride back to the campsite with my brother Fred in his draggable 2002. My last vision of the scene as we departed was one of Dale and Jon, wrapped arm in arm, howling to the stars; a mentor and student (I'm not sure which was which) embroiled in verses of the Little Pixie Song. I fully expected to find the two cuddled together in the same exact spot the next morning beside a lit lantern, covered in bug bites, but alas, I myself had trouble waking and facing the day and didn't arrive until just before breakfast was served. Again, many many thanks to all who participated and made the weekend a fine success. Already looking forward to next year-and may even make it up for the re-run come the Labour Day weekend.