Friday began like the past two days, cloudy and overcast with the lake still, but no rain. We had had rain overnight Thursday leaving the ground moist. It is good for the Ausable Canoe Marathon because it raises the water level and allows paddlers to race faster. The forecast called for clearing Friday by midday and rain on Saturday. It will be a wet parade and wet start to the race. But, for Friday, it looked to be dry with time to be outside and enjoying Michigan. We had William’s race at ten and we needed to be ready to go at nine.
Casey’s Challenge, established by Sean Casey, an employee of Borcher’s Canoe Livery, in Grayling for kids from 12 to 17 is a canoe race to the first checkpoint of the big race on Saturday night. The race groups kids in boys and girls bracket, but not mixed brackets. William and Allison had practiced Thursday: they had figured out who would be where in the canoe and had a benchmark to finish in less than and hour and a half. The pre-race was registration and waiting. Both were nervous and each handled it differently: Allison was quiet, stayed close to her family, William was talkative and wandered from Allison’s family back to us, and back again. There was quite a few teams travelling down the river, there were more boys teams than girls. But the girls had coordinated their outfits to be uniform. I had Ivy and she was excited, the Borcher’s have a dog they played. Watching dogs play is like watching boys wrestle – I was not certain when to stop it, but I heard no threatening growls or yelps so I let them have fun. I did keep Ivy on her leash because I was afraid she would get distracted and wander into a car or away. As it got closer to ten, Ivy, I, and the team’s fans: the Parks, Eberles, and Beth and Olivia moved close to the river to watch the start and cheer the two on. The first group to start were the 16-17 boys, then at 10:05 the 14-15 boys, and finally at 10:10 12-13 boys and William and Allison. There were nine teams and they lined up anticipating the starter’s gun. The gun went off and all of the canoes paddled furiously, William and Allison’s canoe bunched up with two other canoes for position as they paddled downriver headed for the turn underneath past the bridge.
They were gone and out of sight and we headed for the car for our race to Rayburn’s Lodge and our chance to cheer the team on. The site no longer has a lodge but the stone landing and stairs still remain and it is accessible down a long single lane road and then a short walk through the woods to the river. It was humid and not cool or warm, but wetness hung in the air. There were plenty of mosquitoes, and other flying bugs to remind us it was summer. We found our positions: Beth along the bank and Ivy and I on the bridge. More spectators joined us as the girls groups were started after William’s group. The first team through were the 16-17 boys, and then more boys, the girls and finally William and Allison. They were paddling hard and doing well, but we had no idea where they were in the standings and we rooted and shouted encouragement. Once they passed through, we were on to the finish line at Burton’s Landing and we began he walk back to the truck.
Several of the teams beat us to the finish, but not William and Allison. We waited and soon they came around the bend and finished! Their time 1:21:00 bested their goal and put them in 7th place. Both were excited and tired. It turned out they lost time at the beginning other race when they turned over and had trouble getting the canoe upright. At the finish, they dumped water and rocks out of the canoe before hauling it ashore. The fans congratulated the pair on their finish, we decided to go to Dawson-Stevens for lunch, and we drove to town.
Ivy and I could not go inside for lunch so we sat outside and waited. Ivy was very patient and I fed her snacks and water to bide the time. I bought a newspaper to pass the time as everyone else was inside talking about the race and the summer. I got my food and Ivy wanted some, what else would a dog want? Even though Ivy had been patient, I needed to walk her and I set out up the street and back. The kids wanted to visit the Craft Show. I walked back to the truck and Ivy climbed in falling fast asleep on the seat as we waited for Beth, William, and Olivia to finish and meet me at the truck. She was a tired puppy.
When we got home both Ivy and I took naps, she on the floor beside the table and me upstairs on the couch. I started reading, Readicide, but quickly fell asleep, drifting in and out. I heard the phone ring and Beth took a call, William burst in the door and told us Olivia was hurt, hurt badly. Beth took off. I jumped in the truck and drove down the road where the kids had been playing with the Eberle boys in the woods across from their cabin, about five cabins down the lake. I jumped out of the truck and ran over to Olivia laying face down on the ground surrounded by Beth, Mrs. Eberle, and the boys. She was crying and she was hurt. When playing in the woods, she had caught herself on a stump and punctured her thigh and it was bleeding. We loaded her in the back seat of the truck and took off for the emergency room in town. Olivia was crying and Beth told me to drive faster shouting directions to the hospital. I pulled up to the emergency room doors and Beth carried Olivia inside. I parked the truck and came inside, too. Olivia was seated in a wheelchair and they were getting basic information. Olivia had calmed down but she was still upset. They checked her vitals and the wound and escorted us to a room. Olivia settled in and calmed down. She played Rush Hour on iPhone and we waited. A nurse came in, then a doctor. We were assured that it was not serious but she needed an x-ray to check the wound. Once the x-ray was complete, we were back in the room waiting. She needed a tetanus shot and we waited the doctor to come back lean the wound and stitch it closed. The entire time Olivia was so brave, she lay there on the bed and did not cry, or whine, or complain. The doctor came in numbed her leg and cleaned the wound. He found six pieces of wood and then stitched her thigh closed. He warned us that there might be more fragments but they would be small and cautioned us to watch her for signs of infection. They also reminded Olivia and us – no swimming or baths for seven days. Olivia was okay with the baths but frowned at the swimming. It took a while but we were done at the hospital and swung by Walgreen’s on the way home for her prescription, an antibiotic, bandages, and antiseptic cream. We pulled in to Eberle’s driveway and reported in. William was worried and glad to see his sister. The Eberle boys had made get well cards and they, too were worried and glad to have her back. Olivia was hungry and wanted to play with the boys. But, it had been a close call and both she and William were exhausted and needed to get a good night’s sleep.
It had been a day of an up, a down, and an up, again. William and Allison had completed the race and done well. With Olivia, it was close and we were glad Olivia was okay. Other than no swimming until the stitches are out and maybe no biking, she would be fine. The day ended and I went to bed. Tomorrow would be just as busy with the parade and the start of the race. Making the days count, one day at a time; twenty-six remain.