Sunday, April 24, 2016

duck derby

I'm sure everyone is wondering how the Rubber Duck Mosey and Pub Crawl went. Slowly. Very very slowly. We bought three ducks in Carlton last week, #236,237 & 238. Since we don't crawl around pubs anymore, it was kind of hard to get information.

"After the pub crawl, they throw the ducks in the water down at some guy's property."

Okay. So when does it start?

"I'm not sure. Let me ask Don."


"They're starting at the Ponderosa about ten."

Drinking. They start drinking at ten. 

Now, the Ponderosa isn't really called the Ponderosa. It's called "Trask Mountain Outpost" but we call it the Ponderosa because its easier and we could never remember the name and it looks like it should be called the Ponderosa.

"Then they're going to Lagos, then to Zippy's then to Carlton Corners, then Barrel 47."

Lagos is a Mexican restaurant where they'll have margaritas. Apparently they had Bloody Mary's at the Ponderosa. I'm guessing they'll drink at each place and be well-oiled by the time they put the ducks in the water. Five bars, five hours. We figured three o'clock should be about go time.


Finally, at 3:15 we left for Carlton. We drove into Wennerman Park and parked. Nobody in sight. Then, we noticed a small group of people standing on the bridge. Walking toward the bridge we found the remnants of the pub crawl gathered beside the river. It is a small river -- almost a creek. We wandered down the red mud path to the water's edge where about twenty people stood/sat/milled. A few half-racks of beer and a pint of CR were nestled beside lawnchairs and sheets of cardboard where the faithful waited. One guy had clearly won the pub crawl segment. Loud and obnoxious, he called attention to himself again and again. My favorite: "If a sheep is a ram, and a goose is a gander, and a donkey is an ass, why is a ram in the ass a goose?" He was in charge, maybe, and in any event, he was the designated duck-getter. His name was Spence.

The river looked like this: opaque mud-olive swirls, slow water, a small riffle just upstream. We were on the inside of an elbow of water, a swimming hole on warmer days, which, if you looked for evidence of high-water in the trees above us, it was clear this little creek got moving in a hard rain.

We looked upriver. We waited. Anything not-green was, in our hopeful minds, the beginning of the hoard of ducks that would at any moment round the corner and race toward home.

Not exactly.

Turns out, this was the inaugural duck run. This was the brainchild of the graduation party committee of the Yamhill-Carlton school district. They had the idea, but hadn't really fussed over the details. Details such as: how will we stop the ducks? At the last minute, someone had strung a boom of sorts across the river with a kayak and it floated in place, prepared to stop at least one duck. 

Never fear-- Spence was in charge.

I struck up a conversation with a chatty woman standing next to me. Jane. She seemed to know something. She told me they'd hammered out the details at Zippy's the night before. Hammered being the operative word. The topic of permitting had come up and concensus was, nah. It'll be fine. Sure thing. They had considered, she assured me, that the ducks might be waylaid in the brambles and bank-grass along the river. They'd bribed three young boys to follow the ducks downriver in their kayaks and knock the little ducks loose with their paddles to keep things moving. I'm not sure they understood their assignment.

We waited. Annie and Kurt and I. We stared upriver imagining hoards of little yellow duckies. To no avail. Spence insulted his neighbor's daughters, the neighbors ignored him, and the crowd grew. Jane bemoaned the wait, wondering where the whole thing had gone wrong, and assured us. "I know they ducks will get here eventually. I hope the kids make it down. Sure glad my kid's not one of 'em."

Yes, Jane. It will be great if the children make it.

Alarmed now about the kids and about to give up -- why is it always that way? -- we saw a tiny flash of neon orange come around the bend. The ducks weren't all yellow it turns out. They were every shade of neon. The kids arrived (thank you Jesus) in their kayaks. The little orange duck worked his way down stream and got stuck in the weeds. Then another flash of pink! And another orange! Pink and orange sprinted for first place and Orange won! At that moment, Spence dove in the icy water to retrieve the duck as though he was part lab, and halfway across the hole stood up to find the water was only about a foot deep. "Number 7!" he shouted.

They looked at the sign up board to see who'd won. "That guy's a dick," somebody muttered.

We had first and second place locked up, but what about third? The first orange duck was still hung up in the weeds and a little white one had settled into the grass on the opposite of the hole. How to do we determine third place?

The crowd yelled at the boys to gather the two ducks, kayak them up to the riffle and toss them in at the same time. The little ducks raced for the boom and the orange one got hung up in a little eddy, spinning in place as whitey took third.

And that was that. There were no more ducks. Three winners and one loser. Jane was chattering on about a duck recovery program, maybe fifty cents a pop for foundlings. That makes 296 ducks unaccounted for. I can't imagine that the DEQ isn't going to have an opinion about this. I love small towns.  

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