Stuck In The Middle

March 2012 Feature Reader submission by Joan Janzen

Last year, while visiting a cousin in Sicamous, British Columbia, in Canada, my husband bought a contest ticket for a houseboat trip on Shuswap Lake in the North Okanagan from Waterways and he was so pumped when he won! We boarded the houseboat, along with our two adult sons, my youngest son's girlfriend and an elderly friend. This is a light-hearted tale of our trip, which we enjoyed immensely.

If you were going on a houseboat trip, what would you be sure to take along? The answer varied amongst my family and friends. As captain, my husband Randy made sure he had a map of the lake in front of him at all times. Our eldest son, Jordan, ensured he had his CD's and player since no one else seems to share his taste in music. Our other son, Jonah, was content as long as his girlfriend Kyla was close by and vise versa applied for Kyla. Our family friend Nelda finally sat back and relaxed when we unpacked the coffee. As for myself, I was thankful for my family and friends who finally made it onboard.

I say finally because we did take a shortcut on the way to our destination, in an endeavor to shorten travel time on the trip from our home in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, to Sicamous, British Columbia. A friend had informed us of a shortcut to Calgary, Alberta, that would save us an hour of driving time. What we hadn't anticipated was all the rain which had fallen and transformed the short stretch of dirt road into a massive mud puddle. As our two mud-coated vehicles approached pavement, Jonah pulled up beside us and muttered "Nice shortcut, Dad!" and flicked a hunk of mud towards our open window.

Our group of voyageurs had to be patient as Waterways was a wee bit behind schedule getting the boats cleaned and prepped for their new clients. When the skies finally cleared, we were given permission to begin loading our supplies. Perhaps we brought along too much. A half-ton box piled high with essentials and a completely stuffed Ford Escape interior didn't seem like too much stuff until we had to haul it all into the houseboat.

While on the lake, this Saskatchewan girl truly did feel out of her element. There I was surrounded by two commodities completely foreign to the prairies-trees and water. Although the peace and quiet was appreciated, after a while we were all scanning the horizon for signs of civilization and it came in the form of a floating store. I was surprised to see the wide variety of fireworks available since the brochure stated they were discouraged on the lake. Nevertheless, Jonah walked out the door with a huge supply in tow.

No sooner had we pulled on to the beach for the evening when the two-way radio began to hum with activity. A bunch of the boats had dubbed themselves with code names and were making plans for the evening, "Zombie Donkey, this is Cheap Baloney, we're pulling in for the night."

Sure enough, Cheap Baloney pulled in beside us and shortly afterwards, Zombie Donkey followed.

"Water Dancer? Are you by?" was the next message over the radio and soon afterwards Water Dancer pulled in beside its two companions. So far they were all parked on our right and two lonely boats were docked quite a distance from us to our left.

"Zombie Donkey to Party God. Are you pulling in for the night?" came over the radio. And you guessed it, Party God pulled in snuggly on our left. They came complete with music enough for all to share. If we had a theme song for this trip it would have to be "Stuck in the Middle With You."

Party God's crew consisted of wanna-be body builders sporting impressive tans and not-so-impressive gold and silver Speedo swimming trunks (a fashion statement which is rarely seen on the prairies). They all converged on the top deck and made a big to-do of having a push-up competition.

"They're doing girlie push-ups!" Jonah said, completely disgusted as he watched the males rest on their knees while performing pushups. I could tell he was tempted to go over and challenge the would-be body builders, but he refrained.

The upside of it all was we were now surrounded by a captive audience for the midnight fireworks display, which everyone agreed was quite impressive for an amateur.

Although we played around with a few code names for our crew (Donkey Baloney, Zombie Dancer, Fire God), we never did settle on a name. It was a relief to know we wouldn't have to tote all our leftover food and firewood back home, but instead could sacrifice it all to Party God.

We all agreed we would take another houseboat trip in a heartbeat, provided we could enlist lots of our friends to come along. Our houseboat vacation made us realize the excursion would be even more enjoyable if we brought along our own Cheap Baloney, Prairie Dancer and our very own Saskatchewan Party God.


Waterway Houseboats

Sicamous, British Columbia.



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