Shakedown Cruise

It was a frigid morning on the upper Colorado River, with thick clouds piled up against the west slope of the Rockies and an icy fog over the water, sealing in the cold night air like a lid. It was the last week in October, but everything about it felt like January. The big paved lot at the put-in had enough room for 40 trucks and trailers, but we were the only ones there. That meant we’d have this whole stretch of river to ourselves, but may also have meant we were the only ones dumb enough to want it. But never mind, Vince had been repairing and refinishing this wooden drift boat for most of the summer and was desperate to get it in the water at least once this season. So we wadered up, pulled the cover off the boat, left the use fee in the drop box, cash and keys in the truck for the shuttle driver and launched on an empty river.

This boat was built by Ray’s River Dories in Portland, OR in 1990, and although I’d never been in it before, I’d seen it around for years. At first it was owned by a friend who, like most fishermen with jobs, families and mortgages, used the boat as often as he could, but not as often as he’d have liked. Mostly it sat in the driveway while he was off running his landscaping business, lending an air of postponed adventure to a suburban neighborhood in Boulder, CO…

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