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  Memorial Day 1996 or how we sunk our photo camera
  May 23-27, 1996

First of all we didn’t take a look in our plane tickets. We didn’t realize that we have flight to Detroit on Thursday May 23 till Wednesday. We were thinking about Friday May 24. So I didn’t go to work one more extra day. That was a little bit nervous – it wasn’t planned to pack at 12 PM.

Thursday we finished our work at 3 o’clock jumped into cab and rushed to JFK airport. We got into terrible traffic jam and opened airport doors 10 minutes before departure. That was the beginning of our 4 days run.

We had nice one-hour flight, our friends – Snezhana and Scott met us in Detroit. In their home were two more girls from Tashkent, so total 5 persons from Tashkent all together. Next day we visited Detroit downtown, it was nice. Ride on old trolley, got on the top of the highest skyscraper there, had a meal in Mexican restaurant.

May 25 we hit the road towards North. You should see the car we were traveling! Huge GMC truck with three canoes on the roof, full of camping gear, 4 people and big black retriever - Moiska. That was fun! We were driving like this for 4 hours.

Initially, we were going canoeing that day, but because there were 10 of us - 6 Russians, 4 Americans in 3 cars, we were moving very slow. We didn't get to the river in time and decided to rest that day. Thank God we didn't go for canoeing! We put up our tents in Burt Lake campground, prepared tasty shashlicks, got drunk, and played kids games, run with Moiska.

May 26 we finally got to Indian River, sat into canoes and started the trip. The river was much more difficult then we expected. There were many fallen trees across the river. In 10 minutes we had one paddle broken. Happy dog was jumping into water in the most difficult curves all the time. One of girls from Tashkent - Vika couldn't swim, speak English. Jane and I didn't have too much experience paddling narrow rivers with 180-degree turns. It was way too serious then we were told! Finally we hit a tree laying across the river in very fast section of the river. Canoe lost the balance and flipped over.

Shit! That was accident! Girls were hanging on that stupid tree like two monkeys, flipped canoe and me went further down the stream. Everybody was screaming. We lost all our paddles, our $300 photo camera kissed Good Bye forever, but video camera was alive. Jane did very good move and got on the land. She grabbed video camera and started recording the accident in a moment. Scott heroically rescued non-English-speaking Vika from the tree. There were a lot of misunderstandings from both sides during this process.

We couldn't continue the trip without paddles. Jane Vika and me left our empty canoe for our friends and went back to the car. They paddled down the river hauling our canoe. After two hours of driving to and fro we met our guys at a bridge. They had another flip over, when they almost lost our lunch. But thanks to brave Chris, it was saved. We ate wet sandwiches, put two canoes on the roof of the car and separated again. Jane, Scott and me got back into canoe, the rest people went to campground. We paddled the remaining part of the river without any problems. The scenery was breathtaking, we saw a deer, a lot of birds. Indian River ended at Burt Lake and we paddled almost to our tents.

At the rest of the day we drove through the longest suspension bridge in the world – Mackinac Bridge. It has 3 miles between supports (5 km). It is huge! Wintertime wind is so strong that it blows cars from the bridge into Lake Michigan.

May 27 we drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Snow-white dunes on Lake Michigan shore are very scenic, and remind of Caribbean Sea. However Michigan State is more like Kareliya – plenty of lakes, slow rivers, pine trees, white sand… New York State sucks compare to it.

On our way back we stuck in long-weekend traffic and were almost late for our plane again. We run into the plane in the moment that they were closing the door! We had our backpacks on and smell like bears after 3 days of camping. What a rush!
Story by Stas Yurkevich