Pretty Sunsets, Shady Boat Plug Deals, and a RAIN OF FIRE.


Hello. It’s high time for another amateur photography-adventure story, yes? Yes.

Lets rewind back two months to July 3rd. A nice, balmy Sunday. It’s sunny, but not unbearably hot. My boyfriend and I get a text from our good friend Philtographer that says something to the effect of, “I have procured a boat. Let’s go boating and take pictures.”

I’m like “Hell yeah, lets,” not bothering to ask where Philtog got a boat since I’ve come to just expect these kinds of things from him. (I found out later that he’s just had a boat for years, and I simply never knew.) We meet up at a little residential lake in the northern part of the state around 5 pm. And sure enough, there’s a boat. And Philtog. And about 9,000 metric tons of camera equipment. What could possibly go wrong?

I know nothing about boats, but a general description of our vessel is that it’s your standard lake chugging boat, seats about six in a pinch, used to have a gas motor on the back which Phil replaced with electric trolling motors, and two long, wooden oars on either side.  (And for those of you who are like me and don’t know boats, trolling motors are like, not meant for speedy transportation. They mostly keep the boat from drifting away in a gentle current.)

After we load up the boat, Phil says, “Let me just check the boat plug before we shove off, so we don’t sink.” And I’m thinking that’s probably a good idea. So Phil bends over the edge of the boat and fiddles around for a while. Then I hear a snick, chink! and Phil’s muffled voice going, “Yep. That’s not good.” And since Phil has never uttered a cuss word in his life, I’m thinking “not good” basically means “*&%$*#.”

“What happened?”

“The boat plug snapped in half.”

Well poop.

I lug all our equipment back to the car because I am not a fool. I know an omen when I see one. And even if we manage to somehow, magically find another boat plug here in the middle of almost nowhere, it would still be wise for us to heed the message the universe has sent us.

Besides, what are the odds of us finding another boat plug in the next two minutes?

When I return for the rest of the bags, I find Phil and my boyfriend chatting with a family who just came in off the lake. They are buying the family’s boat plug. Right out of their boat. Like some sort of shady, back alley boat plug deal.

Apparently, I am a fool because I proceed to lug all the camera equipment back again. And then I get in the boat. And then we shove off. And row our sweet, oblivious little selves into the middle of the lake.

As we slowly drift along, actual speedboats and jet skis are zooming around us. They whizz by with incoherent shouts that amount to the aquatic equivalent of “OUT OF THE WAY, NERDS!”  Waves cause our rusty little craft to bounce up and down, making any kind of photograph with a zoom lens impossible. But the day is getting on and the sky is promising a darling sunset, so whatever. Screw you, jet-ski bros.

Phil is rowing the boat. I’m ignoring everything, taking wobbly pictures of the tree line. When behind me I hear SNAP and Phil stops rowing. I don’t even turn around.

“Was that the oar?” I ask.

“Yep,” says Phil.

Hahaha fuck.

I turn. Sure enough there goes half of one of our oars, floating away. And with only one oar left and tiny electric trolling motors, we can’t go fast enough to catch it.

So we’re stuck. But hey! The sun is setting! Lets take some pictures.








Darkness falls, and now it’s time for us to limp home with our one oar and our tiny motors.

Putt-putt. Sploosh. It takes us about 15 minutes to go 100 yards. Putt-putt. Sploosh. All the other boats are heading in to the docks of the lakefront homes. Putt-putt. Sploosh.  Someone ahead of us starts yelling from their dock to someone on another dock on the opposite side of the water. The shouting sounds suspiciously like, “SUCK IT, BOB. WATCH THIS.”


Oh right! It’s July 3rd! Free fireworks show. That’s pretty cool. We keep paddling and drifting, because we have to get home at some point, and the public boat launch is still, at the speed we’re going, about a year away. Inch by inch. Minute by minute. Putt. Putt. Sploosh. We enjoy the fireworks in the meantime.

Except thirty five minutes later, they’re still going off. And now we’re getting closer to the dock.







Ash and sparks are raining into the boat as we putt-putt-sploosh by at the breakneck speed of a wounded snail. Our ears are ringing. We’re brushing powder out of our hair and rubbing smoke out of our eyes. It’s been forty five minutes and the fireworks are STILL going off. Despite our little running lights, which make us visible. And our undeniably terrified shouts of “OHMYGOD. OHMYGOD.”

We finally get by.

We finally get to the boat launch.

We finally, amid a thick, teeming cloud of mosquitoes, get the boat on the trailer and get ourselves in the car. Ears still ringing. Eyes still stinging. We all go home.

The next day, as they do every year, invitations via text and facebook trickle in, offering us the opportunity to tag along to various local fireworks displays with friends or family. Boyfriend and I look at each other, shake our heads and “nope” our way through every one.

And that’s the whole tale, fellow amateurs.

May the autofocus be with you.



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