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Zumbro River Canoeing

My days of living in Rochester I drove a 1993 Mazda MX-6, but I got sick of making payments. I was able to finally sell it, and get my finances under control.When I sold it I was living near downtown in a small efficiency apartment that smelled like a Korean restaurant.

A work colleague, also without a car asked me to rent a house with him. Now I was even closer to work and downtown. A few years without a car in Rochester was easier than a weekend without a car today. Winters I could get to the subway/skyway system within 2 blocks of the rental house.

The few times I wanted to get to other parts of town were handled by friends. KalenBorg would take me around locally, Sharee would take me to the John Barleycorn bar by the old Best Western. It's been torn down since, and is now a ginormous Super Wal-Mart. Lee Runyon would take me up to Minneapolis to see small concerts at First Avenue.

After a couple years I finally wanted a car again. I didn't want payments or expensive insurance. My dad found a car for me to buy in La Crosse. I found my way to town, then borrowed my dad's truck to go look at this car. It was a single-owner 1976 Chevrolet Malibu Classic (an 80 year old woman). She had gotten so old, that when she parked on the street she couldn't push open the heavy door anymore. The street outside her home had a large crown putting the car at an angle, and the two-door car doors were heavy as hell for an old woman. I bought the car for $800 on the spot.

That 1976 Chevrolet Malibu Classic bought me freedom once again. I could come and go on my own again. It was shitty enough of a car, that I really didn't mind loaning it out to my roommate. I just asked him to put some gas in it. It was moderately pretty - it was blue and rust colored, with the rust coloring being actual rust.

I was told the car had a minor oil leak when I bought it. Minor was an understatement. I had to fill up with oil more than gas, and this thing had a Chevy 350 CID engine. I figured if I could make it 8 months it would be like a $100 car payment for 8 months paid in advance, anything after was gravy. Only needing the minimum insurance with no collision saved me a ton. I finally learned the oil leak was from a missing oil plug (similar to a freeze plug) on the side of the engine. $6 later it was fixed. I even started to fix it up after that, just to squeeze another couple years out of it. New plug wires made it run better than ever. I owned that car for almost 4 years, and my entire maintenance budget was under $200 that whole time.

The car didn't know how to get stuck in the snow! It was always fun during the first big snow of the year to drive to John Barleycorn and have some beers. Then push people out of the snow by carefully lining up bumpers and pushing them out of their predicament.

I could always find a parking spot in the winter, even if one wasn't available. This car had such a strong motor nobody dared piss me off. When I was out of town (I didn't like to screw around too much in Rochester where I lived), I could drive up and align bumpers and push people into intersections. If you waited around long enough, you watch the cop write the ticket and have the other guy's car towed. Minneapolis cops had special powers to tow vehicles, especially after a fresh snow. Those cops just loved to throw their weight around and punish people.

The Malibu was a major puddle jumper. Minneapolis had this street, that is still under major construction every summer. Perhaps they'll never get it right, or there's too much political money to be made, to do it properly. There must be 1,000 potholes within a few blocks. No little ones mind you, but the really big one that store lots of water. Lee Runyon and I drove back and forth looking for the right moments to hit those rain filled potholes and soak pedestrians waiting for the bus.

Oh yeah, back to Rochester! Sharee and I would go to the John Barleycorn frequently. Lee Runyon was dating her, but with his graveyard shift at Kinko's and his propensity for disappearing from everybody's social network - for months at a time, allowed us to hang out as without problems. The cool thing about Sharee was her ability to make friends with anybody (I've got a story saved up about some of her people). At John Barleycorn she befriended a couple. They were a few years older than us, we saw at John Barleycorn all the time, and they we a vibrant couple. We always suspected they were swingers.

The swinger couple only made it to the friend stage with us, heck Sharee and I never made it past the friend stage ourselves. The swingers were always a lot of fun once they got a few drinks into their system. They never became boisterous, but they were full of life. They managed a low profile despite their swingeresque mystique, which kept me out of trouble. One day Sharee and I took KalenBorg and Lee Runyon to the Barleycorn for a few cocktails, and so they could meet the swingers. They ended up inviting all of us to go canoeing with them -down the Zumbro River. The female swinger announced it as an opportunity to see her boobies, because she didn't canoe with a top on!

It was a go, we were all going to the Zumbro to canoe and tube down the river. Lee Runon even came outside and into the daylight for this trip (we had started to suspect him of being a Vampire). I picked up Jason, Lee and Sharee in my Malibu and headed up to Zumbro. Pictured below; here we are waiting outside Lee's house (actually his parent's house) for Lee to finish his beauty regime. Much like a woman, Lee was never ready at the designated time. My hand can be seen impatiently hanging out the driver's side window, while KalenBorg poses.

Holy buckets could I pack a lot of beer in that trunk. Another cool feature of my Malibu was that over time the ignition system was wearing out, and I could pull the key out while the engine was running, and the car would not stop running. This was a nice feature in the winter in the near arctic areas of Minnesota when everything is freezing outside and passengers didn't want me to turn the car off stopping the heater, or when passengers wanted to listen to the end of a song on the radio. Later, I learned to start the car without a key. If Microsoft had manufactured the 1976 Chevy Malibu Classic, they would have called this a feature - I treated it as if it was. The only reason I carried it was in case I needed to gain access to the trunk, where beer was stored for transportation. Pictured below; me in the white t-shirt checking on our beer supplies with KalenBorg nearby wondering where he left his snorkel and fins.

Pictured below; I'm almost out of frame with no shirt on (sorry). KalenBorg had this thing when I met him where he only owned black t-shirts with rock bands on them. Here he is doing some retarded imitation of the horned-hand (aka: La Mano Cornuda). We might have made him ride in the trunk on the way up, allowing him to drink beer at rates only he can do. In those days, he could have drunk King Gambrinous under the table.

Lee Runyon was a strange character, with a name like Runyon, was easily tormented with a bag of Funyons. With as many times as I've used his name here (Lee Runyon, Lee Runyon, Lee Runyon) if it turns up in search engines he'll certainly be pissed! Don't worry I have incriminating photos of him.

I had awful long hair at the time. I think I was going through an Eddie Vedder hair stage. I was hanging out with a manager I worked with (Yvette Williams), and she talked me into going to her gal to get my hair cut. It started with a trendy cut as she was trying to get the layers out. I only followed up with her every few times, due to her costs. Somehow I ended up with this half-ass guido look when I had it tied back, and the faux Eddie Vedder when I let it loose. It's much shorter today. Sharee is shown here eating Funyons and wearing pink shoes. I'm doing some sort of crystal-meth induced Fonzee impression. I no longer have the car, but I do have the cooler seen below.

Here I'm attempting some strange voodoo with a beach towel and a plastic bag (I think my goal was to place my beach towel in the plastic bag so it would be dry for when we finished canoeing). Also seen is KalenBorg's Metallica t-shirt from the Master of Puppets album. It may have been his only shirt for a couple of years. Who let me out of the house with those shorts?  Those shorts, brown short boots, and a funky patterned polo shirt. I needed to get married just so I'd be dressed properly.

We had an awesome trip canoeing down the Zumbro, and yes for those paying attention - the swinger woman released her bodacious breasts within the first few minutes and let the gals out to bathe in the sun until we landed. I think most of us guys stared directly at them for the first 15 minutes or so, then just glanced to make sure they were still there and out for the next hour. By the end of the trip when we hit land they were like sunglasses we had gotten so used to them. I wonder what ever happened to our swinger friends?