I’d been talking with Kevin’s best man, Dustin, about the bachelor party for quite some time. He and Kevin had worked out a plan for the wedding party to canoe down the Red Deer River then camp out with a bigger group on the weekend. From the beginning, Dustin wanted me to surprise Kev on the day of the launch. So I had to tell a little white lie to Kev a few weeks before the stag and tell him I wasn’t going to make it.
On Tuesday, June 16th I flew to Toronto on the old EY141. Stepping off the plane I learned the Chicago Blackhawks had won the cup and there would be no game 7 for me to catch. I flew onwards to Calgary and mom picked me up from the airport. We stopped by Scott and Jenelle’s to see the kids before heading out to Strathmore. I had a nice visit with mom and Vern and took Buddy out for a bike ride.
The next morning I was off to the city for a very important engagement, Wyatt’s pre-school graduation. I got to Scott’s to wish him a happy birthday before we loaded up and went to Wyatt’s school. He was quite handsome in his cap and gown.
I had a few errands to run before getting out of the city around 2:00pm. I drove up to Dustin’s acreage just south of Erskine, AB and met him and another groomsman, Del. They were busy loading Dustin’s trailer with food, fishing gear, firewood, tents, etc. Dustin had also marinated steaks, prepared some ready-made breakfasts and sandwiches, and ensured that we would have everything we needed for the entire 4 days. That evening, the 3 of us drove down to the river and set up camp at what would be our halfway camping point on the river. We set up a tent and left a cooler of food and beer. That night we had some great burgers from the Erskine Grill and got Dustin’s fire pit going.
The next morning we took Dustin’s trailer down to Mackenzie Crossing campground on Hwy 590 just west of Big Valley. Scott also met us there and left his truck. Dustin, Del, Scott, and I left Dustin’s and headed for Content Bridge where Hwy 21 crosses the Red Deer River. The guys dropped me off and I hid in the cookhouse while they went down to meet Kevin and Jerry, another groomsman, with the canoes. After waiting sufficiently long enough to make sure Kev had eliminated the possibility of me turning up despite my lie, I walked down to the river and stood beside Kev. He looked over and said, “You bugger!” The six of us loaded up the 3 canoes and launched just before noon. The Red Deer River around these parts doesn’t move too fast and there are plenty of fishing holes to drop a line into. The fish were biting right away…mostly goldeye, but master angler Kevin also pulled in a walleye and a perch. We had to do a fair bit of paddling through the stagnant pools and were fighting a light headwind all day. We didn’t arrive at our camp until after 7:00pm so it was a long day on the water. A couple of Dustin’s friends were there to greet us. Dustin had asked them to bring a few shotguns and a skeet launcher so we were soon blasting away at clay pigeons over the river. We cooked dinner on the fire, smoked a couple Monte Cristos, and even had a little firework show to cap off the night.
The next morning we heated up our breakfast packs on the fire, broke camp, loaded the boats, and got back on the water around 8:30am. The river generally moved more consistently than the previous day but there were still some great spots where the fish were biting. It wasn’t all slow going though. Scott and I were on the bank watching Kev and Dustin come through the most challenging rapids of the trip when their canoe went sideways. They were about to tip when Dustin dove in to save Kev and the boat. Hilarious! I have to admit that Kevin and Dustin won the derby with over 30 fish. We saw lots of wildlife over the 2 days including deer, bald eagles, pelicans, hawks, ducks, and beaver. We passed under the Mackenzie Crossing Bridge around 1:00pm and banked our canoes at the campground just as the skies opened up on us. Altogether, we had excellent weather on the river despite the nasty forecast. That afternoon, some more of Kev’s buds and future in-laws rolled into the campground. Dad arrived and set up his new country camper. We got Kev dressed up in his weekend outfit…he resisted at first but in the end I think he quite enjoyed his get-up. For dinner, Dustin heated up some oil in his 2 big deeper fryers and the guys dumped all sorts of things in there like chicken wings, fries, jalapenos poppers, whole chickens, etc. Dad battered some jumbo oysters and fried them in butter. Later, we had some late night entertainment for Kevin. However, our black haired exotic dancer looked a lot like Kev’s groomsman Jerry??? Let’s just say we helped Kev get in a little practice at taking off a garter belt.
On Saturday, Dustin pulled out all of the supplies needed for a big breakfast. Dad was on bacon duty, Jerry on the pancakes, Scott on the toast, and I made a batch of 30 scrambled eggs. Some people went down to the river for a swim/bath and others fished off the bank. Some more of Kev’s friends and co-workers turned up so we got the BBQ going and did cheese and bacon burgers for lunch. That afternoon, we played horseshoes, bean bag toss, and tossed around the Frisbee in the park. We had to wait out a bit of a thundershower, but it cleared off again so the guys did a little more fishing before dinner. It was finally time to pull out the marinating ribeyes. Scott got on the BBQ and grilled them to perfection. They were served with roasted spuds and Caesar salad with S’mores to follow. We had everyone pose for a group shot then got the beer bong going in full swing.
We had a big breakfast again on Sunday and after that everyone started to pack up camp. The last truck pulled out of Mackenzie Crossing just after noon. It was a heck of bachelor party and I think we were able to embarrass Kevin a little bit. I know my cheeks were sore from all the laughs we had. Big thanks to Best Man Dustin for perfectly planning and executing this party…a top notch host!
I cruised down the 21 and stopped in to visit Carole before arriving at mom and Vern’s place. I was able to unload and get some laundry started before I needed to lay down for a nap. I saw my buddy Dewar that night and borrowed his clubs for my big match against Judy the next morning.
Mom and I took Buddy to the vet in the morning for a check-up. The old-timer turned 14 in June but is doing OK. Mom and I teed off at 11:00 and she gave me a schooling I won’t soon forget. That afternoon I stopped in to see dad and also paid a visit to Grandma Margaret before making it to Wyatt’s tee ball game. Coach Scott has got those little guys hitting big, running the bases, and throwing the ball to first base. After the game I drove mom’s car back to Strathmore to get packed. It was a great trip back and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Bec and I can’t wait to see everyone at the wedding!