Canoe Trips in Chrislip are as Pretty as a Picture: Unfortunately, the Picture is Deliverance
By Skip “Buck” Mendenhall, Journal Outdoor Writer
Canoeing is big business in Northern Michigan. It’s the lifeblood of the summer tourist season in many small towns. Nearly everywhere, it seems, except in Chrislip.
For years we’ve been wondering why towns barely twice as good as ours have thriving canoe businesses, while ours is nil. Generalizations are always wrong, but the consensus seems to be that Chrislip never recovered from the big Deliverance Scare of 1972. We all remember the movie Deliverance, about four city fellows who took a canoe trip downriver through the wild and untamed backwoods. One broke his leg, one was shot and killed, one was sodomized by a hillbilly, and one killed two hillbillies with a bow and arrow. Somehow this gave people the impression that canoe trips are dangerous.
The rest of the state recovered from the Deliverance Scare, but Chrislip’s once-thriving river industry virtually dried up. Maybe it’s because, while the rest of the world saw Deliverance as a morality play, the hillbillies in the woods outside our town saw it as a how-to video. Assaults skyrocketed. Mountain folk openly talked of going down to the river for some “canookie.”
Yes, hillbillies were violent, brutish, and oversexed. But that was a long time ago, and things have changed. We don’t call them “hillbillies” now; we call them “downlanders.”
And to be fair, the latest census shows that there are 46% fewer sodomists among the downlanders than there were thirty years ago. Plus, the remaining ones are kinder and gentler. The taunting line “Squeal like a pig, boy!” from Deliverance, which nearly became the Chrislip town motto in the mid-70s, has been replaced with a “Please” before the assault, and a “Thank ya kindly” afterward.
So if you’re considering a trip downriver, you can do so with relative safety, particularly if you’re not a fanatic about your sexual well-being. If you are, there are counselors available at every landing to help you come to terms with being violated.
Also, the mosquitoes are terrible, so bring Off. And Bactine, because Off doesn’t work.