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We had loaned our two kayaks to our daughter and her then boyfriend several years ago. They were living off a lake that straddled two states, while our little pond continued to shrink to a speck on the map. They were young and carefree, with plenty of time to get on that lake, while we seemed to find more things we had to do that kept us away from the water.

When her relationship with the lad ended and she moved back home, and as we had the pond dredged and expanded to nearly double its original size, we figured the time had arrived for the return of those kayaks.

Alas, this seems to have been a request easier made than realized. The kayaks had been parked by our daughter after the breakup in someone’s garage, while the kayak cradles remained on her exe’s car. The solution seemed easy enough: remove the cradles from that car, put them back on her car, which already had the crossbars, and drive the kayaks home.

Complications–personal and technical–ensued. Either there was feuding that prevented a negotiation on the transfer of the cradles, or the devices were said to have become encrusted and beyond removal. The result: despite repeated assurances that the kayaks would be back home before long, they have remained in captivity.

Plan B: although we’d already paid once for kayak cradles, we went shopping online some weeks ago and bought two new, improved, cradles. Delivery would take only days.

The delivery date came and went; still no cradles. A quick check of the tracking information was all it took to find out that, according to United Parcel Service, they had been delivered. That seemed odd, as neither of us could recall seeing either the UPS truck on our driveway or, a sure sign that it had been, a parcel containing the cradles left behind.

So, wife called UPS. Yes, the package had been delivered, but apparently to an address over half a mile from our house, somewhere up the hollow. It would take about eight days for an investigation by UPS to determine why the package had been dropped off to “a man” at a home that was neither nowhere near our house nor matched the address that was on the package.

Now, the further up the hollow one goes, the rougher it gets, and by that I don’t just mean the terrain. There is a settlement of off-the-grid, pay no taxes, repeal all gun regulations folk living in ramshackle dwellings near the top of the hollow.

It was possible that our kayak cradles could have been delivered there, and that the man who had taken possession would not be inclined to return them to their rightful owner.

Nevertheless, I’d need to go up there and fetch them, albeit without my own protection and without my wife, who wanted to come along, presumably to soften my unannounced presence.

I jumped into the car and headed up the hollow, looking for the address where the package hopefully was still located. I continued along past several houses, then past the dairy farm where I’d hoped it would be. Not yet.

Then, about a quarter-mile beyond the farm, there was the address. Happy serendipity: it matched that of the proprietor of our local micro brewery, a former college professor I’d gotten to know over sampling his output. The brewmaster wasn’t around, but there were a couple of young guys framing the building that will soon house his to-be expanded brewery. After explaining the situation, one of the guys hopped into his car, drove up to the house above the brewery, and returned with the package, unopened.

We called off the UPS investigation, and presented our daughter with the new cradles for her car. Now, all she needs to do is drive three hours north to pick up the boats, and three hours back to return them home, hopefully before the pond freezes over.

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