(all pictures are AFTER the story!)

Combine a wet Newfie and a avid hovercrafter wannabe - and you can't have anything but the best hoverin yet!

Unlike last year and the rainy monsoons, we had just the most picture perfect weekend to put on 100s of miles on the StarCruisers. But this year I had had to keep a secret for a very long time, and as anyone who REALLY know me, I literally cannot keep a secret!!!

It was very difficult not to tell anyone that Marvin had purchased Alva's beautiful StarCruiser with its double wing gull enclosure, heated hand grips, double defrosters, gorgeous canvas cover, and the list goes on! It is an ice fisherman's paradise and we look forward to being with him this winter. What was worse was keeping it from our hover bud Michael Courtney.

You first have to understand that Mike has no one to hover with in his area. One gentleman owns the hoverbike, but it's not operational, and Marvin Olver is supposedly building his own craft styled after the Webers, but as of yet, nothing has materialized for Mike to have company on the rivers in his area.

Verdon and I pulled his personal StarCruiser to the hoverin early on Friday and set up campsite. A perfect spot it seemed as the deer and raccoon seemed to also enjoy our company. No matter what time of day, you can drive thru the park to the boat landing and encounter deer, turkeys, squirrels, raccoons, and probably even a snake or two, but I was in the vehicle! The Ranger Personnel and Camp Host in this park are really TOPS in our opinions. Always there to help out and available anytime to just chit chat or help you with your campsite, they are to be commended for everything they do. I highly recommend Palisades Kepler Park outside of Cedar Rapids for your next campout!


I want to give special thanks to all that attended the 4th Annual Cedar River Cruise including Dennis and Carol Alm, Ray and Terri Matthews, Linda and Verdon Weber, Jack and Maggie Leonard, and Marv and Dee Olver and their granddaughter.

It started out like most Hovercraft rallies with Dennis and Carol Alm checking in late Thursday night about 11:30 pm. unknown to me as I was expecting them Friday afternoon. So when I arrived at Palisades Campground and found my hovercraft trailer had been pushed off to the side at the Alm's campsite, I figured 'hmmmm', maybe they got here early this morning. But then their camper wasn't anywhere to be seen. I took my hovercraft down to the boat ramp and unloaded it and when I got back to the campsite the Alms were back from going to Anamosa to look for me! I guess we just missed each other on the only paved road that we both took.

Marv Olver "The Prankster" (I will get to the reason for that later) was there at his campsite. He was just gong to see us off as he did not have a hovercraft but I offered to give him a ride when I went cruising. He said ok and then started to talk about the cookout he was putting on with baked potatos, a crockpot of baked beans, and huge grilled chicken breasts. He said he had brought a truckoad of wood for a campfire and was going to use charcoal for the chicken and potatos. (Now remember - truckload of wood......)

I started talking about how good it was to be hovering the Cedar again and he said that he can't wait to get his home-built hovercraft done. I asked him how much was done and he said it was 3/4 complete but with having to work so much over time and other home duties he did not have time to work on the hovercraft much. Maybe next yeat it would be ready for the Cedar River cruise. I thought to myself this is one very good hearted person who will help out anyone and attend the hover rallys and not even care if he got a ride. He just liked being with the group.

The reason I am saying this is because some of you might not remember or know that Marv really extended a heling hand to me during the first Cedar River Cruise in 2002. The cruise had just started and I was leading the pack and had just hovered up the Sutliff boat ramp to pickup Jack and Maggie 3when my left engine went out. I mean it really just QUIT! I tried to start it and it would not even turn over. Next I tried to use the pull starter and it would not even budge. After some trouble shooting it turned out that I lost all of my oil and it had frozen up.

Well, with everyone wanting to help but no one coudl think of a way to fix it except short of getting a new engine, I figured my hovering day was over before it started. Then Marv stepped forward and offered me his new Tecumseh sitting back home at Cedar Rapids in his garage. To make a long story short whlie Verdon and company removed the old engine, Marv and I picked up the new engine. 30 min. later we were hovering again, thanks to Marvin and everyone else who had pitched in that day in the mosquitoes and heat!

But I digress......back to this year's hovering: About 12:00 noon Friday I went back to the boat ramp to check on The M.A.D. Mag and noticed another StarCruiser there still on its trailer hooked up to a Red Chev Truck. The first thing I noticed was the truck had a Linn County License plate which is the same county that the park is in. I also noticed that it was setup to haul a 5th wheel trailer and it was FULL OF FIREWOOD. "That should have been a dead give away."

I drove back to the campsite and went over to Linda and Verdon's site and told them about the StarCruiser. They didn't SEEM to know anything about and wondering themselves who it was, Marv cam walking up along with the Alms and the Matthews who had just pulled in. We all decided to go hovering and started back to the boat ramp. Linda was sure to personally invite Marvin along to hover with us too.

I pulled into the boat ramp and started checking the oil in the engines when Marv pulls up next to the Mystery StarCruiser and starts to get it ready to unload. My mouth dropped almost to the ground and I said "Marv...what's going on here?" He just smiled and unloaded the craft. The Webers are in the background snickering! Then I knew I had been had!!!


I did not know I might be the target of this prank and was glad to see that Marv (The Prankster) had his own hovercraft now, but most especially it was a trusty StarCruiser! After a good laugh we all headed out and went up through the rapids to the roller dam 12 miles upriver. It was a good hovering time and to see the Prankster piloting his own StarCruiser was truly awesome and rewarding!


We got back to the campsite around 3:30 pm and were looking forward to the Potato/Chicken Bake when the power went out in the campground! Temps had been in the 90s all day and it wasn't surprising that there would be a brown out somewhere which also would affect the whole park.It didn't take us long to decide to wait unti Sat. night for the barbecue so we went to Gwen's fish buffet and air conditioning! 7:30 the electric was back on and life was good at the campground.

Sat. morning Marv invited everyone for pancakes and they were so good! Around 9:30 am I went hovering down to Sutliff and picked up Jack and maggie and we came back to the park for everyone to visit with them.

The Prankster's granddaughter wasn't so sure about Maggie but one look at those deep brown eyes and that smiley face and she became best buddies with Maggie!


We all headed down to Rochester Park about 30 miles via river. I stopped at Sutliff and dropped off jack and Maggie as it was a bit too far for them to go. We had a grand time hovering with Linda Weber coming to the rescue of a fish that was semi-beached. She would have made Babe Winkelman proud the way she moved the fish to deeper water keeping it on its belly until it swam off.


The rest of the Cruise was nice with lunch at Rochester Park and a look at the Elk farm. We also made our turn around under I80 bridge before heading back. We got back around 3:30 and the Prankster started getting the charcoal going for the Chicken bake. it was a great feed with boneless chicken breast, baked beans, baked potatoes from the Jolly Green Giant's personal potato garden (they were HUGE!), relish trays, peach surprise dessert and tons of friendly conversation!


On Saturday I waved down the Park Officer's truck and asked them about the new online registration for campsites that goes into effect in 2006.  It is not complete yet but you will be able to register online in January 2006 and pay for a campsite for a particular weekend instead of having to show up 2 days in advance to secure a particular campsite.  While talking to them they informed me that the camp host would be interested in a ride on the hovercraft.  Saturday evening I talked to Wayne "camp host" and said for him to be down at the boat ramp at 10:00 am for a hover ride. 


Sunday morning arrived and we were anxious to hover. Dennis and Carol were already on their way back to Minnesota. Wayne was at the boat ramp at 10:00 am sharp and while he was getting a ride the Park Officer drove down and was looking the hovercrafts over. When Verdon had brought back Wayne we all encouraged the Park Officer, "can't remember her name" to go for a ride but she said that she was on duty and could not leave the truck. Wayne stepped in and volunteered to keep and eye on the truck and said besides she was doing her duties by taking a look see along the river for potential problems.  That is all it took to get her in the Starcruiser.  Looking at the pics of her before the ride like a person being apprehensive and excited on a new adventure and then seeing the smile and joy when she got back.  That is what makes hovering so much fun when you can share the experience.


At 1 pm most everyone was gone. It was nice hovering and maybe next year YOU CAN COME TOO!

Happy Hovering

"The Mag Master", Michael C. Courtney