I am used to air conditioning. I am used to a bed. My heart is with the river and the people that are dealing with the massive Hurricanes this season. We had a trouble with Dennis, Emily and Franklin threatening to end our trip. It was a much more severe issue with area residents this season.
It is such a strange thing to think that areas we passed through only two months ago (in two days it will be two months since we finished).
Updating the website and getting it clean has been something I think about, but haven't gotten to. Once we were finished paddling we had a few more days that time and life went at it's own pace. Soon all of the roles, duties and obligations of the world were rushing to us, the water of our lives quickly raced to high tide. It is only a Sunday, day of reflection, that I have the pause to write a bit. I intend to slowly fill in with my pen and paper journal all of the times where now there is a larger break in days.
What happened over 73 days from Minnesota to Louisiana I remember in two ways. First it is as separate events pieces people and feelings that are each distinct. Second I remember the trip as one unit. Everyday now is an extension of who I am with this trip.
I learned a lot about myself and I don't know what else to describe. I guess I learned a little bit about a lot of little things. About People. About the areas we passed through. About larger systems interacting with the river. I learned a lot about John. All of the pieces again make up a collective knowledge that I may never know when I will use it because it is such a mutable knowledge that feels like it comes from nowhere. The information will be called upon as I grow into it.
So, now that I am back into my routine at school the big question is: Have I changed?
Not at the core. None of my values have shifted in a way that will make your forehead wrinkle upon talking to me. I can be taken in public. What has changed is part of my approach. I am a bit more reflective in a purposeful way and a bit calmer. I like that. I have been given a bit of pause.
Have a wonderful day!
July 14, 2005 12:51pm Friar's Point, MS
We stopped to pick up some water and the city council here has computers to use free of charge. That is great. John is finishing the article for the week and I have to fill up the water still.
This is day three back on the river after three days avoiding Hurricane Dennis. For every day off of the river you have a bad day of paddling. Today will be our last bad day of paddling as our bodies re-adjust to the river. It is amazing how quickly you can fall out of a groove.
We hope to get close to Rosedale, MS tonight and Vicksburg on Sunday. We will have to paddle in a very efficient manner to reach those goals, but I think we can do it.
John is really nervous about the increasing barge traffic. It will only get busier from here on out and that is a concern, because we have less and less time to negotiate to the inner sides of the turns. I think we will be OK. But who knows with Hurricanes and more water from Hurricane Dennis rushing down to meet us. I hope that our journey continues to be safe and successful.
July 9,2005 8:39am Oxford, MS
We are hiding out from Hurricane Dennis. We got off of the water yesterday in Memphis, and I am already itching to get back on the river. The weather will decide, but I will have an opportunity to add all of my journals from June and July. The gaping hole in my journal online has really bothered me, and we are finally not at a library so we are not fighting with Internet Explorer. Yay!
Get ready to read people!
July 8, 2005 9:55am Friday Mile 752 Tennessee State Park
We are just above MEMPHIS!!!
I am very excited about getting to Mud Island. To think that nearly a year and a half ago we were looking out from the shores of that same island wondering if we would make our way down the river to that same location.
Today we will be on the outside looking in. Followed by actually going in.
BBQ & Ice Cream
Catch a matinee
Meet our friend @ BB Kings at 4:30pm
July 7, 2005 5:30pm (end mile 766)
Strange boat, two fellas with nothing better to do than be intimidating.
(My written journal contains their boat registration number in the event of trouble.)
July 7, 2005 1:24pm Thursday Mile 798
We are having a nice pesto lunch. Today has not been a bad day so far. We camped on a nice beach and the mosquito did not make their way into the tent to destroy us.
Right now the sky is very lovely with a variable of blue and clouds expected to clear later this afternoon. Hurricane Dennis is not close, but NOAA is not giving much information.
July 6, 2005 1:36pm Wednesday Caruthersville, MO (end 829)
Well, We’ve hit Tennessee and the last town in Missouri.
Last night we passed New Madrid much to my relief. It is always nice to think that you’ve made it past the major fault line. Not that if there were a major earthquake we would only be in danger at New Madrid, but it is a relief that we are past it.
In fact there were reports of some fault disturbances earlier this summer (thanks Arminda for the warning). We looked into it and there may be activity, but it is debatable whether we are just around the corner from “the big one”. The discussion around this particular situation was reduced to a bunch of academics discussing the reliability and validity of their fairly interesting experiments. I personally will embrace the idea that we don’t exactly know when the fault line will become angry and smite us. Could be today could be tomorrow. Perhaps the devastation will hold off for another in twenty years. I just don’t particularly like gambling and don’t intend to speculate at this time.
We also passed our first full crew of jerks. Ten in a johnboat. They passed by a few times yelling and carrying on, but I did not give them the satisfaction of my attention. I wonder when the boys are taken aside and told that they need to yell and scream just for attention. Perhaps it is an instinct imbedded in guys once the testosterone hits the system in full force.
John and I stopped close to 5:30pm in the middle of the east side of the New Madrid bend for a quick break. These fellas took the time out of their day to ask the most intimidating and antagonistic questions.
Did you run out of gas?
You’re not the first to paddle down, but most everyone that tried died.
What is the deal with the whole canoeing thing? Explain it to me.
TODAY, We met a few fellas sailing from Paducah to New Orleans. They were really nice and we had a bit of time to bond with our fellow long distance adventurers. They were having a bit of a time, because their sail broke in the storm that hit the 4th and will probably have a delay while getting it fixed. We may see them in Memphis or later along the way.
July 5, 2005 Tuesday 10:00am Columbus, KY mile 937 south of Cairo
Watching a 3x5 and a 5x5 pass before we get back on. We stopped fro water and sent the rent and other quick letters. I find it quite fortuitous that I have the habit of writing letters for we have no cell phone coverage or internet in these parts.
We have an area where the river is busy, very busy and there is so much happening with the barge traffic, but otherwise it is a very remote area. The levees protect people and cut them off from the river. The river is dangerous and wild. It is also simple in these parts. This discussion of the river has only begun, and I am not doing the Mississippi justice. In my defense I am tired. It will be in the book.
Hoping to pass New Madrid today as we race to Memphis. We told friends we would be there on Friday yet there was some miscalculation of mileages when the mile markers changed at Cairo, IL. So we will be paddling more than we ever have before. Challenging yet fun.
July 1, 2005 9:00pm
Yesterday, we traveled from just south of Port of St. Louis at mile marker168 to mile marker 123 at Ste. Genevieve. On the way we stopped at Herculaneum, MO. We stopped there, because we needed water and the entire normal John wanted to get a breakfast biscuit routine. BUT Herculaneum would be a town where we could flex our powerful muscles. See, Herky was originally named after the original Herky, which was after Hercules. Hercules was known for strength and courage in roman mythology. We had to visit Herculaneum. Herky is what locals affectionately call their town.
The town showered us with hospitality and kindness. They shared with us some Herky paraphernalia and the full town history. We met the mayor and he gave the impression that he would give the shirt off his back if we needed it. He had seen the television coverage of our trip and saluted our efforts. It was really touching to hear that others have appreciation for our trip. I can hear the Audubon echo of “healthy river, healthy communities”.
Later Due to inclement weather we stopped and tarped through lightning and a (thankfully) cooling rain. Afterwards as the last of the thunder cleared out we took a short walk up the muddy beach, which led to some impromptu playing in the mud. Sure, we had mud-throwing competition, but the most challenging game was “get the sandals out of the mud”. A very tactful game with serious consequences.
Last night we camped on the island across the river from Ste. Genevieve. We were in the middle of an extensive sand beach. I took a 360degree picture of it but surely my camera cannot capture the scenery the same way I will remember it. As the water levels drop through the summer the islands grow larger and larger. The dropping water makes such beaches have an alien effect on my senses by contouring the sand and mud into uniform design. This particular beach is very large and open with slight slope. I feel as if I am merely standing on an even landscape with little change or movement. This slice in time is in great contrast to the continual changing nature of this area and whole river landscape, but for now it feels still.
May 31, 2005 noon Tuesday Crow Wing State Park
Last night we slept at Baxter Canoe Campsite just south of Brainerd, MN. We stopped here for the shower amenities, which were welcomed after the previous days paddle of 38 and 3/4 males which was a bit too much, but the slight flooding has caused the current to assist with our speed.
May 29, 2005 1pm Sunday Aitkin, MN
The sun is out. I have sun and warmth on my previously cold and tormented existence. Here, with no sun it is very cold and with sun life is much more bearable.
A gentleman that we met a few days ago said that it was not a cold winter in Minnesota because it had not reached -40 degrees. Fair North Carolina has spoiled me.
The past few days have been rather non-descript. A lovely area with much more evidence of humans. Barns, cows and small cabins all remind us that there is much more private land in this area with some fields and wooded areas. There is still a great deal of wildlife, but their behavior is more nonchalant and not caring that humans are around, and it is easy to tell that many animals have been imprinted.
The river is getting more opaque as we have passed a deteriorating superfund site, a power plant and a paper mill. Additionally the river level is up causing increased sedimentation. The erosion and exfoliation of the riverbank is more evident with trees that seem as if they are growing directly from the bottom of the river. The banks from which the trees came carry gaping scars of the recent loss. The river is changing.
May 25, 2005 Wednesday Forestry Station Bar and Grill Jacobson, MN
This morning we were greeted with rain.
It is generally not so much fun to pack or paddle in the rain, but paddling is our job and we are to do it rain or shine.
WE went 20 odd miles in cold cold cold rain. Constant unwavering cold rain. John's rain pants failed and he was soaked for much of the day and wrapped in a tarp to keep warm and semi dry.
We planned to stop in Jacobson to get a hot beverage and dry out some before continuing on, but once we pulled to shore we were cold hungry and getting a little bit gorked out. We decided that we should eat too and hole up for a few hours. We landed in the arms of a loving family establishment called the Forestry Station Bar and Grill (named for the previous use of the building).
Sandy was quick to offer to dry our clothes and we really had a great visit with the people from in and around Jacobson.
We met a former Wen-no-nah canoe racer Jerry Arnold who gave us some paddling tips. It isn't a race to get to New Orleans, but we will probably end up being a bit more efficient paddlers.
May 24, 2005 9something(pm) Tuesday Blackberry Campsite
Day 10! May 23 was so long that I counted it as two days and I though that we were way behind schedule. We are not.
The photo thing was a mess. I walked over 30 blocks (Grand Rapids is not that big) to get the photo CD of pictures to preserve our precious memories. Yetch!
Super duper long portage 1200 yards.
17 miles paddled from 5pm-9pm!!!!
There is a Barred Owl calling, John is down the hill by the shore trying to call back. It is very amusing.
May 23, 2005 much later Monday Grand Rapids, MN
We went to the store to do some resupply of snacks and found that Twizzlers have become a staple snack. It all started with a one-pound bag added to our gear by my mother, and now we just seem to want to have them on hand.
To introduce this I have to say that my mother hitchhiked to a Black Sabbath concert when she was in college.
I put my thumb in the air to get to the grocery store in Grand Rapids. I am whole and managed to not get hacked to little pieces, something I feared greatly.
Actually the family that picked us up was very nice and I really appreciated their hospitality and kindness shared.
***This in no means condones hitchhiking, and I still don't like the idea of thumbing it. ***
My fears of people stem from being a girl and being taught for years that I am a target for violence. I don't like the fear that is instilled in women, but I cannot help but harbor those fears at times. This point makes some things very different for me on this trip. John is all to quick to tell people that he is paddling the river, where I am more reluctant. I do not want to loose some of that anonymity that keeps me from being a target. But this whole discussion just does not play out very well in journal form, but there is definitely a different dynamic in how we approach the outside world while on this trip.
Oh yeah. I stood in the coffee bean dispensing/grinding area of the grocery store and inhaled the heavenly smell of coffee. It was a lovely experience.
May 23, 2005 3:51pm Monday Cohasset, MN
It is starting to get warmer and we are considering what we may or may not be able to get rid of clothing and gear wise. John is listening to the NOAA weather radio and cursing some upcoming bad/cold weather. One of the difficult things is that we know we will eventually send some of this stuff home when it is hot, but for now we have to keep it to stay warm. Keeping things means that we must keep packing and unpacking it. Keeping it means that we have to try and keep it dry. Keeping all of the little things that we see in future tense as excess makes us less streamlined and slow. So that is a struggle, but I do not mind keeping things for longer to keep from being cold and miserable.
Speaking of cold and miserable in the past few days we reached and passed the northernmost point on the Mississippi. Once we pass Grand Rapids we will definitely be paddling in a southerly direction. This means we are paddling away from the Arctic Circle. I prefer paddling away from the Arctic Circle in seasons where I know many of my friends are currently rocking shorts. I like shorts and look forward to when I can wear shorts.
As the trip has been progressing I find that I am much more prone to staring off into space. When I catch myself doing it I wonder if I look brain-dead to anyone that sees me. In actuality I am finding that some of the physical world is lass important and I can focus on thinking without being distracted as much.