Sunday, May 22, 2011

Peace, solitude, and two-fifty!

I've come to the conclusion that if you're looking for a little privacy and don't want to be the center of attention then you shouldn't pull into a boat landing in a closed deck solo canoe. Yesterday afternoon I unpacked as no less than five people carried on a conversation with me about my boat, the trip, the river conditions, and "how much fishing have you done?". I guess I can't complain about being lonely!

A strong storm system moved through the area in the middle of the night and I awoke at about 11:30 p.m. to strong winds and lightning all around my the area but nothing too close to the tent. The Dusty and John crew that was sleeping in the open by the river was quickly scrambling to pack up and get out of the incoming rain. I listened to the weather radio and when it was clear that the worst of the weather was far away from my location I rolled over and fell back asleep. It was the best night's rest I've had since I left home.

I awoke at about 6:30 a.m. this morning and was listening to the weather forecast for the day when a chap started talking to me about my trip (I wasn't even out of the tent yet!). Curt is a local that lives about a mile from the Cooley Landing and had come down the evening before to walk his dogs with his wife. He said he had wanted to talk to me then but ran into other friends at the landing and didn't get a chance. He was a real treasure of information about river conditions above and below Cooley, local fishing holes, and the kind of hunting/animals one sees in the area. Evidently, there are a number of large bobcat along the river and every once in a while one either gets hit by a car on a neighboring road or is sighted along the river bank. Something to look for as I float downstream.

Curt had lots of questions about how I'm doing my trip. His key phrase is one that I've heard dozens of times in the last week: "man, I've always dreamed of doing a trip like that." When I started organizing this trip I figured I was about the only person crazy enough to want to do something like this. It turns out lots of other guys share the dream. Funny, I haven't heard any women talk about paddling almost 600 miles in a canoe!

I saw my first other paddlers today. The weather was getting a bit rough just after lunch and I had paused to put on a rain jacket and zip up my spray cover when out of nowhere Dave and Grant appeared behind me. They were in sit-on-top racing kayaks and were doing a training run for the MR360 race in July. They paused long enough to chat and then kicked it in gear and disappeared into the distance. They were both traveling pretty light with just water, lunch, and a life jacket but it was impressive to see how fast they could travel.

Today was a short mileage day with me only paddling 25 miles. I did cross the monumental mark of having paddled 225 miles since I left Nebraska City a week ago. Actually, I've put in 247 miles in just a week. As a result I'll be a member of the 250 Club shortly after launch tomorrow morning. Not too bad considering this is the longest single trip I've ever made by boat.

When I got to Lexington today it was a mad house. Someone up river had told me that the river changes completely on the weekend and now I believe it. When I pulled up to the landing I saw a red school bus with the word "Emanuel Baptist Church" painted on the side. There were some teenage boys standing near the bus so I made the assumption that it was a Boy Scout or church group camping for the weekend. Turns out it was a group of local drunks letting loose on a Sunday afternoon. I unpacked slowly and set up my tent and waited for them to drive off in their red bus and I was thankful I'm not on the road myself this weekend. About an hour after they departed the police drove through and he said they're pretty well known and that he expected he'd be out to their house sometime this evening on a disturbance call. For some reason, I wasn't surprised!

That's about all I have to report today. Tomorrow is another short day, the shortest of my trek at only 23 miles. After that I'll be running about right around 25-30 miles a day for the rest of the trip with only one more long day (Wednesday) that will have me do 36 miles.

Sent from Jerry Bricker's iPad. Oooooh!

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