The river had been high but is slowely lowering. Two days ago was the first time I actually could see the dikes from the surface of the water and buoys were not fully submerged. Tom and I split up over a week ago and will probably meet up somewhere between St. Louis and Memphis on the Mississippi.
The other day on the river…
I woke up to to yoga on the beach I was sleeping on, paddled to a bar with live folk music for lunch and camped out at a boat ramp after having some fishermen tie up my boat and drag me behind them while carying a net to catch flying carp. I only caught 4 but was probably hit by at least 30. I call it bravery only because I did not tip, otherwise, stupid. But hey, I did it once.
Bill and I laid on a sandbar for hours just reading, only to stop and dance the “robot” at the trains crossing the nearby bridge trying to get them to whistle, 2/5.
I had a construction worker yell from the bridge he was working on “You’re living my dream man!” I paddled to the complexity of the emotion let after those words for hours and simplified it to one thing, amazing.
I broke down and pulled to the bank to call my father and tell him I love him, and that I was proud to be his son.
I fell asleep with mace in one hand and my flashlight in the other only to wake the next morning and find peoples footprints all around my kayak and tent.
I had yet another man, no, overgrown boy say the comment “Well if you see any of those girls don’t be afriad to bring them around here,” after I told them I was trying to raise money for women who have been trafficked into the sex slave industry. One of the moments where you don’t even bother to fake a smile.
I felt like a badass pulling over at a boat ramp in the thunder and rain and throwing my tarp over a Lewis and Clark sign for shelter.
I won $20 on the penny slot machines, making it $90 for the shelter.
I sat at dinner table with a family and talked about all the things we took for granted.
I decided I have seen more than my share of Great Blue Herons and almost posted a sign on my kayak “WANTED: Eclectic Variety of Native Birds”.
I showered with a hose in the basement of a bait house while whistling the happiest tune I know.
I laid with my head towards the mesh door of my tent so I could look at the stars and avoid falling asleep because I realized 2/3 of the trip was over.
Everyday on the river…
I have people tell me I’m living their dream.
I watch the world work around me while I paddle through it.
I fall more in love with the moments.
I feel free.
But now as I sit at this computer I can feel her waiting for me, and for that, I love her.
Reporting from St. Joseph Missouri:
For the record: I have nothing against Aerosmith. I am not such a fan of leaving kayaks (even hidden) underneath a bridge frequented by vagrants (myself included) or ear blasting sound.
After Omaha Charles and I had split for the day intending to camp together. As I drifted I was lucky enough to be hailed by Kyle. He was making an over night trip down to Nebraska City in a small Old Town kayak. With Charles’s directions we arrived at his camp and found him at the local bar (not a quarter mile walk). It was quite the happening place. The next day Kyle took us back to his “crib” where I did maintenance on my always irritating skeg and we were on our way by nightfall.
After Charles and I split for pacing issues (60 mile days, while feasible, is more than I care for) I have been enjoying the scenery of the river. As ever the blue herons are nearly a swarm and I’ve drifted less then 10ft from them. I have had little company except for them. Last night I pulled over in the quickly darkening evening. I had been misinformed on the location of the St. Joe’s Casino and had gone past the last noted campsite. I met Mike and Theresa who were kind enough to let me stay in the yard. They had just gotten back from Chili’s and offered me a whole leftover rack of ribs. The cartoon of a character dropping a rack of ribs down their mouth and pulling it out as just bones is rather apt. Along with an ice cold beer this deeply hit the spot. I thank them again. After allowing rain clouds to pass over in the morning I was on my way down to the town. I pulled out at Terrible’s Casino and had a great buffet. I have since gotten a ride into town and toured 3 museums including the Glore Physiatric Museum which was rather eerie. I once again resupplied on reading material and look forward to visiting a friend in KC.
SAFE, Shelter & Aftercare Inc. partnering with Wings of Shelter Int’l Inc. has opened the first long term shelter in the state of Florida dedicated specifically to female minor age victims rescued out or Human Sex Slavery/ Trafficking. We work with FBI, Sheriff’s Offices, ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement)-who has placed our first 4 girls in our home. January 2010, SAFE house opened its doors as a family style model with House Parents to hold 5 girls at a time. We provide a healthy family model, education, counseling, medical needs, mentoring, while assessing the individual needs of each teen victim trapped in the deceptive, traumatizing crime of human trafficking.The program is designed for a minimum of 9 months stay because restoration is a process. We serve on the Task Force in Lee County, and collaborate with surrounding counties to make a difference in awareness and education of the public to Florida’s shameful reputation of being #3 in human trafficking activity out of the 50 states. We are all custodians of our community. Thank you for your support in our efforts to rescue and restore minor age girls that have been victims of the organized crime of sexual slavery.