The short bike ride was a great way to move our legs, get outside for a bit, and remind ourselves how hot it was and that we were both recovering from being sick. We returned to the cottage and rested for the rest of the evening. I made some green beans and soup for Leanne and I; good Get-Well food.
Cindy and Tom took us to breakfast at the Hungry Bear, a diner full of people, but lacking enough service. The company was great, though, and I enjoyed a caramel malt (mmmmm) while everyone waited for food. Tom was called to work—there was some glitch in the utilities at the airport which was no bueno as Hilary Clinton was flying in later in the day. (We’ve been in town when Bernie Sanders visited Muscatine Sept 4th and when Donald Trump visited Dubuque August 25th…I think all the presidential candidates are following us). Cindy drove us around town, showing us the cool snake alley from 1894 and Mosquito Park overlooking the river, and then bought us some groceries! I took a nap as Leanne worked on blogging, and we decided to leave the following morning. Cindy and Tom treated us (AGAIN! They totally spoiled us!) to a take-out Italian dinner. In the morning, we were faced with threats of thunderstorms and flash flood warnings, and Leanne felt awful, so we opted to stay one more day. Mostly, we lay around and watched TV. In the afternoon, Cindy brought us bicycles and we went for a short ride to a park where we fooled around at the skate park, intimidated by the talented kids riding there, but not so much that we couldn’t show off our skillz.
The short bike ride was a great way to move our legs, get outside for a bit, and remind ourselves how hot it was and that we were both recovering from being sick. We returned to the cottage and rested for the rest of the evening. I made some green beans and soup for Leanne and I; good Get-Well food.
After 5 nights at Jared's (THANK YOU!), we finally got back on the river. Leanne and I woke up at 3 something and were on the water by 4:20am. Definitely my earliest start so far. I had decided when I started that I was going to avoid paddling at night if at all possible, but after getting to Aitkin at 11pm early on, talking to veteran paddlers about what makes for good night paddling (calm waters and a bright sky), and getting stuck at the lock as a barge went through last week, I feel less ominous about night paddling. Indeed, the dark-morning paddling is awesome. Everything is flat calm, the crickets and owls are still active, the moon and stars are bright enough to allow your eyes to adjust. I can use the red light on my headlamp to maintain night vision and still warn any other vessels that I'm out there (I haven't seen any other vessels at that time yet, though). As the sun rises, I'm treated to a brilliant vista of clouds and sky colors. Every morning is different, and it's really nice to be on the river at that time. I can get a couple hours of paddling in before the sky is even warm, which, on these hot, humid days is really important. By 9am we've often already paddled 10 miles or more. That means we can take a more leisurely pace as the day heats up, and get into camp after 25-30 miles somewhere between 3-5pm. Getting in to camp so early means we have time to take a river bath if we want, set up our tents, make food (aren't too tired to eat it), and get an early sleep (8:30 or so), so we're rested for the next early morning paddle.
For the past several days, Leanne and I paddled alongside one another. I'm not quite as strong as she is, but she and I have a very similar pace, and she enjoys relaxing just enough to stay at my pace, and having someone to talk to. The first day, we told one another our life stories, or, more accurately, our vet-related PTSD stories (she's a 2x Iraq war veteran, and my PTSD comes from veterinary school) and our reasoning for paddling the Mississippi River. We determined that she's two years younger than I am, so she's going to let me finish 5 minutes before her so I can hold the "Youngest Female Solo Kayaker Source to Sea of the Mississippi River" title for a few minutes before she claims it. She also told me I can tell my friends, 'true, she's younger than me, but she also cheated' because she's been driven past a few sections of the river. We really enjoy one another's company, joking with eachother and telling eachother the long version of every story that pops in our head because we have the time.
We estimated we could average 25 miles a day (150 miles/week with 6 days on and one day off) if we always got early starts and rested well at night. On day 68 we put in 27 miles, including a really fun break at a beach where I found all sorts of crazy plastic trash (a plastic gun, a golf club, etc), and a whole bunch of antique mussel shells with button holes cut from them. Until the 1940s or 50s, mussel shells were harvested from the Mississippi River to make mother-of-pearl buttons. They’d drill holes through the shells and then make buttons from the circles. When plastic became more popular, they stopped harvesting the shells which was good for the mussels, but bad for the fact that now non-biodegradable plastic took its place. It was really cool to find so many pieces of history. I even found one un-cut button! As we paddled to camp, I saw a power structure with more than 40 turkey vultures on it. There are more dead fish now, and I assume this increase in carrion is what supports this much larger population of buzzards. A while later, Leanne and I set up camp at the Izaak Walton League landing where we enjoyed a flat, grassy campsite, and I took a nap. Our river family buddies joined us a while later, and we all realized that the spot was directly next to a railroad crossing. The railroad follows the river on both sides, so we’re never without trains during the night, but the horn is rather intense when you’re right next to it. Somehow, it didn’t seem to bother me when I slept, though.
When Leanne woke me at 3:30am, I was in the middle of sweating out a fever. I was delirious and felt terrible. I requested another hour’s sleep, and she let me sleep til I awoke at 5:30. I still felt sick, but I wasn’t feverish anymore, and I felt like my arms were still able to paddle, and since I wasn’t doing anything else, I may as well get on the water. We had a short day, mostly, I think, because I was feeling poorly. But also because we were easily distracted. As we passed Muscatine, we smelled something heavenly, like French toast or something baking. A brewery? Maybe a sweet-feed granary factory? Anyway, we opted to look for something to fill our bellies that tasted the way the smell smelt. We docked and locked our boats at the wharf, and walked uphill directly to a sweet little diner with AC, wifi, and delicious food. I have felt cold in AC most days since I’ve lived on the river, since I’m totally acclimated to the weather. However, since I’ve been sick, the AC feels amazing. It’s like it gives my body a break from trying to cool down, so that it can focus on getting me better. We hung out for a little bit, then headed back to the wharf, and met J & J on the way! They had stalked Leanne using an iPhone app that shows where Leanne is to find us. As we left, they headed in to repeat our awesome idea J. Between a couple islands next to Muscatine, Leanne and I found a collection of handmade rope swings and water slides into the river. Leanne got out to try them, but the water slide was too dry and ended in the mud instead of the river, and the rope swings were too tall for her to reach. And I was too sick to try them myself. So we found the next spot to camp (only 12 miles total), just downstream of the Monsanto factory.
I felt better on day 70, and we put in a solid 29 miles. At one point, Leanne and I decided to see how fast we could paddle for an hour—we did our best mile yet, covering 5 miles during that time! I like how Leanne pushes me and encourages me. We ducked behind an island to get to the landing where we were going to camp, and were telling stories. All of a sudden, I broke off—“Listen! What is that? Is there a waterfall?” We saw a large motor boat gunning its engine toward us and not moving, and then realized it was trying to move up a set of rapids. When we realized there were rapids, we didn’t have time to think much about it. We shot the rapids—Leanne had a fun boost to her speed, but I got stuck on a rock. It was only momentary and everything was fine, but I missed the fun boost in speed! As we turned the corner, we passed several houses on stilts. When we arrived, hot and sweaty, Leanne and I set up our tents, did some planks, and then jumped in for a swim! It was the first time I’ve submerged myself in the river, and it felt marvelous. The current was swift. I soaped up and enjoyed the cool, then hung my clothes to dry and made myself some dinner. A couple in a john boat pulled over and chatted with us for a while. The husband said he’s built most of the john boats in the area over the past several decades. They have one of the houses on stilts as a weekend/summer house and spend as much time there as possible. They offered us a beer, and headed home. Jake and Julie arrived, hung a laundry cord, and we all joked and carried on before sleeping.
On day 71, Jake and Julie got an even earlier start than Leanne and I! They tend (like me) toward the 10am start, so I think they just wanted to prove to themselves that they could get going earlier. Especially since they like arriving to camp early, and it gets dark at 7:30 instead of 9:30 like it did when we started, getting an early start really helps to maximize one’s enjoyment of camp in the evening. At every hour, Leanne has an alarm set to remind us to take a break. We stop paddling for a moment, drink some water, eat a snack if we want, and she smokes a cigarette. We stopped for a break and I ate some oatmeal since I hadn’t eaten in camp. When we were finished, we pulled away from the beach, we both got stuck in the sand and had to pull ourselves off the sandbar. As we were getting unstuck, we missed the fact that our friends Jake and Julie were catching up to us—they had stopped less than an hour after leaving camp to find coffee and breakfast, and had already fallen behind us! We had a good laugh, and a great paddle with all four of us bantering and suggesting funny video topics for us to make in the future. We passed lots of bird blinds, some under construction before we approached (and barely beat a barge to) lock #18. On the other side, we took another little beach break, resting out of the heat. J & J left, Leanne and I followed. We rested in the shade near some barges, where a big pontoon, self-proclaimed “Texas All Day,” pulled over to chat, and offered us peanut butter sandwiches and beer! Just a few moments after they pulled away, Leanne vomited, probably a combination of getting sick and heat exhaustion. So we stopped at Big Muddy’s in Burlington to finish some blogging, re-hydrate, and enjoy some AC. We planned on staying there through the rest of the heat, and then continuing at night for another 10 miles or so.
While we were at the restaurant, one of the followers of the Mississippi River paddlers facebook page noticed we were in Burlington and offered aid if we needed anything. I wracked my brain and realized we did need some crucial supplies for the fun our river family had just planned: we needed marshmallows and a white board. Kyle S. was super awesome and arrived not too much later with just those things! We laughed at how random our requests were, but were truly thankful to Kyle for helping us find these items without needing to leave the river. Just then, a woman named Cindy overheard our conversation, explained that her son is biking the entire west coast, and offered a place for Leanne and I to stay, as a sort of pay-it-forward karma thing for all the people helping out her son. My head said that staying in Burlington wasn’t our plan, but my heart said it was important to take advantage of this generosity and opportunity to actually finish the blogging we set out to do. So we accepted, and drove with Cindy and her husband Tom to their super cute bungalow. They had recently moved to a new house, so Leanne and I had the old house all to ourselves. Tom and Cindy showed us the leg massager, the hot tub, the laundry, and our beds, and left the place to us. Leanne and I quickly jumped into the hot tub to soothe our aching muscles, took a blessed shower after several yucky sweaty days, watched some bad TV in bathrobes (well satisfied), and slept very well in our cozy beds.
Leanne Davis is another solo female kayaker who started just a day after Jake and Julie. The three of them paddled together for the first month of their journey before Leanne left the river for a wedding and Jake and Julie caught up to me. Leanne went to high school in the Quad Cities area, and hooked us up with her highschool buddy Jared Mullendore who has been one of our favorite river angels so far. His grandparents' old house is right on the river and is where he lives with A.J., another of Leanne's highschool buddies. Ever since we arrived, Jared has been chill, welcoming, fun, and bright. Rather than having to be a spectacle, it's been super comfortable here to just relax, gather our strength and reserves and rest up. Jake was feeling sick when we got here, and now I'm sick too (just a head cold). It's been amazing to have had a place to work on my blogs and rest. THANK YOU Jared!!!
We arrived on Friday, late afternoon. It had felt amazing to sleep in at Camp Hauberg. It was a chilly morning, and I got to enjoy a warm breakfast brought to us by the camp owner, and then snuggle back down into my sleeping bag. We paddled the 13 miles down stream to Bettendorf in a leisurely fashion, and when we arrived, we took showers, started some laundry, I settled in to do some work on my computer and Julie enjoyed watching TV. We had planned on going to the baseball game or to the music festival, but it was rainy and we felt like resting instead. We hung out with Jared when he returned from work, and it was really nice.
Saturday, we had a large breakfast. Leanne, who had been paddling like a mad woman for several weeks to try to catch back up to Jake and Julie, got a ride with Jeremy (yet another highschool) friend to come hang out with us for the day. After so long of messaging each other on Facebook and hearing stories about her, it was great to meet her! We all went for icecream to start the day off right. Then, at the festival, I brought my computer to work on my journal entries. A lot of the day, I sat at the back of the festival at the tent they had set up for young (middle and highschool) bands. I thought it was awesome they had that! There were blues, metal, reggae, jazz, and ska bands. Some were better than others, but it was rad to have youngsters playing (mostly very well!) for us! Jake has determined that the best thing to do in all situations is to tell our story. Because when people hear our story, they often want to help out in some way. At the festival, he went to buy dinner, and he told his story to the ladies there who insisted on loading him up with ribs, pork, and all sorts of comfort food. Enough for 4 people! Later in the evening, I wandered back to the main stage with J & J and we found Meredith (our river angel back in Dubuque!) with her mom and sister. We enjoyed listening to the darling Kacey Musgraves, and then stuck around for enough Yonder Mountain String Band to say we finally heard some bluegrass. The mandolin player was on fire, but we were pretty sleepy.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are a blur. I felt sick, and spent most of my time working on cleaning out the caches on my computer and updating my blogs. We had several good meals in there, and watched a bunch of television. In the meantime, Leanne had returned to her boat and caught up with us for real. So now our river family is four! The plan is to leave here (for real this time) at 4am and have a long paddle tomorrow. I still feel cruddy so we'll see. But I'm grateful to have had a place to chill while I felt sick.
We opted to do a less strenuous paddle today and finish the last 10 or so miles to the Quad Cities tomorrow morning. In the past, paddling 30 miles or more was really at my limit. I could do it, but then I'd need to rest a couple days. In the past 3 days I've paddled an average of 29 miles/day and I feel good. I mean after 3 days of these long days, I'm sore and ready for a more chill day, but I'm feeling stronger than before.
We opted to pull into Port Byron, Illinois to Camp Hauberg, a spot mostly inhabited by RVs. When I arrived, there was a couple walking their pekingese from the comfort of an electric golf cart. The owner was super sweet--she offered us a spot on the grass, brought us some firewood, and brought us breakfast in the morning! Jake is an Eagle Scout, so we met with some fans of his who are also into scouting, Robin and Jim. The five of us had dinner across the river in Le Claire IA at a restuarant called Sneaky Pete's. After 3 long days, we were all very sleepy, and we headed back to the campsite right after dinner. I crashed in my tent and immediately fell asleep--apparently missing the campfire J & J built.
In Dubuque, we learned of a music festival in the Quad Cities. 100 miles away, in three days. So we decided to push ourselves and try to get there in time. Yesterday we successfully paddled 29 miles, and today we put in 31. I pushed hard this morning so we could reach Savanna by 2pm, where a woman named Pam Brown, from the Savanna Chamber of Commerce met us at the municipal dock and shared lunch with us.
The 2nd half of the day I took more leisurely, falling behind J & J an hour or so. Once we reached the lake-like pool above the lock, the current was still, and I was distracted, taking photos of the moon, the pelicans, and the lovely sky as the sun started to set. I realized I wasn't going to make the lock before sundown and opted to camp on the the nearest island, however uncomfortable it might be. I bee-lined over to the nearest island, a pile of rocks, and was delighted to see so many white egrets and pelicans roosting in the trees. I circumnavigated the island, looking for a decent spot to pitch my tent for the night, but it was all rock except for one very steep, very tamped down area on the north end of the island, which was covered in guano and ghastly huge dead pelican corpses everywhere. It smelled so bad. The sun had already set, and I had gotten a text from Julie that they had locked through, set up camp, but that there was a large barge locking through northbound that would mean I'd have to wait a few hours before I could lock through. In addition, a small barge passed me going southbound. I was in a pickle. Stay on this horrendous rocky, bird-poop-filled island and risk some sort of upper respiratory disease from the stench and airborn dust of the dead pelicans and guano? Or paddle at night like I said I never wanted to do, face waiting for a lock for several hours to meet up with Jake and Julie? I figured it was probably safer for me (on this flat, moonlit night) to paddle in the dark, and wait out the barge.
Paddling at night was peaceful and tranquil (except for my nervousness at doing it without proper running lights). I had a headlamp, and I made sure to stay just outside the channel until I reached the lock to try and stay out of the way of any traffic. There was no traffic except the southbound barge in front of me, so that was lucky. When it neared the lock, it anchored for the night, and was no longer a navigation threat. I was much further from the lock than I realized, so by the time I reached the lock, I only had to wait 30-40 minutes for the northbound barge to lock through. There were so many moths under the lamppost that it looked like it was snowing. The lockmaster had a lovely handlebar mustache and joked that I should hitch a ride from my faster friends next time. As soon as I got through, I saw the lovely warm orange glow of a campfire that Jake had built, and dove for it. I arrived to camp around 10pm, tired, cold, a little wet, and hungry. Julie boiled some water for ramen on the campfire for me, I was able to dry and warm myself by the fire, and I was never so happy to have my river family friends there to greet me as I came in. The site was sandy but flat, and spacious. They had seen a beaver earlier, and there were raccoon prints all over the place, so we were extra careful to put away our food.
I'm going to tell the story of today with photos.
Photos speak for themselves. The museum is marvelous. Very interesting exhibits. We spent several hours there.
People often wonder, “Aren’t you scared?” Especially as a lone female, they intone. I wonder, in return, what is there to be scared of? The elements can be fierce, and in the face of storms and high winds, all one can do is keep one’s head on straight: remember to pull over or wait it out if you can when things get out of control, always wear a life vest, use the full spray skirt to keep from getting swamped in rough seas. Animals are another potential worry, though I have always loved the company of animals over people any day. I’m half kidding. Of course one should be prepared to fend off a bear (mace), hide one’s food from marauding raccoons, deal with biting insects, and so on, but the benefits are that I get to listen to owls and crickets at night, I get to enjoy cicadas all day long, and watch eagles soaring and hunting. I see the occasional otter or beaver, and all sorts of bird life. The largely unspoken fear is that I’ll be murdered or raped. Clearly, those would be unfortunate demises. But I rarely think of them and this is why: I figure I’m just as likely (probably more likely) to deal with the same scenario in a place where a vicious human has access to watching my patterns, AKA my home. More than that, these scenarios are statistically unlikely, and I’m not interested in clouding my brain with unneccessary worries. I took a self-defense class before I left, which was empowering and illuminating (thanks Patty!) Because people mention it so often, I have thought about it, and conclude that if I end up dead, well, at least I will have lived well. If I end up raped, well, that would suck, but at least I’m still alive and can keep on going on.
This morning I was thinking about the question, “What AM I scared of?” I had a nightmare that reminded me that the three biggest fears in my life (my parents getting divorced, being cheated on, and my house burning down) are all things I’ve experienced and lived through. It sucks living through a nightmare. But on the other side is the rest of your life. And nightmares are rarely personal attacks. It’s usually the issues of another person that cause them to arise. As long as you are living your life the way you believe is the best way to live it, then even nightmares can’t bring you down. They may shake your core, but they provide the opportunity to prove one’s fortitude. “Character building,” they call it.
I see so many people living their lives based on fear. I don’t understand the mentality. Ever since I was a kid and my parents sold their house and bought an old sailboat and took my sister and I sailing for a year, I’ve heard people say, “I wish I could do that” in regards to living a life that involves significant exploration and living outside the norm. When I ask people what’s keeping them from quitting their jobs and going off to explore, it becomes clear that money is a huge deciding factor. Or, more precisely, the notion of safety and comfort. What people don’t often realize is that it’s a decision they have made. Simply, their priority is semblance of safety net over living the life they dream of. In a conversation with Leanne, another paddler, who pointed out, "What's the opposite of Fear? It's Faith. It's about control. If someone doesn't have control, they can either chose to fear the unknown, or they can have faith in the unknown."
Where are you on the spectrum? What do you fear? What would happen if you let go of control and had faith in things working out instead of fearing the possible outcomes? How would your life change?
We were looking forward to today, wondering if the weather forecast would stay true: still 30 mile-an-hour winds, but coming from the NW instead of the south. Indeed, the forecast was accurate. I paddled just 2 miles today. But, I SAILED THIRTY MILES with my UMBRELLA (Brief video on my instagram account). Once I was in the channel, I popped up my umbrella, and held tight to the edges. My arms were very sore from the past two days of paddling hard against the wind, and the break from paddling was welcome. Still, holding the umbrella wasn’t a breeze! I had to hold tight to the fabric, and holding my arms out wide to maximize windage area of the umbrella took a lot of endurance.
At one point, the wind gusted and blew my beloved straw hat off my head. I flailed and freaked out. My umbrella was carrying me quickly away from the hat. As I tried to close the umbrella, it blew backward and broke one of the stays. I feverishly paddled in a circle, fighting the strong winds to get back to my hat, floating sadly on the surface. I got close enough to the hat to reach it with my paddle, reached desperately to sweep it closer to me, and only succeeded in tipping it upside down and pushing myself away from it again. I was afraid that it was going to sink—I had to get back to it as fast as I could! Kayaks do not pivot. They have a very wide turning radius, and in such strong winds, turning around and succeeding in intercepting a wind-blown, half sinking straw hat is super difficult. I was grunting and furrowing my brows, pleading, “No, no, no, no, no—“ and finally got back to it, grabbed it greedily from the water and tied it tight to some deck rigging to dry it out. Heart racing, I was so happy to be reunited with my straw hat and with the silk scarf! I’ve lost it twice now! And recovered it twice!
I reached lock #11 just as a large barge was locking through, so I paddled over to the holding bay and enjoyed checking Facebook for 2 hours while I waited (Yay, back in 4G network land—it’d been several days). J & J caught up and we all locked through with some motor boaters, Chuck, Carrie, Jerry, and Joyce. They gave J & J some beer, and exclaimed about how brave and interesting we were. They offered us showers and dinner at the Yardarm, the restaurant in Dubuque attached to the marina. On the paddle in, I saw my first beaver! I was so excited, I excused myself from the group to float next to the rodent and photograph it. Once docked, we enjoyed a fun evening at the Yardarm, and a nice warm shower.
The owner told us to just camp there that night, so Julie and I searched for an appropriate spot for our tents. The area was almost entirely gravel parking lot, and we didn’t want to get run over or take any space from paying customers, so we settled on the only flat spot that seemed out of the way: behind the dumpster. We are truly river rats now—being dumpster rats didn’t even phase us.
We had two days back to back with strong headwinds, one day clocking steady 17 mile an hour, one day clocking 23. Both days, gusting to 30 miles an hour, which is gale-force (40-50 mph can breed small tornados). There were moments where I was paddling my heart out and wasn’t moving forward an inch. All day long, I felt like a paddling warrior, gritting my teeth and pushing to make any headway. We only made 11 miles one day and 12 the next, paddling eight hours or more each day. I tried to stay along the shore as much as possible, to stay in the small sliver of river where the waves cancel themselves out as they crash into the shore and relax the nearby water. I sometimes had to pull over to hold on to a rock for a few minutes as a strong gust might have blown me backward. I saw a groundhog there, and I saw a deer munching on wild celery; both welcome breaks in my otherwise hyperfocused days.
Wind-swells in one direction, swells from the wakes of motorboats cross-hatching them. My little kayak doggedly navigating these plaid patterns of bouncing water. My full spray skirt helped keep splashing water from swamping my boat all day long. At one point I had to cross the channel. I put on my brave face, held my breath, and dug in, one difficult, strong stroke after another. Crossing the mile-and-a half channel took over an hour, and there were several gusts of wind and strong waves that nearly toppled me. Close calls. Reasons to keep going strong and stay focused, in the zone.
After the first day, I was pleased to make camp in Clayton, Iowa where I saw J & J waving to me from the deck of a riverside bar and grill. Once I figured out where to dock my kayak, I joined them, changed into some dry clothes, and collapsed at their table, bewildered by the day’s intensity. The couple at the table next to us said they had watched me crossing the channel, had passed a few times to make sure I didn’t tip. I hadn’t noticed, I was so focused. They were very interested in our journeys and impressed with our tenacity that day. They paid for our dinner and drinks before they left. It nearly brought me to tears to have someone do that for us. So sweet. We camped behind the bar near a USGS river gauge box. Locals drove by our tents for a few hours, staring at us. I decided that I’d get an earlier start the next morning in an effort to enjoy a couple hours of low wind before it picked up.
Indeed, I woke up at 4:40am, broke camp quickly with my headlamp, joined some fishermen on the dock as I packed up my kayak, and I was on the water by 6am. The morning was still and the sunrise was lovely, but it didn’t last very long before the wind was crazy again. Still, because I had such an early start, I was able to paddle 8 hours and make camp by 2pm, just past lock number 10 where a bunch of Amish fishermen sat on the downstream side, staring at me as I passed Guttenberg. I found a good camping spot just past a grassy knoll and an eagle nest. I put my soaked clothes out to dry, set up my solar collector to recharge my battery, set up my tent, texted Jake and Julie to let them know where I had found a good campsite, and I crashed for a nap in my tent. When I woke up, a little over an hour later, J & J had arrived. Jake was building a fire in his boxers, cooking one of his famous meals. I took his suggestion and coated a potato I had in river mud, and stuck it in the coals for an hour while Julie and I watched a movie (!) on her phone. She made popcorn for us over the fire, and when the potato was ready, I dug it out—the mud had baked into a clay oven, and broke cleanly off the potato which was perfectly cooked and moist. I used some coconut oil and pink Himalayan salt and enjoyed the deliciousness. I spent the rest of the evening gathering drift wood and adding it to our fire. Jake and Julie are marvelous companions. We lovingly refer to one another as “river family,” and are all very chill, very encouraging, enjoy laughing, self-deprecating jokes, and good food (though they do make fun of me for eating cold, salty oatmeal every morning).
Alyssum Pohl is paddling the Mississippi River and documenting water quality and plastic waste along the way.