Alyssum Pohl: Paddle On!
Bill's Eye, August 28, 2015
Alyssum Pohl: Paddle On!
My hosts, Chris and Kathy, were marvelous people. Generous, excited to hear my stories, asking great questions, very engaged with me but also understanding of me needing space to rest and do some internet work. First thing Chris said to me as I pulled in last night was, “have you missed a good Kentucky accent?” (his being thick indeed). It WAS nice to hear. When I arrived, Kathy had made some delicious tabouli salad with mint in addition to cilantro (mmmm), and some ratatoulli to die for. In the morning, she asked if there was anything I’d been craving living on the water. And, well, since she asked…I ventured, “Pad se ew? It’s a thai dish, I’ve been craving it for weeks.” While Winona doesn’t have great options for restaurants, Kathy is an avid cook, and was more than willing to try a new recipe.
We mostly relaxed around the house and I took a four hour nap on the poofy heaven bed (these 30+ mile days really wear me out). So, I didn’t get as much blogging done as I had hoped, but I had a great day of rest. Later, we went for a drive to pick up some stamps and post cards, talk to the folks at the MN Fish and Wildlife, and Big River magazine. The Fish and Wildlife office ladies took great interest in my journey and gave me a ‘hoo rag,’ a tube of fabric that I could use to protect my face from the sun. I was so excited about it (given my terrible sun burn the other day) that they gave me two for good measure. That evening, we ate the pad se ew, and it was SO GOOD. I’m not sure it quenched my craving, though. I just want it more now J. The three of us took a drive up to the top of the bluff for a beautiful sunset view, where we met some of their friends and snapped some photos before heading home to some ice cream and homemade strawberry drizzle.
The following morning, I had to take care of some pressing matters back home involving a printer, scanner—and I was very glad to be in a place that had both! I was interviewed by some folks from the Winona Daily News, and by the time I had finished all my work, it was after noon, and I didn’t think I could reasonably get to the next waypoint in what was left of the day. Kathy welcomed me to stay another night (THANK YOU), so we had time to drive to see the Latsch Island community.
Latsch Island and the adjacent Wolf Spider Island has 100 house boats moored to the edge of the island. You can access them by foot from Latsch Island. Some have electricity, many don’t. Some are lived in year-round, some aren’t. Those that do live there full time have to tote their water, fuel, groceries, etc by foot or by boat to their home. In the winter, you can drive on the ice to replenish what you need, but the rest of the year, you still have to contend with flooding and other issues that make access difficult. As someone who is obsessed with tiny houses they were really cool for me to see. I wish I could have gone inside more of them! I took another (shorter) nap, before we enjoyed a meal at the local golf club restaurant.
Kim Schneider and Jacob Hilsabek of the Winona Daily News came to Chris and Kathy Carroll's place to interview me the other morning. They asked great questions, and I thought they did such a great job of capturing my spirit and goals. It made front page news the next morning.
Winona Daily News, August 13, 2015
Rolling River Science Lab: Woman Kayaking Mississippi to Collect Pollution
UK NOW. University of Kentucky news. July 9th, 2015
UK Alumna Hopes to Break World Record, Do Environmental Work while 'Paddling On' the Mississippi
Lexington Herald-Leader. By Will Wright. July 11th, 2015
University of Kentucky Graduate from Lexington is kayaking the Mississippi River for adventure, research
Today, my sister went to visit Powell County, where we both went to middle and high school in Eastern Kentucky. She just happened to see this article posted in the Clay City Times!
Yesterday I passed my kickstarter goal, and today we're nearly halfway to a good sonde ($1200 above my kickstarter is what I'm hoping for to ensure that I can measure water quality the same way it's been done in the past). Tomorrow night at 11:59pm will be the end of the campaign. I have to keep breathing so I don't cry with joy and astonishment that so many generous people are backing my idea. It's super humbling and amazing.
Now that I know I'm funded, I have begun collecting the things I needed to buy. Namely, my kayak. I chose to get a used kayak in order to be as environmentally friendly (and thrifty) as possible. On Craigslist, I found a 17" 3' Aquaterra Sea Lion Plastic Sea Kayak which I'll be picking up on the 21st up in Minnesota. I'm going to name the boat "Spirit," since I'm going to be recharging my spirit on this journey, and I feel like it's a fitting name for a white boat!
I ordered my solar panel kit today; it's a GoalZero Sherpa 50 Solar Kit, large enough to charge my computer as well as my phone and ipod and has been vetted by all sorts of other adventuresome spirits. I've also picked up a few small things at J & H Lanmark here in Lexington; a collapsible bowl, a tiny flat can opener, folding spatula, and a handheld collapsible pump for my sleeping pad (so I don't hyperventilate every night, trying to blow it up with my lungs). My dear friend Ben is lending me his comfortable sleeping pad and headlamp so my old pad and headlamp don't have to struggle to keep up with the demands of 3 months of camping. Tonight I'll complete an order that will include some paddling-specific items, some dried food, GPS, camp stool, tarp, and dry bags.
Alyssum Pohl is paddling the Mississippi River and documenting water quality and plastic waste along the way.