I was keenly aware that in the space between Coons Rapids Dam and St. Anthony’s Dam, I saw more plastic waste than I’ve seen the entire trip so far. It was astonishing and I had to accept that this trip can’t be about plucking everything out of the river, but just doing my best in camp, and when I happen to float right past something easy to fish out. It’s sad.
Once we arrived in town, we were met by my aunt Jenny and their dog Miles, Jon’s wife Donna, and their grandchildren (my 2nd cousins once removed) Eleanor (7?) and Louis (9). We all enjoyed a delicious picnic of sandwiches on the bank as we watched some coast guard firemen run a drill with their bright red motor boat. Eleanor stared at me the way kids stare at me when I’m in full costume (for dance/contortion) with long fake eyelashes and lots of sparkles. It’s like she was trying to figure out what would be different about someone who was doing something like I’m doing. We totally connected when I asked what she was reading and she told me she was into Ramona Quimby. J
After loading my kayak up, we had a nice drive to Brad and Jenny’s where I did some online banking and took a shower. I’m averaging 1 shower every 6 days. Then we picked Jon up again and headed over to Alyce Louise’s house in St. Paul where she hosted a cookout for me and some other paddlers, Justin Staker, Dave Blomquist and Linnea Goderstad. I was in absolute chill-and-enjoy mode; water with ice, lime-flavored tortilla chips, veggie burger, cozy couch to sit on, interesting people to talk with… Ahhh!! At one point, the other paddlers circled up around me and decided it was time to convince me to take the Atchafalaya River at the end instead of the over-engineered and terribly industrial “Cancer Alley” version of the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. “It’s where the Mississippi wants to go; it’s beautiful bayou, and it’s a rich cultural experience. And it goes to the gulf, so you can still go source to sea that way.” Sold. What a great group of people!
When we got home, I opened a bunch of packages that had been sent to me.
Thank you Mike for my replacement paddle gloves!
Thank you Cari for my bug repellent!
Thank you Ben for my soylent, stove, upgraded first aid kit, and visibility vest!
I started working on uploading some blog posts and re-organizing all the bags and food that I had left at Brad’s from which to reprovision…and promptly decided going to sleep was a better idea.