Paddling in the heat, on a Saturday near a big city is not my favorite thing to do. The river was crazy with drunk boaters everywhere. So I opted to paddle through the bird refuge above lock #8 rather than staying in the channel, in an effort to avoid some of the traffic. It was beautiful, and I'm glad I did it. It was much less populated with recreational boaters, and I really enjoyed all the bird life. However, on the way out, I got lured out into a channel that didn't actually exist. That is, I saw a red nun buoy, and headed for it, but it was an errant floating nun, one that got loose from somewhere else. So I was stuck in a mad mess of a wild celery and algae patch. I had to paddle really hard to push my way through, each paddle lifting a heavy load of plant matter. I headed for the lock, but it still took me 3 hours to reach it from the time I saw it across the pool. A barge was locking through and another barge was waiting to lock through. I sat behind the 2nd barge, watching a bald eagle and some crows. The eagle was uncharacteristically standing in the water--probably to cool its feet--and taking sips of water every so often too. I usually see them up high in trees, it was strange to see it panting in the river. I feel you, little feathered friend, it's hot out here.
I realized I could paddle around and see if I could maybe lock through between the barges, and guess who I saw? Jake and Julie! They had arrived a couple hours before and were told they couldn't lock through until the barges went through, so they went into the teeny town of Genoa and befriended some folks from a motor boat from Lansing; Kathy, Dave, Amy, and Ben. Jake is one of those people who is unabashed and friendly with everyone. He'll give anything to anyone, and expects the same of others, making him (a self-professed) scavenger. By the time I showed up, Ben had literally given him the shirt off his back, and the others had filled J & J's cooler with ice, beer, and even a venison sausage that Dave had shot. We locked through with this generous party crowd, and, as it was past sunset by the time we locked through, they towed us a couple hundred yards to the nearest beach below the lock. They helped us set up camp, get a fire going, and I had some endearing one-on-one girl time with Kathy who kept asking me about my trip and then telling me about her family (who she clearly is very proud of). She suggested I not date anyone longer than 2 years, and insisted that I keep her bug spray. I accepted both the advice and the spray.
When they left, J & J and I enjoyed a marginal dinner around the fire, super tired from our long, hot day. I took some photos of the power plant across the way, but was surprised at the huge mosquitos and didn't end up taking a photo of the incredibly clear and starry sky.