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.
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.
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.