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.