Friday, July 13, 2012

Mississippi River Canoeing, Part 3: River Boys.

At the end of week two we meet a district manager for a chain of pawn shops.  After he had a few beers he decided to come talk to us about our trip. We chatted with him and Stephen played him some tunes on the banjolele. He decided that we were "River Boys," which he yelled loudly to us in the middle of the night. It was an interesting title but it might have been a good fit. I'll try give you some idea of what our life was like when we were not paddling.
Cooling off on a hot day.
When the day got hot we liked to spend our time in the river. We would float down river with the current,  swim back to the beach, run back to camp and start all over again.
Morning paddling
Going to bed to this every night was amazing.
Almost every day was different depending on where we camped, the weather we faced, and how many miles we did, but if there was an average day this would be it:

4:00 am: Wake up, make breakfast, take down tents, pack the canoe.
5:00 am: Paddle.
9:00 am: Second breakfast, then paddle. (Just a snack and a 20 min. break.)
12:00 am: Lunch, nap. 
1:30 pm: Paddle.
4:30 pm: Snack break, then paddle. (Just a snack and a 20 min. break.)
5:00-8:30 pm: Find and set up camp, make supper, repair things.
10:00 pm: Try to be in bed.

We ate five times a day to get enough calories and keep up our energy. Regardless, by the end of the trip all our clothes got very saggy and loose.
Tasty mix of rehydrated vegetables, summer sausage, milk power, and a bit of salt and pepper to trick us into thinking there was no sand in our food. 
Some tasty mulberries which grew in great abundance along the river.   Andrew ate maybe 5 gallons of these on the trip. 
Tasty mac+cheese with milk power to make it creamy.
Fighting extra strong winds and crazy waves for the first half of the week had left us at the verge of exhaustion when we met a fisherman by the name of Jacob. We had a lovely chat with him.  He told us that he had not dared to take out his 24 ft. motor boat with a 75HP engine because of the waves that he had just seen us fighting in our canoe. After a bit more chatting he told us where to find a good beach, and offered to give us a 3 ft. flat-head. Which was very generous even though we had no proper tools to clean it. Nor had either of us done it before. But we had agreed never to say no to anyone who wanted to help us so we ended up with a huge fish. After eating the same food over and over again it was great to get other food.
Our Flat-head supper.
 We ate it for lunch and supper!
Andrew watching the fish fillets roasting over a bed of coals.
The tiniest island we every slept on. I'm standing right near the one end. 
On the sinking sand island we started joking about how sand was everywhere, and we decided that it was best described by the five stages of sand thanks to the Kübler-Ross model.

The five stages of sand:

Denial – "Sand is not a problem." or "I like sand."
Anger – "I hate sand in my food" and "Why so much sand in my tent"
Bargaining - "Fine. I have sand on my feet and hands, but it's not in my cup or in my sleeping bag"
Depression - "There is sand in all my food, clothes, gear, and all over me."
Acceptance – "No big deal, I haven't showered this month either"

It might be hard to understand why a little sand can be so irritating but think that our tents were our homes for the month, our sleeping bags our beds, and, well, food is food.
Andrew setting up the stove.
The fish that jumped into our boat. Andrew is trying to flip it out with his paddle but we had to grab it and chuck it out.
It the space of a few days we had quite the adventures with jumping fish. One maybe 3ft-long fish jumped over the front of the boat just missing Andrew.  Just 20 minutes later a huge fish jumped in front of me, right over the canoe soaking me and leaving a fishy smell for hours.
The Arch after 642 river miles and 25 days 
Of all the names we where called, and there were many (including angels by a baptist pastor who asked us to give a good report to his dad when we got back up there), I think the name I would be most proud of would be brother. During all the challenges we faced it was great to having a brother facing them along side of you. Beaches would have seemed more lonely and the sun sets less vivid, without having someone to share them with. Andrew said it best after coming back from a float while I was busy reading. "Floats just aren't as fun when you're alone." I would not have wanted to do this adventure with anyone else.  

 It was great to see so many amazing things and face so many challenges together especially as we could do it as brothers.    

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing about your adventure!! So exciting to see your pictures and read your stories. I loved the fish jumping into the boat and all the berries that you guys ate haha :D

    ~ cousin Kristina