March 30, 2017 (I Wrote this with a Number 1 Pencil.)

March 30, 2017

Weather conditions:
High – 67
Low – 48
Skies: Strong storms 80%
Winds: SSW 15-25 mph

Miles traveled: 0 miles (weather day)
Total miles: 200 miles
Where we are: Bird Island MMRM0 (RBD)

My river view this morning:

We are here again today because of the potential for storms and wind today. What a gift to view this important confluence in my life from a different perspective. On our previous trip, it represented a beginning—the Lower Mississippi. I just thought of this—we went down the Wabash and Ohio to reach the Mississippi. When we reached this area, the major and probably scariest part of our trip began. This year, this area represents a completion—the Middle Mississippi, leaving the Upper Mississippi (1200 miles) yet to be completed. (perhaps in a couple of years)

The Middle and Lower Mississippi differ in size and are treated as two separate rivers in the case of the navigation mile markers. The Middle Mississippi mile markers begin at 0 at the confluence with the Ohio and count up. The Lower Mississippi’s begin at the same confluence at 954 and count down.

Mike takes a dutch oven kettle full of bacon off the fire, dumps the grease on the flames, and returns with an omelet in the same kettle. Boyce pours more coffee into his blue cup. I have a feeling we may go through a lot of coffee today. The clouds, fire, and atmosphere create a coffee kind-of day. Water is heating to purify it and then poured over the coffee grounds—more cowboy coffee.

The omelet has just become scrambled eggs—the fire was too hot causing the omelet to cook too quickly. Pieces of blueberry bread cut in half accompany the eggs. Peanut butter sits close by as an optional spread.

Blue sky and a couple of white wispy clouds peek through a circular break in the dark clouds. The sight gives me hope. In life, our circumstances may seem dark and heavy, and about to give way to rain. Then, a brief hole appears reminding me that the blue skies and light fluffy clouds (hope) still exist beyond the circumstances, even though they can’t be seen.

Our resident chef, River, preps a pork loin by rubbing it with olive oil, coconut oil, and a pepper, sea salt, turmeric, cumin, and garlic combo. The next steps: place in a dutch oven; pour soy sauce on the bottom; place by the fire to cook slowly all day. No-paddling-day food is awesome.

Since we won’t be on the river today and our water supply is mediocre, River places a ginger root in boiling water—voilà, ginger tea. Healthy living.

Mike asks John how to use a hair tie to put his lengthening locks in a ponytail. That’s all I have to say about that.

The wind picks up and the air cools. I am going to brush my teeth before the rain begins.


The impending storm missed us. So far, all the questionable weather has circled around. Although we haven’t felt a raindrop here on Bird Island, if we had ventured down the river, we would have paddled into the storms. This has definitely been a safe haven.

The river rose last night causing the butt of Grasshopper to be in the water. Another example of the importance of tying off!

Magique, our videographer, interviewed John and me while focusing on our previous expedition. He is filming the Rivergator Celebration Expedition for a documentary. He said every one of us on the trip are the folklore—the tributaries to Rivergator. I love sharing our story.


2:15 p.m.

John and I are finding refuge in our tent to escape the storm that finally found us. Thunder starts as an occasional rumble in the distance and becomes a more frequent roll. Tree limbs crack and fall, sounding like the entire forest is collapsing. A wild turkey gobbles his annoyance each time the thunder makes its presence known. Turkeys make me laugh. A few raindrops bounce off the rain fly. The wind howls louder and louder. The front approaches like a train. The air cools dramatically—almost like opening a wilderness-sized refrigerator. The sprinkles become a drizzle and steadily increase to a downpour.

Now that the storm is here, its intensity isn’t as brutal as the approach was. Am I getting used to the sounds of the storm—becoming my normal so to speak?

The rain intensifies. I become concerned about the tent leaking. The wind blows sheets of rain at the tent.

I haven’t seen any lightning yet.

I am glad our laundry is dry and stored in the tent. John sleeps beside me while I journal. This is a repeat scenario of many previous times spent in the tent during storms. Some of my favorite times.

The wind continues to intensify and the lightning begins to flash. We may be here a while.


At about 3:00 p.m., John said, “Who turned on the lights?” Without my realization, the sky had lightened, the rain had stopped, the thunder had moved on, and the birds had come out of their hiding places. It’s easy to miss changes when not paying attention.

Another group effort to pull Grasshopper onto still higher ground.

After our dinner of pork loin, Dennis provided the reading from the book of Twain Life on the Mississippi, chapter 1. Tomorrow night, our last night, John and I will have the privilege.

Another expedition start tomorrow morning—5:00 a.m. coffee, 6:00 a.m. breakfast, and 7:00 a.m. push-off. Good night.