Tuesday, April 21, 2015
It was the best of times, it was the….,oh wait, that line has already been used before.
Gobble gobble. Apparently the same turkey that was annoyed by the fighting raccoons last night is still on our island, and he is an early riser. He started just before first light and continued pretty much non-stop for the next two hours. Oh well, it sounds cool echoing through the woods and we needed to get up anyway.
The first job was to check on the boats, water level, and flood warnings. It was a good thing we had pulled the boats to higher ground late in the evening or I would have needed to wade out to get them (they are always tied off…just in case). Boats are ok. Check.
The river is definitely higher again with a lot more floating logs and debris (flooding upstream), but manageable and the flood warnings have diminished. River ok. Check.
Now the wind starts. Like the flick of a switch it goes from dead calm to quite windy. The warnings are for 40-50 mph again today.
A cold breakfast of homemade granola full of dehydrated fruits and nuts and bathed in Nido reconstituted powdered milk. LaNae could sell this stuff, as it’s absolutely delicious. Fillip breakfast eaten. Check.
By the time we tore down the tent the wind has reached gale strength. Pretty interesting folding a bunch of ultralight poly in a gale, but we’ve gotten pretty good at it. Tent packed. Check.
Now we pack the boats and push-off into the swollen river full of everything from large trees to blue plastic barrels. All is well.
We come across six more eagles today and two nests, but this occurs on a long straight west-southwest stretch of the river, which is directly into the teeth of the wind. There is very little opportunity to stop paddling and mess with a camera. Attention to detail is warranted here.
The waves were amazingly big at times today for a river. We had gone from simple white caps to two foot rollers that often crashed across our bows and cockpit skirts. To not have skirts on today would have surely meant swamped boats. Well prepared for the rough waters. Check.
We finally turn more southerly and can find a bit of respite from the wind, waves, and spray on the outside bend of the river. It’s about then that we see the tall steeple of the Catholic Church in Attica. A short paddle (10 miles), but as planned since we want a safe place to stay until we verify the river flood crest, which is scheduled for tomorrow AM before making the dash into Covington. That is where we’ve confirmed our next food cache is ready for pick-up. Arrive safely at scheduled destination. Check.
A McDonalds close enough to the river to see our parked boats made a good place to do some on-line work and use a working bathroom (well, LaNae used a working bathroom. I, on the other hand, used the non-working bathroom marked “restroom closed” because the good ole’ boys hanging out at McDonalds told me bluntly, “heck, everybody else is using it you might as well to”. So I did.) Bladders emptied. Check.
A quick email and phone call to the city offices. We wanted to be sure it was ok not only to pitch a tent in their riverfront park for the night, but to see if we could swing behind the trees in the contiguous Ouabache Wildlife Sanctuary in order to get out of this brutal wind. “Sure”, they tell us, as long as we are careful around the newly planted saplings. Secured an approved place to camp. Check.
Here comes a truck and out jumps a gentleman. It’s the Mayor of Attica. His son hiked the AT and he came to welcome us and learn more about our trip. A car pulls up and another gentleman hops out. “Oh, by the way” the Mayor states, “This is Doug, a reporter for the local papers. I took the liberty of letting him know you were here and he would like to interview you. And by the way, I’ve made arrangements for you to have dinner at Robbie’s restaurant and bar tonight”. Dignitaries met, interviews given. Check.
The Mayor returns with Robbie, proprietor of Robbie’s restaurant and bar, the local theatre, Pizza King, and the furniture store. Robbie offers us a night in his rustic cabin on Big Pine Creek. Gracious offer but too much work to tear down and move the boats back upstream. Regardless, we hike over to Robbie’s where we are given a great dinner on the town. Literally. Then Robbie himself swings by our table and asks if he can show us his property on Big Pine Creek and his cabins. We hop in Robbie’s truck after dinner and we take a short drive to what looks more like a state park than a private property. 120′ drop from the top of his highest hill down to clear and bubbling Big Pine Creek. (this is Indiana?) His cabins (yes there are two) are amazing. Hand built log house constructed by him and a friend using old barn timbers. They look 200 years old, absolutely fabulous.
Well I hear our nightly serenade, the train, so it’s time to crash and get some rest for the push into Covington tomorrow. Good night.