Friday, May 8, 2015
High – 85
Low – 61
Today started even earlier than yesterday – 3:30 AM – in order to miss some wind, heat, and storms during our 23-mile paddle to Cave-in-Rock, Illinois. My view of seeing 3:30 once a day is the same as seeing 4:30 once a day – in the afternoon. By the end of the day, however, I was very glad we arose at 3:30.
We had granola and milk for breakfast and were on the river by 6:30. Wow, earlier in the trip, we arose at 6:30 because it was cold. Now we are leaving by 6:30 because it is hot.
Our eagle count is down to one today. I’m sure they are still there, but since the river is so large, only one bank can be seen at once, decreasing the probability of seeing the eagles by fifty percent. Another interesting sight was a dredge in the middle of the river. These boats and their accompanying barges are used to maintain the 9′ deep sailing channel needed for the larger ships. This trip has been so educational – where in Berne, Indiana would I see a dredge?
As I predicted yesterday, the barge traffic wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be. The river is so large the barges aren’t even close to us – by the time the wake reaches us, it is minimal. The wakes from a power boat are much worse. John kept in contact with the tugs using our radio, which was also encouraging. It seems that everything others have tried to warn me about has proven to much less than they described.
The wind was calm at the beginning of our paddle and began to steadily increase about five hours into our journey, leaving only one hour in the wind. (So glad I saw 3:30 twice today.)
As we approached Cave-in-Rock, the bank was vertical stone, with houses built right on the edge. This is not an exaggeration, one wrong step off the porch, and……. What a beautiful view – only from the river.
As we rounded the bend, we saw a ferry carrying vehicles between Illinois and Kentucky. While waiting for the ferry to leave the Illinois side of the river, I saw the reason for the town’s name – a cave in the massive rock wall along bank. John radioed the ferry operator and received the OK to land. Docking next to a ferry is a new experience. I wonder how many new experiences will eventually become an ordinary part of our trip?
The main reason we chose to stop at Cave-in-Rock was to pick up our next food package. As soon as our boats were on dry ground, even before putting on the wheels, we checked the hours of the post Office – they closed at 12:30. Time on the watch was 12:50 (Waking at 3:30 didn’t help us this time.) Tomorrow their hours 9:00 -10:15. We can’t miss that small window of opportunity or we’re stuck here until Monday!
As we pulled our boats to the parking lot, the fire department was spraying mud off the parking lot. Apparently, this area was flooded a couple of weeks ago. John talked with the fire chief, Perry, who informed John there was a camp ground next to the parking lot and public restrooms at the top of the hill. Score!
As we were walking to the top of the hill, a man on a four-wheeler told us, as he was passing by, if we want good food to go to Rose’s. Interestingly, David from New Harmony had also mentioned Rose’s. So, of course, we had to check out this establishment (after we found a restroom). We met the owner, Rose, and her daughter, Renee. Rose showed us the display case full of scrumptious-looking homemade desserts. We told them we would be back after we set up our tent.
We went back to the parking lot and pulled our boats to the campground. While we were setting up the tent, Shawn, state park DNR, drove up in a “side-by-side” to deliver a package from Orion. A gentleman from Orion discovered our trip and sent us two complimentary flare signaling kits. These items had to be delivered to us by FedEx via a cooperative DNR officer and not via USPS because they are pyrotechnics. I hope this is one gift we never have to use! (Shawn also informed us we could use the showers at the state campground an eighth of a mile down the road. Score! Now if only we could find a laundromat!)
We had just finished setting up the tent, when the wind picked up and the skies grew dark. With frog togs (light-weight rain suits), iPad, phone and chargers in hand, we walked up to Rose’s Kountry Kitchen for our dessert and coffee. We had just ordered our peach cobbler with ice cream and blueberry cheesecake, (no dehydrated dessert tonight) when it started to rain. (So glad the alarm was set for 3:30.)
We returned from Rose’s and fixed ourselves a dehydrated quick beef stew for dinner. While we were eating, a nearby church was playing hymns over the loud-speaker. Hearing the songs reminded me that I had seen a poster advertising a revival in town. I have really missed going to church. So, after dinner, John walked uptown to check out the possibility of attending the revival. He not only returned with a ride to church, he also arranged to have the electricity turned on in the camp ground. (The electrical outlet is actually in a tree – truly green!)
Perry, the fire chief and previous mayor, provided a ride to the local Baptist church. John informed me later, Perry was responsible for the campground by the river, the OPEN public restrooms, and OPEN public showers. Some other towns need a mayor like Perry.
When we arrived at the church, we were definitely underdressed. However, we were given a very warm welcome. Entering the sanctuary, I was reminded of my childhood. I grew up attending a small country church, which was almost identical to this church, down to the paper fans attached to a wooden handle. (very thankful for them tonight) As I sat in the pew in the back of the church, tears formed in my eyes as I contemplated the impact that small country church had in forming who I am today. Singing the familiar old hymns was surprisingly comforting. The message was very Biblical and very southern Baptist. As a result of the message, we each have a scarlet cord attached to our boats. After the service, we were greeted by many, who were intrigued by our journey. We even signed an autograph! How odd!
After the autograph, we walked back to the tent, retrieved our toiletries bags and walked to the public shower. The shower felt wonderful and we smell so much better! Now if only we could do laundry!
Back to the tent refreshed and to bed. It is 10:30 and I am exhausted. Remember, the alarm was set for 3:30 this morning – 23 miles ago! Tomorrow we are staying here because they are calling for storms and we need to pick up our food between 9:00 and 10:15. Who will we meet tomorrow in Cave-in-Rock?