Friday, May 15, 2015

Weather conditions:
High – 84
Low – 66

This was another day of firsts….. We reached 600 miles – woohoo. Our first day to be chased off the river because of storms. ! A tow (“tow” is the term used for what we know as a tug) boat captain flashed his lights at us and came out of his wheel house to wave at us.

We started our day at 4:30 again, ate a cold breakfast of granola and milk, and were on the river by 7:00. We wanted to reach Grand Chain Campground before the storms hit. We paddled four miles and began to wonder if the lodge was open since we didn’t see any activity. We called the campground a couple of days ago and knew they were open. We landed on the beach, pulled the boats up a safe distance, and walked uphill (but not pulling the boats!) to the campground and lodge. The campground had several campers, but the lodge was dark and its parking lot empty. We decided to visit the shower house and bathroom first. It was a small fairly new looking building, with two doors marked men and two marked women. I’ve been to a lot of campgrounds – two doors usually means one is a shower and the other a restroom. I opened the first door – definitely a restroom, but no toilet paper. Oh no! So I walked to the other door, expecting to find a shower. Another restroom – also with no toilet paper. Yesterday, we were told there were showers. Upon further investigation, I realized there was a shower on the wall. The shower house was similar to many camper bathrooms – one room does it all. Even though I had solved the shower mystery, I still hadn’t solved my need to use the restroom dilemma. So I walked around the building to find John standing outside waiting on me. His restroom did have toilet paper and plenty of it – three rolls. So I used the men’s – on purpose. (I have used the men’s restroom in Wal-Mart by accident – that’s another story.)

We were curious about the lodge situation, so we walked across the empty parking lot. The hours posted on the door: 10 – 8. Time on John’s watch: 9:00. We walked around the building and saw two water faucets – we needed water. John walked the quarter of a mile to retrieve the three dromedaries (water containers) from our boats.

While John was gone, I walked around the lodge onto a deck facing the river – what a great view. There were up-side down tables and chairs crammed into a corner. I walked around the chairs and looked in the windows. Through several windows, I saw a restaurant. The bar looked well-stocked, but the tables were in disarray without any items (napkins, menu, salt, pepper, candies…. ) on the table. I looked in a couple if other windows and saw hotel-style rooms. On my way back to the front to wait on John, I tried the two water faucets – nothing! John had walked all the way to the boats for nothing.

As I was rounding the corner to the front of the lodge, Nita “just happened to” arrive. It wasn’t 10:00 yet, so I assumed she wasn’t there to open the lodge. I asked her if the lodge was open. She said the small store was open, but most the shelves were bare. In addition, there were a few lodge rooms available to rent. But that was all – the restaurant was not open. The lodge has seen several owners, each not having much luck because the area isn’t very populated. The new owner has started a vineyard in order to make Grand Chain a destination place.

I told Nita we were kayaking through and had stopped to beat the storms and had hoped to enjoy the lodge and perhaps buy some toilet paper. (Toilet paper has become quite an issue.) She used to manage the lodge and was there because her granddaughter was having a graduation party in the dining area tomorrow. She was meeting her daughter there to decorate. So she was able to open the lodge, but, unfortunately, her key would not unlock the store. After I realized I couldn’t get into the store to buy toilet paper, I asked it there was someplace to we could get water. She led me to the kitchen.

In the mean time, Nita’s daughter and friend, Julie and Misty, arrived just as John was walking up. Nita decided she would go home and get some toilet paper for us. While Nita was gone, John and I filled the dromedaries and spoke with Julie and Misty.

After Nita returned, we thanked everyone for their kindness and walked back to the kayaks. It was a beautiful day. Since Grand Chain wasn’t what we had envisioned, we looked at the radar to see when the storms might arrive. It looked like the storms had just missed us and we had some time. We decided to go back to the lodge to charge a few items with their outside outlets. Surprisingly, our cell coverage was the best it has been in several days, so I decided this was a good time to pay bills.

Once the bills were paid, we re-evaluated staying or getting a few more miles in. (four isn’t very many) We could camp down by the water or rent a spot in the campground at the top of the hill and have access to the showers. We decided to move on. We gathered our items and walked back to the boats. (Math question of the day – How many miles did we walk today?)

We paddled another four miles, when the sky started looking a little ominous. John looked at the radar, a storm was blossoming out of nowhere. We quickly paddled to the bank and set up camp just as it started to rain. The rain was short-lived. We were hungry and knew there was another storm on the way, so we had a very early dinner 3:00) of black bean stroganoff and banana pudding. We finished cleaning up and stood by the river watching the barges before we were forced to the tent by the incoming storm. We waved at a captain; he flashed his lights,; we waved again; he came out and waved; John got out our VHF radio and spoke with the captain briefly.

We are now sitting in the tent – I am journaling, and John is napping. It has been storming for over an hour. I can see the mud forming outside the tent as the thunder continues to roll. Storms in the forecast tomorrow also. Who knows, we may be forced to have another day of rest. At least we have water and toilet paper.

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