Thursday, June 4, 2015
High – 84
Low – 65
Skies – Sunny
Winds – Light and variable
I am sitting at one of the best, if not the best, campsites of the trip, if not of all time. As we floated up, three deer greeted as they looked at us and then gracefully ran away. (See Instagram @ separateboats) We felt this was a sign. As we walked up the white sandy beach to select the perfect spot for our tent, we saw deer footprints and droppings everywhere. (We think we can even smell them – even though I never smelled a deer.)
As I sit under the shade of a willow tree with my back resting against a dead log, I can see the kayaks at the edge of the water 120 feet away. To my left I am watching birds bathe in a small basin of water, while John plays his guitar. Behind us, the tent awaits to provide us with a place to lay our heads in comfort for the night. Just beyond the tent is the clothes line, drying our perspiration-moistened clothing of the day and towels from our bath in the river. Who needs all the luxuries of home? (See Instagram @ separateboats)
I remember the campsites early on – especially on the Wabash. First of all, it was very difficult to find place to pull off the river – no sandy beaches to float up on. We had to work hard to get off the river. Second, when we emerged from the kayak, we placed our feet carefully in muck and mire – no sand on which to place our feet confidently. We had to work hard to keep our boots on. Thirdly, it was difficult to find a flat place to set our tent – no soft sand under our beds. We had to work hard to find a comfortable place to sleep. If you had asked me six months ago where we were going to camp, I would have described places like we encountered on the first part of our trip, because that was what I knew. By the end of this trip, I will know first-hand not only the banks of the Wabash, but also the banks of the Ohio and the Lower Mississippi. I know there are many others who have experienced these banks and maybe even stayed at some of the same campsites, but when I think what percentage we are of the population, I am humbled to be among those who have seen these beautiful beaches. Another interesting thought is most people who live only a mile from the Mississippi don’t realize what beauty is here, because they will never see the river from this point of view. I’m one lucky woman!
One thing we discussed today was the sheer amount of wilderness we’ve encountered. We realize that most of our posts and pictures are of civilization and people we’ve met. How misleading we’ve been! In reality, the majority of our time is wilderness areas with few encounters with people (save the periodic tow boats). In fact, since getting on the Mississippi we estimate that greater than 95% of our time is spent with just the two of us in the wildernesses . Few buildings, very rarely a house, few and far between recreational boaters (fishermen). Just John, me, and our boats. Pretty cool.
Today was an early start to beat the heat – it is starting to heat up. After a couple of hours of paddling, we arrived at Tunica, Mississippi (We left the banks of Tennessee and entered the banks of Mississippi today!) at the Fitz casino – it looks like a castle. (See Instagram @ separateboats) Our plans were to stop and fill up our water containers. We were walking up to the casino when Jason happened to walk out the side door toward the office building. John asked if we could use the hose outside the building to fill our containers. He invited us inside to fill them. That definitely was more comfortable than filling them outside. (And we were able to talk with Jason for a while.) (See Instagram @ separateboats)
After placing the full dromedaries in the boat, we walked to the lookout so we could experience the river like most of the population does. Two buoys (one red and one green) bordered the entrance to the walkway. I learned something from the plaque by the entry – the green buoy is called a”can”, while the red one is called a “nun”. This has been a very educational trip. (See Instagram @ separateboats)
After paddling about ten more miles, we stopped for lunch on another beach. As we were preparing to leave, two odd but beautiful butterflies landed near John’s boat. They were certainly not like any we had seen before. Fortunately John was able to snap some photos before they flew away.
(See Instagram @ separateboats)
The river seemed unusually quiet today, until we rounded Ashley Point. Here the descending river narrows and makes a hard bend to the right. We had just passed two northbound tows exiting on the outside of turn and were soon glad we hadn’t met them in the bend. At that point the entire width of the river became as loud and turbulent as class II rapids. We made it through ok and soon enjoyed a more peaceful paddle.
Soon after we stopped at the previously described perfect campsite, we sat on our stools to rest and eat a snack. John used this opportunity (time and cell coverage) to order me a hat with a neck drape. (He is having it sent “General Delivery” to the Greenville, Mississippi post office where we will pick it up along with our food parcel.) We are realizing how important a hat with a neck drape is in this southern sun.
As John was ordering the hat, I was a little bored, so I looked through the few cards he brought to see what he had. I looked at his driver’s license and gasped! Expiration date: June 24, 2015. Yikes! As soon as the hat order was finalized, he quickly searched for Indiana BMV and found he could renew his license on-line. No trying to remember the few hours the office is open, no taking a number, no waiting in line, and no taking a picture. So glad that I “just happened” to notice this. Thank you Lord!
As we lay here in our tent listening to the insects in the forest, we periodically hear a deer snort. With a swamp behind us and the beach out front, it appears we have set up camp on their freeway. They ain’t happy.
Tomorrow Helena, Arkansas to pick up our next parcel and get a couple of days of relaxation. The Quapaw Canoe Company is located there. We have communicated with the founder during our preparation for this trip, as he is certainly the expert on the Lower Mississippi (www.rivergator.org) and are hoping to meet him and/or some of his team. They have already indicated that we can pitch our tent on their property. It will be a change from camping on the beach.
I wonder who we will meet tomorrow.
Thanks for following our adventure. For photos and videos of the events mentioned in this daily journal, check us out on Instagram @ separateboats.
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