Friday, June, 19, 2015
High – 91
Low – 73
Skies – Mostly Sunny with afternoon thunderstorms
Winds – SSW 10-20
“I have no fear of that which I’m familiar”.
I came up with that while we were passing a large towboat pushing a massive line of barges this morning. It was at that time LaNae and I both realized that the tows (which we still respect and stay immensely aware of), are just not a big deal. The reason? We are familiar with them. This is the opposite of the thoughts than run loose in my mind at night in the tent, when I’m conjecturing what “might be” as we face the next 400 miles of our trip.
We went to bed last night to extremely calm and quiet conditions. We could look out over the river as the sun set and notice its glassy smooth appearance, despite the visually obvious rapid current causing a jumble of logs and entire trees to go racing by. As I laid awake in the tent, I was praying and planning for the decision that would need to be made. The river was swollen and the banks are shrinking. Sand bars that previously extended into the river have all but disappeared as the water now flows into the trees in many places. Additionally, the heavy rains up north are causing the gage predictions from here to New Orleans to reach flood stage in the coming days. Do we continue on? Do we find a place to lay over until the waters crest and then recede? Do we end our trip here? These I fear because …”I am unfamiliar”.
I woke at about 3:00 am to wind roaring through the trees and a heavy wake slapping into the shore. A quick glance at the radar showed the trailing bands of tropical depression Bill steaming over our location. Thus the wind!
We cooked breakfast, broke camp, and then shoved off. It always feels good and reassuring to get back on the water. The thoughts of what might be are quickly replaced with the alertness to our surroundings and the comfort of
“…that which I’m familiar” . Still, the swollen and rising waters reminded me of a decision to be made.
After a twenty-mile paddle, we arrived at Vicksburg and then worked our an additional two-miles up into the Yazoo River to a nice public ramp. We were greeted by levee wall murals and a shaded bench on which to rest. A text to Layne Logue and a “be right there” response indicated we would have transportation that would not require deploying the dolly wheels. (See Instagram @separateboats)
Layne is outgoing, personable, knowledgable about the river, and a bit of a historian. He helped us load our boats and then off to a local eatery for some lunch.
Driving down the brick streets through town I noticed a small, privately owned, music store. I know Layne plays guitar, so it wasn’t hard to convince him to stop. This place has been here a long time and, being in the heart of the Delta Blues scene, is really cool. Michelle, the owner, greeted us and showed us some of the photos and memorabilia of famous people she has met and/or have visited her store. Willie Dixon was from Vicksburg and visited every year. Likewise, she had photos taken with BB King as well as autographed guitars. Layne then whisked us off to the Civil War Memorial, where I learned how significant Vicksburg is and how ignorant I am of that part of American history. What a treat.
After unloading our gear and showering back at Layne’s, it was back into the city for a rooftop dinner at the recently opened 10 South restaurant. Everyone knows Layne and it was like hanging out with a celebrity when we walked through the door. While there, Layne introduced us yo a retired Core of Engineers top brass with whom his father used to work, as well as PBS reporter, whom we will be visiting with again tomorrow evening at a cookout. We have a social calendar!
Dinner over, and tired from a long day, we made our way back down to the street where Layne again met someone he knew. It was the Mayor of Vicksburg. (See Instagram @separateboats) Of course! Another Mayor! (If you’ve been following our daily journal you’ll realize that we have met quite a few Mayors along the way). The Mayor was a real people person and obviously well-liked in the community, as was made evident from passerbys who yelled hello to him as they drove past.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
The next day I awoke in a soft bed (seventh time since April 1) about 4:00am and sent an email off to John Ruskey, laying out my understanding regarding options on dealing with the flooding. John, “River Gator”, Ruskey is the paddling expert on this river and I (everyone) respect(s) his council.
When we were up and dressed we enjoyed a home-cooked breakfast courtesy of Layne’s parents. (See Instagram @separateboats)The amazing part is that Layne’s father Louis is retired Core of Engineer’s top brass. Are you kidding me?! I’m able to get my council from one of the chief Mississippi River decision makers for the past 25 years?!?
During the night, I had felt I had been given the right decision. A gracious email reply from John Ruskey, as well as affirming words from Louis sealed the deal. We can handle the rising water levels, rushing currents, difficult exits, and massive drift. We are going to stick with our original plan to finish in New Orleans. As the old proverb goes, “come heck or high water”, we are going to make it.
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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