April 8 – Wednesday

Today our first goal was to tear down before the forecasted thunderstorm arrived in Bluffton, eat our sack breakfast left for us by a random angel, head to Hardee’s to use their WiFi and wait out the storm, and eat lunch before heading out. Tent down (with kayaks under tarp for protection) – check. Breakfast enjoyed – check. On our way to Hardee’s – almost check.

As we were on our way to Hardee’s, Marge (Bluffton’s First Lady) and her friend Liz Ortiz Mock stopped to see us. Just as they drove up in their vehicle, a gentleman pulled in beside them and asked if I knew who he was. (Why is it when someone asks you if you know them, you usually don’t) It was someone I graduated with, Rod Gerber. I chatted with Rod while John talked with Marge and Liz. During John’s discussion with the ladies, he was brave enough to ask them to take us to Wal Mart to buy a new hat (remember I lost mine on day 2 and stole John’s). And away we went!

We arrived at Wal Mart and went our separate ways to divide and conquer – John to sporting goods, Marge and Liz to women’s apparel, me to gardening. John was the winner – he found a camo hat. It was decided then and there, he would lend me his hat, while he wore the camo hat. I miss my hat!

While we were in Wal Mart, we were affirmed in our decision to tear down first thing as we heard the rumblings of thunder. We were even more affirmed as we walked out the door into the pouring rain. We scurried to the vehicle, and Marge drove us back to Hardee’s. Wait out storm at Hardee’s while enjoying coffee and free WiFi – check. Lunch (really enjoying the fruit roll-ups – see recipes) – check. Boats in water at 12:30 – check.

Last year in April, we paddled our short boats from Bluffton to Markle to see where to take out before Markle was, in order to miss a three-foot drop in the river this year. While we were paddling, we saw several Great Blue Heron and soon after a lot of nests in sycamore trees. As we grew closer, we realized the nests were Blue Herron nests. It’s amazing to see those large birds sitting in nests in trees. It was odd to see Blue Herons in groups like that. I tell you this because we saw the same thing in the same place again this year. I call it the Blue Heron maternity ward.

Along with the unexpected maternity ward, we saw some more expected wild life – raccoon, squirrels, and muskrats.

Today was a relatively “boring” paddling day of fifteen miles with no portages. (Sometimes boring is good.) we ended our day of paddling around 3:50 just outside of Markle , Indiana and set up camp. Portaging 6 miles around Markle tomorrow – I am NOT looking forward to that! Hopefully, it won’t be anything like our first day hike.

While I was making our sloppy jo, rice, and veggie supper (on a “foil” emergency blanket), a DNR officer visited with us. Another visit came just after dinner from John’s brother Delno and his wife, Becky, and dog, Cocoa. They provided us with dessert, lemon meringue pie. (Lemon meringue pie is one of my favorite pies, but I have never made one. So this was such a treat!) yum!

Our goals for today were reached. Our goal for tomorrow is to walk around Markle – and maybe stop at The Greasy Pickle.

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