A short video of our preparation at Base Camp International – Livingston, MT. Thank you very much to Norm Miller & Kris Walker for the video and their gracious hospitality!
We practiced packing the boat yesterday. Thanks to Norm Miller, I’ll be running a pretty tight ship. At least it looks pretty trim.
we are heading to Sawtelle Peak for the ski in to the Missouri River’s ultimate source, Brower’s Spring. We will be skiing, and not paddling. The spring is just below the Continental Divide.
Our visit with Norm and his girlfriend, Kris Walker, has been heartwarming and incredibly fun. We will take away some very memorable moments lasting a lifetime!
Please be patient with me as I transition my computer tool from a laptop with Vista Business to an iPad. It is my first Mac experience aside from an iPhone I’ve only owned for two months. I hope to be able to keep you better updated.
Off we go!
On Sunday, April 14, we enjoyed the warmth of our river community as they sent us on our way from Cooper’s Landing on the Missouri River. I find it intriguing that I will be paddling down the entire length of the river for the next 3.5 months beginning in Montana. I have been dreaming about this journey for over seven years. The time had actually come.
We have been on the road for nine days. The trip thus far has been fantastic. We have driven on two-lane highways nearly 98% of the trip. Before we actually got out of town, Haley decorated the van. “I got this, Mom, I used to be a cheerleader.” We drove through some gorgeous countryside in northern Kansas and southeaster Nebraska.
In Phillipsburg, KS, we had a radiator leak which appeared to be a major obstacle. The only radiator repair shop in town was completely booked for two days. I had to drive over and talk to the owner, and tried to convince him that WE REALLY NEEDED HELP. But, he just could not take us in, and so referred us to Wick’s Muffler and Auto Repair. What a wonderful referral THAT was! Galen Wickham and his son Gabe got right on it! Galen brought the car in the shop immediately to try and find the leak. The two of them traced it back to a pinhole leak in a steel hose off of the water pump. A call was made to Hays, NE, 60 miles to the south. We crossed our fingers…
Yes, they had the part but all deliveries had already left town. The best estimate for departure after car work would be about 5:30 that evening. However, I offered to drive to Hays myself and, as it turned out, that is what happened. Galen loaned me his truck so I could pick up the part. Galen estimated a possible 1:00 departure as a result. WOW! Ending up at Galen’s shop was just short of a miracle! We were back on the road by 2:00. Not only that, he was so intrigued by our expedition, he told his mom and dad and brother about it, and they all chipped in to pay for the repair. Now, when does THAT ever happen?? Thanks again, Wickham family. You guys ROCK! I will be telling this story for years. Ron from the local paper, The Advocate of Phillips County, stopped by to ask a few questions about the expedition. Off we went and arrived in Scottsbluff, NE, that night. We got a lovely room and Holiday Inn Express, and enjoyed a hot tub, swim, and had pizza delivered. The next morning we watched the weather channel very closely while sitting in the breakfast nook at the hotel. A winter storm was coming up through the panhandle of NE starting today, Tuesday, which is right where we were. We debated for a couple hours, literally, whether to try and outrun the storm going north, as some guests had already left for Casper, WY. Eventually, we decided to go for it. Turns out the storm would envelope the entire southeastern portion of WY, and over a foot of snow fell. We ended up making it as far as Orin Junction, WY, and the roads all around us began to close. We were 60 miles short of our Casper, WY, destination. Fortunately, there was a small truck stop at the junction, and we immediately settled in once we knew forward progress was no longer available.
We thoroughly enjoyed our layover at the truck stop, despite the fact we had to sleep in the car that night. The truck stop closed at 10:00 and reopened at 5:00 AM. We spent seven hours in the car as the snow fell all around us. The car turned into a makeshift igloo, it appeared, and we stayed warm and cozy wrapped in down sleeping bags, jackets, and a comforter. What an adventure! Strangers are just an opportunity to make friends, and that’s what we all did at the truck stop. We were thankful that we had such a pleasant and cozy place to hang out, and the food was to beat all. Finally on Wednesday the road opened up to Douglas, which was 12 miles up the road. We opted to make the drive and get a hotel. Being able to sleep on a bed was nice, but the hotel was less than desirable. We got out of there first thing in the morning and drove all the way to Jackson, Wyoming. Our progress was somewhat slowed because of the photo opportunities along the way. We found it difficult to pass up such beautiful countryside without stopping to take pictures. I am sure we will not regret the many stops we made. Jackson was a significant destination that we were all looking forward to, and very excited about. We were finally in some serious mountain country! We were grateful for the chance to view the Teton Mountain Range, which appeared through the clouds majestically and with great grandeur! We loved our stay in Jackson, and our accommodations at the Parkway Inn. Because this time of year is considered the off-season, we were able to get discounted rates at the hotel. We loved it! We stayed two nights and refreshed ourselves by going for a walk, swimming, sitting in the hot tub, and doing laundry. Saturday morning we embarked upon a full ‘day of travel. We drove north up to Sawtelle Peak so I could check out the conditions of the road we plan on driving up to begin our ski into Brower’s Spring. We then started driving down Red Rock Road towards Red Rock Pass, which is very close to the exit point of our ski. Since it was 1:30 PM and temperatures were mild, we opted to stop short of the pass because of the mud. We stopped and walked down the road and enjoyed a snack lunch while viewing the awesome mountains around which we were surrounded.
We then drove up towards the Beaverhead and Jefferson River so I could take a look at the rivers I will be paddling within a week, or so. This was a chance for me to connect with my route and visualize the environment of which I would soon become a part. Finally, we arrived at Base Camp International, Norm Miller and Kristen Walker’s house in Livingston, MT, where all paddlers of the Missouri River, or any river, are welcome to stop and regroup before setting out on the river.
Norm and I have been in email and phone contact since I decided to embark upon this adventure, so despite the fact we had never met, I felt like we were good friends already. Our stay here has been nothing less that warm and cozy. We immediately felt like family, and have enjoyed each others’ company immensely.
Tomorrow we begin our journey into Brower’s Spring. Then, the bike ride to Clark Canyon Dam and finally, Blue Moon hits the water.
The day has finally arrived. I have been losing sleep for nine months since I made the decision to paddle down the Missouri. Once I decided to take on this challenge, it was another month, or two or three, before I made the decision to start at the source. I knew I would regret not making the extra 298 miles if I started at Three Forks instead of Brower’s Spring.
The time is 3:23 AM. My alarm is set for 4:30 AM. I feel like I have an extra hour so I’m trying to get in one last “quick” blog post before we take off. Now, THAT’s a challenge!
The Columbia Daily Tribune, our local newspaper, is supposed to publish a story this morning. I just checked on it. Yep, it’s there. Here is the link for “PRIMED TO PADDLE: Kayaker ready to tackle river’s entire length.” I will post the story under my Media page once the article becomes NOT available online, unless you have a subscription.
Yesterday was a very busy day packing. I actually spent two days hard at it. Three and one half months requires thinking through all of your needs, and wants, then trying to downsize the load. I’m not very good at that. Thankfully, Haley arrived after lunch and really helped me accomplish this daunting task. She is very organized and more rational than me when it comes to, “Is it really a need, or merely a want.”
We took a moment to take a picture with our matching “Say YES More” T-shirts. ‘Say Yes More’ is Dave Cornthwaite’s campaign, of which I am an ambassador. The first medium T-shirt was itty-bitty, so I gave it to Haley and he sent me a larger one. Find out more about Dave’s exciting adventures on his Website.
Last night we enjoyed spending time with my niece, Rene Freels, and her husband, Kyle, and son, Sam. We enjoyed fabulous food (as usual) at El Maguey, not to mention their $1.25 margaritas. This is my favorite restaurant in town.
We then enjoyed going down to the river to meet a lot of my river friends who were enjoying a campfire, pot luck barbeque, and acoustic guitar music. We have access to a spot right next to Cooper’s Landing where we have get-togethers sometimes. We also stopped by Cooper’s and I was able to introduce them to many more wonderful people in our river community. We had a great evening. I was happy to introduce them to a little slice of my world. Unfortunately, no photos.
Once home again, I began to round up all of the little loose-end items such as dental floss, water bottles, hairbrush, shampoo and other things that I actually use until I leave. I started a batch of strawberry/banana fruit roll-ups in the dehydrator, too.
This morning I will do one last batch of laundry, gather all of my food and try to sort some of it out into portions. I need to make my custom trail mix as well. Then, once light starts dawning on this part of the earth, the kayaks will go on the car, and I’ll pack the car with all of my stuff. We just left everything on the porch since the weather is good and we have Minnie, our wonderful, and loud, watchdog. No one can approach the house without her approval.
The weather looks rough for the next few days in this area, and on our drive up north. It is my understanding that snow has been falling in Montana. I try not to let the weather reports get me emotionally stirred up. I am taking things one step at a time, and making decisions as opportunities present themselves. You might say I am “Going with the Flow.” Yes, I like the sound of that. Here is my awesome road crew, Haley, Jeannie Kuntz, and me.
My extra hour has turned into two after posting photos. Still, not bad. But, gotta go!
Cheers! See you on the water! Montana here we come! YeeHaw!
(One hour, 30-minute blog post! That is a new personal record. That is good, real good.) 🙂
The blog reality is: I wanted to post a page about River Relief clean ups before I leave, and I did that today. The page is all about the St. Charles clean up last weekend. But, holy smokes, Batman, blog pages/posts take a lot of time and tender loving care, hours in fact.
To my blog followers: check my FaceBook Expedition Page often because blog posts will be more brief and less frequent once I’m on the water. I will be updating, but not blogging so much. Just wanted to get that out there.
Yikes! 3 days to go!! Tribune interview on Saturday. Send off at Cooper’s on Sunday!
Live fast ~ Paddle slow
And always, go with the flow.
Getting a little nervous now, and must work efficiently. Countdown 12 days, YIKES! I am scheduled to substitute teach the next three days. Then, off to St. Charles for the Missouri River Relief clean-up (arrive Fri-leave Sun), plus a crew meeting tonight at 6:30. Next week I will be putting all the puzzle pieces together, practicing packing the boat, and hoping that I get called for a teaching interview which will, ideally, land me a job for the next school year.
On Saturday night, April 13, my daughter, Haley, and my niece and her family, Rene, Kyle, and Sam, and I will be attending the Dance Showcase at the Columbia Performing Arts Center. My cousin, Jen Lee, teaches dancing there (she taught there when Haley was in Junior High) and puts together the grand finale of all the dance classes, the Showcase. Also, several of my students will be performing that night, Lauren, Kaylin and Rachel. They will be happy to see me there. They are such great dancers!
Sunday send-off will be the next day at Cooper’s Landing, April 14, 10:00AM. Wow! Ya, I’m a little nervous. Here is a list I composed between midnight and 2:00 AM last night. I keep paper and pen bedside. Every time I think of a little to-do item, I have to write it down, there are so many. These are just a few of the things that came to mind last night. Oh, and add American flag for the boat onto that list.
I conducted a loosely traditional christening ceremony before dropping Blue Moon in the water for her first voyage with her new name. This was last Sunday, March 31, and a fun time despite the fact I forgot my really cool christening script I found online. Technology prevailed and I was able to access the first paragraph, which I had posted earlier in the week. The rest was improvisation, and seemed perfectly acceptable to all present.
The, the flotilla had a most wonderful paddle under blue skies and mild temperatures. My Eddyline Shasta truly is a dream boat. Blue Moon, Sweet Dream. We bonded. Ya, we got this!
Wednesday evening, March 27, we had a wonderful heart-warming turn out for the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit. Many of the finest musicians in Columbia played Red Hot Blues that night. Heidi Branaugh organized the event, with help from our committee, and things worked out beautifully. $1600 was raised to help with my expenses, and for that I am enormously grateful. Certainly, the evening was incredibly special and a memorable one for all. Much love in our community shined forth that night. And Shane Perrin, The Stand Up Guy, came to the event! What a wonderful supporter and inspiration. He planted a few seeds in my mind while visiting together! 😉
Media interest has picked up, which I suppose is to be expected. Ciera and Megan, journalism students at the University of Missouri, are working for the Columbia Missourian to get a story out soon. Ciera is working on a written article and Megan is working on a corresponding video story.
Loved talking with Elizabeth Labauch, who wrote a blog post about the expedition for Footprint Magazine. Footprint Magazine is produced by Sustain Mizzou, an environmental student group at the University of Missouri. Tina Casagrand does a great job of keeping the magazine vibrant. Liz did a great piece from a somewhat different perspective. You can read her article posted to the Media Coverage Page on this blog.
I met with Simon Rose and Rene on the KFRU Morning Meeting yesterday. Be sure and check out the on-air interview, also posted on the Media Coverage Page at the top of my blog.
Right now I am waiting for Philip White to call. He wants to interview me for The SUP magazine online. Cool. He also writes for Canoe and Kayak. Doubly cool.
Just got off the phone with Philip. Great friendly conversation. I’ll keep you posted.
And finally, Leslie Kolovich and I did a podcast for her SUP radio show, Paddle for the Planet. Most enjoyable conversation with her, on and off air. Leslie is passionate for paddling AND the planet. Check out our podcast interview in the Media Coverage drop down list. And, check out her SUP Radio Show where she interviews, and supports, the paddling communities everywhere!
Well, folks, got another blog post out here, didn’t I? That wasn’t even on my ToDo list. I will strive to keep you faithful followers updated during my trip. I anticipate I will be very busy taking photos, videos, charging up the laptop, writing in my journal, paddling onward, and keeping my hands clean. They don’t call it the Big Muddy for nothing, you know!
Feel free to suggest, inspire, encourage, and entertain by leaving a comment any time. Always appreciated! Cheers!
Life is a journey. Live fast ~ Paddle slow
See You On The River…