Posts Tagged With: Gulf of Mexico

The Goal: The Gulf of Mexico…Check! December 5, 2013

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I finally did it! I made it all the way to the Gulf if Mexico, but not without some very harrowing and tense moments in the Southern Louisiana fog. Fog? Who knew? That was an oversight on my part. Forgot about the fog.

This is my amazing support crew that helped get me through the fog, through the Head of Passes, down South Pass to the Gulf, and back to Venice in a thick fog bank. What an epic finish to an unforgettable journey. Big THANKS to my support crew, the Bar Pilots and their crews in Venice and Pilottown, and to all of my supporters who cheered me on every single day!

My unforgettable crew and dear friends and daughter:

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L-R: Mark Dierking, Denise Goforth, Mwah, Jamie Stevenson, Haley Moreland (my sweet daughter), and Deb Miller. Extraordinary!!

And the stellar crew at Pilottown:

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Pilottown Crew to the rescue! L-R: Josh, Eric, Adam, Booher, Leon and Shawn. What a comfort these guys were after being in a very uncomfortable fog. Thank you, gentlemen! You are the best!

Pilots at Venice Bar Pilot’s Association:

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Bear (R) and Allen (L)

Our first attempt to make it to the Gulf was on December 4. We were doing pretty good on the East shore, although the fog was lingering on that side. By the time we passed Pilottown in the fog, we were engulfed. At one point we all heard a boat coming right toward us. I was out of the channel, and so was my support boat, but I didn’t know it. They were in only three feet of water. Hearing the boat coming closer and closer, but not seeing it, I was terrified they would be run down by a big fishing boat. I screamed at them to turn around. They appeared to be frozen staring into the fog. Oh. My. God. Will I witness their demise???? Thankfully, no. After the boat passed us by, we all knew we were finished for now. I got on the phone to Pilottown and asked them if we could come ashore.

“Of course, we will be expecting you,” they replied.

When we arrived 15 minutes later, they immediately took us under their wing, brought us inside, fed us from a smorgasborg outlay of food, shared their ‘mission control,’ and educated us on their system for bringing big ships up from the Gulf to New Orleans. Most importantly, they explained the Fog Predictor, which indicated a lift in the fog at 9:00AM until midnight tomorrow, December 5. We set our goal to the Gulf for tomorrow. They invited to breakfast, too. So nice and comforting, these river angels.

The Pilottown crew directed us to the back room where we feasted. From sadness to gladness, comfort on many levels.

The Pilottown crew directed us to the back room where we feasted. From sadness to gladness, comfort on many levels.

The fog predictor. The gap in the red and green lines on the top indicates our window to shoot the pass and get back home. I tell ya, adventure in its purest form.

The fog predictor. The gap in the red and green lines on the top indicates our window to shoot the pass and get back home. I tell ya, adventure in its purest form.

 

As you can imagine, I was VERY ready to reach the Gulf of Mexico.

As you can imagine, I was VERY ready to reach the Gulf of Mexico
the next morning.

A tiny portion of the breakfast offered to us by the Pilottown crew.

A tiny portion of the breakfast offered to us by the Pilottown crew.

The fog was thick the 10 miles from Venice to Pilottown, which is located one mile above Mile Zero. The Gulf of Mexico is 12 miles from Mile Zero down South Pass.

The fog was thick the 10 miles from Venice to Pilottown, which is located one mile above Mile Zero. The Gulf of Mexico is 12 miles from Mile Zero down South Pass. South Pass is the route I had chosen to reach the Gulf.

On the final dash to the Gulf, my greatest concern was the fog in the Head of Passes. This is a wide open space from which three branches of channelized water run to the Gulf. The Southwest Pass is the shipping lane for tankers, freighters, and container ships, Loutre Pass is mainly small craft and fishing boats, and South Pass fishing craft. Tankers come up SW Pass and cross through the Head of Passes to the West Bank near Pilottown. As you can imagine, in the fog, this is a dangerous route through which to paddle.

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Just prior to leaving Pilottown, three Plaquemines Parish Marine Sheriffs pull up in their boat on their way down to Port Eads, located one mile upriver from the Gulf down South Pass. When I found this out, I somewhat pleaded with them to guide us through the fog through the Head of Passes with their radar. As you can see in this photo, I was gravely concerned. I could not get them to commit, for whatever reason, so we determined to just go for it with the support we had from the Pilottown crew, and the Venice pilots, who drive the ships up the Pass.

I asked them if they would guide us through the Head of Passes with their radar. They could not commit. We had to go ahead on our own.

I asked them if they would guide us through the Head of Passes with their radar. They could not commit. We had to go ahead on our own.

Off we went with great apprehension coupled with extraordinary determination.

Off we went with great apprehension coupled with extraordinary determination.

This photo I took during our attempt the day before. But, you get the picture. Tense moments to say the least.

I took this photo the day before. But, you get the picture.
Tense moments to say the least.

The Pilottown crew were phenomenal in communicating our whereabouts to the best of their ability. However, when they began asking the ship pilots if they had seen us, I knew we were on our own, so to speak. We had to navigate wisely through this stretch or catastrophe would be imminent. What we did know from my marine radio, was when a ship was coming up through the fog out of SW Pass, or down into the Head of Passes past Pilottown. Mark used his depth finder to try and avoid the channel, but at some point we had to cross.

Ship approaching in the fog.

Ship coming into view through the fog.

There was a moment when we were immersed in fog and very vulnerable. I began to paddle with my GPS as my guide, which is what the crew told us to do. How scary is that in the fog???? Very! As my heart began to sink further into my gut, I mustered everything I had to keep my composure, as we all were doing at that time. At that very moment, we heard a boat coming right for us. Oh my God! Will it see us in time to stop??? All we can do is wait as it gets closer. Then, appearing as though angels from the spiritual realm, the Sheriff’s boat appears and immediately they begin pointing out the channel light at South Pass.

Marine Sheriffs of Plaquemine Parish.

Marine Sheriffs of Plaquemines Parish. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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Miraculously, the fog began lifting at that moment and we could then see all three passes! What a moment of joy and relief that was, never to be forgotten.

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Extreme JOY! I can see all of the Passes!

Extreme JOY! I can see all of the Passes!

I paddled harder than I had paddled on the entire journey, the 12-13 miles down South Pass. I took out my iPod and played river songs and sang at the top of my lungs, particularly Black Water by the Doobie Brothers. Playing music always gives me a much-needed boost of energy.

The highlight of my entire trip had to be when I saw my white pelican near the shore in South Pass. I couldn’t believe my eyes! He had come to see me through to the end, and provided that quiet comfort we both understood, that he had provided since day one of my paddling journey. I still shed a tear when I think about how perfect and complete this trip has been.

The perfect good bye and congratulations. I was immersed in joy and supercharged with energy after seeing my pelican friend.

The perfect good bye and congratulations. I was immersed in joy and supercharged with energy after seeing my pelican friend.

 

We had a clear shot to the Gulf, and most of the way back up the pass. We were not out of the woods yet. But we had made it to the Gulf of Mexico!

The crew landed before me so they could scope it out and take some photos of my arrival.

The crew landed before me so they could scope it out and
take some photos of my arrival.

The Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico

What a sweet moment of victory, seasoned with a dash of bittersweet. I had run out of river. A new chapter in my life was about to begin.

What a sweet moment of victory, seasoned with a dash of bittersweet. I had run out of river. A new chapter in my life was about to begin. I was thrilled.

Champagne, a swim in the water, and a big heartfelt thank you to all of my dear supporters. Then, we were "outta there!"

Champagne, a swim in the water, and a big heartfelt thank you to all of my dear supporters. Then, we were “outta there!”

We made it about 2/3 the way up South Pass when the fog settled in again. We were on a race against time and fog. We absolutely HAD to get back to Venice before dark. We moved as one with eyes and minds on high alert. As you can imagine, the victory was oh so sweet.

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We made it back to Venice safe and sound, just in the nick of time.
It was dark when we pulled up to the dock.

My faithful horse, Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta Kayak. What a sweet ride and loyal companion. I love my boat.

My faithful horse, Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta Kayak. What a sweet ride and loyal companion. I love my boat.

Thank you, Mark Dierking, for a stellar job piloting the support boat and keeping us all safe and alive. You are the best!

Thank you, Mark Dierking, for a stellar job piloting the support boat and keeping us all safe and alive. You are the best!

Jamie Stevenson, Denise's boyfriend, was the premium first mate and pillar of strength throughout. LoL! No, really, he was. We all were.

Jamie Stevenson, Denise’s boyfriend, was the premium first mate and pillar of strength throughout. LoL! No, really, he was. We all were.
(Inside, we were all feeling like he looks.)

Haley (L) and Denise (R) We were all so very happy to get back to Venice.

Haley (L) and Denise (R)
We were bonded and quite frankly, family, after these few days together. What an unforgettable experience!

Deb, one of my dearest and closest friends. Wow, what a ride, eh girlfriend?! We did it!

Deb, one of my dearest and closest friends.
Wow, what a ride, eh girlfriend?! We did it!

Our home away from home in Venice, Louisiana. The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas comped our villa for all but one night, the night that April donated to the expedition. Big thanks to April Durnin for donating to the expedition two free nights of lodging (one night for two rooms) at this fabulous hotel. We could not think of one single complaint. The villa was extraordinarily lovely.

The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas in Venice, LA. We give the villas five bright and golden stars. Loved it!

The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas in Venice, LA. We give the villas five bright and golden stars. Loved it!

I will be updating this blog in the days to come. That will help me sort through my photos and videos, and reminisce on the pleasures of this incredible journey. Then, of course, I will write a book, or books. I would like to write a memoir, a curriculum book with lesson plans and activities focused on the rivers and natural environment, and a coffee table book with some of my best photographs. Oh, and T-shirts. I want t-shirts made ASAP. Maybe a calendar right away. So much to do!

I will follow up this post with some videos as soon as possible. Until then, I hope you enjoyed the adventure of my final days.  I’ll be back to fill in the gap.

Shouting out a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you who believed in me, the expedition, and who gave their heart and soul to support the journey.  MWAH!! Much love to all, Janet Moreland XOXO

Yep, paddle through to the Gulf. It just makes sense. August 21, 2013

Yep, paddle through to the Gulf. It just makes sense. Photo taken August 21, 2013

Do what you love and love what you do.

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

3,700 River Miles

April 24, 2013 – December 5, 2013

First American Source-to-Sea Missouri River

First Solo Woman Source-to-Sea Missouri River

The Missouri River is the Longest River in North America

The Missouri/Mississippi River System is the Fourth Longest in the World.

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Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WordPress App on the Mississippi River

I am laying in my tent listening to the chirp chirp of the bird and the pitter patter of sprinkling rain on the fly. Rivertime. Oh, rivertime.

I have never had a schedule until now, now that I have a week left to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Friends and family are flying and driving in to accompany me by boat to the FINISH. Rain just gets in the way. HOWEVER, I am playing with my WordPress App because I have the time. How wonderful it will be to post to my blog from my tent in the rain on the Mississippi River! I claim this rain delay as an efficient use of time!

I just left Baton Rouge yesterday and I am making my way down ever so much closer to New Orleans, then Venice, where the pavement ends at Mile 10, then down further to Mile 0 at Grand Pass and finally, the final 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

I do not know what photos of the Mississippi to post. As you can imagine, my quiver of photos is massive in size. I am not even sure I know how to post photos with this app, or even post, period. Perhaps, I should post one from every hundred miles. That’s about 11 photos. Or, only sunrises and sunsets. Maybe just great campsites, or river angels or special moments??? I will just wing it and pick some that I like. Let’s see what happens. Hope you enjoy ‘Janet’s Picks.’

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This is way too cool! Nice App, WordPress.

I hope to be back soon. Thanks again for your patience. As the end draws near, I hope this is just the beginning of something really beautiful. Peace out!

Do what you love, and love what you do!

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(Well, this is the photo I accidentally deleted, instead of the duplicate. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get rid of that code. Too scared to mess with it. Still, a somewhat successful first attempt.)

Categories: Expedition, Mississippi River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Lots of Activity on the River(s) Lately

Dear interested readers:

Today, October 6, 2012, we congratulate two phenomenal adventure accomplishments.

One, Mark Kalch reaches the Gulf of Mexico yesterday after paddling from the Missouri River source at Brower’s Spring in Montana beginning in June.  He has been paddling every day for over four months and has become the first man to paddle solo the entire Missouri River and watershed, which is approximately 3780 miles, and the longest river in North America.  Congratulations Mark!

Here is an earlier email sent to Norm Miller regarding his finish:  From Mark: “Done! Stoked! That South Pass below mile 0 is beautiful. Can you believe got down there about midday and guess what? 2 young fellas who had paddled down from Ithasca!!! Ha! Crazy! Cool. Brent and Hunter. They have a facebook page. Big muddy mississippi adventure or something. Crazy huh? This was at Port Eads about a mile from end. They had teed up a lift back so I sprinted my ass down to open ocean. Big waves. Did some video and photos then pulled onto sand and did some more. Paddled back up a mile and we hung out at the top of the lighthouse there. There loaded kayaks onto boat and back in Venice in 20 mins! Stoked! They have left now. Had no room in car back to New Orleans. But dont matter got to sort gear and clean boat. Hope to get a lift back Sat or Sun.M

Secondly, Dave Cornthwaite and his team: Ness, Em, and Ben, approach St. Louis this morning, October 6, 2012, after Dave swam 1,000 miles down the Missouri River.  We had the pleasure of meeting the team at Cooper’s Landing last Sunday and enjoyed their company immensely.  They are a charming bunch with an immense enthusiasm for challenge and adventure while raising money and awareness for breast cancer through the CoppaFeel organization.

Dave has a bag of 25 adventure trips he is in the midst of accomplishing, and Em is starting to step out of her “normal” box into a life of “challenge and adventure.”  You GO Girl!  Was not able to visit with Vanessa because she was healing from a bout with food poisoning.  Ben was busy enjoying bonfire and beers while at Cooper’s.  He adapted immediately to the Cooper’s Culture.
Word from Dave’s twitter feed one minute ago: they reached the STL Arch at 10:20 AM, about an hour ago.  Three cheers for the team!!!

Here is a clip from their first days:

The Early Days (includes a visit from Mark Kalch)

Here is a link to his blog post which, when I read it, I instantly became interested in their endeavor:  dave-corn

Hot off the press from Dave:  We made it! Journey No. 7 of Expedition1000 finished at 10:20am this morning, as my team and I reached St Louis Arch to finish an epic 1000-mile swim. Hard to believe its over, what a challenge! See www.Facebook.com/expedition1000 for further updates and photos throughout the day. Yeah!

As for me, I am fully immersed in student teaching 8th grade Social Studies.  I am loving every minute, but not a day goes by that I don’t contemplate some aspect of the challenge ahead of me beginning in May.  Which will be more of a challenge, teaching middle school or paddling 2300 miles of the Missouri River in 3 months?  No clear answer yet!  All good!

Regarding planning, Eddyline and I are in communication.  They have asked me to send them a “wish list.”  Sweet! Thank you, Lisa!  I have corresponded with Kokatat and have sent them a wish list for paddling gear.  They will not be considering any expedition sponsorships until after January 1.  Dave Cornthwaite strongly suggests I consider taking a MacPro laptop and a Go Pro camera for uploading, downloading, writing, posting, tweeting, photographing, and authoring.   I am planning to apply to be a SPOT Ambassador.  I will have a spot locator no matter what, an absolute necessity according to Bob Bellingham.  The device will track my progress/location, send updates to designated family/friends, and serve as an emergency 911 communication device.  A tent, stove, and sleeping bag will be my most important sponsorship requests, which I will work on very soon.  With all of these items in my quiver, I will be nearly fully equipped.  Oh, and a solar charger.

Veteran Missouri River paddlers are planning a float gathering that would land them in the river with me at, or near, the beginning of my expedition. VERY excited about that possibility!  Among these paddlers are my coach,  Norm Miller, who, during the 2004 Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, paddled up the Missouri River from St. Louis to Montana, hiked over the Rockies, and paddled down to the Pacific following the route of The Corp of Discovery.  He is also host extraordinaire for all paddlers heading down the Big Muddy from Montana.  And, Dave Miller who authored the Missouri River paddler’s bible, The Complete Paddler, and visitor to Cooper’s Landing in 2003, when he laid over and hung out with us Riverbillies for around 10 days (we know how to have a good time!), has indicated he will be coming out from New York.  I am in the process of convincing my brother to come and float a week with me, too.  He has always been close at hand during my life’s adventures.

Oh, and University of Missouri’s photographer, Shane Epping, will meet with me on Sunday to take photos which will accompany a story on MizzouWire, the University’s Alumni Association electronic newsletter.  They are interested in my expedition and would like to post the story in December.

Okay, off I go to write up lesson plans, reflections, and a capstone paper.  Life is good.  Busy, but good.

Warm regards, Janet

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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