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.
“For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them “she.” To them we toast, and ask to celebrate “BLUE MOON.” Then everybody raises their glass filled with champagne or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage and shouts, “TO THE SAILORS OF OLD…TO BLUE MOON.” Everybody takes a sip.
That is the start of the script for the christening ceremony. Tomorrow, a.k.a., Easter Sunday, Blue Moon will take her first ride in the Missouri River as the Blue Moon. For those of you who are not aware, Bob Bellingham of Australia paddled down the Missouri River last summer in the same boat, which was then the Barbara May. In the spirit of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” I have purchased Bob’s boat for my expedition, and she is no stranger to the river.
The Barbara May brought Bob down the river, from Three Forks to St. Louis, in 89 days. Ideally, Blue Moon will replicate that schedule so that I arrive in St. Louis on August 1st (give or take a couple of days). Tomorrow, I will conduct a short ceremony in order to loosely hold on to the tradition of renaming and/or christening a boat. Those paddling with me, and anyone else interested, are invited to take part.
Today, I hope to apply this blog site address onto the sides of Blue Moon.
Things are really revving up, gear-wise. Packages are showing up on my porch, such as the lettering for my web address, my solar panel, compression dry sacks, my sleeping bag, a camera, cleaner for the boat deck, etc.
I spent 3 hours in Batteries + yesterday trying to assemble an appropriate electronic system to charge my laptop from the roll-up solar panel. Solar panels do not advertise laptop charging. Normally, they are geared for only the smaller electronic appliances, i.e., iPhone, iPad, camera, or GPS. After yesterday, I’m ready to teach a Physics lesson for sure.
I had to get a 12V battery, which I learned, come in a wide variety of sizes and corresponding weights. I need a battery that will not be too big, but that will charge my laptop up in a reasonable amount of time and/or charging sessions. I won’t go into any details because my brain is still tired from yesterday’s numerous calculations. Big thanks to Herb for patiently assisting me in assembling a system! And thanks to Chad, Batteries+ store owner, who gave me a business account, which results in a small discount on all of the accessories I bought…
for my roll-up solar charger. Big thanks to Julia at PowerFilmSolar for the discount, too.
One of the employees at Batteries+ suggested a wind turbine for the boat. Holy cow, that’s brilliant! I’m sure I’ll be thinking a lot about that on those windy days on the lakes!
I have been dehydrating lots of food and vacuum sealing small packages. Why have I not been doing this for the last 30 years? The beef jerky is out of this world! And, the bananas, green apples, pineapple, etc. are all soooo delicious! I’ve also dried tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and spaghetti sauce. Yep, spaghetti sauce. Starting on broccoli today. These veggies will be wonderful to throw into my side dish pasta meals.
I now have my tent, sleeping bag, stove, Thermarest, paddling gear, under layers, neoprene boots and shoes, Teva sandals, portable hard drive, three cameras, an iPhone, a laptop (which I’ve owned for a long time and hope it performs), maps, drybags, compression dry bags, compass, whistle, wheeleez for portaging, and a lot of little items that I had to pick up as I walked through Walt’s Wilderness store. Little things like a first-aid kit, meal kit, coffee french-press with cup set, moleskin, caribiners, and a wide-mouth water bottle for my alfalfa sprouts. I even picked up my one and only packaged freeze-dried meal: camp eggs! I love eggs and will need to cook up this package for some special occasion, which could be anything, like one full day with zero wind!! I may be missing my eggs on this trip.
I will test my gear this week-end when I go to Missouri River Relief’s MO River clean-up in St. Charles. Seven years have passed since I started back to school and have not had an opportunity to go to a river clean-up since. These clean-up events are a must-do activity for everyone, ESPECIALLY, river communities. The sense of accomplishment, camaraderie, and contribution to society cannot be fully appreciated until you take part in one. I am so looking forward to being with fellow river stewards, cleaning up the trash, and trying out the gear that I will become one with for the next 3 and 1/2 months. I definitely have to make sure that French Press works. Gotta have my cup of Joe to get my day on track!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post in which I will share with you the red-hot heart-warming LoveYourBigMuddy Blues Benefit from last Wednesday, March 27.
Live fast ~ Paddle slow
See you on the river!
I am totally immersed in preparations for the trip while still trying to substitute teach enough days to ‘pay the rent,’ so to speak. Spring Break comes next week so I will not be able to work. This will be a good time to tie up a lot of loose ends.
We brought my Eddyline Shasta kayak into the house the other day because I needed to apply a keel strip for protection and the weather has been too cold. The temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees, so into the house it came. I went ahead and applied the new boat name letters, too. I am very pleased with the outcome. Next, I will apply this blog’s web address on the side along with some of my sponsorship decals. Isn’t it pretty? Handsome?
Alpine Shop in Columbia is sponsoring me with some significant gear items. Thank you, Brennan! He has donated a camp stove-MSR Reactor system (yes!), a Thermarest mattress (3 in thick. excellent!), and a Sea to Summit sleeping bag liner. They will also communicate my links and updates on their social media sites and to their email recipients. You should stop by the shop and check out their new expanded paddling section. They are becoming a premier paddling retailer in mid-MO.
I ordered my tent, a Hubba Hubba 2P tent from Walt’s Bike & Wilderness Shop. Besides a Patagonia balaklava, polarized sunglasses and SealSkinz paddling gloves, they were able to give me a 10% discount on my tent. Every little bit helps. Thanks, Sarah.
After four of my emails were ignored by PowerFilmsSolar, I talked to Julie on the phone, mainly because I needed to purchase my solar charging system and a friend, Barb Giles, offered to donate funds to purchase it. We weren’t sure what exactly what I needed, so when I talked to Julie, she ended up apologizing for them ignoring me, and offered me a pro-discount on a 14R roll up solar charger. Thanks, Julie! And, THANK YOU, BARB!
I’ll order my sleeping bag today, and a GoPro camera. GoPro has not responded to my sponsorship proposal, nor has Cascade Designs for a sleeping bag. That’s okay, though. I am content with all the things I have been given. Oh, and I will probably purchase a GPS device, but not sure yet. Norm Miller will have one we can use to get to Brower’s Spring.
My Kokatat gear should be arriving any day. That will complete my paddling gear. I’m excited about looking it all over. Once I have all of my gear, I will need to start puzzle piecing everything into the boat. That will be the biggest challenge. I normally carry everything but the kitchen sink with me, everywhere I go. My first backpacking trip, when I was 16-years old, was unforgettable because I was ribbed extensively due to all the stuff I had to unload out of my pack. I cannot remember details, but somewhat recall a big tube of Crest toothpaste being the brunt of long-lasting jokes. Hey, one has got to keep their teeth brushed, right?
Veteran paddlers have offered a lot of good advice about food to bring. I posted a request for their thoughts on the “Missouri River Paddlers” Facebook Group as well as the “Expedition Canoe and Kayakers” Facebook Group. I received a lot of great ideas, a few of which I have included here:
Dale Sanders: Tortillas – most any eatable food can be roled into them, very satisfying meal and they have long “shelf life” and available at most grocery stores. Try Nutella rolled in – delicious.
West Hansen Keep it simple: instant oatmeal with Starbucks Via for breakfast. Mid morning sip 1200 calorie bike bottle of SPIZ (half vanilla/half chocolate). Lunch: can of tuna with Cholula sauce and some dehydrated fruits. Mid afternoon – same SPIZ drink. Supper, dehydrated meal with some canned meat mixed in for calories. When racing, I up my SPIZ mix with some extra maltodextrin electrolytes. Sometimes I add a Starbucks Via to the SPIZ. Then we call it SPAZ.
Kathy Norpell Kurzhals: Tuna, tortillas wraps ( cheese sticks, pb&honey, foil chicken breast), brown minute rice with any seasonings, chicken helpers and tuna helpers, pita bread with pepperoni and squeeze tomato paste and cheese-pizza!, polenta, quinoa, even mac’n cheese…….
Marin Medak: Beef jerky is one of my favorites. Then mini Snickers, and also some fruits – bananas, oranges, apples.
I will include other “good advice” contributions in an upcoming post. I learned a lot from all of these experienced paddlers. As a result of the good advice, I have purchased a dehydrator and seal-a-meal machine to vacuum seal the food. So far I have dried beef, apples, bananas, pineapple, and blueberries. Next, I will dry vegetables, more beef, some fruit roll-ups, and some sauces. Yes, you can dry spaghetti sauce like a fruit roll up, and just add water bring it back to sauce. Cool, eh?
I have just started throwing interesting food items in my basket when I come across them. Mostly, they are side-dish pastas and rice, which will be wonderful to have after long days of paddling. I will also make my own trail mix.
I am going to buy some Tanka Bars, too, made and sold by the Oglala Lakotas on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The bars, and bites, are made with buffalo and cranberries, and are all natural (and delicious, too). Check out a location that sells them near you and HELP SUPPORT the Pine Ridge Reservation Oglala Lakotas! The Tonka Bars will serve as my energy protein bars. I’ve never been ‘into’ Cliff Bars or other types of energy bars.
Fundraising continues with the hope that I can be financial sustained during my 3 1/2 month excursion. I am looking forward to the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit on Wednesday, March 27. The event will be held at a local pub, MoJoe’s (THANK YOU, MOJOE’S!!), on a full-moon night with some of the best blues musicians in Columbia, MO. It is a jam, so musicians can step up to the stage and contribute their talents.
The host musicians include John D’Agostino, Dennis Ternamian, Alan Loshbaugh, and Charlie Waddell. Other musicians playing music are Scott McCullough, Zed Zardoz, and Debbie D’Agostino, John’s sister. The D’Agostino family have been blessed with beautiful voices. Johnny D will be taking names for the jam. Naked Dave will be MC for the event (Go Dave!), so YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS EVENT! Free appetizers made with tender loving local care will be provided. And, buy lots of raffle tickets because you get to choose your own reward! The more tickets, the more chances to win a great prize! Big thanks to the committee, headed by Heidi Brunaugh. Love you guys!
If you would like to sponsor me with a financial donation, please visit my “Donation Opportunities” page, or my GoFundMe page on the web. To see who has contributed thus far, visit my “Financial Contributors” page on this blog.
Thank you for your support! You are making this happen!
Live fast ~ Paddle slow
See you on the river!!!
It has been a couple of weeks since I started removing the old name and website from the Shasta. Slight delay because of a heap of snow dumped on us over the course of two weeks. It has been cold and the snow still covers the majority of ground. This photo is from BEFORE the first storm, which dumped around 8-10 inches on February 21.
And after February 21…
And after another 5 or more inches, which fell on February 26:
But, speaking of snow, I talked to the person in charge of the gate to the road up Sawtelle Peak. Because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an Air Traffic radar tower at the top, the road is gated to keep cars off the mountain when snow is present.
However, they plow the road for the employees, although 4-wheel drive is often necessary. The gentleman I spoke with was very favorable to helping us access the mountain road. He will get us past the gate so that we can ski to Brower’s from the switchback located in the upper right of this photo, below “Sawtelle Peak.”
Here is a photo of Sawtelle Peak:
And, a 3-D version from Google Earth, with switchback on far right straight across from Brower’s Spring (the green dot is the radar):
Next month I will be sipping from the waters of
Brower’s Spring, the ultimate source of the Missouri River near the Continental Divide! Of course, we will be digging through many feet of snow, no doubt. Norm Miller and I will be packing shovels.
So, that is great news!
I picked up my on/off road bike that Carl and Josh at Klunk Bicycle and Repair built for my stretch in the beginning when the waterway is frozen over. It is anticipated that this will be the case in the Centennial Valley, which is where we will come out of the mountains. There is a gravel road that follows right along the creeks and rivers and through the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
I may have to ride my bike as far as 80 miles to Clark Canyon Reservoir. Good to be prepared for any situation.
Carl has offered to loan me the bike with the option to buy it. I became a bit attached after just a few loops around the parking lot. I am hoping to purchase it at some point. I look forward to riding it until I leave. Must practice, right? Here is a photo of the bike and crew:
We had a great meeting last week to discuss fundraising. What a wonderful group of supporters: Heidi Branaugh, Steve Schnarr, Melanie Cheney, Suzanne Cooper, Dory Colbert, Roger and Barb Giles, Jeff Barrow, and Ginger Masters. We agreed that a Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit would be great, particularly because Columbia, Missouri, is a mecca for musicians. We have a whole bunch of great musical artists, so we hope to have a dynamite show. We would like to hold the event at a local club, MoJo’s, on Wednesday, March 27, during happy hours: 5:00 to 8:30. We’ll provide appetizers and lots of stuff to raffle away. This is the same day that my expedition story will be featured in the Columbia Missourian. Should be a good day. Still waiting for confirmation on the location.
The outpouring of financial contributions is humbling. I am very grateful for my friends and their desire to help. Without their contributions, the expedition would still go on, but the financial burden would be difficult. Thank you to all who are able and willing to donate their precious moneys. I am very grateful. If you would like to donate, you may do so here on my Donations Opportunities Page, or go to my GoFundMe page at LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition 4 Education.
I am currently focusing on foods to take. I looked at dehydrators today and will likely purchase one to make jerky and dried vegetables. I have received a fantastic response to my request for food ideas on the Facebook Paddlers Pages that I am a part of. This has been very helpful, and relieves quite a bit of anxiety as to what I will be packing for food.
That’s it for now. Things are getting busy, sleep is difficult, writing blog posts takes time. I appreciate all of you who are following me. Thank you. Still trying to figure out the tweeting thing on Twitter.
Life is good. Live fast ~ Paddle slow
See you on the river!
P.S. Will post more soon. It is getting exciting!