Atlantic to Pacific Journal

   Ohio River Journal 

June 9 - Parkersburg to Belleville Dam

WTAP TV did their interview with me at 1:30 and must have taken video and interviewed me for about 45 minutes. After the interview I walked about a mile to get something to eat. Walking does my knee good although it still tightens up a little.

Well, I shoved off at 3:20 for my first stretch on the Ohio. Dave (owner of Dave's Marine where I've put in) said it was about 20 miles to the first lock. I was sure I could make it that far, but at least I had a reference point. Water was very calm so I figured this short day of paddling would be a good break in the day. I was wrong! Turned a corner in about a quarter of the mile and the winds picked up and I was bobbing around like a plastic bottle for the next two hours before the wind died down.

Once the wind died it was a very peaceful journey. I paddled until about 7:30 and to my surprise I'd paddled to the first lock at Belleville. I didn't want to go through that late in the evening, so I paddled over to the WV side of the river to what looked like a campground. Turns out the people lease a camping spot for $185.00 a year. Very neat. It's like a little family of campers. Everyone knows each other and gets along great. Anyway, they invited me to stay the evening. Great people and helped me in every way possible. One gentleman (hopefully he sends me his name) called the lock to see what I had to do to get through the lock in the morning. Turns out I just had to paddle up, pull a chain and wait until it opened.

Before I turned in another couple (again hoping for names) invited me for brats. Couldn't turn that down!

June 10 - Belleville Dam to Pomeroy

Awake at 6:00. No one else was up, so I made a little oatmeal and pushed off at 7:00. When I arrived at the Belleville Lock another fishing boat was waiting to go through. Glad they were there so I did not look like a total idiot the first time doing this.

The Six brothers were going through to fish sauger below the dam. They'd been doing very well. Sauger is a relative of the walleye that we have back in Wisconsin. It's a very good eating fish, although the Six brothers said you do not eat fish from the Ohio river!

Once through the lock, which was a piece of cake, I had a very peaceful day of paddling. Plans were to paddle until about 6:00 and find a camp spot. But, as my plans go I paddled until 8:00, going through another lock and I believe making over 50 miles.

Again, I was able to camp at another campsite as the night before. It was getting dark and I noticed this same type of campsite on the WV side again so I paddled over to see if I could get lucky two nights in a row. I did! (Again I'm hoping for names.) A very nice family invited me to stay at their site. They had just purchased it and were only working on putting in a dock and then going back home for the evening. They'd been on a waiting list for a few years and finally were able to buy a lot.

Again, very nice family, and went out of their way to help. Had a very good chat before they went home.

Off to bed at about 9:30 after a good day of paddling.

June 11 - Pomeroy to somewhere East of Huntington, WV

I woke at about 7:30 and for a change took my time in getting ready to push off. Glad I did for the owner of the site came back with breakfast! Not only breakfast, he also took me to a local WalMart and I was able to pick up some supplies. Just cannot believe how nice the people have been on this journey.

Pushed off at 9:00 and spent the day paddling under the threat of rain, but it never happened until I'd completed setting up camp at 8:00, somewhere outside Huntington, WV.

Day was very uneventful. Just me, my thoughts, and lousy singing on a nice easy paddle down the Ohio!

Could not get lucky three days in a row! I had to set up camp on the Ohio side along the river. Tried to find a level spot, but everything slopes to the river at a fairly good angle. But I've slept in worse situations.

Eating in the tent this evening for it's raining pretty good.

I hope to make it to Huntington around noon tomorrow. Plan to get a motel and rest a little.

June 12 - East of Huntington to Ashland, KY

Plans changed! I started out at 7:00 with the idea of paddling to Huntington and hooking up my canoe trailer and bike and finding a motel. Did get to Huntington just before noon, but figured, heck let's shoot for Ashland. Glad I did, for just before Ashland was a small community called South Point. A better name would be BARGE POINT. There were barges all over the place and the barge boat pushers going up and down the river with no care of me bouncing around like a cork. I'll bet these things stretched along both sides of the river for over 10 miles. They made huge waves, so it was a bit of a challenge.

By the way, the other locks that I have gone through after Belleville were the Racine Lock and the Gallopolis Lock.

Finally got to Ashland at about 3:30 and glad I made the choice knowing the city barge trek is over.

I'm staying at a very nice motel in Ashland. As I was pedaling my canoe up the road to town I met a man with his grandson. They suggested I stay at the motel about a block away, saying it was the best in town and gear would be safe there. After a nice chat and a picture with the grandpa and grandson I pedaled over to the motel figuring this was going to cost me $100.00!  Normally I find something for $45.00 or less. Yes, I'm cheap! To my surprise it is only $65.00! It easily would be over $100.00 in a larger city, but who am I to complain!

Plans are to push off in the morning around 8:00, although this is a very nice motel!

I figure I will be in Cincinnati by Thurs. Moving faster than I figured. I thought I may not get to Cincinnati until close to the end of June. I feel good and if weather holds I may make to the Mississippi by the end of June.

June 13 - Ashland, KY to Manchester, OH

What a difference a night makes! I was really down last night. On such trips you mentally get down every so often and you must fight through it. But last night I was more than mentally down. I was really hurting physically, which normally does not bother me. But my knee was swollen and lower back was killing me. I felt like an old man! Going to and from the library to do my journal entries took forever and I must have looked like a 90 year man shuffling down the road. To say the least, I went to bed really having second thoughts on what the heck I was doing out here.

Morning came and Iwas okay again. My knee was fine and my back felt great. Problem is I push too hard. Yesterday I paddled for over 7 hours straight and most of the time on this trip I go 4 to 5 hours at a time. I know better, but just do it anyway.

So the plan today is to start out pedaling for about ten miles. Pedaling for some reason really helps the knee. (It gets stiff when I sit in the canoe for a long period of time). Although it helps the knee and even boredom, I really do not make any faster time. I can pedal at about 6 miles an hour dragging my gear and I have more energy than I do paddling, but it is a good change.

Then for the rest of the day I took 10 to 15 minute breaks and still had my best mileage day, which I believe is around 7o miles and feel good.

I stopped in Manchester, OH and met Jennie and Jerry Edwards who were out on their Harley. Very nice couple and told me of a good place to eat just down the road called Aggie's Steakhouse.
They were on their way there and invited me to come along, which I did.

Very glad I did. Tracy Laney owns Aggie's. It serves great food, as good as I've had on this trip. Also met Gary Hughes, Mary Fazzio, Sissy Calvert, Katy Byineton and Tye & Lynne Spires. Really had a great time. Even had a bed for the night. Tracy had a camper out back and let me sleep in it for the night.

Thanks, everyone. Your hospitality and friendship came along just at the right time. I'm fired up again!

June 14 - Manchester to 15 miles east of Cincinnati

Another good day. I made good mileage all day. Only problem was that I stayed in my canoe for 4 hours before getting out. Damn! Although, for the rest of the day I got out every 3, well, maybe 3 and 1/2 hours! Still, I felt good at the end of the day.

Ate lunch at a boat ramp near Dover, KY and had a nice visit with an old timer (well, older than me!) who was waiting for his son to come back from fishing. Nice gentleman who filled me in on the local history.

For most of the day I had wind in my face, which slowed things down a little, but still managed approx. 50 or more miles. Although, it took me until about 10:00PM to do it! I couldn't find a good place to set up camp. Most everything along the Ohio is at a 45 degree slant so you must really look close for a spot to set up. I must admit I did pass up about 3 to 4 decent places earlier, but always figured there'd be a better one just around the corner! (My PCT friends will understand that reasoning!) Well, at around 1o I did find a nice level spot. Except for the big coal power plant directly across the river, I couldn't complain!

June 15 - East of Cincinnati to West of Cincinnati

Paddled in and through Cincinnati around 11:00AM. Interesting city or I should say cities with Cincinnati on the Ohio side and Newport and Covington on the KY side. Right downtown in Cincinnati is an amphitheatre on the water and alongside it is the ball park for the Cincinnati Reds. You can arrive by river and go to a game. Just down from the Reds stadium is the home of the Bengals football team, Paul Brown Stadium.

I paddled to the far west side of Cincinnati and grabbed a motel for the night. Took my bike and toured the town a little. Resupplied and had a very enjoyable and restful evening.

June 16 - Cincinnati

PICTURES ARE UP! SURE HOPE EVERYONE WILL GET IN CONTACT WITH ME SO I CAN ATTACH NAMES!

ALSO, I'VE CREATED A GUEST BOOK, AGAIN WITH THE HOPE IT MAKES IT EASIER FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SEND ME A NOTE. I SURE LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU! THE PEOPLE HAVE MADE THIS TRIP AND HEARING FROM YOU ALWAYS HELPS ONE MENTALLY. GUESS I'VE ALWAYS NEEDED A LITTLE HELP IN THAT ASPECT!

Spending the day relaxing and getting prepared for the next stretch to Louisville, KY. I will push off sometime late this afternoon. It is supposed to be in the 90's the next few day, so I plan to paddle early morning and late afternoon and evenings. I wonder how long that plan will work. Anyway, if all goes as well as it has so far, I should be in Louisville late Sunday, maybe Monday.

I will update when I get there. Best to all!

June 16 - West Cincinnati to northeast of Patriot, IN

Pushed off at around 3:00 from the west side of Cincinnati. Re-supplied and even remembered to buy a book to read (Miracle) and a Sudoku puzzle. Not sure about the book, but it sounded good and I enjoy doing the Sudoku puzzle. It will give me something to do in the evenings rather than read my road map and my PCT friend, Keith Drury's, "A Guide to Canoeing the Missouri River", over and over again. It's a well written guide, but enough is enough! I'll save it until needed later, Keith.

Day's trip was uneventful, a little wind in my face, but able to get 25 miles in. Made camp at around 9:30 and screwed up my first puzzle! (and it was the first in the easy section)

Starting to get hot and the humidity is picking up. Must of been in the low 90's, although in the late afternoon and evening it's very comfortable and peaceful.

Time for bed. Need to get up earlier to beat the heat tomorrow.

June 17 - Patriot, IN to north of Bethlehem, IN

IT IS HOT! It must be close to 100 and the humidity is getting high. Did make good mileage though. Most of it in the morning and late afternoon. At about 6:00 P.M. the wind started to pick up and the sky's become very threatening. Did get some rain, but nothing severe.

You can tell it is the weekend, lots of speed boats and jet skis out, which makes for interesting bobbing around on my part, but I can deal with it and this Kruger Canoe handles rough water very well.

Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but the canoe I'm using was designed by Verlen Kruger who holds the record for long distance touring. I found out about it from Dan Smith of Portland, MI, a very avid canoeist and close friend of Verlen's.

Verlen passed away a few years ago, but he once did a 28,000 mile canoe trip over a four year period. It makes this trip of mine sound like a Sunday day on the lake! Verlen was a very interesting person. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him. Another close friend of Verlen's and noted canoeist, Mark Przedwojewski, now builds this craft and for many years worked with Verlen. Mark, your craftsmanship is excellent and I'm glad I made the choice of Kruger Canoe for this trip. At least I feel like I'm doing okay mileage wise. I know I'm not in your league Dan and Mark, but we are still upright! You can learn more about Verlen Kruger at: www.krugercanoes.com.

Well, time for bed. I just heard it's supposed to be a chance of thundershowers tomorrow. Maybe they will miss me. That would be a good Father's Day present!

June 18 - North of Bethlehem, IN to Jeffersonville, IN

Not as warm today, but still a little humid. Did get a little rain but it held off until later in the afternoon when I did have a shower. Longer paddle today, with some wind and more boat traffic as I neared the Louisville area.

Arrived in Jeffersonville around 9:30PM (Jeffersonville is in IN across from Louisville)

Today, being Father's Day, I spent it reminiscing about family. I'm sure all fathers feel their children are the greatest! Well, this dad sure does! All four are as caring and nice as their mother!

Dean is the oldest and is a high school math teacher in Somerset, WI. Just the type of person you want teaching your child. He cares about each indvidual's total well-being. He also is an assistant football coach. (Somerset has one of the best high school football programs in the state of WI.) Erin is his wife, who also teaches. They have two children, Liv and Rory. Liv is 4 and all miss and a young lady. Rory is 2 and is definitely going to be a football player. Just a little bull!

Eric (2nd oldest) lives in Superior with his girlfriend, Suzy and her children, Phil, Brian and Breckin. He works for Superior Glass. He also is a very accomplished artist. Over the years he's been working on a number of artist ideas including cartoons. The one I like the best he calls Feebles, which relates to people my age and their forgetfulness. Maybe someday he'll get the break he needs to get such a career going. Again, a very caring person who is a great uncle to his brother's and sister's children.

Heidi is our only girl and lives right down the end of our driveway. She works as a medical assistant at The Duluth Clinic in Duluth, MN. Husband Nate works for the railroad and identical twins, Devin and Drake (just finished kindergarden) and 7 month old daughter Ryah Marie keep their grandmother very busy. Devin and Drake are on the move all the time and Ryah is just as pretty as her mother. Again, Heidi has all of her mother's great traits and is a super mother. Oh, and I guess, daddy's sweetheart!

Ryan taught school at the local high school in Superior. As most may know we lost Ryan on December 28, 2002. Four days later, on January 1st his girlfriend, Heather gave birth to their daughter, Lily Ryan. Lily is all tomboy! She will be a very good athlete like her father. Heather is a great mother, but definitely has her hands full keeping up with Lily!

You can learn more about Ryan if you look at the home page on this website.  In the Ryan' Foundation tab, there is a link you can click onto called Spartan Spin. Students at Superior HS dedicated an issue of their high school paper in memory of Ryan. Also our community has started the Ryan Hoff Memorial Youth Foundation which I will talk more about at a later time.

Right now I'm getting a little teary eyed and will just say I miss him tremendously, as I do my entire family.

Lu, you are very special. I could not ask for a better wife. Your caring and loving feelings for all has made our family. Love you very much!

Happy Father's Day to all!

June 19 - West of Louisville

Journal work is done and it's time to head for Paducah, KY. Bob and Marcia Maxwell live just east of Paducah in Grand Rivers, KY and are good friends of LuAnn and me. I'm looking forward to a night or two at their buffalo ranch and just maybe a nice meal of crappies!

Bob loves fishing and the other day he called and said he was out at the ranch doing some work and the tractor broke down. He went back to town to do some work and something else happened. So, as he said, he was forced to go fishing! My kind of thinking. See you soon Bob and Marcia.

I will hopefully update again in Owensboro and Evansville.

All is well! Time to get in the water again.

June 19 - West of Louisville to Wolf Creek

Long day today. Paddled to Brandenburg, KY and then hooked everything up to my bike for a late day bike portage to Wolf Creek. Did have some rain today on the river and some wind but nothing outrageous, just a good Boundary Waters type rain and cloudy day.

The reason I got out at Brandenburg is because for the last few nights, when I look at my maps I see this big loop of the Ohio up into IN that has been driving me nuts! I like to think in straight lines, which is hard to do on this river, but this is one time I did. So, I followed the Ohio along highway 228 to just short of Wolf Creek. This took until about 9:30 or so. Very nice pedal with a few hills, but nothing major. All the way there was a big threat of nasty looking thunderstorm clouds all around me. Back at Brandenburg, I was told a nasty front was coming in sometime this evening.

Figured I better find a decent place to camp, so decided on setting up next to an old vacant barn that was just off the highway and I figured fairly close to Wolf Point.

Did get a good shower just after I had everything setup, but the big thunderstorm never materialized.

Plans are to put in another big day tomorrow. It gets light earlier now. (Close to central time zone) So I can get going around 5:00 or 5:30. That is, if I can get out of bed. I've been known to get up at the crack of noon back home!

Good day's work today.

June 20 - East of Wolf Creek to Lewisport

Big, big day today! Up early and decided to bike to Mooleyville, KY. This takes off another little loop of the Ohio. Also want to bike because yesterday it felt good to get some strength exercise for my knee.

Today was a good day. Hot, high humidity. Just a tough day to do things, which I've always liked, but on this trip, up until today I just have not felt 100 per cent. Not sure why, maybe just old, but mostly I think it has been my knee. Anyway, today it felt great, and my strength was very good. Maybe not 100 per cent, but good enough to enjoy the tough going. Just like old times!

I got back into the water at Mooleyville and paddled to Cloverport, expecting a possibility of getting a motel there. No such luck! A guy told me the closest motel was in Haweville. So off I went, thinking I could get there by 9:00. Got there around 8:30, central time! NO Motel here either, but told there was a Best Western 8 miles down the road at Lewisport. So, hooked up the trusty little bike and pedaled to Lewisport.

Got to the motel and settled in and went outside to relax for awhile. There sat Ed and his wife (did not get a last name). They'd been at a car show and stopped for the evening. Nice 1948 Ford Coupe he had. We chatted for awhile and up comes this lady and her daughter. They park right next to us and and unload their gear. Part of the gear was golf clubs! Julie and her daughter were playing in the Kentucky State Amateur Tournament. Well, long story short, Julie and Audrey got settled in and came back for a chat. Nex thing you know, everyone was hitting golf balls out into a bean field next to the motel. Did not expect to get any golf in this trip, but did and my swing is as bad as usual!

Another good evening. People have made this trip and on the water you do not experience it as much. (On one of the next few posts I will describe the Ohio in more detail.)

So, once again I'm glad I made the decision to grab a motel this evening. Funny how things work out.

Good, good day again; hot, humid, long and a few laughs at the end!

June 21 - Lewisport , KY to east of Newburgh, IN

Nice morning and a very good rest last night on a level bed rather than a 45 degree river bank!

I put in the water around 5:45AM with the goal to make it to Evansville, IN.

Paddling was very good today with very little strong wind and I was making good time even by stopping every two to two and half hours to stretch.

I came through Owensboro about noon and pulled over to the Indiana side to have lunch. Must have been a little tired for two hours later I awoke to waves from a barge slamming against my canoe.

Continued on my way and around 4:30 I heard this big boom way off in the distance, like a stick of dynamite going off. Later I heard it again and figured it was kids somewhere down the river having an early start to the 4th of July.

I came around an island and saw another trailer park on the inside of the river and decided to paddle over and see if I could get some fresh water and some info on what was ahead. I did get the water and they told me a couple of miles down river there was a marina and they thought I might get a sandwich there.

As I approached the marina, two 4 wheelers were coming down to the boat ramp where three or four others were standing. As I paddled over, all of a sudden I hear this loud bomb again, it just rattled everything around. Found out why - the kids were playing with the firecrackers!

I wasn't sure if I should paddle over or not after that, but decided to anyway.

I introduced myself and told them all about what I was doing and all of sudden everyone at the marina was down checking my canoe and gear out.

Turns out one of the guys, Larry Masters, was a good friend of Bob and Marcia Maxwell, the friends I plan to meet in Paducah. (Small world) These people were so much fun and were treating me so well that my plans to reach Evansville went right down the drain. I stayed there for the evening and filled up on some of the best barbeque cooking I've tasted, plus one story after another.

Another great day and better evening spent with good folks. (Evansville can wait!)

LONGEST DAY - June 22nd & 23rd to Smithland Locks

Started this day at 4:30 in the morning. I wanted to get a head start today because of cutting yesterday a little short. Although, I'm glad I spent the night at the marina and again, made new friends.
The day started out great, making it to Evansville, IN before noon. The plan was to go over to the KY side and get out of the water in Henderson, KY, but those plans were quickly aborted because there was no landing! The Henderson landing was all the way around the loop I was trying to avoid by biking through Henderson a few miles and saving a bunch of miles paddling.
So, back to the Evansville side and to a broken down landing just under the bridge connecting Evansville and Henderson.
Got all set up to start the bike portage, but to my surprise when I got to the top of the boat ramp I was in the middle of a soybean field. Well, there was a dirt tractor road going through the middle of it so I figured that was my best bet. Finally did make it to a paved road and worked my way to the highway leading to Henderson. The highway started out with a nice shoulder and I went right by a weigh station with about 4 highway patrol cars sitting at it. I figured one of three things could happen as they were watching me wide-eyed going by: 1. The shoulder was safe enough to go over the bridge. 2. They would come and stop me and not allow me to go over, or 3. They'd be nice enough to escort me across. None of the three! Shoulder narrowed and I rode across with cars and trucks within a short arm's reach away passing me. Made it!
Once in Henderson I asked for the best way to get back to the river. A older timer told me if it were him he'd go a back road about 15 miles and get back in past all the loops. Sounded good to me so that is what I did.
Now back in the water in mid afternoon. I worked my way down to the Uniontown locks figuring if I could paddle until 9:00 I'd be able to make it to the Smithland locks tomorrow where Bob Maxwell would pick me up. Always in the back of my mind was homecooked crappie and buffalo steaks and a level bed for a couple of days!!! Just enough to make me want to get there as quick as I could.
Well, around 6:30 I could see a big front moving in. A couple in a pleasure boat stopped and told me severe storms were on their way. (Glad they told me for I lost my radio a couple of days ago!) So, I found a great place to make camp, even level for a change. Just as I got myself all tucked in the storm hit. Good winds, lightning and a fair amount of rain.
While it was raining I called Bob Maxwell to get his report on what the weather was doing in the Paducah area. He said that I must be getting the rain they just had and everything looked good after it passed which should be about half an hour.
Sure enough, in about half hour it was clear again so I had supper, walked around a little and settled in for the evening.
Then about 10:30 all hell broke loose. Lightning, rain and could hear strong winds coming. I looked out and it was very eerie, like tornado weather. So I quickly called Bob again and he said everything was great there, but he'd check the weather channel and see what was in my area. Meanwhile, while waiting for him to call back I had to go retrieve my tent that blew off into some bushes. Re-set the tent up and Bob called. He said I was right in the middle of a severe straight wind storm. That was nice to hear! Well, I crawled back into a very wet tent and sleeping bag and just waited it out. Finally, sometime around 11:30 it was over and I was very happy except for everything being totally wet. I tried to make do the best I could, but said the heck with it, I'm packing up and going!
So, one day turned into two, with a night of paddling!
At about 9:00 the next morning I finally pulled over and took a good 45 minute nap. Took another at around 2:00! Good thing in this experience is that I was on track to make it to Smithland today, which I probably would not have made if I started in the morning because I was further up stream than I figured the night before. Also, had a good breeze at my back for the first time in a long time. As I looked over to shore it looked like I was going twice as fast as previous days.
Finally made it to Smithland in the late afternoon. Called Bob and he'd said he'd be there in about 45 minutes. I got everything up onto the landing and went back down to the river and lay in the water thinking, why do I always have to push myself to get somewhere? I could have just as well gotten here tomorrow without killing myself! Just not my way I guess,,, but after all,,, crappie and buffalo steak and a level bed sound awful good tonight!

June 26 - Grand Rivers, KY - Monday

Two days of rest went by way too quick. Bob and Marcia Maxwell have been great hosts. (Expect nothing less) They've been friends for a number of years. First time I met Bob was around 1972 when Marcia brought him to Minneapolis and introduced him at a party. He'd brought along a jug of his dad's homemade "Kentucky Corn Syrup" (if you know what I mean) and two days later all I can remember is I knew I had a true friend! Seriously, Bob and I hit it off from the beginning. He's very much like me and without saying a word each of us knows the other is always there for him!
Also over the weekend two of their daughters were home. Lissa, who is not married and Cammie along with husband Randall and children, Marshall and Ariel. Great to see them. Beautiful family, although it made me want to get home to my own, which I will be doing on the 3rd of July. Bob and Marcia also have another daughter, Tracy who I believe lives out in Denver. She is battling ovarian cancer and doing well. As of now doctors expect a full recovery. My wife, LuAnn has had her own battle and has conquered breast cancer. So, I know what Bob, Marcia and the rest of the family are going through and my prayers are with them.
So far I figured I've traveled 998 miles, about a 50 mile average. It will be interesting to see how that goes when I turn and go upstream on the Mississippi.
The Ohio was not a difficult river to navigate. Water was usually calm, unless a barge was going by. Once you got beyond its banks the scenery was beautiful. All along the banks you'd find garbage of all kinds. This was due to flooding. The Ohio can flood for miles inland and when it recedes it brings everything with it and it just piles up over the years along its bank. Also, the shore is usually at about a 45 degree angle and then goes straight up as much as 30 or 40 some feet, which made it difficult to find a level camp spot! (I'm going to miss this bed at the Maxwell's!)
Last night we ate supper at Bob and Marcia's friends: Darryl and Kay Armstrong's. Another great meal. Really enjoyed meeting them and they have a beautiful house nestled in the woods along Barkely Lake (part of the Cumberland River).
I have many interesting stories and met many interesting people and will elaborate more on them when I finish this year's trip.
Although, one story keeps popping into my mind that I'd like to share now.
Not long ago, as I was preparing to get into the water an isolated boat ramp, two children, Michael, about 4 and Audrey, about 7 were playing by themselves at the ramp. They came over and asked if I had any catfish. I said, "No, but I do have a candy bar." Well, they helped me put my canoe in the water and then I thought I better get them back to wherever their parents were. Turns out mom was up cleaning catfish with some guy at least 25 years older than her and as Michael, said, we do not know where dad is. Anyway, we chatted a little longer as I finished getting ready. Then I walked them back up the bank to where mom and the other fellow were cleaning catfish in about 95 degree weather. The kids asked if I'd play with them for awhile, which I did, then we sat and had a glass of water together before it was time to go. I told them I had to leave and they asked their mother if they could walk me back down to the river, which mom said was okay. As we walked back I keep wondering to myself if these two really had a chance to be all that they could be. (Also thinking how lucky I am to have the family Lu and I do) They both seemed bright and this setting (worse than I've described) was not good. Just before I pushed off I gave them both a big hug and told them to always be a caring person. Audrey's eyes told me she understood. Michael, well, he may have a tough road unless a teacher, coach, or someone takes him under his wing.
As I pushed off and got down the river a little bit, I turned and looked back and they were still standing by the bank, waving. I just wish I could have put them in my canoe and taken them with me.
It's about 7:30 and time to leave for the Smithland locks and continue this journey. Just want to thank all the people I've met along the way for their friendship and help. Best to all back home and I'm looking forward to July 3rd when I head home for awhile. Right now I have a little more paddling to do. I told Bob and Marcia I'm going to try and back off a little. Plans are to get no further than St. Louis in the next 6 days, which means I should have time to smell the roses, as a friend once told me. We'll see how long it lasts! Heck, I'll make it a goal, that should work!!!

June 26 - Smithland Lock to Ferren Landing

I wrote the last entry this morning before I pushed off.

It was tough to say good-by to Bob and Marcia. They went out of their way to do everything in their power to make my stay a comfortable one. Good part is that I will see Bob tomorrow at Mound City, IL. Part of my planning for the trip was to bike portage around Cairo. Supposedly it's tough paddling in that area, plus I have another big loop to go around. On Sunday, Bob, Marcia and I took a drive to scout out the best route over to the Mississippi. We decided that portaging from Mound City to Thebes, Il by way of Hwy 3 was the best. Bob said he'd meet me Tuesday and follow me across. Just like him and knew I couldn't say no, plus I knew I'd really enjoy the day with him along.

Trip went well from Smithland to Paducah. At Paducah I was to meet with a newspaper person, but it never worked out. So, at 2:00PM I decided to be on my way. (Can't wait forever!)

Winds have now picked up and the rest of the day was a tough paddle. Lot of white caps and heavy barge traffic around Metropolis made it worse. I think this was my preparation for the up stream current I will be facing on the Mississippi!

Finally found a place to pull over and set up camp just before dark. It was an unexpected boat landing on the Kentucky side of the river. There were a couple of trailers on the east side of the landing so I went over to the west side and found a nice level spot. I'd brought my paddles and gear up with me and then went back to secure my canoe and call Bob. As I was talking to Bob I turned around and here was a guy at the top of the landing getting out of his pickup with all my gear. At first I thought I was in big trouble, but after talking with him he said it was just fine to camp. Also said I almost lost my gear. He'd thought it belonged to some neighbors and was just about to go home with it when he decided to check the landing. Sure glad he did. Not sure what I'd have done if I went back up to where I left all my stuff and found it gone. No paddle, no nothing. It's a long enough journey, but to swim it!

Ronnie and Michelle Ferren own the land at this landing called Ferren Landing. After talking with Ronnie, he invited me up to their house for supper, which was a couple of miles away. Great meal, and even better, I got to sleep in the camper at the landing. Thanks Ronnie and Michelle, I will stay in touch. Like I've said, people have made this trip!

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The generosity of these companies contributed to making a successful adventure...

Balance Bar

The Atlantic to Pacific Journey was greatly helped by a generous grant from Balance Bar.

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Jeff Foster Trucking

Jeff Foster Trucking, Inc. provides national top quality transportation services.  The corporate office is located in Superior, WI.

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ZRE Racing Equipment

"Faster, Lighter, Stronger, Better" high performance canoe paddles from Zaveral Racing Equipment.

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Bass Pro Shops

World's Leading Supplier of Premium Outdoor Gear

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Very Special Thanks

Rich Designs of Superior WI for my "Atlantic to Pacific" decal!!!

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Spectators 

A great place owned by my friend Pat Paquette.