Day 32: Finding happiness. Making friends.
Harriet Island to Winona
I woke up this morning after a cool night on the beach. Mr. Bambenek hollered at me to let me know they saved some breakfast for me. I thought that was very kind of him and his family. I walked over to their houseboat. The kids were running around and I had a good talk with everyone. The two senior members of the families were old ‘river rats’. This is someone who grew up and/or lived off the river. They both worked on cruise boats. When they found out I wanted to capture some of those images, they began making some calls. I was put in contact with the Mississippi Queen. I will see what I can do to get on it to photograph it down the river. I knew I was not that far from Winona, but I wanted to head that way. They whipped me up 3 turkey and cheese sandwiches for the day and I said my see you laters. I only had a few miles to get to Lock #5. The river was moving and I made great time. I arrived at the lock and the lock master fame out to greet me. I saw that they had a soda machine and I asked him if I could buy a soda. He ran back in and grabbed me a Mountain Dew. I asked how much I owed him. He told me he got it and to have a safe journey. I appreciated that and waved bye to him as I left the lock. This is where the day began to get even better. I paddled out into the main channel. The current was strong and there was no boat traffic of any kind out on the river. I had the river to myself. I put my paddle on the top deck and sat back. I pulled out my sandwiches and watched the clouds go by and I truly was enjoying where I was on the river and in life. The river has brought a sense of calm and peace unlike anything I have experienced before. I was/am simply happy to be alive and fortunate enough to be living the experiences I am living. I coasted down the river for a bit before finding a cool beach I wanted to explore. I jumped out seeing fresh hatched turtle eggs while I was enjoying the sand between my toes. I was enjoying the moment while looking forward to the holiday weekend ahead. I got back in the boat and decided to get moving. I was in the main channel as I paddled my way past Alma, WI. I could see people on land all waving to me as I past down the river. Normally, I would swing by to say hi, but I wanted to get to Winona. Jeff, my host for the evening, advised me to jump the spillway to get to his place. I went for it as he said it was not to rough. I approached the spillway as the water began to pick up. Everything was strapped down and I was ready to rock and roll. I hit the dam and rolled right over it. There were two waves , but I powered right through them. The adrenaline spiked up for a second, but after Saux Rapids, this was easy. I searched the dike for his house. I said hi to his neighbors before I stopped at his place. I tied the boat up and was happy to be in for a few days. I uploaded my gear before Jeff and his family got home. I hoped I had the right house as by boat was empty. Jeff showed up. I was altho he right place. I met his kids. Marcy put the two youngest ones down while the two older ones played on the tree swing. When they went down, Jeff offered to drive me into town to check out the area. I was filled with all kinds of information about the community, the history, and the culture of the town. We made it back, I showered and was ready for bed. I had a feeling it would be a fun time during my stay.