Day 57: Tubing, hydrofoil, 4:00
I woke today to a sunrise about to come up. I was looking to the east and awaiting it. I pulled out my phone to get the shot when it broke over the horizon. I caught it, then went back to sleep. The second time I woke up, the smell of bacon and cinnamon rolls filled the room. I was all smiles. They had made a cinnamon roll, french toast breakfast. I was happy about that. We all gathered around the table and dug in. The morning was off to a good start.
After breakfast, we decided to go out in the boat. We grabbed a tube. One of the kids was talking smack the night before saying how they would throw me off if we went out. It was time for them to back that up. We jumped on the tube and took off. Those things are a blast behind the boat or a powerful jet ski. We went for quite awhile before coming back into get some others and the hydrofoil ski. We got out in the water and Ken was going to show me how to do it. Mind you, he is 71, but still rocks life out to the fullest. He jumped on it and was skiing in no time. I was watching him as I wanted to make a go at it. I have never done it and it looked fun. Ken finished jumping around on the ski and offered it to me. I was all about a new adventure. I jumped off the back of the boat, but not before having a little worry about jumping in without shoes. It was deep water and not a problem, but I still had a moment of pause. Also, my foot is healed up. It is a little sensitive as the new skin has not fully regrown, but it is closed and I am able to get back in the river.
I strapped in to the ski and was ready to go. The first time the boat took off, I just lost the grip. I was not used to that. It took a few more attempts. I was able to get up for a few seconds, but I was not able to hold it. It would take a little time to get it, but I wanted to give it a go. I forgot how much I really enjoyed the water. I know I am on the river, but I mean with the power boats and skiing behind them. We enjoyed the morning on the boat and then headed back in. We had a lunch and then it was nap time. I was beat. I passed out for a bit on a futon. I knew I still had miles to get today, but I wanted a rest.
Ken said I should just stay one more night. I really wanted to, but I had to keep somewhat to a schedule. Otherwise I would never get off the river. There is and has been something fun to do at every stop along this journey. I figured that is a good sign that I am having a fun time when I don’t want to leave. I ended up saying good bye to everyone as they all came out to see me off. I was leaving at 4:00. This was by far the latest start of my adventure. I wanted to make it down to Keithsberg, IL that evening. It was only 15 miles downstream, but I needed to get some miles in. I headed down to the lock. I saw a lot of barge traffic, so I called in to see the wait time. I was told it would be about 2 hours. The rollers were down when they were not in the morning. This meant I could not just run through. I had to wait or hit the spillway. They told me I would be on my own on the spillway and that water was barely clearing it. I told them thanks for the heads up, but this was adventure. I cut quickly to the side channel and went for it.
Along the way, I saw some more bald eagles. That never gets old to me. I approached the spillway. I was a little more cautious as I could not tell how much water was flowing over it. I headed towards the side incase I got into trouble. As I approached it, the front of my boat hit the cement wall. There was only about an inch of water going over it, but the current was pushing me sideways into it. This was not good. I quickly back paddled to clear the spillway. I repositioned myself so that I could approach it and then quickly get out. I did that and was standing on it. I looked over to see a snake on it too. It was about 3′ long. I did not notice what kind it was as I scurried it off with a stick. There have been more snakes on the river over the past few days. I will be alert and careful at I am getting out and setting up camps. I don’t need to be bit on this trip. I pulled my boat over the spillway. I used my rope to guide it out around a tree to get back into it. I received the rope upstream and it has come in handy quite a few times. I was back in the boat and off downstream I went. 2 hours of waiting for the lock to clear or 20 minutes to clear the spillway? That was an easy choice.
I moved downstream with a tail wind helping. It was nice until I got back into the main channel. The waves were getting kicked up and coming at me from behind. Waves from any direction just make the paddle into a little fight to stay upright. I cam manage them well, but they are always a challenge. It was not long before I approached Kiethsberg. I passed an old rail road track bridge with a section taken out. This was for the barge traffic. I found their marina and a beach landing. I pulled up and set up camp. It was a picturesque setting with the beach, river, and sunset. I was at another good campsite. I made dinner while I sat up watching the sunset through my open tent door. I was happy to be witnessing this moment. Life was good.
The wind was blowing this night and it was around 70 degrees when I called it a night. I slept with the rain fly to block the wind. I looked through the door to watch the barge coming upstream. I looked up and it was one of the clearest nights yet. The stars were putting on a show what I will not forget. I wanted to capture it, but somethings are worth just taking the time to experience them. This was one of those moments.