The day was supposed to be an easy day. Nothing unexpected, nothing particularly dangerous. But the heat of the day became our enemy! Mile after mile we paddled and paddled and paddled. We had several locks to go through this day. One was the notorious Philo lock which can be dangerous. But not on this day. There had been no recent flooding and there was no debris in the area so it was smooth sailing. We arrived there early and hung out under the shade enjoying each other’s company talking and having a good time. Some were frustrated that we got there so early but soon that was all forgotten as we entered the lock.
Philo lock is notorious for the currents on the down river side. We got a quick ride on the bucking horse that was our boat, and everybody got through safely. We were on our way to the next lock, Rokeby. Before that we stopped at the long hoped for Greenacres store, which due to septic issues did not have a bathroom and the restaurant was closed. This was a real disappointment because most people were depending on a nice hot brunch and a restroom break. We moved on and there was a wonderful ice cream shop just down the river Most stopped and enjoyed the feast of the cold delight.
We got through Rokeby lock in short time and we were McConnelsville bound. It was long hard paddling, and the heat was horrid. Bends and curves, and little shade to be had. Then came into view the golden arches! I guess you can always depend on them but I don’t know for what. Many stopped and refreshed themselves. Others moved on and found the lock.
It is difficult to explain in words how long trips on the river can be. For me, I pass the time in many ways. If I have a companion I paddle and talk about just about everything. If alone, I may sing to myself, even write a short verse or two. Sometimes I count cadence as in the military, or just count the strokes. Mantras come in handy to pass the time. There was the beauty of nature, birds of all sorts. Female ducks attempting to lure me away with their crippled act, I only felt sorry for all the effort the put in to save what was never threatened. Once in awhile a fish will jump or roll. And there is always the people. Wonderful people, all waving, yelling hello, finding out what the group was all about and us so willing to share why we were there. Flags waving on boats, and flags waving on land, all Americans and feeling it.
There was a Vietnam Veteran, that one of our members seen fall. We paddled over and spoke to him. He told us of his service and we of ours. he was sitting on his boat ramp talking to us, and said he was ok, so we paddled on. By the time the next group of boaters came, he was out and in serious condition. A ambulance was called and off to the hospital he went. Our lives all touching even for just a moment.
Arrival at River’s Edge Campground is a truly fun experience. Keli is there with her camera taking movies of each paddler as they approach the beach. If you miss her she will ask you go arrive again! Hugs were exchanged, food was on the fire, and tents went up. Keli and Erik are two very wonderful people who give of themselves to our cause. Keli is a veteran herself. We had another great night of great food and conversation. Most retired early, I personally was beat and needed a good night sleep.