There was no hurry to wake up. I didn’t even want to wake up. Not because of being tired, but because I knew soon the trip would be over. There was a certain unease in the camp. I think the feeling was mutual with several other paddlers. This wonderful trek down a beautiful river would soon be history. We would be back to our daily routines and the group would be forever in our memories. Until then, we had 16 miles and two locks to negotiate.
It was amazing how fast this paddling went. Even though my body did not want to paddle. My arms did not want to pull and push. My legs did not want to push. My muscles were sore, the ones I had not noticed yesterday or before. My mind was not into it. It was, thank goodness, a short trip that day. The sun beat down melting through layers of sunscreen. Water was consumed by the bottle full, empties littering the bottom of my boat, rolling from side to side as my boat swayed.
The notorious Rainbow bend, came and went with a whimper. Memories of last year when the waves were two feet high white caps and I could not tell if I was making any forward progress went through my mind. Today was much different. The water was like glass, and the heat oppressive. City park passed, and we grouped up for a loose diamond formation for the final push to the Ohio River and up river to the landing.
Soon we were pulling boats up the incline and grouping up for photos and media attention. Me all I could do was be sad, it was all over. Yes I had finished. and yes I was happy that others had finished. We accomplished something few do, but my solemnity was overcoming me. I could have kept on, miles, more miles. I wanted this group to paddle more and more. Day after day of the closeness we had. Purpose, it meant something! This group of women and men meant something, do ourselves and to many others.
Some of us loaded up and took off for other adventures. Some hung around the Lafayette Hotel for a day, having dinner and breakfast and then returning home. Everyone took home precious memories.
Each person added their magic to this trip. Each took from it more than they ever expected. The magic land of the river flowed through us now. For a moment it washed us clean of the world around us and it’s troubles. It is always there. It beacons us, come to me and I will fill you. And we will all return.