Made it to Sainte Genevieve
Apologies in advance for the long post, but it's been an eventful few days.
Yesterday was better. Light wind, sun shining, made it to Sainte Genevieve which is an amazing little town full of French colonial history. I was welcomed at the Main Street Inn which is impeccable in service and atmosphere. Amazing breakfasts!!
But more importantly, my outlook is better. The last four days were a bit of a beat down, I'd like to think by anyone's standards. I hesitated to even share, because I hate for people to worry. But when I started this, I promised to share authentically, and this is part of the trip. After St. Louis, I blissfully believed that was the hardest thing I'd face.
In the last 4-5 days, I've struggled with plummeting temps, brutal headwinds, learning how to navigate and communicate with the barges, a rock slide, and finally my worst nightmare...lost my canoe.
First, the winds, temps and barges are not unexpected, but I liken it to being in combat in one way. You have to be aware and 'on' at all times which does take a toll. In warm weather, nightly camps were a break; now they are a time for critical diligence keeping warm and keeping water from freezing. Let the race south continue!
As for the rock slide and the canoe incident, let me start by saying both turned out fine. The rock wing dams sometimes offer cleaner places to park and unload the canoe, even more stable places to tie up overnight. The trade off is that they are just dumped, the rocks are not lodged or stable in any way. They are, after all, not intended for foot traffic. Balance is key and even then, as happened the other day, a section can break loose and the river drops off quickly. I got briefly caught in one of these loading the canoe. Luckily it only caught my left ankle, just some scrapes and buises, and I was able to pull myself up with the canoe.
I was pretty mad at myself about losing the canoe. This had been my worst nightmare on this trip, and I feel like I've been diligent to the point of paranoid for the last 2400 miles. My whole life is in that canoe. I had just paddled back upstream for a mile after learning that an island chute was blocked by pilings. We stopped for a quick break before heading back into the main channel. I thought I had pulled the canoe pretty far up the beach and the water was fairly calm. My headband came off, Hank grabbed it and ran, I pursued for probably less than 30 seconds. I turned around and the canoe had dislodged and was headed to the middle of the chute. I made several attempts to retrieve it myself, but it ultimately lodged against a piling in the dead center of the chute. My only option was to walk. Everything, including my phone was in the canoe. A very nice highway commissioner picked me up on Levee road and dropped me at one of the nearest homes. Long story shorter, the kindest gentleman dropped what he was doing and retrieved his small boat and a trolling motor, and we were able to very carefully retrieve the canoe.
Since then, I've done some real soul searching and decided that I didn't come this far to quit now, and I'm hoping for warmer weather and fairer winds soon. These days are definitely eye-openers and reminders though that now is not the time to let down🤗