We've had two birthdays this week. Oscar turned 24 on October 1. Amanda turned 26 on October 6 (today). We got our hands on a set of party hats and wore them down the River for 32 miles until Dubuque, Iowa. This does mean that we've left the great state of Wisconsin and all of its dairy glory. Our borders are now Iowa and Illinois. The day went by quickly with everyone feeling fresh and healthier than the past few days (stomach flu has passed between a few crew members). Half way through the day, Louis made a few phone calls to Dubuque's local grocers. They were responsive and eager to help. Eagle Country Market donated 20 dollars' worth of delicious pastas, sauces, and some calorie-packed grub that will sustain the group another few days. A huge thanks to them. Teri, of Calico Bean, along with her humorous friend, enthusiastic husband, and curious child (Nile), kept a couple of us entertained in their shop, located in the oldest wooden structure in the area. They gave the group a bag full of phenomenal food, four pounds of which is the best peanut butter to pass man's lips- made of honey roasted peanuts. They then gave us a ride back to the River to meet the rest of the crew. They are incredible people. When the group reconvened at the River, Amanda was gone, seeking a movie theatre for her birthday. She came back empty handed but with an idea. She'd been speaking with the front desk of the Grand Harbor Hotel about places to camp and things to do in town. They mentioned that they sometimes offer rooms to people doing charity work. So, we went in, chatted it up with the manager, an energetic young man, and now I write this in the comfort of a 6th floor hotel suite. We're all showered, fed, tired, and overly-pampered. On top of all this, they comped our breakfast in the morning. It's pretty amazing how local businesses strive to give back to their community. We are all thoroughly impressed and thankful for the generosity and hospitality that continues to come our way. We do not assume we'll get this sort of compassion throughout the entire journey, but, so far, people have gone above and beyond all expectations and desires. Quite a birthday for Amanda.
More and more people have become interested in Paddle to Haiti. Our blog followers continue to increase in number and several businesses have linked their sites to ours. The donations keep coming in. The support has been nonstop from friends and family. Communities reach out to us whenever we reach out to them. Thank you for continuing to read the blog and tell your friends about our journey and efforts to help the population down in Haiti. Every penny counts!