I apologize for the hiatus between posts. We've had some issues with internet access and computer battery. But as lot has happened. We couchsurfed with a wonderful woman who has now become a great friend to all of us. She managed to get us each a bed in the Isle of Capri hotel and Casino in Bettendorf, Iowa. We spent the afternoon with her at the Golden Corral, eating like savages, going up to the buffet more than a healthy amount. Oscar ended up with a plate of gummy bears and pudding with an ear-to-ear smile. We also went to HyVee grocery store. They donated twenty dollars' worth of food to our trip. It goes a long way. The night ended up with a few people wandering around the casino, throwing dollars into the penny slots and finally convincing ourselves that the odds were in our favor at the roulette table. They were not. Our new friend met us in the morning at the hotel restaurant and treated us again to a wonderful breakfast buffet with french toast, waffles, fruit, and omelets. What a great person she was.
We managed to head out of town by noon and put on as many miles as we could. We got stuck at a lock and dam for two hours, waiting for a barge to get its cargo through. One side of the River was the Rock Island Arsenal, onto which we were not allowed to step (although we talked them into letting us nap on the shore). The other side was too dangerous to get to. So, portaging was out of the question. After the wait, we made another few miles to a campground. There were several people there. They all lived in Muscotine (five miles south), but spent several days at a time in the campground as a getaway. At first, we thought it to be strange. But, after meeting a group of the campers (Mike, Kenneth, carol, Faith, John, and Melissa), we understood the camaraderie between them. We spent the evening with John and Melissa, both of whom are phenomenal people, then spent the morning with the rest of the crew. They treated us well, supported the T-shirt sales, and helped us out with food for the next week. We were on our way again, headed south down the Big River. Since then, we've been doing bigger mileage days. Today, for example, we did our biggest day (47 miles) with daylight to spare. The current has been generous.
Today brought the first clouds we'd seen in over a week. As much as we love the sun on our shoulders, it was nice to have an overcast day with a warm headwind brushing through the holes in our pants and flapping the Paddle to Haiti flags. The evening brought glassy waters and a pink horizon with a bridge in the distance. As we neared it, we saw box cars rolling behind a roaring engine. The train was long and slow but a gorgeous sight with the sun setting behind it. The wake behind us warped the reflection of the broken clouds. The arch of drips from the swinging paddles distorted the sun's reflection. It was all calm. The train passed by the bridge and a siren rang out. A section of the bridge began turning 90 degrees and a barge pushed through the open gap. The four canoes stopped accelerating and we all watched. It was a cool system to watch. The siren rang again and the bridge again closed the gap and another train took its turn.
Tonight, we're staying on a nice couple's lawn. They hosted a group of four thru-paddlers earlier this year. We have a great fire going and people are heading to visit with their dreams again. No doubt, we'll sleep 11 hours, as usual. Oscar just finished writing a request for a visa extension. If he doesn't get it, he'll leave us on November 1. If he does get it, he'll be able to finish the trip and see the rest of the charity work through. We all have our fingers crossed and couldn't imagine losing him before our arrival at the Gulf.
We've gotten several compliments on our Bending Branches paddles lately. I let a group of people feel how light one of them was and they couldn't believe it was actually wood. And such gorgeous wood at that. They're awesome to have, especially compared to some of the other raft guiding paddles we are using.
Again, sorry for the several days without a post. we have over 150 people checking this blog out daily. It's great to have such support from everyone. Tell your friends. We'll see you in St. Louis at the Atomic Cowboy venue on October 15. Lot's of music and great folks.