The Hueffners did us well. We canoed right up to the cabin in Trempealeau and Bob talked us through the process of opening and closing the cabin. Indeed, we've learned to appreciate the smaller things in life. We slipped off our sandals and dug our toes into the carpet. "What a great idea to put carpet in a kitchen," someone noticed. And, of course, Brett was the first to fall asleep on it. He's been known to fall asleep in chairs at any moment of the day, so it was good to see him lying in the hallway to the kitchen after a couple hours. He's learning. We spent a lazy morning there, feeling the need to take full advantage of the luxurious opportunity. We left by 2:30 without an ounce of guilt. And we left that afternoon with nine people instead of eight. The night before, we met another thru-paddler named David. He paddles a 16-foot, 48-pound canoe. He spent several months before the trip meticulously working on this canoe. He handmade every inch of it. He let me (Michael) paddle it for a day into La Crosse. It was, without a doubt, the best experience I've had in a canoe. Smooth, graceful, and efficient. The craftsmanship is outstanding. He is also using a beautiful Bending Branches paddle. Light as a feather, strong as a bull. David has been a great addition to our flotilla and he has intriguing theories about levity which we've all been able to contemplate as we float down river. Gravity is taking us.
We are now in La Crosse, Wisconsin, staying with Alex Johnson, a couchsurfer. We also connected with Dan Popelka and Jessy Ellison, friends from Stevens Point, now living in La Crosse. They set up an interview for Channel 8 at 10 p.m. last night. When we find the link to it, we'll post it. Last night, a few of us went over to their place and played music until Jessy had to go to work at 5 a.m. We decided the people in La Crosse were too good to leave behind. We are staying here for the day and will leave tomorrow. Oktoberfest is in full swing here. We will amble about the streets, trying every flavor of brat and sauerkraut known to Germany and Wisconsin, surely trying to sing the traditional "hoch soll sie leben" at each corner.
We've fallen into a great rhythm on the River. The current is pumping and will undoubtedly be for the next couple weeks. It takes us effortlessly through miles, allowing us more time to relax and enjoy towns like Trempeauleau and La Crosse. We know we'll make it to St. Louis in time for our next event (October 15). After recognizing the wealth of generosity that is pouring over us from people, co-ops, and businesses, we seem to have developed a more serious interest in getting to know these people and their stories. For example, a young man we're with today has been telling us of the trip he took down the River last year in a "shack-raft."
People have expressed interest in hearing about our day-to-day life on the River. Well, each day is quite a bit different from the next. Generally, the guys wake after hearing the ladies pumping the stove and giggling about the burst of flame from the dual burner Coleman. Within a few minutes, sleeping bag zippers resonate throughout camp (usually a sand bar or any flat land along the River), followed soon after by the unmistakable tent zippers, groaning, and a few distant laughs about my perpetual gas. Otherwise, mornings are quiet. Not much needs to be said when eight people are of a common mindset of devouring breakfast, packing up, and hitting the Muddy Highway, which the River has recently become. Typically, a few tent flies hang in the trees until we're ready to push off, in an effort to dry off the morning dew. Some mornings, we talk about coffee for a couple hours. Other days, we toss riddles back and forth until we can find one that Louis has to think about for more than ten minutes. We stop 15 or so miles downstream and eat the lunch we made the night before. It's usually a tuna wrap with a selection of veggies that a co-op donated to us. Or it's potatoes and onions, leftover from the St. Paul event. Instead of napping after lunch, some continue to paddle, others (usually Brett and Oscar) lounge, picking on the mandolin and guitar. Come afternoon, we start thinking about a site to stay at. At that point, we've gone about 35 miles (biggest day- 45 miles). The routine is similar to the morning, once we hit the shore. The only difference is that we're more chatty. Hit the shore, open the wanagan, start a fire, cook, set up tents, wash dishes, and relax around the fire. Nights are early, especially after a long paddle. But we try to get lunches taken care of before hitting the hay. If not, snacking is on the next day's menu. We've become pretty good at setting up and breaking camp. Everyone has their task and if something isn't done, the next available person takes care of it. We are like a vagrant community, a migrating family.
We're trying our best to keep everything updated on the site. Bear with us as our daily routine cannot always offer time for updates. We're gaining more and more money every day. Every penny of it goes to the Lambi Fund. We are trying to keep up with the donor recognition and all will soon be up to date. Thanks for continuing to follow our progress.