Every night since the trout feast, we've been dining on Eric's venison. We made burgers, brats, and flank steak fajitas for the past few nights. After each, someone declares that that meal was the best yet. Our crew has teamed up regularly with the Boy Scout leaders from Camp Tomahawk (www.camptomahawk.com). They're a great group and we make up a fun, dynamic group of 12. We've camped with them for the past week, sharing meals, desserts, and stories around nightly fires. It ends up, after brats and cheese, like Blazing Saddles.
The wind has abated significantly but the nights have become brisk. The temperatures plummeted to the 20's a few nights ago. The morning fires are often larger than the evening fires. And we've come to build two separate fires. Not because we dislike each other, but because we can stay warm around one while we cook on the other. The days, after about an hour on the water, heat up and we shed layers quickly. The sun glares hard off the water. The stern person typically points the canoe directly at the sun in order to block the sun with the bow person.
People are starting to feel the effects of constant paddling. Muscles are sore and torn without much time to repair. We all try to get the Bending Branches paddles, but some have to use the heavy, water logged paddles. Ibuprofen has become as tasty as Skittles and breaks have become more necessary. We will probably have to figure out a system to keep muscles fresh for the last two weeks. We have 13 days left and would like to keep our bodies healthy for that stretch. The post-Halloween candy sales have helped, we like to believe.
But the fact is that we have 13 days left and most of the talk regards enthusiasm for the Gulf. Excitement abounds in every paddle stroke and flicker of the fire's flames. We entered Louisiana today, which makes us feel even more like we're in the final stretch. Less than 500 miles to go.