I am dwarfed by everything around be. Big things. Moving and not moving everywhere on the river at the same time. I was anxious from the time I put in until the time I mercifully stopped after 50 miles. I was just plain afraid the rest of the time. I think I will let the photos tell that story.
Rowing along the east bank a man waves me over. When I got near he was talking to a man in only a bathing suit and a woman in daisy dukes and a bikini top. All three ignore me. I start to move on the the grey bearded man motions me again to come over. I stop and he helps me pull the boat ashore.
I ask him his name a second time. His Louisiana accent is so heavy. Charlie Boo-SHEA. “B-o-c-h-e” he says. I ask if he has trouble understanding my accent since he asks me to repeat things. “No. I’m just hard of hearing.”
He tells me I’m the first paddler he has seen this year. The nearest ones he knows about are two French Canadians in Greenville, Mississippi. He has a little beach area set up and I rest in the shade. He is on a ‘Mississippi Paddlers’ facebook page and tracks people and then offers them some help. I’m unaware of this since I am not on Facebook. “Can I get you anything?” I gave him an empty gallon water jug. He left in a golf cart to his house just on the other side of the levee wall. He returned with the water plus two bags of ice and two ice cold Miller Highlife.
There are small pleasures in a trip like this. Ice, cold water and a beer at 11 in the morning are three of them. I thanked him and continued on now suddenly regretting the beer. Other than I’m a beer snob and ordinarily wouldn’t drink a miller, the beer went to my head. Was it the heat? Dehydration? The sun? I decide not to drink the other one. If I’m going to die out here, and at times think it’s a possibility, I want to do it sober or roaring drunk. Certainly not passed out from a couple of beers.
At the end of the day I stop at the only beach in the last 10 miles. It’s just above New Orleans. Its big and as I pull up I see two twenty somethings, one on an ATV the other on a mini motorcycle. They look at me not believing what they are seeing. ‘Hey! Can I share your beach?” We talk as the ATV one lights a cigarette and now acts like this happens all the time. The other asks all kinds of questions. What do you eat? Rice. Where do you sleep? Right there. I’m not sure he believed me. He tells me he has worked for a barge company but hated it and he never saw a rowboat out there. When they leave, in rooster tails of sand, they said no one will bother me after dark.
New Orleans tomorrow.