10/25/2016We completed 30 miles, all under oar power yesterday. Each of us rowing about 15 miles- 3 one hour shifts. The sun was just beginning to set when we arrived at our sand bar. Kyle and I pulled Solvi up on her roller and then found ourselves standing in awe as the sky broke out into an array of vivid, crisp, colors. It was as though someone had taken a blue canvas and this canvas was the purest of blue. Then they took a wide, soft bristle paint brush and gently swooshed it across the canvas sky, thus creating a masterpiece of pastel pinks, greens, and oranges brushed lightly on the blue. The result caused the two of us to be stopped in our tracks as we watched the pastel colors begin to reflect in the glassy water’s surface until the sky and the water became all but the same. Marvelous.
As the sky continued its masterpiece, Kyle and I began the hunt for firewood. We walked a quarter mile of sand before arriving at some bushes surrounded by driftwood. Taking two long sticks and some rope Kyle created a sled type of structure. We then placed the firewood perpendicular on the long sticks until they were mostly covered. Each of us then grabbed the sticks on both ends and carried the firewood sled a quarter mile back to camp. It was quite fun working together to carry such a load back to camp. We talked about how interesting it was that situations like this had become a daily routine, whereas before this journey they had been non-existent. Simple yet laborious activities have become rather rewarding.
Which leads me to another thought: never before have I found myself so completely in tune. Not only in tune with the environment and natural world around me, but also with myself. Because our days have become so simple yet demanding, I have left behind all the clutter, chatter, and baggage that was in my mind before. The over analyzing of situations, the worrying of minor things, the feeling of needing/wanting to be somewhere else, the stress caused by the hustle bustle- it has all vanished. And it took over a month to do so, but now that it has vanished, I find myself, every morning standing on the river’s edge stripped of any expectations or judgements for the day. I find myself happy, and this happiness I describe runs so deep in my soul that even when I am frustrated, angry, or upset about something, I have a steady feeling of joy and ease deep down where it matters. And because of this steady feeling, circumstances that are stressful or hard, become fun and adventurous, and most importantly rewarding. I had no idea that when we left on this journey I would find myself so incredibly satisfied, but at the end of every single day when I am covered in sweat, sand, mud, and dirty river water, I honestly couldn’t be more grateful to be right where I am.
The universe must have heard my complaints about the constant southwest winds, because as soon as I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the rigors of sailing into the wind everyday, the wind left. It’s as though we woke up one morning and it just ceased to exist! Therefore, the last 4 days have been spent rowing all day and I couldn’t be more thankful for the change of pace. I was really starting to get worn down by sailing into the wind, and while rowing is difficult physically, when there is no wind it is actually quite enjoyable.
Yesterday we completed 20 miles under oar in about 4 hours. We were really lazy in the morning and didn’t leave our beach until noon. The laziness of the morning followed us into the afternoon and we just took our time, real relaxed, and enjoyed the windless river. While Kyle was on shift I sat on the aft deck and did laundry. We had intellectual conversations that got so intense at moments the person on shift stopped rowing and we drifted while finishing our conversation as to not be distracted.
Today we got a bit of an earlier start, leaving the beach around 10am and completed our 30 miles by 3:15. The day was quite wonderful, and when we arrived at the beach for the evening we both plopped in our camp chairs, discussing how satisfied we felt and how fun of a day it was. It was just one of those days filled with laughter, dancing, music, and an overall feeling of joy. Kyle kept doing this silly little dance to a familiar song and I couldn’t help but giggle and giggle, thus causing him to continue the dance, perpetuating the cycle of silliness. I love such days.
The sun is out full force this morning. I can feel it beating down upon my tanned skin, causing the zinc oxide I have on my nose to become sweaty and probably less effective from the sun’s strong rays. The air is calm and humid, the wind nonexistent, causing the atmosphere to be a bit stuffy but not in a negative way. Kyle is rowing us away from the sandbar that we called home last night. I turn my gaze to the right towards the fading sand bar and can see heat radiating from the sand; it’s going to be a hot one today! There is a distant humming of a tug’s engine that is slowly fading away. Kyle’s oars disturb the water’s surface causing a calming swooshing sound as he pulls on the oars. What a familiar sound it has become, filling my ears and bringing ease as I close my eyes and experience the tranquility of the environment around me. The water is so calm that it appears to be one mechanism, rather than individual drops. And when a tug comes by and brings a wake, the surface of the water is reluctant to break, causing rolling waves, still with a glassy look. I feel rested and contemplative. Kyle and I cowboy camped on the sand last night with our boom tent/tarp set up above us to lessen the dew.There is something special about sleeping out in the open, an intimacy with the earth and environment caused by being one with our surroundings rather than separated by artificial walls. I much enjoy it. Kyle and I had another night full of intellectual and thought-provoking conversation. We have had a lot of that lately, and we both seem to drift off to sleep, smiling and dreaming of all the various ideas that were discussed. The stars were vivid last night and we could see part of the Milky Way Galaxy; it’s become one of my favorite things to fall asleep to. Helps keep me grounded and to remind me of my place in this infinite and expanding universe.
Well the clues this morning were correct, it has been a hot one today. Beautiful and peaceful, but the sun has been scorching down at some points. We took a break for lunch and drifted down river for half an hour while we crunched away on salty chips and dip. While we were drifting I couldn’t help but notice the lusciousness of the colors around. Everything from the sand to the sky seemed to be a deep and vivid color. The trees growing from the sand a lush green in comparison to the grainy tan sand below. The sky the babiest of blues and the clouds so white and puffy I found myself imagining jumping on them. Then there was Solvi, floating perpendicular to the river with her gorgeous varnish covered western red cedar radiating in the sun causing a shine. The only sounds that could be heard was the gentle rushing of water caused by a nearby wing dam, an occasional bird song, and the crunching of tortilla chips between our molars. And not only were our moods high because of the beauty around us, but just five miles earlier we crossed a major milestone marked by an invisible line: the border of Louisiana! Louisiana, the same state in which the Mississippi dumps into the Gulf- the last state of the Mississippi River! 75 days and 1,324 miles later we rowed right into Louisiana. How fun. We stopped on a sandbar and splashed around in the shallows and took some photos to celebrate. Go us! We were feeling quite proud to have made it so far 🙂