1. We see about 10-15 tow boats a day. Some pushing only 2 barges, some pushing 49. The average is about 30 barges which is about 1,400 ft long and 200 ft wide all together. Most of them are Northbound. They are big, loud, and some of them create wakes that cause 5ft waves. We communicate with them on the radio whenever we feel it is necessary and the captains have all been very kind to us. I am tired of seeing them all the time, although I still find them fascinating and am thankful to have experienced them so intimately. When a really big push goes by at night, I can sometimes feel it’s engine vibrating on the ground below me. We are looking forward to reaching the Gulf of Mexico and Florida where they will become less and less present and then finally disappear.
2. Besides the tow boats we go long stretches on the lower Mississippi where we so no evidence of human existence. Some towns are 200 miles apart and in between towns is pure wilderness. Untouched and undeveloped. It is so amazing how vast, rugged, and raw this river is. I had no idea it would be so undeveloped and words can’t explain how happy, proud, and grateful we are to have areas like this in the middle of America.
3. Kyle and I have slept on the ground, atop a two inch sleeping pad, every night since August 15th. There have been no hotels, no hostels, no indoors. We have taken two actual showers the entire time (one of which was cold), but shower every couple of days in the river. The Mississippi has a negative reputation for being dirty and polluted. While it is very muddy and sandy and polluted in some areas, as a whole the river has a come a very long way in the last decade and from Minnesota to Baton Rouge the river is actually quite clean. I do our laundry in the river and we have not once gone to a laundry mat. Using biodegradable soap and the clearest part of the river I can find, we both feel as though our clothes are clean, smell good, and show no signs of not being washed. We have even asked people if we smell and they say surprisingly not at all. Although they could just be being nice:) We have both become extremely sensitive to artificial smells and can no longer wear deodorant as we find it offensive and quite literally think it smells bad. This doesn’t mean that once back in society we won’t partake, but for now we stay away from anything that is artificially scented including soap. We seem to be thriving living simply and rugged and are learning to embrace ourselves raw and pure.
4. We cook over the fire most nights to save stove fuel. There is so much driftwood all over the beaches that collecting firewood is quite easy. We burn our fires to ash and always dig a big fire pit and then burry it completely leaving no trace of a fire. Besides footprints we do our absolutely best to leave no trace so the next person experiences the beauty and ruggedness we experience.
5. Kyle and I do most everything as a team. Whoever cooks, the other person does the dishes. In the morning one person takes down the tent while the other cooks breakfast. Whoever starts the fire doesn’t have to set up camp. We take 1-1.5 hour shifts, whenever possible, when we are underway. We take turns blowing up the rollers we use to pull Solvi up on the beach. When re-supplying in towns, if I bug Kyle enough, we take turns carrying the heavy load. It works extremely well and I feel it is a big reason we are so successful on a journey like this. The reasons we feel approaching life as a team and sharing tasks is so important include:
a. Gives us breaks from doing the same task over and over causing the daily tasks to be less mundane
b. By taking turns and going off to do our own thing once arriving at camp we provide each other with alone time. Time away from the boat and from each other
c. Doing things in shares allows time for me, for Kyle and for us. Time for our own thoughts and feelings. We can do things our own way and thus allows for a feeling of individualism when living in such close quarters
d. During our breaks while underway we work on individual personal growth and development projects such as: reading, writing, playing the harmonica, inventions in notebook, writing letters to people back home, small projects. Again creating a sense of individualism and time away
e. Neither one of us feels as though we are taking on more than the other person. While I do laundry Kyle sets up a clothes line and digs the fire pit. Therefore I don’t feel like he’s not participating and vice versa
6. We both have found more success, satisfaction, and happiness during this journey than we could have ever anticipated. We knew it would be a life-changing endeavor but we had no idea how deep the experiences would go. I personally have developed as an individual and my confidence has grown immensely. Every day we spend some time talking about how incredible this adventure has been and how thankful we are to not only have been so prepared, but also to be so open. Our openness to new experiences, situations, and views on life has brought us a greater understanding of the world around and played a major role in our development. The satisfaction and growth individually and as partners has been above and beyond anything we expected and the journey isn’t even over yet.
7. Once this write up is posted we will no longer be on the Mississippi River. We instead will be on the Atchafalaya River heading for the Gulf of Mexico. Once arriving at the Gulf of Mexico we have a route planned out which will allow us to coastal hop back east towards Alabama/Florida area. The research, planning, and preparations we have made for this new leg of our journey have been taken very seriously and carried out in depth. Although we are feeling nostalgic about leaving the Mississippi it is clear that we are both very eager to reach the salty waters of the Gulf.
8. Kyle and I have learned and have internalized deep into our beings that the mantra “No Schedule and No Rush” is the greatest thing we could have set up for ourselves. Before we even chose the boat, the journey, or the location we told ourselves that our next voyage would not be schedule and not be rushed. Now that isn’t to say that we don’t have a plan and a rough estimate of time-frames, but in the day to day basis, we have no schedule and no rush. This has allowed more freedom, joy, and easy-going attitudes than we have ever experienced before. Getting somewhere cool and saying “Let’s stay for a few days” is not only do-able but encouraged. Choosing not to go out on the water during bad weather has allowed us to avoid almost all rough conditions and discomfort due to bad weather. Not being on a schedule has, what I have found to be the most important, allowed us to share interactions with other humans on a much deeper level. Being that we don’t need to be anywhere at any given time, we have the time and interest to give a random stranger our complete undivided attention. It’s amazing. “No Schedule and No Rush” is the jam and I strongly encourage you to give it a try, even if just for a day 🙂
9. We are so incredibly thankful and grateful for the unconditional love, support, and encouragement we have received. Our families and friends have been absolutely nothing but supportive and helpful. Complete strangers often go out of their way to chat with us and see if we need anything. The generosity, kindness, and quite literally love we have received from every person around us and in our lives has blown us away. Kyle and I are left speechless at the reality that people are good. Seriously, at the end of the day, the vast majority of the people in this world are good kindred people and that is something we need to remember. Thank you so much to each and every person who has been apart of our lives and this journey thus far. Cheers!