The sun is out! And my goodness am I thankful. It has not rained or been cloudy for a few weeks, and I didn’t realize how lucky we were until the rain started two days ago. Usually I enjoy the rain and the slower moods the gray skies bring, but I struggled the last couple days. The rain started Monday morning and really didn’t stop until Tuesday evening. The entire time the skies were dark, gloomy, and it was really quite cold. Kyle and I hunkered down in the tent and spent two days reading (we both started and finished a new book), playing games, and eating! We have both lost a considerable amount of weight so took advantage of lazy, rainy days to eat and then eat some more 🙂 By yesterday morning I was feeling really restless and needed to get out and about. I couldn’t seem to shake the somber mood the dark skies brought, so we put on our rain gear and explored the island. Getting out of the tent really helped boost moral. I almost wonder if the universe brought the rain so the last 60 miles would be prolonged a bit and as a reminder of how blessed we have been with awesome weather on the Lower River.
Anyway, this morning we awoke to sunshine! While there are still some clouds, they are thin and the sun is blasting them away. We also awoke to a following wind and are sailing along quite happily at a 6 knot average. The ripples the breeze has created on the water’s surface are glistening in the sunshine and I love watching them dance along as we sail by. The morning is quiet and all I can hear is the water rushing under Solvi’s hull and a couple of birds chirping in the distance. Today and tomorrow are our last days on the Mississippi and we couldn’t ask for a better farewell. The sunshine, glistening water, vast and rugged shorelines, and the tranquilly brought on by the solitude and quietness of the environment around sum up our experience on this lower Mississippi. Thank you mighty river for seeing us off well 🙂
After traveling 26 miles, almost all of which were under sail, we found a sandy spot to pull off for the day. Even though it was only 2pm we both felt like stopping; probably to prolong our time on the river just a little bit more. The wind is strong and despite trying to find a spot to hide, we are fairly exposed. Therefore after pulling Solvi up on her roller we set the sun shade up really low of Solvi’s lee side. We now have our ground tarp, sleeping pads, and sheet set up on the sand. Solvi does a great job protecting us from the wind and it isn’t until I stand up that I realize how blustery it is. The water is only about 10ft away from me and I can hear it’s gentle lapping on the shore. Kyle and I have both been reading our books while snacking on crackers. About 10 baby birds, I think they’re cormorants, just floated by. It’s the third time we’ve seen them today. They aren’t the best of flyers and they stick real close together. The current is moving about 3 knots so they float downstream rather quickly. I love watching them all huddled together bobbing in the water. I wonder if they stop on the shore at night or where they are heading. A few tow boats and barges have passed by, and I have paused to watch them intently. I know that years from now when I look back on this journey I will visualize them and remember them fondly. So instead of being bugged that we have to change our course to stay out of their way, for the next couple days I will look at them with interest and fascination while waving happily. My stomach is letting me know that dinner time is near, I think I’ll make Thai Sweet Potato soup that my mom sent. Maybe have some hot chocolate for dessert because I can tell it’s going to be a cold one tonight. The mood at our little wind filled camp is calm, reflective, and quiet as we both gaze out towards the river knowing that tomorrow is our last day on the official Mississippi.
Our last night on the Mississippi brought us a pleasant surprise! Not only did we find an awesome island, half covered in trees half sand, we also made a friend. Kyle was laying in the tent reading while I was typing- the sun was out but slowly beginning its nightly decent. Countless tow boats and barges passed by and we were both feeling rather contemplative. Suddenly I looked over and saw a little sailboat! The first sailboat we’ve seen on this river! He must have felt just as excited as us to see a sailboat as he quickly changed course and headed right towards us. Kyle waded out in the shallows to help grab the boat and to greet the fellow sailor. I watched from the dry shoreline and smiled when I saw a friendly dog patiently waiting to get off the boat. And thus we had met Josh the sailor and Jackson the dog. The two of them had come from Kansas and were also heading to Florida! I knew we would all be quick friends when the first thing he yelled from his boat as he approached the sand bar was, “Do people tell you you’re going to die all the time?!” Why yes, yes they do and how wonderful to meet someone who understands and experiences the same thing. Within an hour we were all sitting around a glowing fire, drinking red wine, chatting, laughing, and sharing stories while I cooked dinner. Had anyone walked up on us they would have thought we were long lost friends, but then again maybe we were. The laughter and conversation flowed so freely that before we knew it, it was long past midnight. What an evening we had together and a friendship I am sure will be re-kindled in Florida. Thank you to Josh and Jackson for the friendship, book, and good times. A wonderful farewell to the mighty Mississippi.