I figure it’s useful to follow Mae West’s advice whenever possible, even when it’s applied to shopping, which is one of my least favorite activities and induces a kind of anxious narcolepsy in me, if such a thing is possible. “Outfitting” is just a fancy word for shopping, after all, and getting outfitted for a sport at which I have pretty minimal experience is a competition between salesmen who have comparatively expert knowledge and foolish me whose only advantage is that I simply don’t have the budget to do what they would bid me to do. $3000 kayaks, anyone?!?! I don’t think so! (it IS a very sexy machine, I can tell that even without knowing anything about it!)
The interesting thing about our endless shopping day yesterday is that we revised the plan somewhat, in a way that I think will alter the trip in a very rich and useful way.
The original plan had been that we would get a tandem kayak and on any given day, two people would be kayaking down the river while the third of us would drive down and meet us. That way we would have the support of a car, each person would have a day off the river once every three days and could scope out interesting off-river stuff, find groceries and water and internet, and carry all the camping gear and ancillary stuff so the kayak wouldn’t have to. The idea was to procure a tandem kayak that could be adjusted to serve as a solo kayak for times when there are only two travelers instead of three.
It turns out that an adjustable tandem kayak is not a good choice for a long touring journey. So we agreed that the better choice is to buy a solo kayak, and then on any given day, one person will be paddling, one will be biking, and the third will be driving. I am totally LOVING this revised plan, partially because it means that each of us will in fact be taking parallel SOLO journeys down the river, gathering after each day’s travels to compare notes and hang out together. In general, I think a solo journey is a much more interesting way to travel. In my experience, you’re just much more OUT there, and strangers interact with you much more freely, and in every way it’s really preferable. But doing a parallel solo journey WITH other people prevents the loneliness and extremity that would be sort of unavoidable if I did a four-month solo trip down the river.
So rather than feeling like we’ve compromised the plan by changing to a solo kayak, I’m really feeling excited about the new balance between alone and together we’ve created for the journey.
But we still have to go back and actually BUY everything today, and I wish that part could just magically be finished! Hopefully by the end of the day today!!!!
Sounds like a brilliant revision to me – if there are just two of you at various times – the bike can be on the vehicle and still be fully equipped. I sympathize with the shopping issues- I find myself becoming part raccoon or crow (oh it sparkles, it is shiny -I must have it!) when I know full well it won’t be shiny and sparkly for long! Loving the blog to cover your adventure – I’m Texastracking from WT and followed you over here from the link on your WT blog. Looking forward to your tales of the river.
Sounds like a plan!
An intriguing plan–three parallel stories unfolding. I hope we’ll hear from all three from time to time.
I’ll be with you, eve….every step/stroke of the way….
Excellent revision — the braiding of the stories will be quite something.
I just caught up with your journey. I send you loads of joy and new knowledge. Are you recording? I hope so. I feel that your change of transportation from
tandem kayak to 3 different mode is so smart. Your blogs are interesting and mean so much more to me now that I am not living in the city anymore.
I’m in Georgia forest. How exciting, I’m envious. Marilyn Ries July 28 11:08PM
The greatest journeys begin with deep passion and one small act. Congratulations on your start to what I’m sure will be an incredible journey. May the treasures of the land, water and sky be dappled with inspiration, persons, encounters, animals, sounds and sights that feed your senses and soul… Most of all, have a wonderful time! My eternal love and support to you. I’m thrilled to be able to watch the story unfold.
“I don’t know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god- “The Dry Salvages,” T.S. Eliot.
Have a safe journey.
This is an amazing plan! I too have always been fascinated by the Mississippi (all those doubled letters, like bookkeeper) and I can’t wait to learn what you discover along the way.
Best of luck with all of this! As you may know, I grew up on the banks of the Mississippi in Memphis, TN. It is a fascinating thing, the river and what it means in the lives of those who come in contact with it.
Here’s a few tidbits about the river and me:
In my family, there is a legend that my grandmother’s brother walked across the Mississippi River when it was frozen. I can’t remember his name now, but he was the youngest of a large Mississippi farm family. As such, he caught all the teasing of many older brothers and the stern discipline of a grim father. One day, when chopping wood — an arduous chore that his brothers always foisted on to him — my great uncle buried the head of his ax in the chopping block, turned and walked off down the road. He never looked back and never returned. Somehow the story that he’d walked across the Mississippi when it was frozen and settled in Arkansas grew up around the event. My grandmother looked for him in late life in Searcy, AK, but was unable to trace him. She couldn’t remember the year this all happened. I tried to look at records to see when the Mississippi could have frozen that far south… The problem is, it never did…
The river always scared me as a child. It seemed so untrustworthy, full of eddies and cross-currents, and in Spring it would be filled with logs and trees and other runoff from up river. It was muddy and dark and dangerous, and we were warned as children that we should never go in it as we surely drown, pulled under by currents that were invisible on the surface of the water.
In high school, the good Christian Brothers of Christian Brothers High School for Boys always insisted that the Senior Prom be held on a river boat, of which there were a few in Memphis at the time for rent for special events. You and your date had to be at the dock on time, and then the brothers would frisk you head to toe, and check out all the girls purses — looking for alcohol. The paddle wheeler river boat would set sail promptly for a 3-4 hour cruise up and down the river, complete with 400 or so high school couples, a dubious local band who did a wretched rendition of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’ (get it?), and absolutely no pints of Bacardi Rum or Southern Comfort. Naturally, being adrift on the river, there was no way to sneak out to get a drink in the car or elsewhere. So the good Christian Brothers ensured a sober prom for the Class of 1977.
If you get a chance, check out Memphis filmmaker Ira Sachs’ film “The Delta”. (http://www.irasachs.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16) “The Delta” deals with a young gay man and his Vietnamese lover in Memphis in the 1980s. Several scenes take place in the marshy river banks south of Memphis. At the end of the Viet Nam war, many refugees were transported to Ft. Smith, AK from whence they were resettled. Many journeyed the short way to Memphis to begin their American lives. Memphis now has a not insignificant Vietnamese population who are a boon to the Roman Catholic diocese there, and alongside the Bar-B-Que, is some really good Vietnamese food.
I’m really excited about this journey and the America that you will find, Eve. I think the solo journey is promising too!
Hi Eve! I was in and out of Minneapolis the 27th and 29th, and sang a concert on the 28th in Duluth for a Duluth Festival Opera fundraiser banquet at Nokomis restaurant, 20 minutes north of Duluth on the “North Shore”. (One of my songs was Deep River, hahaha!) I got your email on my way to my departing flight, and was sorry I didn’t have more time to see this epic journey getting started. I wish you safe travels, lots of serendipity, providence, luck, and coincidence. To me personally, that’s asking for God to bless you and your trip!
I’m a bass, so a few priceless songs and lyrics come to mind, and I must leave you with an appropriate line, hoping it will inspire you (again, I’m sure) and hoping you’ll write more great songs about the river for basses! “Soon we’ll reach the shining river, Soon our pilgrimage will cease, Soon our happy hearts will quiver With the melody of peace….”
May your heart quiver a lot in the coming months.
I also agree with your new revised plan. Do I see a book in the making with all of you sharing your day to day adventures? I’ll buy one. I would love to do what you are doing.I’ll be cheering you all on your journey. Your friend at WT. jbingle
Three solo journeys somehow seems simultaneously more practical and more potentially dangerous. I like it.
Oh God, Eve this is just so amazing. I would really love to hear from the other two co-travelers as well!