Day 26 – Fulton

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Yesterday Poco and I woke up to fishermen getting an early start on their day. I’d been working on my blog when I heard them come rumbling in. We had hoped to be out of everyone’s way but didn’t count on such an early start at that boat ramp and picnic area at Bay Springs, but we sure should have! Everyone wants to make the most of a good day on the water, and yesterday was another such day. So we’re sorry guys, for being in your way. We promise it won’t happen again.
We broke camp, made our coffee, and hustled off to gear up the canoe and head out. Poco went off to get ice and water while I took care of the canoe. She came back with word the owners were in the Marina office. I had missed saying thank you in person to “Uncle Phil” who owned the campground we stayed in a few days back, so I wanted to make sure I got to the folks at the wonderful Bay Spring Marina where we were so kindly accommodated.

I met Christopher Mills, the owner of Bay Springs and his wife along with a few of their friends. They were hanging out at the office and seemed like a great bunch of folks. One of the hardest parts about this journey is meeting folks you want to spend more time with to collect their stories and then having to leave before you really can. Since our two days stay in St. Louis, Poco and I have not stopped, and I so wish we could have stayed a little longer there at Bay Springs. It’s a perfect spot before the next dam and lock.

I sure would have liked to have stayed longer at Bay Springs. Chris Mills and his wife and friends seemed like real good folk. They’ve been involved with the marine business for a long time and I’m sure they have an amazing collection of stories as well as their own stories-what draws them to the water and this business of hosting locals and transients that really do come from all over.

I gave them some blue marbles, which I’ve been passing around to folks as I go. Some folks I’ve missed, unfortunately, and so I’ll hafta mail them their’s. We’ve also been handing out cute little Hobkey canoe key chains that Hobkey sent out to me. I had applied for their adventure grant
(http://www.hobkey.com/grant/ ) but did not make the final vote, however, they liked the project so they sent out 100 key chains for me to give out! I’ve been very negligent in thanking them, because they are really sweet little things and folks love them. They’ve run out but we still have blue marbles so I’ve been of course giving them out.

The blue marble is significant because it is basically symbolic of our earth. I have, as my scientist friend J does, this is his project after all (http://www.wallacejnichols.org/130/blue-marbles.html) so all leads on it I take from him, I have folks look at the marble hold it up, and think about what we know the astronauts see when they are in space. We’ve all seen the photos-they see earth as a big blue marble. Then I go on to explain that water is what scientists look for when trying to determine if there is life on a lonely planet (heck-look at our water search on Mars!) because water, as everyone knows, is necessary for life. We can’t live without fresh water to drink nor can we live without our big blue ocean-that driver of climate, that provider of oxygen, never mind food, adventure, salve for the soul, and means of travel.

Then I go on to explain how we are all connected by water-not just by the need for it, but literally connected by water. Like, yes, I really DID paddle here from my backyard over many trips. My family and I live on a little lake in Medford Lakes, NJ. That lake is a dammed up section of the South Branch of the Rancocas Creek. I’ve paddled down the Rancocas from my dock to the Delaware. From the mouth of the Rancocas into the Delaware I’ve paddled down to the ocean, coming out at Cape May. From Cape May you paddle north to Sandy Hook, and you can shoot into the Hudson, which I’ve also done, at various times. Then it’s up the Hudson, the Erie Canal, up the Niagara River, into Lake Erie, up the Detroit River, into Lake St.Claire, up the St. Claire river, into Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinaw, down Lake Michigan and Chicago. That of course was last year, the “Big Apple to Chicago” part of the journey. And now here I am. In Fulton, Mississippi! Literally from my backyard!

So once again, I’m hoping folks here at this great marina-now here at Midway-will be up before I leave so I can give them blue marbles. The first person I met here was Tyler, a really nice guy who shared his thoughts on water with me. I was hoping after we got back from dinner we’d be able to catch up with Tyler and Tom, the marina manager and the other year rounders, like Pete who was doing “the loop” then ended up staying, who live here on their boats, but between finding two sweet strays (Poco’s gonna look for them after I get off) the night got late quicker than we thought and we missed the guys. They had turned in by the time we got back to Tom’s boat. Tom let us sleep on his wonderful little sailboat-he also has a houseboat. I love sleeping on a boat! I so do hope one day to convince Carl to get a sailboat, but of course we need to learn to sail first…..

Poco and I sort of sequestered ourselves in the office to take care of some logistical concerns. It’s been hard to do since we haven’t had any days off since St. Louis, but we really needed to do it since we’ll be heading to Natchez on the 13th for a meeting and it’s looking like Sept. 24th could be the day we arrive in NOLA, conditions permitting. This trip has gone a lot faster than I anticipated, despite locks and some serious upstream paddling plus the insanity of the start and going thru the unSanitary Canal-never mind all the thunderstorms I’ve so far skirted. But downstream on the Mississippi gave me a boost for sure as did relatively decent weather. But it ain’t over til you are actually at your destination, and as usual, the weather will have the final say.

Hopefully with the guys turning in early they’ll be up early! Then I can dole out some more marbles.

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