Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two Lil' Girls in a Canoe

Goal to New Orleans: 1,859 miles
Paddled since last blog: 223 miles
Total paddled: 1,784 miles
To go: 75 miles
Current location: the Gulf!
Granola bars consumed since last blog: 16 Total: 153
Fun Size Snickers: 2 more bars Total: 53
Beignets consumed: 12
Days Paddled: 60

Before arriving in Baton Rouge, we were discussing the fact that we were getting a little tired of paddling due to the monotony of the mighty Mississippi. After Baton Rouge, the monotony ended, but we should have been careful what we wished for. The banks were filled with industry and fleets of barges solid until New Orleans 140 miles later. We also began to encounter gigantic ocean-going ships. The more complicated logistics due to this increase in river traffic decreased our pace and added more colorful radio conversations. Within this closer proximity, we were called:
. Two females in kayaks. Betcha they're more fit than we are. Think we can get a date?
. Two guys kayakin'
. They look like driftwood
. A couple of rough women
and our personal favorite:
. Two lil' girls in a canoe

Beyond New Orleans, the river traffic lessened with almost only tankers passing and overtaking. This was welcome and refreshing. It was hard to find camping, but the levees provided for public land with privacy although with the risk of flooding. Louisiana provided a hot ecosystem for gnats to thrive. Thankfully, gnats are crepuscular so Liddell could stop freaking out after dark. (YES! Discovered something that actually made Liddell freak out.)

So the "Gulf of Mexico" which we paddled to on Saturday may or may not have been Baptiste Collette Bayou.... But don't worry, we tasted the water and it may or may not have been salty.

As we reflect on the trip as a whole we could not have looked as good or won as much without the help and support of friends along the way.  We want to acknowledge and thank the following people who made this trip possible.  

Bette Fitzgerald and Mike Smith for providing boats and assorted gear
Karen Grosskreutz for 4 hours of gear R and D
Erin and Mike for their Ducky
Liz G. and James for hosting us in a fantastic basement in Asheville
Tracy, Bette, and Liz for the send off
Dock, Buckwheat, John Green, and Chrissie for paddling with us through Asheville
Team Shannon for possibly driving more miles than we paddled (with bells on)
Grandma Hruby for hosting us twice in Florence
K. Higg and Jason for hosting us in Chattanooga
Katherine Becksvoort for helping us launch in huge waves in Chattanooga
Annica for hiking to the highest point in West Tennessee with us
Callie and John David for hosting us in Memphis
McCall and Jordan for teaching us about Swamp People and hosting us in Baton Rouge
K. Doss and Andrew for showing us a good time in New Orleans
Lauren Sweeney for our favorite blog comment
Susan Lanier for being Liddell's post office box Diva
Windy and Bette for giving us insight and advice having done this trip in 1997

We also came to a big decision with the "closing" of this trip. Since we were already planning on starting the Pacific Crest Trail in San Diego in April, we're going to bike from the river to the trailhead. 2,200 miles, why not?  Look for more action from Team Broad Adventures in March.  Whoo leg muscles!

New Orleans Harbor

Ocean fog

Kara feels this way about mud

Dang!  Ships are big.

Timer mishap

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Swamp People

Goal to New Orleans: 1,865 miles
Paddled since last blog: 229 miles
Total paddled: 1,561 miles
To go: 304 miles
Current location: Baton Rouge
Granola bars consumed since last blog: 16 Total: 137
Fun Size Snickers: 6 more bars Total: 51
Days Paddled: 53

We have made it to Baton Rouge (translation: French: hot dog). We paddled two days through extreme fog where we decided our safest bet was to stay right along shore. We used our nautical band radio to talk to a barge parked along shore and the nice captain told us about Channel 13. 

Paddling Lesson #13
If you are monitoring a channel expecting to hear barge captains talking, and they NEVER talk to each other, you are probably monitoring the wrong channel.

Now we know they talk all the time, topics include: what side they are passing on (1 or 2), the new automatic fog horn, and how much they hate kayakers. They assume that we don't have a radio and can't hear them question our sanity on Channel 13. Wrong! But Liddell doesn't like confrontation, so they still don't know. We have initiated conversations and gotten kind responses. In all honesty, most conversations and interactions have been positive, but one captain was a douchebag. 

Some of our avid readers have been asking us what we think about while paddling. We have trouble answering this question due to the depth of intellectuality, but here it goes:

the water is sparkly that stick looks like a gremlin i wonder what kind of bird that is when will liddell have to pee again i'm hungry woah that tree has leaves i think it's been 3 minutes since i looked at my watch, oh crap it's been 4 how long will it take us to paddle to that red leaf up there cream cheese sounds good i haven't seen a green buoy in a while the green buoys are called can buoys red buoys are nun buoys when the barge captains say one whistle it means passing on the right like in america man some barge captains don't like us most are actually nice though i wonder if they've had bad experiences with kayakers my porgies are wet it seems like the river is turning left now i'm hungry that cloud looks like a giant staple remover i wonder if we can race this barge fried foods sound good man this sparkly water is going to give liddell really bad sunglasses burn that stick looks like a loch ness monster i wonder if that's a white pelican....... 

We plan on getting to the Gulf of Mexico in about a week! Then we'll paddle the remaining 65ish miles of the French Broad when it has more water in it. Until next time, remember

Paddling Lesson #7567
On the Mississippi River, fog will never be mist. 
Kara's dream home
Typical house
Hot Dog

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ambient Sounds

Goal to New Orleans: 1865 miles
Paddled since last blog: 278 miles
Total paddled: 1332 miles
To go: 533 miles
Current location: near Lake Providence, LA on the Mississippi River
Granola bars consumed since last blog: 17 Total: 121
Fun Size Snickers: 2 more bars Total: 45
Days Paddled: 47

We left Memphis on December 31, 2011. That night we saw fireworks "waaaay out there." We can see really far because it is so flat! We were inspired by how festive they made us feel so saved our daily allotment of Lindor chocolate balls for midnight. We woke up at midnight and counted down then watched the ball(s) drop.

Then on New Year's Day we met with Team Shannon who had gone to the Liberty Bowl (Go Dores!) the day before. We had a tailgate in the Fitzgerald's Casino parking lot in Tunica, Mississippi.

We have left Arkansas so hopefully Liddell will stop singing:
"Arkansas, Arkansas, I just love old Arkansas.
I love my Ma, I love my Pa, but I just love old Arkansas"

We have finished our longest read aloud book, "Rising Tide," and though we don't play favorites, this is one of our top four thus far on the trip. The book was completely based on the lower Mississippi so we enjoyed paddling right by places we were reading about.

Paddling Lesson 87
Don't paddle under bridge construction.

After paddling by Greenville, MS, we chose a campsite near a parked barge. While reading "Rising Tide" a tugboat with 42 barges pulled up right off shore of our campsite and shined bright lights on our campsite for about an hour. Though it was difficult to tell with lights in our eyes, we believe that smaller tugs came and took one barge at a time from the large tow. But again, it was extremely difficult to comprehend the process. Then, we were awakened by the loudest closest motor y'all have ever heard. Though only 5:45 am, we considered getting up and leaving because we wouldn't be able to sleep more. We were happily surprised when we woke up at 7:45 (with the motors still loud). Apparently the ambient sound helped us sleep through our alarm. We packed up and it was a little disconcerting having captains in 3 tugs watching the whole morning routine. One of the tows was so close, Kara nearly hit it when getting off the beach. That one had barges with liquids and every barge had its own engine that was big and loud.

Paddling Lesson 46
Don't camp near parked barges.

We've seen some large birds of prey and think that they may be immature bald eagles... because of the farting.