Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Used Car For Sale

Used Car for Sale: 1958 Packard, rust color, could use light body work and may need engine tune up. We had seen a number of car graveyards along the river throughout the day, one with no fewer than eight cars heaped together (it is kind of hard to tell exactly how many there were as they were all huddled together in a rusted mass). One thing the cars had in common, other than being left to decay in the Red River, was that all the chrome parts, such as the bumpers, door handles and some trim, were in perfect condition. There is something to be said for the staying power of chrome.

Chilly nights seemed to be becoming the norm. It was again in the upper 30’s in the morning, but it was really a beautiful morning. While I didn’t want to get out of my tent initially, once I did I could tell that it would warm up quickly.

It was a quiet morning paddling as Kobie and I barely spoke. I don’t know if it was because we were focused on what we were doing, didn’t have anything to say or were just enjoying the wildlife, but we paddled in silence.

There was almost sensory overload with all the wildlife that was out and about: a beaver jumping in the river, a blue heron taking off over there while some deer ran along the banks. I even thought I saw a moose, but it turned out to be a horse on a farm. Nonetheless, that hour before the sun cracks the horizon is still my favorite time of day to paddle.

I had been thinking about the many Great Blue Heron that I had been seeing. I can think of no other avian creature that would better resemble a pterodactyl. The heron look almost prehistoric. I wouldn’t be surprised if in computer generated images that are used for movies they base the pterodactyl on a blue heron.

I was feeling quite sluggish, almost as if I was paddling uphill. In truth, I was. Were I not paddling uphill, I wouldn’t be paddling up river. I was just thankful that the Red River Valley isn’t very steep and not making the job of paddling up river any harder.

Kobie and I didn’t paddle together for any part of the day. For one thing, the river wasn’t really wide enough. Paddling side by side would have been like playing in the marching band. When making a turn, the musician on the inside basically pivots while the one on the outside has to make a good run to keep in line. It is at a time like that you are thankful you play the flute and not the sousaphone.

At one point when we had stopped, I was able to get in touch with my kayak manufacturer to see why they didn’t call me back regarding the problems I was having with my kayak. Actually I didn’t care that they didn’t call me back, but I did want to get to the bottom of my kayak issues. Phone reception was poor, so I left it that I would call them back when I get to the next town. One thing more frustrating than a defective kayak is poor cell phone coverage.

The majority of the day had us paddling East and West, moving only ever so slightly South with each turn. It also seemed that the banks, quite thankfully, were far sandier than they had been.

The afternoons wildlife highlights included an owl, which until this point I had only heard, but not seen. There was also a large number of Canadian Geese. I tried several time to photograph Canadian Geese, but they generally don’t stick around long enough. As soon as one goose spots me, it begins honking soon to be joined by its compatriots. When the cacophony grows to a considerable level, the geese fly off, sometimes just around the next bend, so that we have to go through the whole thing again.

We ended the day at Fort Abercrombie, ND and old military post from the mid 1800’s.

The visitor center for the fort was closed for the season, but had just been redone and was lit up like a Friday night High School football game. There was a picnic shelter and even electricity, but we were kind of exposed to the road.

I went off to town to find water, as we were nearly out. The spigot at the park was shut off for the winter, so that wasn’t an option, but it was a good lesson: we can’t expect to find water in all the places that our map will claim to have water available. Town consisted mainly of a market, the phone company, a firehouse and a bar, all of which were closed, save the bar. All activity in town was firmly centered at the bar. The steak dinner that was being advertised was appealing, but my goal was to fill up on water. I didn’t really want to go into the bar to try and get water

Oddly enough, it wasn’t possible to get water at the firehouse. I ended up knocking on someone’s door and asked if I could use their outside faucet. I would have hated the police to pull up had I not asked and then be arrested for stealing water. That wouldn’t get me very much street cred in jail. While the guy stared at me askance for a moment, he broke his look by saying “sure”.

As I walked back to the Fort I chuckled at how lit up the place was. When I got back to the Fort, Kobie was speaking with one of the curators of the museum out for his nightly bike ride. He told us a bit about the fort and told us to enjoy our night camping, as that what the facilities are for. Our only other visitor for the evening was the town police. I wasn’t surprised as two guys with kayaks are a less than common sight. There had been some problems with vandalism, but after the police officer spoke to us for a bit said, “works for me...have a safe trip”.

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