Thursday, December 4, 2008


The rain stopped and the wind shifted bringing in cold air from the north. The forecast high for the today was 20 degrees below yesterday. The second time we got stuck waiting for a delivery and were hit by cold temperatures when we got back on the river. The week ahead is to have abnormally low temperatures, which I don’t necessarily mind as long as the wind stays down and no rain or snow falls.

We again waited at the motel in the morning for Fed Ex like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. The package with the maps was supposed to be delivered before 10:30, but Fed Ex seemed to change there mind and said noon. To add to that, Memphis airport was shut for several hours overnight, delaying the package further. Is this even possible? Can’t we catch a break?

The police showed up at the motel, which I would gather is a regular stop on their route. There were a couple of people who didn’t want to pay their bill. 10:30 came and went without the maps as did 11. For all I knew Tom Hanks had them on some deserted Pacific island.

Several phone calls and an hour later I heard a truck come tearing into the motel parking lot. It was Fed Ex with the goods. The driver apologized, but he did the best he given when he was able to get underway with the weather delays. I couldn’t in good conscience shoot the messenger. The map set weighs over six pounds to give you an idea of what we are using. Each page is 11 x 17 and has about seven or eight river miles per page.

I sorted everything out and we walked the mile back to the boat ramp without incident. The new wheels for the kayak cart were a little tight on the hubs but I could think of worse problems. As it was lunchtime when we got to the boat ramp we decided to eat a quick lunch at that point instead of stopping later. While I would never have guessed it, getting out of the kayaks now is worse than in the mud up north. I am pretty sure I would trade the cold for mud.

The river was flowing really well for the most part. We couldn’t tell if it was just an area where the river was making a good run or if it was the torrential rain that fell last night helping us along. In the end we didn’t come to a firm decision but agreed that the rain couldn’t have hurt our cause.

It was a treat to once again have paper maps. These were in full color nonetheless. I was just annoyed that the shipping was three times the cost of the maps and they weren’t even on time. At this point though it is water under the bridge.

We had a light breeze also giving us a hand and in our shortened day we managed 23 miles. If only we had one extra hour to cover more distance. We were planning on meeting a friend in Memphis, TN, which is exactly 150 miles form New Madrid and were hoping to get there at a reasonable hour on Sunday. Having a short day today left us some serious work for the next three days. And while we only had but a few hours to paddle we managed to leave Kentucky behind for Tennessee.

For all our agony during the day we were however treated to the most beautiful indigo sky in the evening. The reddish hue was broken by the streaks of a dozen contrails on the solid background.

At the time we were looking to finish our day the options of places to set up camp was severely limited. We had to settle for a large sand bank at the inside bend of the river. It seems that all the outside banks have been fortified by the Army Corp of Engineers with revetments and on the inside banks is where the sandbars form. We had ourselves a wide open area on a sandbar and it was a lovely place to set up camp, or at least would have been in the summer. Then again, in the summer, the sand bar would surely have been under several feet of water.

Camping on a sandbank also left us without firewood. There were a few odd bits here and there, but not enough to maintain a fire. As soon as the sun went down so did the temperature; faster then the price of Halloween Candy on November 1st. With little to do other then climb in the tent to keep warm, Kobie and I packed in my tent and watched a few episodes of a dark British comedy, “The League of Gentlemen”. After watching two episodes it was only seven o’clock, so we watched a third before going to sleep.

It was a clear cold night with an abundance of stars littering the sky. It would have been a great night for a campfire, but absent fuel for one we had little choice. It didn’t help the forecast high temperature for tomorrow is below freezing

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