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The Penultimate Day on the Missouri

I arrived in Three Forks, MT a little before noon to meet the owner of a storage facility.  Before the meeting, I scoped out the area to find the best way to get the canoe and all of the gear to the water.  The Jefferson River runs just north of the storage facility, but with no public access until further downstream.  The Madison River public access is two miles east of the facility.  Both access points were similar distances.  Do I drop the canoe and gear at one of the rivers, drive to the storage facility, leave the truck and walk the two miles, or is it best to unload at the storage facility and carry the gear the two miles.  This was my dilemma.

When I met the owner of the facility, I was surprised when he said that his land   was adjacent to the Jefferson and he would let me drop the canoe there and then give me a lift from the facility back to the water.  That is exactly what we did, with only minor difficulty.

We drove to his back pasture as close to the water as possible before parking and unloading.  The river was maybe 200 yards from where we parked; through thick, tall grasses, through a gate, and across a deep ditch.  It took four trips to get everything to the river.  I packed way too much stuff, probably not, but it seemed like so much more than I take on the bike. 

Everything stowed, it was time to shove off.

I managed to paddle eight miles that day.  I was on the river for about five hours, so you can do the math.  I could have walked that distance in less time.  I enjoyed the short time on the Jefferson.  The water was only a foot or two deep and clear enough to see all the moss covered stones as I flew by. Along the edge of the river were large carp hiding in the shallow weeds.

Walking the canoe.

I had a couple of hours of sunlight left and intended on going several more miles but the wind had other plans. It was blowing so strong that I couldn’t keep the boat straight in the water and eventually was unable to make forward progress, so I got out and walked. I stopped next to railroad tracks and found a flat place to set up camp. My tent was set up under a tall embankment which I hoped would buffer me from the noise of the trains that came by every two hours.

Dinner consisted of a Gatorade and a bag of vegetable korma. Should’ve known then something was off when I poured most of the dinner in the river. As I sat there adding foam cushioning to the seat I felt a wave of despair pour over my body like it was injected into my bloodstream. My thought was, “How can I feel low while listening to Harry Potter?”, so that is what I did until falling asleep.

Calling it Quits

After stepping off the train in La Junta I found a place to sleep for the night. The next morning I took off East on Highway 50. I was making good time, stopping every 15-20 miles to get a cold drink and made it to Lamar, CO around 5:00 that afternoon. I had an early dinner at a park along the Arkansas River. I sat down in the ankle high water to cool off and couldn’t help but think about my plans to float the Arkansas from Colorado to Arkansas, uncertain what kind of boat I could get in this shallow water.

From being in the sun all day I could feel my stomach churning the way it does from heat stress. I had already picked out a place along the river to set up camp, but opted for a motel instead. I chose the nicest cheap motel in town. The owners were very friendly. They greeted me with cold water and fruit and when booking my room gave me $10 off the already low price, because of my handsome looks and blue eyes.

The next morning I got a late start and only made it 20 miles down the road before filling up again on water. I went to a local park to hide from the already 97 degree heat. In the back of my mind I have debated going home for a few days. The desert really did a number on me. It sucked the water and will from my body. This morning I had already decided to scratch going North and head straight back to Arkansas. It is only 700 miles away, so about 2 weeks ride. After sitting in the park for an hour, I decided I was finished.

I started looking for ways to get back home. First, the river! Could I find a canoe or kayak that would hold me and my bike? I had been searching for one on different online markets ever since boarding the train. The best I could do is an inflatable raft from Walmart. Next, jump back on Amtrak. Unfortunately I would have to wait nearly two weeks to be able to get the bike on the train. Something about all of the cargo space being taken. Next option is to ship the bike and hop the train. Closest shipping center is 100 miles away. Not too bad. Another option would be renting a car. Nearest rental service is 100 miles away and would cost about $400. Last option is buying a van.

I have been wanting a van for some time. When I first moved aboard the boat I was considering buying a van instead. When I bought my new car, I was considering buying a van instead. I could buy a van here and simply drive back. It would save me at the minimum $200.

On the train ride I finished listening to “Into the Wild”, by Jon Krakauer. Anybody who has ever gone off on their own has probably been compared to Chris Mccandless. The book, unlike the movie, is the author’s investigation into Mccandless’ life. The author compares Mccandless to himself and other adventurer types. Mccandless spent a lot of time in southern California and in the same territory that I crossed. Reading (listening) to the book as I traversed it made me feel more connected to his story. There are many paralells between Mccandless and myself. If you are familiar with the book, I will let you draw your own conclusions. However, the most important difference is our relationships with our families. It is that relationship that I think sent him over the edge. When my dad offered to come get me, a 21 hour trip, I accepted.

It is over for now. My body and mind need rest and A/C before I take off again.

Forty by Noon

I have to stop writing the day after.  I am forgetting everything that happened.  I think the ride was fairly uneventful, which is a good thing.  The roads were straight with only a few hills (at the very end).  Most of the day I spent with my Aunt Tudy, just lazy-ing around.  Oh yea, pizza!!  I spent the night at a pizza parlour.  So the plan was to wake up, write a little, take a nap, and eat pizza when the store opened at 11.  That is not what happened.


The night was long and sleepless.  The trees I chose were rather close together.  Ten feet is about the optimum distance for hammocking.  These were more like seven feet, but the best I could do that late at night.  It took me till probably 1 AM to realize that I could easily add more length simply by hanging the hammock from the outward facing side of the tree.  This added the radius of each tree to the hammocking length, which allowed me to lay flat!wp-image-686576415

These guys are what kept me up all night and disturbed my little bit of sleep in the morning.  Those trees belonged to their colony and they were protecting it.  In the morning they really got organized and started attacking.  My backside is now covered in bites.  At that point I was done and did not feel like sticking around for pizza.  I gathered everything up, away from the trees, and packed up.  The new goal for the day was ride to my Aunt’s place in Claremore.


I made real good time and was hardly feeling the miles.  I stopped at the Amish Cheese House to collect my free sample of every pie they made.  Sorry Jamie, closed on Sundays, ride on.  Since I didn’t get any pie I stopped at the next town for lunch.  What I was really looking for was a small container of Gatorade mix to carry with me.  Gatorades are expensive! No luck, I had a quick bite and got back on the road.


My bike is built to ride through most anything.  We got a little muddy on the next leg.  Google said to take a county road to connect to the highway going West.  Google did not say what kind of road it was.  It quickly went from paved to gravel to dirt to mud.  My pace slowed significantly once I got on Hwy 20 West.  The wind, hills, and sun were starting to get to me.

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Finally, past the race course and up the hill to Aunt Tudy’s house.  She had a lovely patio that I wanted to sprawl out on, but first layed out all my gear to dry and used her sprinkler as a shower.  Her neighbors, which turned out to be my cousins, probably did not know what to make of me.  When she arrived from church we sat and talked before heading to the grocery store.  We spent the rest of the evening talking, cooking, and eating.  Oh, and she also fixed the tear in my hammock.  I blame the ants!

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Here is the recipe for the date bread.

Date Honey Nut Bread:

  • 2 Cups pitted dates
  • 1 Cup flower
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Throw it all together and bake at 325 F for 1 hour.