Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Grand Tower, IL to Chester, IL - June 28th

I felt a little guilty doing so much unplanned biking yesterday, so about an hour after Bob left, I put my canoe in and paddled. I pretty much floated downstream rapidly about 5 or so miles, just to see how it was going to be paddle upstream. Tough, but doable. I am so high in the water that I cut though the current pretty good. I figured I was paddling at about maybe 3 miles per hour or less. Just about ones hiking pace on the PCT. This meant it was going to be a full day to get in about 25 miles. If I could do 25 miles a day, I could make it to St. Louis before I fly home.

The day went well. I put in at about 5:30 and I was on my way for my first full day on the Mississippi. Turns out things went better than expected. Once I figured how to avoid the heaviest current, I could make some time. Just needed to put a little more mustard behind the paddle! Plus there was no wind, which really helped.

I made it to Chester at about 3:00. Better than I expected. Mileage was somewhere around 25 to 30. Decided to take a motel here and get ready for the final push to St. Louis tomorrow and then home. Should be able to make it!

Ferron Landing to Grand Tower, IL - June 27th

I was on my way, with all my gear, at about 6:00AM! I got to Mound City at 8:45 and Bob was there waiting. The night before, I told him I'd be there at around 8:30, so I was close. He'd been there since 7:30, watching me at different spots paddling down the river. He said I looked like a buoy floating down the river next to all the barges.

Well, Bob followed me across to Thebes and at Olive Branch, IL we stopped for lunch and a guy there said Thebes was going to be a tough place to start from. Current was bad for a number of miles and felt it was a whole lot better to move upstream to Grand Tower, IL. Now this was not planned and I felt like I was cheating myself by not being in the river, but Bob said he would stay with me up to Grand Tower. Again, I could not turn him down. In fact, he said if the river is going to be that bad he'd take me all the way to St. Louis so I could do it the other way. I know that is why I consider him such a great friend. More concern for others than himself.

Well, we got to Grand Tower around 3:00, me pedaling away and Bob following. Grand Towers had a nice campground so I decided to stay there and try the river in the morning. I needed to let Bob be on his way. Tough to say good-by, but heck,,, too much of me was rubbing off on him. He'd misplaced his sunglasses three times today!

A note: Last December one of Bob's daughters emailed me and asked if I'd write my thoughts about Bob. She was asking a number of his friends to do this and she was going to put it together in book form and give it to him for Christmas. What a great gift. I never got mine done and have felt bad about it ever since. I tried four times, but nothing sounded right. Today I found out why - a friendship like Bob's I cannot put in words. Don't even have to say much to each other. I just know (proven today) he's always there for me and I hope he knows the same is true of me! Just a couple of words Bob: you are a very special man and your family and friends know it!

Smithland Lock to Ferren Landing - June 26th

I wrote the last entry this morning before I pushed off.

It was tough to say good-by to Bob and Marcia. They went out of their way to do everything in their power to make my stay a comfortable one. Good part is that I will see Bob tomorrow at Mound City, IL. Part of my planning for the trip was to bike portage around Cairo. Supposedly it's tough paddling in that area, plus I have another big loop to go around. On Sunday, Bob, Marcia and I took a drive to scout out the best route over to the Mississippi. We decided that portaging from Mound City to Thebes, Il by way of Hwy 3 was the best. Bob said he'd meet me Tuesday and follow me across. Just like him and knew I couldn't say no, plus I knew I'd really enjoy the day with him along.

Trip went well from Smithland to Paducah. At Paducah I was to meet with a newspaper person, but it never worked out. So, at 2:00PM I decided to be on my way. (Can't wait forever!)

Winds have now picked up and the rest of the day was a tough paddle. Lot of white caps and heavy barge traffic around Metropolis made it worse. I think this was my preparation for the up stream current I will be facing on the Mississippi!

Finally found a place to pull over and set up camp just before dark. It was an unexpected boat landing on the Kentucky side of the river. There were a couple of trailers on the east side of the landing so I went over to the west side and found a nice level spot. I'd brought my paddles and gear up with me and then went back to secure my canoe and call Bob. As I was talking to Bob I turned around and here was a guy at the top of the landing getting out of his pickup with all my gear. At first I thought I was in big trouble, but after talking with him he said it was just fine to camp. Also said I almost lost my gear. He'd thought it belonged to some neighbors and was just about to go home with it when he decided to check the landing. Sure glad he did. Not sure what I'd have done if I went back up to where I left all my stuff and found it gone. No paddle, no nothing. It's a long enough journey, but to swim it!

Ronnie and Michelle Ferren own the land at this landing called Ferren Landing. After talking with Ronnie, he invited me up to their house for supper, which was a couple of miles away. Great meal and even better, I got to sleep in the camper at the landing.

Thanks Ronnie and Michelle, I will stay in touch. Like I've said, people have made this trip!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Grand Rivers, KY - Monday June 26th

Two days of rest went by way too quick. Bob and Marcia Maxwell have been great hosts. (Expect nothing less) They've been friends for a number of years. First time I met Bob was around 1972 when Marcia brought him to Minneapolis and introduced him at a party. He'd brought along a jug of his dad's homemade "Kentucky Corn Syrup" (if you know what I mean) and two days later all I can remember is I knew I had a true friend! Seriously, Bob and I hit it off from the beginning. He's very much like me and without saying a word each of us knows the other is always there for him!
Also over the weekend two of their daughters were home. Lissa, who is not married and Cammie along with husband Randall and children, Marshall and Ariel. Great to see them. Beautiful family, although it made me want to get home to my own, which I will be doing on the 3rd of July. Bob and Marcia also have another daughter, Tracy who I believe lives out in Denver. She is battling ovarian cancer and doing well. As of now doctors expect a full recovery. My wife, LuAnn has had her own battle and has conquered breast cancer. So, I know what Bob, Marcia and the rest of the family are going through and my prayers are with them.
So far I figured I've traveled 998 miles, about a 50 mile average. It will be interesting to see how that goes when I turn and go upstream on the Mississippi.
The Ohio was not a difficult river to navigate. Water was usually calm, unless a barge was going by. Once you got beyond its banks the scenery was beautiful. All along the banks you'd find garbage of all kinds. This was due to flooding. The Ohio can flood for miles inland and when it recedes it brings everything with it and it just piles up over the years along its bank. Also, the shore is usually at about a 45 degree angle and then goes straight up as much as 30 or 40 some feet, which made it difficult to find a level camp spot! (I'm going to miss this bed at the Maxwell's!)
Last night we ate supper at Bob and Marcia's friends: Darryl and Kay Armstrong's. Another great meal. Really enjoyed meeting them and they have a beautiful house nestled in the woods along Barkely Lake (part of the Cumberland River).
I have many interesting stories and met many interesting people and will elaborate more on them when I finish this year's trip.
Although, one story keeps popping into my mind that I'd like to share now.
Not long ago, as I was preparing to get into the water an isolated boat ramp, two children, Michael, about 4 and Audrey, about 7 were playing by themselves at the ramp. They came over and asked if I had any catfish. I said, "No, but I do have a candy bar." Well, they helped me put my canoe in the water and then I thought I better get them back to wherever their parents were. Turns out mom was up cleaning catfish with some guy at least 25 years older than her and as Michael, said, we do not know where dad is. Anyway, we chatted a little longer as I finished getting ready. Then I walked them back up the bank to where mom and the other fellow were cleaning catfish in about 95 degree weather. The kids asked if I'd play with them for awhile, which I did, then we sat and had a glass of water together before it was time to go. I told them I had to leave and they asked their mother if they could walk me back down to the river, which mom said was okay. As we walked back I keep wondering to myself if these two really had a chance to be all that they could be. (Also thinking how lucky I am to have the family Lu and I do) They both seemed bright and this setting (worse than I've described) was not good. Just before I pushed off I gave them both a big hug and told them to always be a caring person. Audrey's eyes told me she understood. Michael, well, he may have a tough road unless a teacher, coach, or someone takes him under his wing.
As I pushed off and got down the river a little bit, I turned and looked back and they were still standing by the bank, waving. I just wish I could have put them in my canoe and taken them with me.
It's about 7:30 and time to leave for the Smithland locks and continue this journey. Just want to thank all the people I've met along the way for their friendship and help. Best to all back home and I'm looking forward to July 3rd when I head home for awhile. Right now I have a little more paddling to do. I told Bob and Marcia I'm going to try and back off a little. Plans are to get no further than St. Louis in the next 6 days, which means I should have time to smell the roses, as a friend once told me. We'll see how long it lasts! Heck, I'll make it a goal, that should work!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

LONGEST DAY - June 22nd & 23rd to Smithland Locks

Started this day at 4:30 in the morning. I wanted to get a head start today because of cutting yesterday a little short. Although, I'm glad I spent the night at the marina and again, made new friends.
The day started out great, making it to Evansville, IN before noon. The plan was to go over to the KY side and get out of the water in Henderson, KY, but those plans were quickly aborted because there was no landing! The Henderson landing was all the way around the loop I was trying to avoid by biking through Henderson a few miles and saving a bunch of miles paddling.
So, back to the Evansville side and to a broken down landing just under the bridge connecting Evansville and Henderson.
Got all set up to start the bike portage, but to my surprise when I got to the top of the boat ramp I was in the middle of a soybean field. Well, there was a dirt tractor road going through the middle of it so I figured that was my best bet. Finally did make it to a paved road and worked my way to the highway leading to Henderson. The highway started out with a nice shoulder and I went right by a weigh station with about 4 highway patrol cars sitting at it. I figured one of three things could happen as they were watching me wide-eyed going by: 1. The shoulder was safe enough to go over the bridge. 2. They would come and stop me and not allow me to go over, or 3. They'd be nice enough to escort me across. None of the three! Shoulder narrowed and I rode across with cars and trucks within a short arm's reach away passing me. Made it!
Once in Henderson I asked for the best way to get back to the river. A older timer told me if it were him he'd go a back road about 15 miles and get back in past all the loops. Sounded good to me so that is what I did.
Now back in the water in mid afternoon. I worked my way down to the Uniontown locks figuring if I could paddle until 9:00 I'd be able to make it to the Smithland locks tomorrow where Bob Maxwell would pick me up. Always in the back of my mind was homecooked crappie and buffalo steaks and a level bed for a couple of days!!! Just enough to make me want to get there as quick as I could.
Well, around 6:30 I could see a big front moving in. A couple in a pleasure boat stopped and told me severe storms were on their way. (Glad they told me for I lost my radio a couple of days ago!) So, I found a great place to make camp, even level for a change. Just as I got myself all tucked in the storm hit. Good winds, lightning and a fair amount of rain.
While it was raining I called Bob Maxwell to get his report on what the weather was doing in the Paducah area. He said that I must be getting the rain they just had and everything looked good after it passed which should be about half an hour.
Sure enough, in about half hour it was clear again so I had supper, walked around a little and settled in for the evening.
Then about 10:30 all hell broke loose. Lightning, rain and could hear strong winds coming. I looked out and it was very eerie, like tornado weather. So I quickly called Bob again and he said everything was great there, but he'd check the weather channel and see what was in my area. Meanwhile, while waiting for him to call back I had to go retrieve my tent that blew off into some bushes. Re-set the tent up and Bob called. He said I was right in the middle of a severe straight wind storm. That was nice to hear! Well, I crawled back into a very wet tent and sleeping bag and just waited it out. Finally, sometime around 11:30 it was over and I was very happy except for everything being totally wet. I tried to make do the best I could, but said the heck with it, I'm packing up and going!
So, one day turned into two, with a night of paddling!
At about 9:00 the next morning I finally pulled over and took a good 45 minute nap. Took another at around2:00! Good thing in this experience is that I was on track to make it to Smithland today, which I probably would not have made if I started in the morning because I was further up stream than I figured the night before. Also, had a good breeze at my back for the first time in a long time. As I looked over to shore it looked like I was going twice as fast as previous days.
Finally made it to Smithland in the late afternoon. Called Bob and he'd said he'd be there in about 45 minutes. I got everything up onto the landing and went back down to the river and lay in the water thinking, why do I always have to push myself to get somewhere? I could have just as well gotten here tomorrow without killing myself! Just not my way I guess,,, but after all,,, crappie and buffalo steak and a level bed sound awful good tonight!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lewisport , KY to east of Newburgh, IN - June 21

Nice morning and a very good rest last night on a level bed rather than a 45 degree river bank!

I put in the water around 5:45AM with the goal to make it to Evansville, IN.

Paddling was very good today with very little strong wind and I was making good time even by stopping every two to two and half hours to stretch.

I came through Owensboro about noon and pulled over to the Indiana side to have lunch. Must have been a little tired for two hours later I awoke to waves from a barge slamming against my canoe.

Continued on my way and around 4:30 I heard this big boom way off in the distance, like a stick of dynamite going off. Later I heard it again and figured it was kids somewhere down the river having an early start to the 4th of July.

I came around an island and saw another trailer park on the inside of the river and decided to paddle over and see if I could get some fresh water and some info on what was ahead. I did get the water and they told me a couple of miles down river there was a marina and they thought I might get a sandwich there.

As I approached the marina, two 4 wheelers were coming down to the boat ramp where three or four others were standing. As I paddled over, all of a sudden I hear this loud bomb again, it just rattled everything around. Found out why - the kids were playing with the firecrackers!

I wasn't sure if I should paddle over or not after that, but decided to anyway.

I introduced myself and told them all about what I was doing and all of sudden everyone at the marina was down checking my canoe and gear out.

Turns out one of the guys, Larry Masters, was a good friend of Bob and Marcia Maxwell, the friends I plan to meet in Paducah. (Small world) These people were so much fun and were treating me so well that my plans to reach Evansville went right down the drain. I stayed there for the evening and filled up on some of the best barbeque cooking I've tasted, plus one story after another.

Another great day and better evening spent with good folks. (Evansville can wait!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

East of Wolf Creek to Lewisport - June 20

Big, big day today! Up early and decided to bike to Mooleyville, KY. This takes off another little loop of the Ohio. Also want to bike because yesterday it felt good to get some strength exercise for my knee.

Today was a good day. Hot, high humidity. Just a tough day to do things, which I've always liked, but on this trip, up until today I just have not felt 100 per cent. Not sure why, maybe just old, but mostly I think it has been my knee. Anyway, today it felt great, and my strength was very good. Maybe not 100 per cent, but good enough to enjoy the tough going. Just like old times!

I got back into the water at Mooleyville and paddled to Cloverport, expecting a possibility of getting a motel there. No such luck! A guy told me the closest motel was in Haweville. So off I went, thinking I could get there by 9:00. Got there around 8:30, central time! NO Motel here either, but told there was a Best Western 8 miles down the road at Lewisport. So, hooked up the trusty little bike and pedaled to Lewisport.

Got to the motel and settled in and went outside to relax for awhile. There sat Ed and his wife (did not get a last name). They'd been at a car show and stopped for the evening. Nice 1948 Ford Coupe he had. We chatted for awhile and up comes this lady and her daughter. They park right next to us and and unload their gear. Part of the gear was golf clubs! Julie and her daughter were playing in the Kentucky State Amateur Tournament. Well, long story short, Julie and Audrey got settled in and came back for a chat. Nex thing you know, everyone was hitting golf balls out into a bean field next to the motel. Did not expect to get any golf in this trip, but did and my swing is as bad as usual!

Another good evening. People have made this trip and on the water you do not experience it as much. (On one of the next few posts I will describe the Ohio in more detail.)

So, once again I'm glad I made the decision to grab a motel this evening. Funny how things work out.

Good, good day again; hot, humid, long and a few laughs at the end!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

West of Louisville to Wolf Creek - June 19

Long day today. Paddled to Brandenburg, KY and then hooked everything up to my bike for a late day bike portage to Wolf Creek. Did have some rain today on the river and some wind but nothing outrageous, just a good Boundary Waters type rain and cloudy day.

The reason I got out at Brandenburg is because for the last few nights, when I look at my maps I see this big loop of the Ohio up into IN that has been driving me nuts! I like to think in straight lines, which is hard to do on this river, but this is one time I did. So, I followed the Ohio along highway 228 to just short of Wolf Creek. This took until about 9:30 or so. Very nice pedal with a few hills, but nothing major. All the way there was a big threat of nasty looking thunderstorm clouds all around me. Back at Brandenburg, I was told a nasty front was coming in sometime this evening.

Figured I better find a decent place to camp, so decided on setting up next to an old vacant barn that was just off the highway and I figured fairly close to Wold Point.

Did get a good shower just after I had everything setup, but the big thunderstorm never materialized.

Plans are to put in another big day tomorrow. It gets light earlier now. (Close to central time zone) So I can get going around 5:00 or 5:30. That is, if I can get out of bed. I've been known to get up at the crack of noon back home!

Good day's work today.

Monday, June 19, 2006

West of Louisville - June 19

Journal work is done and it's time to head for Paducah, KY. Bob and Marcia Maxwell live just east of Paducah in Grand Rivers, KY and are good friends of LuAnn and I. I' m looking forward to a night or two at their buffalo ranch and just maybe a nice meal of crappies!

Bob loves fishing and the other day he called and said he was out at the ranch doing some work and the tractor broke down. He went back to town to do some work and something else happened. So, as he said, he was forced to go fishing! My kind of thinking. See you soon Bob and Marcia.

I will hopefully update again in Owensboro and Evansville.

All is well! Time to get in the water again.

North of Bethlehem, IN to Jeffersonville, IN - June 18th

Not as warm today, but still a little humid. Did get a little rain but it held off until later in the afternoon when I did have a shower. Longer paddle today, with some wind and more boat traffic as I neared the Louisville area.

Arrived in Jeffersonville around 9:30PM (Jeffersonville is in IN across from Louisville)

Today, being Father's Day, I spent it reminiscing about family. I'm sure all fathers feel their children are the greatest! Well, this dad sure does! All four are as caring and nice as their mother!

Dean is the oldest and is a high school math teacher in Somerset, WI. Just the type of person you want teaching your child. He cares about each indvidual's total well-being. He also is an assistant football coach. (Somerset has one of the best high school football programs in the state of WI.) Erin is his wife, who also teaches. They have two children, Liv and Rory. Liv is 4 and all miss and a young lady. Rory is 2 and is definitely going to be a football player. Just a little bull!

Eric (2nd oldest) lives in Superior with his girlfriend, Suzy and her children, Phil, Brian and Breckin. He works for Superior Glass. He also is a very accomplished artist. Over the years he's been working on a number of artist ideas including cartoons. The one I like the best he calls Feebles, which relates to people my age and their forgetfulness. Maybe someday he'll get the break he needs to get such a career going. Again, a very caring person who is a great uncle to his brother's and sister's children.

Heidi is our only girl and lives right down the end of our driveway. She works as a med-tech assistant at St. Marys Hospital in Duluth, MN. Husband Nate works for the railroad and identical twins, Devin and Drake (just finished kindergarden) and 1 1/2 year old daughter Ryah Marie keep their grandmother very busy. Devin and Drake are on the move all the time and Ryah is just as pretty as her mother. Again, Heidi has all of her mother's great traits and is a super mother. Oh, and I guess, daddy's sweetheart!

Ryan taught school at the local high school in Superior. As most may know we lost Ryan on December 28, 2002. Four days later, on January 1st his girlfriend, Heather gave birth to their daughter, Lily Ryan. Lily is all tomboy! She will be a very good athlete like her father. Heather is a great mother, but definitely has her hands full keeping up with Lily!

You can learn more about Ryan if you look at my PCT hike by going to There is a link you can click onto called Spartan Spin. Students at Superior HS dedicated an issue of their high school paper in memory of Ryan. Also our community has started the Ryan Hoff Memorial Youth Foundation which I will talk more about at a later time.

Right now I'm getting a little teary eyed and will just say I miss him tremendously, as I do my entire family.

Lu, you are very special. I could not ask for a better wife. Your caring and loving feelings for all has made our family. Love you very much!

Happy Father's Day to all!

Patriot, IN to north of Bethlehem, IN - June 17th

IT IS HOT! It must be close to 100 and the humidity is getting high. Did make good mileage though. Most of it in the morning and late afternoon. At about 6:00 P.M. the wind started to pick up and the sky's become very threatening. Did get some rain, but nothing severe.

You can tell it is the weekend, lots of speed boats and jet skis out, which makes for interesting bobbing around on my part, but I can deal with it and this Kruger Canoe handles rough water very well.

Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but the canoe I'm using was designed by Verlen Kruger who holds the record for long distance touring. I found out about it from Dan Smith of Portland, MI, a very avid canoeist and close friend of Verlen's.

Verlen passed away a few years ago, but he once did a 28,000 mile canoe trip over a four year period. It makes this trip of mine sound like a Sunday day on the lake! Verlen was a very interesting person. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him. Another close friend of Verlen's and noted canoeist, Mark Przedwojewski, now builds this craft and for many years worked with Verlen. Mark, your craftsmanship is excellent and I'm glad I made the choice of Kruger Canoe for this trip. At least I feel like I'm doing okay mileage wise. I know I'm not in your league Dan and Mark, but we are still upright! You can learn more about Verlen Kruger at:

Well, time for bed. I just heard it's supposed to be a chance of thundershowers tomorrow. Maybe they will miss me. That would be a good Father's Day present!

West side of Cincinnati to northeast of Patriot, IN - June 16th

Pushed off at around 3:00 from the west side of Cincinnati. Re-supplied and even remembered to buy a book to read (Miracle) and a Sudoku puzzle. Not sure about the book, but it sounded good and I enjoy doing the Sudoku puzzle. It will give me something to do in the evenings rather than read my road map and my PCT friend, Keith Drury's, "A Guide to Canoeing the Missouri River", over and over again. It's a well written guide, but enough is enough! I'll save it until needed later, Keith.

Day's trip was uneventful, a little wind in my face, but able to get 25 miles in. Made camp at around 9:30 and screwed up my first puzzle! (and it was the first in the easy section)

Starting to get hot and the humidity is picking up. Must of been in the low 90's, although in the late afternoon and evening it's very comfortable and peaceful.

Time for bed. Need to get up earlier to beat the heat tomorrow.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cincinnati - June 16th



Spending the day relaxing and getting prepared for the next stretch to Louisville, KY. I will push off sometime late this afternoon. It is supposed to be in the 90's the next few day, so I plan to paddle early morning and late afternoon and evenings. I wonder how long that plan will work. Anyway, if all goes as well as it has so far, I should be in Louisville late Sunday, maybe Monday.

I will update when I get there. Best to all!

East of Cincinnati to West of Cincinnati - June 15th

Paddled in and through Cincinnati around 11:00AM. Interesting city or I should say cities with Cincinnati on the Ohio side and Newport and Covington on the KY side. Right downtown in Cincinnati is an amphitheatre on the water and alongside it is the ball park for the Cincinnati Reds. You can arrive by river and go to a game. Just down from the Reds stadium is the home of the Bengals football team, Paul Brown Stadium.

I paddled to the far west side of Cincinnati and grabbed a motel for the night. Took my bike and toured the town a little. Resupplied and had a very enjoyable and restful evening.

Manchester to 15 miles east of Cincinnati - June 14th

Another good day. I made good mileage all day. Only problem was that I stayed in my canoe for 4 hours before getting out. Damn! Although, for the rest of the day I got out every 3, well, maybe 3 and 1/2 hours! Still, I felt good at the end of the day.

Ate lunch at a boat ramp near Dover, KY and had a nice visit with an old timer (well, older than me!) who was waiting for his son to come back from fishing. Nice gentleman who filled me in on the local history.

For most of the day I had wind in my face, which slowed things down a little, but still managed approx. 50 or more miles. Although, it took me until about 10:00PM to do it! I couldn't find a good place to set up camp. Most everything along the Ohio is at a 45 degree slant so you must really look close for a spot to set up. I must admit I did pass up about 3 to 4 decent places earlier, but always figured there'd be a better one just around the corner! (My PCT friends will understand that reasoning!) Well, at around 1o I did find a nice level spot. Except for the big coal power plant directly across the river, I couldn't complain!

Ashland, KY to Manchester, OH - June 13th

What a difference a night makes! I was really down last night. On such trips you mentally get down every so often and you must fight through it. But last night I was more than mentally down. I was really hurting physically, which normally does not bother me. But my knee was swollen and lower back was killing me. I felt like an old man! Going to and from the library to do my journal entries took for ever and I must have looked like a 90 year man shuffling down the road. To say the least, I went to bed really having second thoughts on what the heck I was doing out here.

Morning came and Iwas okay again. My knee was fine and my back felt great. Problem is I push too hard. Yesterday I paddled for over 7 hours straight and most of the time on this trip I go 4 to 5 hours at a time. I know better, but just do it anyway.

So the plan today is to start out pedaling for about ten miles. Pedaling for some reason really helps the knee. (It gets stiff when I sit in the canoe for a long period of time). Although it helps the knee and even boredom, I really do not make any faster time. I can pedal at about 6 miles an hour dragging my gear and I have more energy than I do paddling, but it is a good change.

Then for the rest of the day I took 10 to 15 minute breaks and still had my best mileage day, which I believe is around 7o miles and feel good.

I stopped in Manchester, OH and met Jennie and Jerry Edwards who were out on their Harley. Very nice couple and told me of a good place to eat just down the road called Aggie's Steakhouse.
They were on their way there and invited me to come along, which I did.

Very glad I did. Tracy Laney owns Aggie's. It serves great food, as good as I've had on this trip. Also met Gary Hughes, Mary Fazzio, Sissy Calvert, Katy Byineton and Tye & Lynne Spires. Really had a great time. Even had a bed for the night. Tracy had a camper out back and let me sleep in it for the night.

Thanks, everyone. Your hospitality and friendship came along just at the right time. I'm fired up again!

Monday, June 12, 2006

East of Huntington to Ashland, KY - June 12th

Plans changed! I started out at 7:00 with the idea of paddling to Huntington and hooking up my canoe trailer and bike and finding a motel. Did get to Huntington just before noon, but figured, heck let's shoot for Ashland. Glad I did, for just before Ashland was a small community called South Point. A better name would be BARGE POINT. There were barges all over the place and the barge boat pushers going up and down the river with no care of me bouncing around like a cork. I'll bet these things stretched along both sides of the river for over 10 miles. They made huge waves, so it was a bit of a challenge.

By the way, the other locks that I have gone through after Belleville were the Racine Lock and the Gallopolis Lock.

Finally got to Ashland at about 3:30 and glad I made the choice knowing the city barge trek is over.

I'm staying at a very nice motel in Ashland. As I was pedaling my canoe up the road to town I met a man with his grandson. They suggested I stay at the motel about a block away, saying it was the best in town and gear would be safe there. After a nice chat and a picture with the grandpa and grandson I pedaled over to the motel figuring this was going to cost me $100.00!Normally I find something for $45.00 or less. Yes, I'm cheap! To my surprise it is only $65.00! It easily would be over $100.00 in a larger city, but who am I to complain!

Plans are to push off in the morning around 8:00, although this is a very nice motel!

I figure I will be in Cincinnati by Thurs. Moving faster than I figured. I thought I may not get to Cincinnati until close to the end of June. I feel good and if weather holds I may make to the Mississippi by the end of June.

Pomeroy to somewhere East of Huntington, WV - June 11

I woke at about 7:30 and for a change took my time in getting ready to push off. Glad I did for the owner of the site came back with breakfast! Not only breakfast, he also took me to a local Walmart and I was able to pick up some supplies. Just cannot believe how nice the people have been on this journey.

Pushed off at 9:00 and spent the day paddling under the threat of rain, but it never happened until I'd completed setting up camp at 8:00, somewhere outside Huntington, WV.

Day was very uneventful. Just me, my thoughts, and lousy singing on a nice easy paddle down the Ohio!

Could not get lucky three days in a row! I had to set up camp on the Ohio side along the river. Tried to find a level spot, but everything slopes to the river at a fairly good angle. But I've slept in worse situations.

Eating in the tent this evening for it's raining pretty good.

I hope to make it to Huntington around noon tomorrow. Plan to get a motel and rest a little.

Belleville Dam to Pomeroy - June 10th

Awake at 6:00. No one else was up, so I made a little oatmeal and pushed off at 7:00. When I arrived at the Belleville Lock another fishing boat was waiting to go through. Glad they were there so I did not look like a total idiot the first time doing this.

The Six brothers were going through to fish sauger below the dam. They'd been doing very well. Sauger is a relative of the walleye that we have back in Wisconsin. It's a very good eating fish, although the Six brothers said you do not eat fish from the Ohio river!

Once through the lock, which was a piece of cake, I had a very peaceful day of paddling. Plans were to paddle until about 6:00 and find a camp spot. But, as my plans go I paddled until 8:00, going through another lock and I believe making over 50 miles.

Again, I was able to camp at another campsite as the night before. It was getting dark and I noticed this same type of campsite on the WV side again so I paddled over to see if I could get lucky two nights in a row. I did! (Again I'm hoping for names.) A very nice family invited me to stay at their site. They had just purchased it and were only working on putting in a dock and then going back home for the evening. They'd been on a waiting list for a few years and finally were able to buy a lot.

Again, very nice family, and went out of their way to help. Had a very good chat before they went home.

Off to bed at about 9:30 after a good day of paddling.

Parkersburg to Bellevelle Dam - June 9th

WTAP TV did their interview with me at 1:30 and must have taken video and interviewed me for about 45 minutes. After the interview I walked about a mile to get sometime to eat. Walking does my knee good although it still tightens up a little.

Well, I shoved off at 3:20 for my first stretch on the Ohio. Dave (owner of Dave's Marine where I've put in) said it was about 20 miles to the first lock. I was sure I could make it that far, but at least I had a reference point. Water was very calm so I figured this short day of paddling would be a good break in the day. I was wrong! Turned a corner in about a quarter of the mile and the winds picked up and I was bobbing around like a plastic bottle for the next two hours before the wind died down.

Once the wind died it was a very peaceful journey. I paddled until about 7:30 and to my surprise I'd paddled to the first lock at Belleville. I didn't want to go through that late in the evening, so I paddled over to the WV side of the river to what looked like a campground. Turns out the people lease a camping spot for $185.00 a year. Very neat. It's like a little family of campers. Everyone knows each other and gets along great. Anyway, they invited me to stay the evening. Great people and helped me in every way possible. One gentleman (hopefully he sends me his name) called the lock to see what I had to do to get through the lock in the morning. Turns out I just had to paddle up, pull a chain and wait until it opened.

Before I turned in another couple (again hoping for names) invited me for brats. Couldn't turn that down!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Parkersburg - June 9 - more thanks

In my June 2 post, I mentioned special thanks to the people that have helped me out.
I also want to thank all the people I've met so far. Thanks for taking the time
to talk and letting me take a picture. I hope they will be up in a couple of
weeks. Although I need a favor, if you could send me a comment or email
me at: I will attach your name and a comment to
your picture. (I'm bad with names and I erased the names I had on the little
recorder I'm carrying!)

A very good trip so far and looking ahead to the Ohio and really seeing what my Kruger Canoe can do in water. It wasn't bad on land!!!

Note: My website is still a work in progress. In a couple of weeks it will be cleaned up, pictures added and more friendly to use.


Parkersburg Library - June 9th

I got up this morning feeling a whole lot better than I thought. Knee swelling is way down. Even did a bunch of situps and push ups.

Just got a call from the local TV station. I'm meeting them at 1:00 P.M. at Dave's Marine.

Remember yesterday when I said I was planning on resting for a couple of days? Well, maybe the next town. It gets boring sitting around (trail friends know what I'm talking about). So after doing these entries and meeting with the TV station I will lazily work my way down river and set up camp early!

While I'm sitting in the library I was surprised to see Art Hilley at another computer. Art was one of the leaders of the youth group I met just west of Little Orleans. He works for Pressley Ridge. Nice to see him again. He thanked me for taking the time to talk with his group. They all were excited to get home and check out my website.

Time to get some supplies and rest a little before we tackle the Ohio!

Mountains of WV to Parkersburg by Bike - June 8th

Feel good this morning. Knee is a whole lot better. Off and pedaling at around 6:00A.M. and hoping to make it to Parkersburg by late afternoon. Weather is good and very little wind.

Funny how when you wonder how things are going to go when you're not sure you made the right decision. Well this has been a good decision. Riding in this mountain country is beautiful and definitely not as difficult as people made it out to be. Maybe they were just being nice and not saying, "You're too old to be riding a little bike across the mountain." One of my faults, I guess, is when I hear the word "can't" I usually try!

I arrived in Parkersburg around 3:00. From Clarksburg to Parkersburg it was mainly downhill and my little bike just flew. Must say I did get a lot of funny looks from the cars going by. I was wondering what they were thinking. I'm sure they were wondering who the idiot was riding that little bike!

I brought my gear over to Belpre, OH to Dave's Marine by pedaling the 3 miles to the Ohio River. Lots of strange looks from passing cars and pedestrians as I worked my way down main street Parkersburg!

Dave is very nice and said he'd keep my gear safe until I planned to go on, which I'm thinking will be in a couple of days. I need to rest a little and get the swelling down in my knee.

Back to the motel and rest.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cumberland to Gaylord, WV - June 7

Bad choice of camp spots! Just across the tow path was a train yard and I swear they were running all night long! Although it did give me time to think about plans for getting to the Ohio.

For the last day or so I'd ask people along the way what they thought was the best way to get to the Ohio. I told them I was thinking of shipping everything to Parkersburg, WV and then riding my bike the 170 or so miles to Parkersburg. They would look at my bike and would say, "Maybe you should think about going to Pittsburgh. You can get on the Alleghany River once you get over the divide and there also is a bike path all the way to Pittsburgh." Most felt this was the better and easier route. They all said going to Parkersburg on a bike by way of highway 50 would be very tough.

So, this morning I made my decision. I'm going to Parkersburg! Plans are to get to town and rent a car and drive my gear to Parkersburg and then come back and ride my bike over.

I was able to get a rental car (last one of 4 they had). I took the freeway over to Clarksburg and then was able to take Highway 50 into Parkersburg. (50 became 4 lanes in Clarksburg). This took about 6 hours. I hid my gear in the woods behind a group of motels about three miles from Parkersburg. Turned around and went back to Cumberland. This took about 6 or maybe 6 and half h0urs.

By around 3:30 I was pedaling. This little bike is great. I was climbing the mountain road as well, if not better than I could with the Cannondale bike I used when I did my perimeter ride. Ride was tough but not that tough. Once on top of the first grade there where many miles of very nice rolling hill riding. Countryside was beautiful. Reminded me a lot of home. Especially around the area where my mother grew up - Prairie Farm, WI.

Well, like usual I wanted to get as far as I could. Ended up riding with my head lamp on and it was raining.

Oh yes, I did prepare!

(I did not have a place to carry gear on this bike, like a tent or sleeping bag, so what I did was buy a little backpack. Also bought an eight by eight light tarp which I would use for a tent and put as much warm clothing as I had in the pack, along with some food. )

Ended up that I did not have to camp in the rain. A guy came along and gave me a lift to a motel just down the road. Very nice! See, by planning ahead and camping outside Cumberland yesterday, I figured I coud afford this night in a motel. Besides, it's raining!

Biking went well, although my knee is quite swollen, will need to ice it!

3 Miles West of Little Orleans to 4 Miles East of Cumberland, MD - June 6

Another day of mostly pedaling! Rapids are everywhere and the banks are too steep for me with my bad knee to climb up and boat ramps are all but gone now. I expected a lot of bike portaging along this leg, but not this much. Although I must say I've had fun along the tow path meeting a number of great people and interesting sites.

Today I biked through a half mile tunnel that cut off a number of miles when they built the canal. This canal was to link the Atlantic at Washington D.C. to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, PA, but stopped at Cumberland, MD for a number of reasons. One being finances and the other - it became obsolete before it was finished. The railroad came through, I believe 7 years before it was done! I guess the government spent money wisely back then too. Maybe they were thinking ahead, that someday a guy with a canoe could use it to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Made camp 4 miles from Cumberland, mainly because I'm too cheap to go all the way into town and get a motel! Plus, I figured I'd spend the night under the stars and try and figure out how to get to the Ohio!

3 Miles East of Williamsport to 3 Miles West of Little Orleans - June 5

It rained much of the night, but is nice now. Ate breakfast and loaded up the bike trailer and was off for another day of mainly pedaling. (Although did get to put into the water for a short time above dam number 5.)

Not a real exciting day. Met many nice people along the way and will post pictures when I get a chance. (Probably in a week or so.) Just east of Hancock I was able to switch over to what is called the Maryland Trail. It is a paved bike trail that parallels the C & O trail for about 20 miles. This was a very welcome change. Made much better time than I could on the graveled C & O.

If you are wondering what it's like to pull a bike canoe trailer loaded with a 17' canoe and gear, well it's like pulling a child in a wagon with the bike wheels on gravel and the trailer wheels following along through grass. Gets to you after awhile!

Stopped at Little Orleans for a beverage and found the two guys and lady I'd met outside Shepardstown. Their plans were to stay at a little resort in this small town of a pub and old gas station. I biked on to the next campground where I came upon a youth group of 7 teens and two adult men leaders.

They invited me to stay with them, which I did. I had a great time. The teens were excited about what I was doing and asked a million questions. Just had a great time chatting with them. (They will be finishing their trip tomorrow in Little Orleans)

Harpers Ferry to 3 Miles East of Williamsport - June 4

Although I started off the day biking, I was able to get back into the water just west of Harpers Ferry around 7:00 A.M. At the boat landing I met two guys putting in their boat. Like most people, they were a little mystified by what I was doing, but also thought it was neat. They were on their way bass fishing and I packed everything into the canoe and was off. Paddling was good for the most part at first, but soon I was in rapid water and out of the canoe, dragging it through the current. I had to do this a few times between Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown. In the process I broke one of my carbon paddles and twisted my knee slightly. Also, found out, as I was putting my trailer back together I'd left behind a pin that held the front "V" of the trailer in place. This "V" holds the nose of the canoe to to the trailer. Finally figured a way to hold it in place with a small piece of wire I found. (First item lost on this trip, damn!)

As I was getting ready for towing, I met a couple from Annapolis and also two guys and a lady about my age. Nice folks.

I had to pedal until I got to what is called dam No.4 and was then able to put in above the dam. I was told I would have good slack water until almost Williamsport, so this was very good news. Bad news was it was the weekend and there were speed boats all over the place. Anyway, I was able to bounce my way on water for the rest of the day.

This was the first real chance to get a feel for the Kruger Canoe I'm using. It handles well and I think in the right conditions I can make some pretty good time. Although, I'm no expert on what it can and can not do for I only paddled it once across the lake I live on at home before I started this trip. (I figured I'd do my practice while on this voyage!)

Plans were to stop early, around 5:30, but as usual that did not work out and found myself paddling to dark simply because I could not find a campsite along shore. Finally I came to a boat ramp and pulled over. A guy told me I passed at least two campsites. Problem was you cannot see them from the water; only by hiking or biking the towpath. Nice to know. Good news was that another site was just ahead about 2 miles.

So good plans to stop early ended the way it does many times, setting up camp in the dark!

All in all it was a good day and glad I got some paddling in.

Off to bed

Note: By the way, that trailer pin I lost...I saw a couple and their son mowing grass along the way today and I went over with another pin from the trailer to see if they might have a bolt that would work for me. The guy said, "No, but how about a pin just like that!" My PCT trail partners, Phil and Chaz would like this one. If you read my PCT journal you know how worried Chaz was about getting down to Lone Pine for re-supplies. It was going to be a 20 some mile road walk. Chaz was mumbling the whole morning about it and I would say, "Chaz, don't worry, things will work out." Sure enough, we get to the trailhead parking lot to Lone Pine and here's this note pinned to a tree, "Any PCT hiker going into Lone Pine, could you please drive my car down to the ranger station and I will pick it up when I finish my hike!" Sometimes things just work out. Sometimes!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Harpers Ferry, WV - June 3

Good night's sleep under the pitter and patter of rain, which became quite a bit more than a pitter and patter!!! The thunderstorms made me wonder what was the river was going to be like in the morning.
My wonders were correct. In the morning the water was up with the current much faster with a strong west wind in my face. Started the day by biking and met some very nice people along the way. Ran into a boy scout group which was out in their first overnight camping experience. Took a picture with the group and had a nice chat with the young men. They were very excited by what I was doing.
I continued on my way and found an area where the river seemed to be quite calm. I put in to paddle for as long as I could. It turned out that calm water was not very calm and was flowing very strongly in the wrong direction. Between the swift current and the wind in my face, I made maybe 3-4 miles in about 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. During that time I found that my knee had stiffened quite a bit. Between the knee, the fast current and the many rapids, it was time to get biking again, which I did for the rest of the day.
For those who are not aware of this, I should explain this knee problem. Due to an old injury and pretty much wearing it out during the last 500 miles of the PCT, I finally figured I should do something about it, which I did on May 1. I had a right half knee joint replacement. Recovery has been coming along good. In fact, maybe a little bit better than the doctors anticipated. And I feel it's strong enough for me to be out here. The biking is definitely good for it. And with the combination of paddling and biking, by the time I get to the Ohio River, I'm expecting it will no longer be a concern.
So back to my day,,, I made camp near Harpers Ferry, WV, a famous Civil War site and it is where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together. All in all, it was a good day and I met many nice people. Both the Potomac and the towpath have been very scenic and should continue to get even better as I head west. I'm also very pleased with my biking and portaging setup. This combination of paddling and portaging is what will make it possible to make it to the Ohio. I will definitely paddle as much as it can, but it is also very enjoyable to bike and portage. So far,,,I'm as happy as a clam in the Potomac!

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2, 2006 - Washington D.C.

This voyage has begun! It is getting late so this first entry will be very short. I will just give a quick synopsis of what has happened so far.

First I need to thank the following: Elizabeth Harr-Bricksin (Heather Willcoxon's cousin) for receiving my gear here in the Washington D.C. area: Jeff Foster trucking for shipping my gear(Thanks Jon Foster); and Balance Bar for the grant to make this all possible. I especially want to thank Jennifer Moore of Balance Bar for coordinating everything for me. Finally, thanks to my wife, LuAnn for supporting me once again. Hello to my children Dean, Eric, and Heidi; and to the grandkids, too: Devin, Drake, Liv, Rory, Lily Ryan, and Ryah Marie.

I finally was able to start at around 4:00 P.M. today with the help of Jeff Thompson who has been so kind to shuttle me around. I started just west of Washington D.C. at Swains Lock. Today was spent portaging along the river for two reasons. First, I wanted to test my bike and trailer system. Second, after reading a sign that said, "57 people have died in this area in last 10 years", even I had enough sense to go around the rapids rather than paddle through them. All in all the day went well and Jeff Thompson met me 17 miles up the river where I made camp and the two of us went to dinner in Leesburg. Leesburg is also a town that I biked through when I made my perimeter ride of the USA in 2004.

All in all it was a good day. Looking forward to tomorrow, which will start with at least the first half of the day paddling and most likely end with more portaging around rapids in the afternoon.