Wednesday, August 30, 2006

August 29 - Keel Park Landing to Hazelton Boat Landing and then -- HOME

Another beautiful morning. Very little wind and the current is quick. I hope to make it to Hazelton before noon. Yesterday I got some good information from a local fisherman about how to navigate this section without taking a wrong channel and ending up in a dead end.

It's amazing how low the water is around here. On my bike ride yesterday I took a couple of pictures which I hope gives you an idea. In many areas the river is less than 100 yds wide. Back in 1996 this area was over 1 or 2 miles wide. I think I've mentioned before that the water table is down 35 to 40 feet. Hard to imagine that amount of missing water. I'm sure it's made a huge impact on the economy. Many recreational areas no longer exist because the water is maybe over a mile away now.

Trip was quick as expected and I made it even faster than expected, a little after 11:00 AM. Should easily make it back to Bismarck by 3:00. My buddy Jim will be there between 3:30 and 5:00 so it should work out perfect. We will head up to Sheyenne, ND to see my cousin, Gary Hoff and his son, Troy. They are fishing Devils Lake and said they'd have a nice walleye dinner ready for us.

Lots of thoughts today. It seems just like yesterday I started this adventure. So many neat memories. So many nice people. My first thought was about how people kept doing a double take as I pedaled the C&O Canal Trail along the Potomac. I really had a great time meeting so many great people along that trail.

Then there was the bike ride across the mountains. Cars flying by and looking back through their mirror. Always wondered what they thought seeing an old man riding such a little bike. Visitors to the area probably thought that these hill people really are nuts!

On the Ohio I remember worrying about going through my first lock, just to find out it would be a piece of cake. The same was true about the barge traffic. Again, so many great people. So helpful.

The lower Missouri was more fun than I expected. In fact this and the Potomac were my favorite parts of the trip.

Least favorite is what I just completed. I did not enjoy this lake area as much as the others. I was very grateful I got to this point without much trouble, but it just got boring as time went on. You paddle forever feeling like you are going nowhere and if you noticed, I talked about few people in this area. That's because I met very few. Most boaters were a long ways off when they passed and I'm sure had no idea of what I was doing.
I still have two big lakes in front of me. Lake Sakakawea is next and then Fort Peck Lake in Montana. Hopefully by stopping now I will be re-energized next spring and ready to tackle them.

As I ride back to Bismarck I think of what really made this trip - the people. Everyone I met was wonderful. I plan to get in touch with all of you who sent an email or signed my guestbook when I get home. Your comments and encouragement help more than you know.

I think how wonderful it is to have friends like Bob and Marcia Maxwell that put up with me for a couple of days and my old friend Jim McIntyre, shuttling me back and forth along the lower Missouri and even now coming to pick me up, traveling over 1,000 miles to do so. How does one repay?

No way I could of done this without Jeff Foster Trucking of Superior shipping all my gear out to Washington, DC. I was amazed at how many people throughout my travel knew about or knew someone associated with Jeff Foster Trucking. A special thanks to you Jon Foster for making this possible. Then there was Bass Pro in St. Charles, MO. So willing in helping me out by storing my canoe and gear when I went home for a break over the 4th of July. Thanks, Bob Brownlee, Matt Prost, Wendy Jennings, Rich Dalton and all the rest of you at Bass Pro. Someday I will be back to see all of you again.

Then there's my major sponsor, Balance Bar. No way I could have even attempted this without their grant. If you haven't as of yet, go to: and check out this great program.

Thanks too to Coz Rich of Rich Designs in Superior for my Atlantic to Pacific Decal. Also, ZRE for my 7 ounce paddle, PaddleBoy for my boat trailer, Dahon Bicycle for my folding bike and Kruger Canoe for probably the best canoe/kayak out there for doing such adventures.

Right now I'm really thankful for the tailwinds behind me, for I'm struggling to get back to the landing, about a mile to go.

Plans are to start shortly after Memorial Day next year. Check by every once in awhile. I'll post the rest of my pictures soon and give you an update at least once a month.

Man, this boat is getting hard to pull. Another 6 or so miles to go and I feel like I'm dragging a huge lead weight.

Oh, that is the problem. Seems I have a flat tire on my trailer!

Next year I'm going to slow down!

When I've looked at a map of the USA, even I am a little amazed at how far I've come. Even though I'm glad to be going home, I do look forward to next year. I will need to do some research between now and then, especially on the best way to navigate these next two lakes and what route to take over the Rockies. In any case, I hope everyone has enjoyed following along this year and will join me next year as we work our way to Astoria, OR.


August 28th - Hazelton to Beaver Creek and then to Bismarck

Great day today. Up early after a great night's sleep. Got on the water and headed back downstream to Beaver Creek. Current was fast - as fast or even faster than the lower Missouri. In fact the 18 or so miles I had to paddle I was able to do in about an hour and a half, and I could have been done quicker if it were not for moving in and around sandbars.

I did have one bad thought: what if Chuck and Randy are not there? The road out of Beaver Creek Landing on bike would be tough, in fact almost impossible. But what little worry I had was quickly answered as I neared the landing. Chuck and Randy were there. They were as excited to see me as I was to see them. Heck, they'd even caught a few walleyes while waiting.

We loaded everything up and headed back to Hazelton. On my way back I told them of my new plan. Because of the current, (and it was going to be like this all the way to Bismarck), I was going to pedal to Bismarck and in the morning do the same thing as we did today.

They said they'd give me a ride to Bismarck if I wanted, but I said no, I had the day to get there and it give me something to do rather than sit around twiddling my thumbs all day. They said, "But it's about 30 miles!" I said, " I know!"

I know they could not understand this, as most people probably can't. How anyone would want to bike 30 miles, dragging a canoe after just paddling 18. Not sure I understand.

Said goodbye to Chuck and Randy and started towards Bismarck. Ride went well and quicker than I figured. Hills were easy to negotiate and I bet I did not have a dozen cars pass me. About 14 miles from Bismarck a lady came out of her house and took my picture and with about seven miles to go the most amazing thing happened. The Mayor of Bismarck and his wife were waiting to greet me! Well, maybe that is not quite true. As I was pedaling by Mary College, two bikers were stopped along side the road. I stopped to say hello and found out it was the Mayor of Bismarck and his wife. (It makes for a better story the other way)

Both were very interesting people. Mayor John Warford was from Bemidji, MN and Jenny, his wife, was from Delano, MN. Both have done many similar adventures as I'm doing. They've run marathons, climbed a number of mountains and have done a number of bike tours. Great people, and without knowing the political climate of Bismarck, am sure John and Jenny are well respected. I sure hope upon my return I get to see them again.

Once I got to Bismarck I headed down to the marina to check it out for tomorrow's paddle back to Hazelton. I even put into the water and had a few pictures taken of me as I paddled around. Current was even swifter here, for I found that in a matter of minutes while taking pictures I'd floated a good distance downstream and it was a struggle to get back to the landing.

All but done now. Tomorrow's paddle should go quick and then I will pedal back to this marina and meet my friend Jim for my ride back to Superior.

It will be good to get home. Wonder if anyone has split and cut my 10 cord of wood!

August 27th - Shaw Landing to Beaver Creek Low Water Landing

Good weather again today but a real tough day. Current kept getting stronger the more Lake Oahe narrowed. By the time I reached the Beaver Creek area it was very strong with lots of debris and even logs floating past me. In order to make headway I had to stay close to the shoreline. Next to the shore the current dies and even seems to turn and go upstream. I experienced this on the Mississippi which allowed me to paddle against the current.

Problem now is going to be that this river has really narrowed and most of the shoreline is marshland with lots of sandbars and little grassy islands. Staying in the open channel and using the shoreline to one's advantage is going to be difficult.

At day's end I pulled into Beaver Creek's low water landing and met Chuck and Randy (did not get last names). They were from the Billings, Montana area and for the last couple of years have come down to this area to fish walleyes. The last two years they've had great success, but so far this trip they have not. They told me that a few days ago they're releasing more water from the Garrison Dam because of the extreme low water levels on Lake Oahe. Supposedly the plan is to keep releasing water until the middle of next week. Both guys felt it was going to be tough and even dangerous to get from Beaver Creek to Hazelton because of the sandbars and mud flats.

They were camped north of here near the Hazelton Boat Ramp about 18 or so miles upstream and offered to take me around this area. Couldn't do that, but did ask if they could take me up to the ramp and then I'd do this section backwards and bike back up. They said they would but didn't think I'd want to bike back. For one reason they said it's a tough 3 or 4 mile dirt road out to the highway from this landing. So said they would gladly give me a ride back in the morning. They would plan to come down and fish here in the morning until I got here.

So, we packed my gear into their pickup and tied the canoe in with about two thirds of it sticking out over the tailgate and off we went.

Once again, just when I needed help it was there. Many times I've been asked, "Aren't you worried about running into trouble?" My answer is, "No, but I do wonder how I can pay back all the great people that have help me." Chuck and Randy are two of so many great people I've met and I'm indebted to so, so many.

Time to find the Big Dipper and count my blessings.

August 26th - Mobridge to Shaws Landing

Lake Oahe has been very gentle. Nothing like what I was told to expect. Today there's been hardly a ripple on the water. Only obstacles have been the hundreds of dead trees standing in the water. As I cut the corners of the lake, one must be a little careful as I work my way through the maze of trees. It would really be a danger if I had to fight waves, but I've been lucky all along this stretch.

Tomorrow I will leave South Dakota and enter North Dakota and should reach Bismarck/Mandan sometime on Monday. It's funny, as I near the end the more anxious I seem to get. Sort of wishing it was over, yet knowing in a week or two after I've finished I will be missing the river. I'm also noticing more river current as I near the end of the this lake which doesn't help the arm and shoulder fatigue I've been feeling the last few days. Hopefully a good night's rest will help. Think I have about 80 some miles to go, but again, who's counting!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

August 25 - Walth Bay to Mobridge and beyond

Unbelievable! Water is like glass this morning and not a breath of wind. I paddled into Mobridge and at 9:00 I was doing the last 3 days of journals. After breakfast, I was back on the water by 11:00.
The hope is to get to Bismarck/Mandan by Monday. My good buddy, Jim McIntyre, who helped me in the lower part of the Missouri, will again be there to meet me on Monday. Takes quite a friend to drive from Milwaukee to to pick up this old codger. Like my buddy Bob Maxwell back in Paducah, who helped me so much, I guess Jim understands if the roles were reversed, I'd do the same for him.
Also while eating breakfast, I was chatting with a guy who had some experience on the river in this area. He told me I will find alot of deadheads between here and Beaver Creek and within 30 miles Lake Oahe becomes a river again. Because the water is so low between Beaver Creek and Bismarck, there will be sections of mud flats and sandbars, making it tough to find the correct channel to paddle. On top of that, he said the current gets swifter as Lake Oahe narrows. He wasn't sure it could be paddled.
Well, we'll find out in the next few days. We will see how the arms and shoulders hold up. Time to get back to the river - see you in Bismarck/Mandan.

August 24 - Hwy 212 bridge to Walth Bay

Great night's sleep and I'm down to the boat landing by 6:30. Still a little dark and quite foggy, but enough visibility to start. Water looks good, again just a slight walleye chop and what wind there is is coming from the southeast. My buddies John Nielsen, Jim Waletzko, and Charlie Wright would love to be fishing these waters today. Unfortunately, I do not have time to catch them a stringer of walleyes.
The goal is to try to make it about 30 miles today, which hopefully gets me to the Walth Bay campground. That means I'll have about 10 miles to get to Mobridge the next day.
Paddling went well all day long, although I can see why others have gotten discouraged with these lakes.
For me, it's become boring for a number of reasons. One is the scenery is the same all day long. As you travel you look straight ahead and it seems like it takes forever to get to the point you are looking at. Then when you are away from the shore, you look over and it looks like you are standing still. Whereas on a river, you can judge your speed by looking at the shoreline. In Keith Drury's guidebook, as I read between the lines, I got the feeling he too got discouraged paddling this section. But it must be done, so we keep going. Also I still remember the look on the face of the guy with the rubber raft and his comment: "I hate these lakes".
I probably should not complain because I am fortunate to have the tailwinds and calm water. Of course, I will complain once more - it's to be 100 degrees plus again today.
The day went well until about 3:00. Then I could see black clouds both in front of me and behind me. Around me it was dead still, and the water was calm but you could feel something was about to happen. Sure enough, it did. At about 4:00 to the west coming off the hills was a big dust storm. Even this old guy knew he'd better get to shore fast - which I did.
Within about 15 minutes the winds were just a howling and you could hardly see in front of your face because of the sand. This lasted for about a good half hour. Fortunately, I was able to take cover behind some brush until it subsided.
I got no rain out of this, although it took another good 40 minutes or more before the waves subsided so I could start paddling again. Skies were still really black and eerie in front of me and behind, but it seemed like it was moving away from me, so I didn't feel threatened. I decided to continue on.
Made it to the Walth Bay campground at about 8:00 and set up camp. Found out that there had been tornadoes both behind me and around me. Right where I had started that day there were tornadoes that destroyed some cattle and there were tornado warnings just north of Mobridge which was 10 miles away.
Again, like so many times, I feel very fortunate - must be somebody looking out for this old codger!
Time for bed, arms and shoulders are aching. Goal for tomorrow is to get to Mobridge, update my journal and continue on to Bismarck, which is about 100 miles away. But who's counting!

August 23 - Pierre to 212 Bridge

Ready to go at 6:00 AM and it's still dark out. I'm real close to the mountain time zone and it stays darker longer in the morning, but on the other end I have more light later in the day.

Decided to go across the street and have breakfast at Hardees before I start pedaling to my entry point above the Lake Oahe Dam.

Well, it's 6:30 and still a little dark, but I'm off. I have some hill climbing to do so I might as well get that done before the morning traffic starts, plus it is cool right now. Pulling a loaded-down canoe on this little bike takes a little out of you, so might as well do it now before the heat starts. Temperature is supposed to get to 106 today.

Got my first view of Lake Oahe about 7:30. What an awesome sight. Not sure my pictures from here will do it justice. Very intimidating from the road. We'll find out soon how the paddling goes.
Because the lake is so low, in fact the lowest it's ever been since the dams have been put in, I had to pedal a little further than where I planned to put in. The boat ramp was closed, according to the sign at the turnoff. Ended up entering the lake at the Bush Boat Landing. Luck is on my side again. This huge lake is very calm - hardly a good walleye chop, which is just fine with me.

Man, this is a big body of water! Glad it is calm and it also helps that the water is low. It is easy to determine a bay from the main river.

I believe I made it a little over 25 miles today on the water to the Highway 212 bridge which is out in the middle of nowhere. A very easy paddle. At least for one day all my worries of rough water did not materialize.

At the 212 bridge I asked a local if it was okay to camp here. He didn't know, but he said if you look up on top of the hill there's a campground and a motel about a mile and half away. Let's see, it's been over 100 all day, do I want to camp on these rocks or do I want to check out the motel campground? Even this cheap "Coach" decided on the checking out the campground and motel.

Motel is only 50 bucks including tax, plus it has a nice restaurant. Hotel it is! I'm getting soft.

Great meal, great view, excellent first day on Lake Oahe. Although at the restaurant I heard there's a chance of severe weather tomorrow. I'll worry about that tomorrow, time for bed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22nd Cedar Creek to Pierre, SD

Man, was I tired last night. One of the biggest differences I've noticed in paddling these lakes than on the rivers is you need to put so much more effort into each stroke and by day's end I find my arms and shoulders about ready to fall off. It's going to take a little to get used to it. What's helped is that when I was on the river, every hour or so I'd paddle as hard as I could for about 5 minutes and I believe this has helped me keep up a pretty good pace the last few days. Hopefully I can keep it up.

I was up early and paddling at 6:00. Pierre was in my reach and I felt I could easily make it by late afternoon if conditions stayed as good as they were yesterday. As I started out they were, just a light wind out of the east and at my back.

The wind stayed down until about 9:30, then it began to pick up and by 12:oo I was riding waves again! I was able to make it to the Fort George Landing and decided I better get off the water, which I did. I figured I had about 15 miles to Pierre so I decided to get the bike out and pedal the rest of the way.

Ride went well and I was in Pierre by 3:00 and better yet, in a Super 8 Motel that I got for $36.05! Time for a shower and a good rest. I'm beat and my arms feel like rubber.


Plans for tomorrow are to get up at 5:00 and be on the road at 6:00. I have about a 15 mile portage to the spot I want to enter Oahe Lake. This is the large lake (over a mile wide) everyone has been talking about. Supposedly it can get real rough and I will need to play close attention to my maps so not to go into a wide - deadend channel. I hate having to turn around!

Back a ways I was told this lake is as low as it has ever been. Probably 40 feet low. Not sure this will help me with navigation and wave action or not, we'll see. Also saw in the paper that for the next 5 days the wind is supposed to be out of the south at 5 to 15 miles an hour. If that is true I should be okay for I'm heading straight north now until I get to Mandan. On the down side, it is supposed to be in the high 90's the next couple of days. Oh well, can't have everything!

August 21st Chamberlain to West of Cedar Creek Landing on Lake Sharpe

I must admit I was a little down last night. After bouncing around on the lake and meeting the guy in the rubberized canoe I got to thinking about what is ahead. Two things: First, I will go nuts if I have to stay ashore windbound or make less than 25 miles a day. Second, the look on face of the guy I met was not good. I've been there, maybe for other reasons, while on my perimeter bike ride, and it is no place I want to go back to. I've been feeling pretty good the last few months and this adventure has been great so far. I do not need to fall backwards. So I hope for good weather and if need be, I will bike some.

Heck, my worry of last night turned into a great day - at least for today. The wind was supposed to be out of the north, which would be right in my face, but instead it is mostly out of the east which helps a lot for I'm going northeast and many times east. Also the water has been relatively calm all day.

I made it to Fort Thompson at around 12:30. As I ate lunch, I met a number of American Natives who were really interested in what I was doing. We chatted about a number of things for the next half hour. As I was getting ready for the ride around Big Bend Dam one of the guys said I could cut off the big bend in the river by riding about 15 miles and then taking a back road to where Medicine Creek flows into the Missouri. Sounded good to me. Except the gentlemen for got to mention the 2 plus mile hill I had to push my bike and canoe up! Finally did make it to the river and now the wind was straight from the east and I'm heading west!

The rest of the day was very good. I just got lost in my thoughts (mad at myself for getting down last night) and hoped the rest of this journey to Mandan is as good as today.

Finally stopped paddling at around 9:00. Because of the good conditions I wanted to get as many miles as I could in. Made camp near Cedar Creek, ate and fell right to sleep.

Good day and I feel good!

Monday, August 21, 2006

August 20 - Platte Creek to Chamberlain

Very good morning but not so good afternoon.

Morning paddle was great with light winds at my back and I was making very good time. Then at around 2:00 the winds picked up and I started to bounce like a cork. Much like when I was in heavy barge traffic on the Ohio. Only relief I would get was when I rounded a corner that blocked the south wind.

Late in the afternoon I spotted a canoe on the east side of the shore so I pulled over. There was a young man in a rubber raft-like canoe, loaded with more gear than I thought possible to still keep the craft afloat. He was just beat. I'd seen the look before on the PCT trail when a hiker just had had enough. Turns out this guy (never got his name) was from Florida and started two months ago in Glasgow and plans to quit when he got to Sioux City. He said he was making about 20 miles a day. I asked how he was doing and his response was, "I hate these lakes!"

I did not stay long. He was really down and there was no way I could cheer him up. I just told him things are going to get better once you reach the Randall Dam.

As I left I just thought to myself - what would I do if I only made 20 miles a day? I'd go nuts!

Well, as I continued so did the winds. They continued to pick up and by 3:00 I was riding 4 to 5 foot surfs! I felt like I was body surfing on the ocean. Still felt safe, but knew I needed to get off the water soon because it looked like storms in the west, and if the wind got any stronger I'd be swimming.

At about 4:30 I found a little bay with what looked like an abandoned boat ramp. I pulled in and proceeded to make camp , but as I did a car came down the road. Turns out it was a game warden just checking the area. He said he hadn't been to this ramp in over two weeks because it was rarely used any more and he was surprised to see me.

He told me to hunker down good because severe weather was headed this way. Also said if I wanted to throw my gear in the back of his truck he'd take me to Chamberlain. I said I couldn't do that but asked how far away Chamberlain was. He said, "about 6 or 7 miles!" That was that. I hooked up my bike (warden watched in amazement) and pedaled to Chamberlain.

I found a motel just off I-90 and went in to see what it would cost. The guy said, "$99.00!" I told him I could not afford that because I was on a very tight budget and started to leave. He saw that I was on a bike and had this canoe and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he said, "How about $60.00 and a jacuzzi suite!"

Things turned out well again. Storm hit with very high winds and old Coach is bathing in his Jacuzzi!

August 19 - West of Verdel Landing to Platte Creek

Great Day! What wind I have is from the south and I'm moving northwest.

First part of the day was paddling the last river section I will have for this section. Very nice morning paddle with high bluffs on the Neb. side of the river. Even though I've been on only one lake I can tell you I like the rivers a whole lot better than lakes.

I reached the Randall Dam around 2:00 and then hooked up my bike and trailer and pedaled around the dam to the North Wheeler Recreation Area.

Francis Case Lake is a BIG lake! Good thing is there is little wind and the lake is relatively calm.

For the rest of the day I just paddled along the northeast shore wondering what this would be like if I had wind.

As the day wound down so did what wind I had and now the lake was almost like glass. Just a beautiful sight with the sun starting to set in the west.

Made camp near Platte Creek as the sun was setting. Ate dinner and lay in my tent enjoying the evening and wondering what tomorrow would bring. Hopefully no wind.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

August 18th - Gavins Dam Marina to North of Verdel

Up at 6:00 and out the door around 7:30. Darrin and his two sons, Jimmie and Jacob, took me down to the the Marina at around 8:00 after a quick stop at WalMart for some groceries.

Jimmie and Jacob helped me get my gear into my canoe and after pictures I was off. Paddling lake waters was going to be a new experience and I was wondering what kind of miles I would make in a day and how I'd handle the waves when the wind picks up. Today it is relatively calm and what wind I have is coming from the southwest and not much of a factor.

All was going well until around 11:00. I was making good time, but I could see that a storm was nearing from the west. As I continued to paddle I also saw that I was approaching high cliffs on my side of the lake and it could be hard to find a place to pull over in case things got real bad. Smart thing would be to pull over, but of course I kept going!

I rounded a corner and realized this was going to be a bad storm. Very dark in the west and lightning off in the distance. I saw a place I could pull over, but again I figured I may find something better around the next bend. Sure enough, just when things were going to get real nasty, I came upon a boat landing. I quickly pulled my canoe out of the water, turned it over and headed up the boat ramp to see if I could find some protection. As luck has it, there was an outhouse at the top of the ramp, so the next hour I spent in the outhouse out of the rain. Not the best place to have a late morning snack!

Once back on the water, nice and dry, I paddled to the end of Lewis and Clark Lake and started to weave my way through sandbars with tall grass, which made it hard to see which way was the right way. Finally got through most of the tough stuff near Running Water. Now the current was getting faster, but I was still, with a little effort, able keep up good speed.

I ended the day just past the Verdel Landing and the mile or two of cottages and trailers west of the ramp.

Very pleased with the first day. Lake paddle was good although I knew if I had any wind it would be a tough go. Once on the river by Springfield, the current picked up but was manageable. Tomorrow will be river until the Randall Dam and then more lake paddle on Francis Case Lake.


I did not mentioned that I lucked out again in storing my gear when I got to Yankton. Turns out a good friend, Dean Neumann, had a niece that lived in Yankton. Dean and his wife Teri have been friends for years. Teri is a retired elementary teacher in Superior and Dean a retired middle school principal. Dean's niece, Lara Cunningham and husband Darrin were nice enough not only to care for my gear, but even offered to pick me up at the airport in Sioux Falls upon my return, which he did.

Turns out Darrin and his boss, Jim Vlahakis, had a golf tournament today just north of Sioux Falls so they said they would pick me up when they were done at around 5:30. That was great, although my plane arrived at 10:20 in the morning which meant a few hours of waiting, which was okay. What I did was walk over to the mall about 7 miles from the airport and hung around until they arrived.

Darrin and Jim picked me up a little after five and we were in Yankton around 6:30. It was a long day so after supper I excused myself and I was off to bed by 8:00.

Plan for tomorrow is Darrin taking me down to the marina around 8:00 and I will be off heading to Mandan wondering how it will be, canoeing four large lakes between Yankton and Mandan. I start with the Lewis and Clark Lake here at Mandan.

Guess I'll find out real soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I will be flying back to Yankton tomorrow, Thursday, August 17th and plan to start paddling to Mandan, ND on Friday.

The time off has been good for me. I'm well rested and anxious to get back. Even got a few chores done around the house!

Ryan Hoff Memorial Golf Tournament was a great success. We raised over $12,000.00, which is down a little from the last two years, but still very good considering the economy. We are excited about the direction the foundation is going. This fall the foundation will be awarding the incoming 9th grade class at Superior High School $5000.00 and given the chance to manage the money under the direction of their class advisors and administration for their 4 year high school careers. Then upon graduation they will vote as a class how they want their proceeds to be used in our community. The original $5000.00 will then transfer to the next incoming 9th grade class. The foundation over the next 4 year will give each incoming 9th grade class $5000.00 upon which time the project will be self supporting.

We also are exploring ways to use the school district's school forest in creating a type of "out- reach" learning center. The hope is to give our youth the opportunity to experience a variety of lifelong learning activities.

Thanks to all who sponsored and or participated in the tournament. Superior is a great community. LuAnn and I cherish the support and love you've given our family and we hope the foundation is one that all can be proud of.

I will have about 500 river miles to get to Mandan and hope to do it in two or less weeks. The key will be wind, for now I will be paddling the first three lakes of the Missouri starting with the Lewis and Clark Lake in Yankton. Lake Oahe looks like it will be the most challenging. Sounds like waves can get 5 feet and higher on this lake and can come up very quickly. From reading about other canoe and kayakers doing this section you could be windbound for days. Just have to play it by ear and hope my luck is good.

Depending on when I get to Mandan, I may decide to go a few more miles to the Garrison Dam. My goal is to be done by Labor Day so if my luck is good and I can get through Lake Oahe, that will be my stopping point for this year. Then in the spring of 2007 I continue to the Pacific. I did play with the thought of continuing and trying to go all the way to the Pacific this year (I believe I could make it) but it's time to go home and spend some quality time with family before winter sets in.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August 4 -Sandbar by Leavenworth to Kansas City

Interesting evening last night. Very relaxing. I did take that swim in the Missouri and even completed all six of my Sudoku puzzles without mistakes. Went to bed at sundown watching the stars and waiting for the Big Dipper to appear. Then at about 10 I heard a loud siren that lasted for about 5 minutes. After that a couple of helicopters came over. Things settled down, only to hear off in the distance what sounded like race cars which lasted for another hour. At about 12 the first of two large cargo planes came over my head with the intention of landing close by.

In the morning I quickly found out the answers. The Kansas airport is within a couple of miles as the crow flies and for some reason these two planes came from a different direction than the other planes that flew over earlier in the evening. Also by looking at my map there seems to be a race track close by. The siren, well I found out the answer to that when I started paddling. Just, and I mean JUST around the corner from my campsite, the river borders one of the many prisons in the area. Wonder if anyone escaped last night!

Paddled into Kansas City at Kaw Point Landing just after noon. Kaw Point is just around the corner on the Kansas River which joins the Missouri in the heart of Kansas. I did not leave from this landing when I went to St. Louis. I left from a landing about 10 miles to the east of here so I was unfamiliar with Kaw Point. My impression was that it would be a beautiful landing being in the heart of Kansas City and at the spot where the Kansas and Missouri Rivers joined. It was not. Kaw Point is located in the heart of Kansas City's industrial district. River factories and warehouses all over. Even at the landing there was a lot of garbage in the river. Disappointing but it does look like they are making an effort to clean it up and make a nice park. It has the potential of being a great place. The view of Kansas City is spectacular from here. I suspect funding is the reason for it being a work in progress.

Well, the lower Missouri River section is history. Again I met many nice people and was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this section. I'm also now happy with my decision to paddle it downstream. Atlhough I had the heat and headwinds to battle I still made great time. It would have taken maybe a month or probably more to do it upstream. However, I do believe it is possible if one wanted to spend the amount of time it would take to do it. To do it one would be paddling at a hiking pace of about 2 and a half miles an hour or less. Maybe sometime in the future I will attempt it!

Anyway, now I must pedal the 8 to 10 miles to my motel and get ready to drive my gear back to Yankton, SD.

I weaved my way through this industrial area and over the highway 69 bridge crossing the Missouri without incident. I have my transportation all set for tomorrow to take my gear to Yankton, SD and will fly home on Sunday the 7th of August in time to help prepare for The Ryan Hoff Memorial Youth Foundation Golf Scramble which will be held August 12th.

I will be back in Yankton on August 17th and start paddling to Mandan, ND on the 18th. Mandan is about 500 miles away and it will be my stopping point for this year. So far the trip has been more enjoyable than I figured. Best part has been everyone I've met. So many nice people and everyone always willing to help when needed. Thanks to all!

I will give an update next week before I head back to Yankton.


August 3rd - Atchison to east of Leavenworth

Awake at 4:30, again realizing I did not need to leave early, so I went back to sleep. This motel stuff can make one lazy! Finally got up and out the door at 9:30. Pedaled down to McDonald's for breakfast and made a stop at the library to check e-mails before going to the boat ramp.

I got everything packed up into the canoe and was on my way again at around 11:30. It was good to be back on the water again. Very delightful morning. Now that I have only two short days of paddling left I have good conditions! Temperature is only supposed to get into the 80's today and the humidity is way down. I also have a nice breeze at my back for the first time since I left Yankton.

Just a nice lazy day of paddling. Did not see another watercraft on the river. Although I did meet Dennis, who calls himself the "River Rat". He was working along the shore at his cabin when I paddled by. He's a carpenter by trade but hopes to retire soon to this river place and start seeking his life's dream of catching a 100lb Blue Catfish. He's had a couple in the 70lb range but knows there's a 100 pounder out there waiting for him. Nice guy and saw him later on the water scouting the shoreline for places to fish.

So I am making camp early today. It's only 7:00PM and I'm on a nice sandbar just south of Leavenworth, KS and I believe within 20 to 25 miles of Kansas City. I even have a baseball to play catch with. From somewhere a baseball has washed up on this sandbar.

Well, you all (I've been in the south too long) have a nice evening. I'm going to relax with a nice bath in the muddy Missouri and do a Sudoku puzzle or two, read a little and get lost in my thoughts!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

August 2nd, Day off in Atchison

Woke up at 4:30 ready to start paddling and realized I was in a motel! Went back to sleep and woke up at 8:30! Did a few sets of pushups and situps and then washed clothes before I headed to the library to do my journal entries.

Atchison is a neat town. They really have a nice riverfront dedicated to our military veterans. I was disappointed in St. Joseph's waterfront, but Atchison's is very impressive for a town of 17,000. They also have a nice museum with collections of railroad, Old West and many personal effects of Amelia Earhart's.

Basically trying to get through the day. Tough for me to just sit around so I took my bike and rode around for most of the afternoon. (For anyone coming this way, I'd recommend Paolucci's Restaurant and Lounge. Great Italian food.)

Tomorrow I will work my way to Kansas City. It's only 6o miles so I will,,, must,,, go slow and do only about 30 miles tomorrow and arrive the following day, Friday in K.C., giving me time to get a motel and prepare for my ride back to Yankton on Saturday and fly home on Sunday from Sioux City.

Only 5:30PM, guess I'll go back to the motel and do another set of pushups and situps!

August 1st - Sandbar north of St. Joseph to Atchison, Kansas

Plans were to go to St. Joseph today and find a motel. I'm way ahead of schedule (as usual). If I keep going at this 60 to 70 mile pace I will be in Kansas City on Wednesday and my rental car ride back up to Yankton is scheduled for Saturday. So, I'm planning on spending a day in St. Joesph and visiting some of the historical sites. There are a number of neat museums in St. Joseph, including the Pony Express Museum and the Jesse James Home Museum.

As I approached St. Joseph I was surprised at what I saw. I was expecting this neat riverfront much like I saw in Sioux City. Instead all I saw was another casino and high freeway bridge that pretty much ran the length of the town.

I pulled over to what I thought was a boat ramp but turned out to be just an overlook. Up above were Robert and Kim Duncan and their little boy Dalton. They were from the Kansas City area and had spotted me paddling and wondered what I was doing. They were excited about my adventure and gave me their telephone number and said if I needed any help when I got to Kansas City to please not hesitate to call. Again, I'm just amazed at the willingness of people I meet to lend a helping hand.

I asked Robert if he could see a boat ramp and he said no, so I figured it must be ahead a little ways. I said goodbye to the Duncans, telling them I'd call when I reach Kansas City.

Couldn't find the boat ramp. It must have been the one I passed on the north side of town. So, my next option is to paddle downstream a couple of miles to a campground, which I did.

Found out there was no tent camping - only RV camping at the campground. The lady said I'd need to go back about three miles and I could get out at the Sunset Grill Ramp. Other option would be to paddle to Atchison, Kansas 25 miles or so downstream. Well, as most know I do not go back, so I was on my way to Atchinson, Kansas, the birthplace of Amelia Earhart.

Never fails, my short day paddling plans have turned into another 45-50 mile day!

Got to Independence Park in Atchinson around 3:30 and met Jon and Charlotte Angell and their children Emily and Rebekah. They saw me paddling up to the ramp and figured I was doing something out of the ordinary! Jon writes for a paper (I believe this is correct) in a small town in Kansas. They took pictures and listened to my story as Emily and Rebekah helped me put my trailer together. Jon was going to write an article for his paper.

After our visit, and once Emily, Rebekah and I had the trailer and bike put together I worked my way to town to find a motel. I'd heard Atchinson was a very paddle-friendly town and what I heard was right. People waved as I rode by. Many honked and gave me a thumbs up as they read the side of my canoe! Even got my motel room at a very nice reduced rate!

July 31st North of Brownville to a sandbar north of St. Joesph

Great day today. I even stopped and visited with people! Just short of the Nebraska - Kansas border on the west side of the river, a boat came over to me. This is one of the few times a boat has actually stopped. Usually they just go by and wave and look back to see how I'm handling the wake they created. The person stopping worked for the Nebraska Dept. of Natural Resources and was surveying fishermen. We had a nice talk and just before I pushed off he asked where I was from. I told him Superior, WI. He said,"Is George Austreng still there?" I said, "How do you know George?" He said, "I taught school with George back in the early 70's." Well, it turns out it was Walt Belding who I also had taught with!

After recalling old times with Walt I was on my way. Walt is working two or three days for the Nebraska DNR and lives back upstream in Nebraska City. Nice man and he really enjoys being on the river and meeting folks. Back in 2004 he met the person I mentioned before who used the same canoe as I, while doing the Lewis and Clark journey. Small world!

Around 2:30 I came to the small town of White Cloud. White Cloud is right on the river so I pulled in with the hope of getting something to eat. No such luck. All that was left in the town was a plumbing business, post office and the White Cloud Grain Elevator.

I walked over to the office of the grain elevator with the hope of getting my phone charged and maybe getting out of the heat for awhile. Gary Ramey was in the office and has happy to let me charge my phone and relax for awhile. I also met Charliss Krothanke and Shirley Jones. Shirley grew up in the area and filled me on some of the history of White Clould. At one time White Cloud was going to be the St. Joseph of Nebraska because of its location to the Missouri, but politics and the dams upstream changed all that. If it weren't for this elevator and the casino about 7 miles away it would be a ghost town.

Also learned from Shirley that there are three endangered species along the river since the dams were built. They include the Pallica Sturgeon, Piping Plover and the Least Tern. It cannot be proven this happened because of the dams, but it all started at the same time they were built. Another interesting note is that on top of the high bluff north of town is the original survey marker for plotting the western states.

Very enjoyable and interesting visit and the melon was good too! I need to do this more often!

Continued down the river with the idea of finding a campsite within 30 miles of St. Joesph. I found a nice spot about 20 miles away at around 8:30 on a sandbar. Made camp, went for a swim and just lay in my tent looking up at the stars, just wrapped up in my own thoughts. One of my better days. Even though it was close to a 70 mile day I really enjoyed the visits I had today.

Time to look for the Big Dipper!

Note: For those who have not read my PCT journal, I always look for the Big Dipper before I fall asleep. Each star represents meaningful people in my life. If you are interested you can find that description in my PCT journal at It is called "Seven Stars" and it was posted on 8/23/03.

July 30th - Bellevue to North of Brownville

This was a long day, hot day! I stopped often. Well, I stopped a couple of times! I did have lots of water with me and drank often, so even with the heat I still felt strong. Nothing really exciting happened today. Being Sunday I figured I'd see a lot of boats again today. I did see a few, but nothing like yesterday around Omaha.

Maybe about 10 miles from my put-in point I passed the mouth of the Platte River where it empties into the Missouri. During spring and flood times this river supposedly really increases the flow of the Missouri, along with dumping a lot of debris like logs and other things that can cause problems for boaters. Today that is not the case. In fact, not far from the mouth of the Platte there's a bridge that crosses it and I was told there was very little water running under it. So what I saw was basically water from the Missouri backing up into the mouth for a ways.

Basically the Missouri is probably 100 yds wide. Maybe a little more and in some places less. It has numerous sandbars so camping is not a problem. There are lots of boat ramps. I figure I see one at least every 15 to 20 miles. Most have water and toilets and also make for good camping.

There also are a lot more homes, trailer parks and cabins than I've seen on either the Ohio or Mississippi. On those rivers homes are usually near towns. Here they seem to stretch all along the river both on the Iowa and Nebraska side. Also it seems homeowners can do almost whatever they want to the shoreline. Many times I've seen new homes (cabins) going up and sand being moved around right up to the banks of the Missouri. Not sure what the laws are here, but you could never do it back home on our lakes and rivers.

I've also been wondering why I have not seen any barge traffic. I was told today that barges do not come up this far any more. They only come as far as St. Joseph and they figured at this time of the year and as low as the water is, there are probably no barges running. I'm sure that is the case, because I did not see a barge on the river between Kansas City and St. Louis last week.

All in all this section of paddling has been enjoyable. Good scenery mixed in with nice city waterfronts and neat cabins and homes. Just wish the heat would let up and the wind switch direction. It's been in my face since I've started, with gusts over 20 miles an hour according to the reports on my radio. It sounds like it will be over 100 the next three days and with the same type of southerly winds!

I wonder if there's a better camp spot around the corner!