Big Milestone today. I reached the Ohio River. About 2 miles out I could see the top of the steel bridge that crosses the Ohio in the distance. It was a welcoming site. The only problem was it was the longest 2 miles of my life. When I reached the confluence it wasn't anything great. I was hoping to be able to get an inspirational selfie video but that was not possible. The mud was about 4 feet wide and "goes all the way to China" deep according to the boy fishing. The Ohio is big. Something like I have never paddled before. Tons of trash and debris. I even saw a large tree floating down the river, roots and all. I then did something I hope I never have to do again. I paddled upstream about a mile to a marina. Well it's my kind of marina. Some boat slips cabled to the side of the hill. A bath house trailer, a Pepsi machine, and bags of ice. I docked my kayak next to a yacht that was filling up with gas (they got 200 gallons, you do the math) and talked to the Caretaker. I told him what I was doing and if he knew of anywhere I could camp. When I told him that I was doing it to help people go to rehab he said "do you know where you are, this is Portsmouth, the drug capital of the world?" He told me to just put my tent up on the hill and move my boat to the other side. I don't know if he could smell me or not but he said I could use the shower and bath rooms and wouldn't take a dime. Speaking of a shower, as I was paddling today I could really start to smell myself. We are talking 4 days in the sun, on the river, wearing the same clothes even to sleep in. Let's just say, if that was 4 days it's going to get interesting the longer this trip goes.
I set up camp and took advantage of the shower. I first showered in my clothes to wash them, then repeated washing my body. It felt amazing. I put on my town clothes and headed looking to explore Portsmouth. Do you ever go through old towns and wish you had seen it in its hay day? This is one of those towns. The town is bordered by a floodwall that is covered in murals. Beautiful murals. It is quite the site to see. While walking along taking pictures I got to talking to a real nice couple from NE Ohio. They asked what I was doing. When I explained it they too said they had heard Portsmouth is the worst for drugs. I started seeing a common theme with everyone I talked to. They shared a story with me about how several years ago her husband had told her not to freak out but a man was going to be sleeping in there yard. She described him as an older gentleman with white hair and beard who had been walking for a while. He was doing the same thing I am. He had struggled with drinking for a long time and was walking across the country in hopes to help any one he could. We parted ways and I headed into town. While strolling down historical 2nd street I came across 2 gentleman building bunches outside what looked like a restaurant. I got talking to Rocky the owner. He said he was fixing it up for a event space. He gave me a tour. Not just a tour, but the most detailed tour of this historical building you have ever seen. I even saw the attic. And I loved it. His passion for this place was incredible. It's the people you meet along the way that make the journey memorable. After my hour tour I headed for the Scioto Rubber. I wanted to treat myself to a steak for hitting this milestone. I order the small strip. It was 16 oz. that was the small. Probably the beast steak I have ever had. While sitting at the bar eating, the bartender couldn't believe my trip. By the time I was leaving everyone working there knew about it. When I walked out the front door one of the workers came out and asked me if I was the one kayaking. She thought I might have been someone she had seen years back biking across the country. We got to talking and I asked her why she thought the drug problem was so bad around here. She said it had to do with the government. I didn't know where she was going but she went on to explain and it made sense. She said that it's easier to be on government assistance then it is to have a job. Her friend was making about $8 an hour and got a .25 raise and lost their insurance. She went on to say you can get hundreds in food, stamps, discounted utilities, and other assistance that it makes it worth it. And when you are getting free money all you have to do is sit there and watch TV. And you get bored and look for some thing more. Then you need something more once you start. This made a lot of sense to me. She apologized for the long answer but I could see the passion that she meant what she was saying. And that is part of the reason I am out here is to find out what people think about addiction. It was a great conversation and gave me lots to think about.
As I was walking back to camp I stopped at a quik stop to get a drink. They had one of the largest glass pipe sections I have ever seen in a convenient store. I over heard the cashier and a customer talking about selling drugs. In their defense it was in slight code but I am bilingual and fluent in the langue of drugs. Just another example of how bad the drug epidemic is in southern Ohio.
I am back at my tent on the hill overlooking the Ohio River. While sitting at the restaurant they said the PGA tournament was on a rain delay in Columbus. Just 100 miles north of here but we haven't gotten any rain. There is a chance of rain in the early morning hours then a window.I can hopefully pack up and get on the river before it starts raining. I am excited and anxious to see what the Ohio has to offer.