July 7

I have a plan. Now if it stays the same we will see. I talked to some river angels from Memphis last night. Not spiritual angels with wings and halos but real people who help paddlers along the way. One thing I have learned in my recovery journey is that it's ok to ask for help. It's no different out here. I posted on the Mississippi River Paddlers page a few days ago that I was officially on the Mighty Miss and if any one in Memphis could lend a hand. All I was looking for was a place to store my boat so I could get a hotel for the night. Well I should have known better than to think that was all I would get from people from Tennessee. Several people reached out and offered support. After making some phone calls last night the plan was to get close to Memphis today. Paddle 18 miles tomorrow into Memphis with some locals who reached out then get put up for the night. Take the day off Sunday and resupply and head south Monday. It seemed good plan. I got moving and after a few miles I got a text from one of the Memphis boys saying the river was suppose to rise 3 feet a day for the next 2 days. And that if I make it to the boat ramp tonight, he would put me up for the night and paddle into Memphis tomorrow. With the river going up 3 feet means that most of the good camping sites would be gone and the opportunity to get out of the elements sounded like a good idea. I switched into high gear and made some miles. It was about 45 miles to the boat ramp. It went fairly smooth, mainly because I knew I was getting off the water. When I got close to the park where I was meeting my host all I knew was I meeting him at the boat ramp. My map showed the ramp as being off a channel. A channel I had just passed. I didn't want to risk getting further down stream and missing it completely so I paddled back up stream trying to find it. Yep no luck. I didn't have cell service to call my ride. I pulled over to the shore to ask a guy fishing where the boat ramp was. I figured if he had walked to the shore he would know where it was. Even if he did I wasn't going to find out. I quickly learned that he was not really fluent in the English language. He told me to watch out for the tree. I said that I was looking for the boat ramp. Which way? He said "watch out for the tree. Very bad." I started to repeat myself but figured I was going to hear about the very bad tree again so I decided to keep moving down stream. When I got a pocket of service I pulled up google earth and found it down stream. As I was pulling up I heard a truck coming blazing out of the woods blasting his horn. It was perfect timing. After we exchanged names and made sure we were the right people we loaded my boat on his trailer and headed off. When you meet this guy you probably don't know what to think. A really outgoing personality but just a good old boy. He said that he would probably just take me and my gear to the other guy's house so I could stay in the same place instead of moving all around. I said that it didn't matter to me as long as I wasn't sleeping in my tent.  I wasn't sure if we were ever going to get out of the state park because this guy was stopping for every living creature that was crossing the road. This guy was talking about every wildlife and had a story to go with it. At this point I wasn't sure what to believe but it was entertaining. We came to a giant field and saw a coyote running through it.  He slowed down and stuck his fingers in his mouth like he was going to whistle but mad some weird noise. The coyote that was 150-200 yards away stopped in its tracks and stared at us. I don't know who was staring at this guy more, the Coyote or me. It was amazing. I then realized that this guy was a real deal outdoorsman. We got to his house, the perfect little farm. I could live there for sure. We unhooked the trailer and headed for Memphis to drop me off. We were tearing down the back roads I was getting the full tour. From the historical general store, to houses of famous blues singers to the best sledding hill in west Tennessee. Then he asked me if I wanted to see something cool. I said sure, I mean what else do I have to do. We head down a side road from the side road we were on to a dirt road. Through a gate into a field. Next thing you know I'm standing knee deep in a hemp field. That's right a hemp field about the size of a football field. I wasn't quite sure how to feel about that at first. It was completely legal. After asking several question about the difference between hemp and marijuana, I felt a little better. It looks basically the same and got me very excited.  It was a feeling that I haven't had in a long time. It reminded me how much I missed my girlfriend Mary Jane since I dumped her. But I know where that will lead me. It was still something that was neat to see that I wouldn't normally see. We continued to the house of the other river angels where I would be staying. A retired couple in there 80s. They invited me in and gave me a room. As we sat there talking, all I could think about is how bad i probably smelled and wanted a shower. They asked about my story and my struggles. As we were talking I found out they had 70 years of sobriety between the two of them. It was great to know that we had much more in common than just the river. I finally got a shower and a nice bed with AC.