August 2

The miles I made yesterday put me in a good position to reach New Orleans Friday. Only 120 miles to go. 40 miles a day. Very doable. I had reached out a while back to the Mississippi River Paddlers Page on Facebook to see if anyone had recommendations of a hotel between 100 miles north of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I need to get off the river and get a game plan for what's next when the river runs out. A guy in Donaldsonville said there was one close to the river and he could help out. I had to look up where it was and sure enough it was 40 miles away. My contact said the hotel could store my boat and had availability. He even said that he would meet me at the boat ramp with his truck to get my boat to the hotel. With an offer of a place to stay in New Orleans, this was too good to pass so I said let's do it. Now I just had to get there. Easier said than done. The paddling wasn't bad but the increase of ships was getting heavy. Then it started raining. I thought about pulling over but the longer I spent waiting out the storm meant the shorter amount of time in the comfort of a hotel. The sprinkles turned to a complete down pour. I couldn't see 20 feet in front of me. After paddling in the rain for an hour it started to lighten up. I could see clearer skies ahead while the rain started to slow down. I saw a shape in the water that looked like a log. As I kept paddling closer it would move down river but I was closing the gap. Then I noticed green spots alternating sides. Could this be a first?The closer I got I could tell it was another paddler. I kicked it into over drive and closed the gap. When I got close enough I had to figure out how to announce myself as to not scare him to death and cause him to flip. I let out a loud hello. He turned with no flip!He was in a canoe with a bicycle strapped in. He started at the headwaters in Minnesota mid March and was slowly working his way down the river. We paddled and talked for a while. It was great to finally meet someone else paddling as I had started to think that I was the only one stupid enough to be doing this. The storms started picking up again and he said we should pull over. I declined. I was going to town and nothing was going to stop me. I dug in and made the miles. The boat ramp where I was meeting my contact had been destroyed so it was just a dirt beach. Correction a mud beach. The guy had let me know he stoped by earlier and put out a stick with neon ribbon on it so I could find it.I got there right on time when he was pulling up. As I was wading through the mud to get my boat to solid land he said something to me. I didn't understand a single word. I just encountered my first Real Louisiana Cajun. Once I switched my mind to be prepared for that he couldn't be nicer. He tromped right in the mud to help me get the boat to his truck. Covered up to our knees in mud he said that we were going to stop at his Mother in Law’s house to rinse off before going to the hotel, they probably wouldn't appreciate us coming in covered. I got one of the best local tours I have had so far. When we got to the house to rinse off I felt right at home. There were 3 other guys and his niece sitting around having some beers telling stories on the patio. Later his son and his friends stopped by. It was your typical small town America. With a cajun flavor. These guys cracked me up and I couldn't have had a better time.We decided to get going to the hotel so I could settle in and shower.When we got to the hotel they were waiting on me. Even some people walking down the street talked to us. We talked about my plans for tomorrow and my contact said he got off work between 9am and Noon. He could come back and give me a ride with my boat to the river. I wanted to get an early start, but I figured the hotel time would be worth it, so we left my boat in his truck. He said he wanted to take me to dinner if I was up for it. I didn't want to be rude and turn it down so I agreed. I showered and he went and switched trucks and we met back up. He told me to order what ever I wanted it was on him. We went full Cajun with crawfish this and crawfish that. We got talking and he is planning on doing the whole river in a few years when his son leaves the house so he is building up his river karma now. After we left we went down the road to the oldest bar in the town to get the experience of the owner. He doesn't believe in the customer is always right and will tell you so. He was cracking me up. We closed the place down (I think I drank them out of cokes) When the bartender was closing out she put the money bag on the counter with a pistol. I knew I liked this place for some reason. We walked out with the owner and headed back to the hotel laughing the whole way. I thanked him for the experience. I took another shower and started to catch up on the work I had planned on doing but passed out. Between the rain, paddling, and town excitement I was exhausted. Even though I didn't get to do what I had planned, getting to experience small town Louisiana was a great experience. And different experiences are what the river is all about.175 miles to the gulf.