August 18

Someone once said it's not about the miles, it's about the smiles. I always wanted to punch that person in the face. But I realized today that is actually true. It wasn't all smiles, but in the end it's always a great day if you are doing some thing that makes you happy. I only made it 7ish miles but got to talk to a lot of amazing people. I started off at my campsite talking to a couple about their tiny camper. We talked about how more is sometimes just more. They did point out that they had AC so in that case more was better. I'll give them that. I packed up my gear and started pulling my boat back to the ramp. Nothing like a nice warm up to get my muscles sweating in the morning. As I was organizing my boat to launch, a young woman came over and said she had to ask what kind of adventure I was on. She worked for a local marina and was monitoring fish counts and the fisherman came in. We chatted for a while about my trip and the ocean life. When I gave her my card and told her my reason she said her father had died from alcoholism. He had some sober years but still it ended up taking his life. It still baffles me that you are never cured from this disease. It's also  uplifting that people are comfortable enough with me to tell me their experience.  Good or bad. That is one of the main reasons I'm out here, to try and make it alright to talk about addiction and not have a huge stigma about it and think we need to hide it. When I got moving I had a 4 mile open crossing of Billy Goat pass of the Mobile Bay. I have been told that once you cross the bay it gets a lot easier. It looked calm so I went for it. I dug in and headed for the east point. I couldn't see the land for about a mile but about half way I checked my tracker and I was 3 miles from land. I wasn't a math major but that didn't add up. The current was pushing out of the bay and sending me out to the Gulf. I corrected my direction and headed to shore. The sun was beating down on me. When I finally beat the current and made it to shore, I was fried. I ripped off my life jacket and shirt and dove in the water to cool down. It was a great feeling knowing that I made it across safely. One of the interesting things about the pass is that there is an old fort on both points. I could see a storm coming from the mainland so I continued around the point. I got around one of the points and beached to go check out the fort. Actually I went to see the bathroom and fill up on some water. After running out yesterday I am trying to fill up at any possible point. When I got back to my boat, the storm started hitting. I sat on the steps by the water under my tarp. It started coming down harder so I retreated to the bathroom to take cover. Lucky for me it was a clean bathroom. After the storm passed I walked into a stone tunnel in the wall that led into the fort. It was amazing with underground stone passages. I wish I would have thought to wait out the storm in the fort but who has ever thought of going to a fort for protection. I got back to the boat and pushed on to the other side of the fort park by the ferry stop. There was a spot they let Paddlers camp. It was at the top of some steps above some rocks. I parked my boat on the rocks and climbed the steps. I met Leroy, a maintenance man for the park and we started talking. And talking and talking. We talked about everything from my journey, the weather, the bay, confederate statues, and everything in between. It was nice just sitting there watching the sunset while talking to this complete stranger. When he took off I waited for the last ferry to take off to set up camp so no one saw me and messed with me at night. I did have permission to stay but any time I camp near civilization I take caution. Right before bed I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I saw headlights pull up. When I looked out I saw 2 guys get out of a truck with guns on there hips. I hoped they were cops and I set off an alarm or something. I walked out and said that I was just using the bathroom. They said that's what they were doing too. We got talking and they were wildlife officers. They kept asking all sorts of questions about my trip. One of the officers said you must have strong arms. They asked if I carried protection. I said just my 2 guns (and flexed). They gave me some cold bottles of water and I went back to my camp. As I was getting ready to climb in my hammock I heard someone coming down the trail. I looked and had a flashback. It was one of the officers, he had his flashlight out walking towards me. A sight I am way too familiar with. My heart skipped a beat. When he got closer he said he found some other stuff that I might need in his truck. It was bug spray and toilet paper. I laughed and said thank you but I was all good. Those 2 things are like gold out here but I was already stocked up. I got into my hammock and started thinking about the day. I didn't cover very many miles but had several great conversations with people I would have never met if I had been doing big miles.