Monday, June 22, 2009

Williston, ND

Hello everyone from Williston, ND! It has been a really good past couple of days. First a brief synopsis and then I will add a couple of thoughts at the end. After I talked with my brother on 6/20 I had quite the late afternoon adventure. I had been eyeing a ridge that rose up behind my camp since pulling in so I decided to go for a hike. It wasn't particularly long, but I was able to do a little bit of climbing and stretching of the legs which is really nice after being in a boat all day. Looking out across Montana at the top, I imagined what Lewis and Clark must have thought when they came through. It must truly have looked like a paradise.
As I was coming back from my hike, I noticed that a pontoon boat was pulling up to my campsite. I went down and introduced myself. On board was Kenan, Carla, Lana, Fred, Joyce and Allison, who are all a group of folks who live in Culbertson, MT. They were very gracious, and despite my river rat appearance, invited me to their barbecue that they were having later in the evening. I agreed and hopped onto the pontoon boat. Fred and Joyce let me use their shower(which was excellent!) and then we walked over to Kenny and Carla's house where a delicious feast was prepared. The food was great and the company was even better. We finished off the night by going dancing at a barn in town.

video
Dancing at the barn

Their was a bar downstairs and the loft was a refinished dance floor with a live band. The entire evening was fantastic and very unexpected! The next morning Kenan dropped me off at my camp around 7:30. A thunderstorm had come through early in the morning so everything was a little damp but I packed up and started paddling. The rain was intermittent all morning but the country was beautiful; the Montana breaks were giving way to the grassland plains of North Dakota. Yesterday afternoon I pulled into Ft. Union in the afternoon and set up camp. The mosquitoes were voracious which was a first for the trip although I regret to inform you not the last. Ft. Union marks the border between Montana and North Dakota and is located at the confluence of the Yellowstone River and the Missouri.
It was amazing to see the very turbid and log filled Yellowstone enter the Missouri. The current was really rushing and gave a much needed boost to the flaccid(at this point) current of the Missouri.
Early this morning I woke up and paddled the 25 miles into the Hghwy 85 bridge outside of Williston where I met up with Linda. Linda is a school teacher in town who agreed to help me resupply which was very nice.
Anyhow, tomorrow I head onto the next large reservoir, Lake Sakakawea. This should be challenging, but I am feeling strong and ready for some more beautiful scenery and excellent adventures. Now, here are some thoughts about the trip thus far. I am continually amazed at the simple twists of fate that have occured thus far on the trip and the people I have met. Looking back, meeting Norm, Zane and all the folks at Culbertson was very unexpected but they have all been incredibly helpful and very meaningful to my trip. They might not know it, but each appeared at a time when I needed the support, and I am very thankful to them. I am also getting excited to be in a less remote section of the river. I have been more or less paddling alone for the past three weeks, seeing folks occasionally during the day. While I haven't gotten lonely, I am looking forward to having a little more social interaction in the coming weeks, and looking forward to increasing the Parkinson's aspect of the trip. But, if there is something I have learned on this trip, it is that patience is a virtue, and that being able to just keep paddling is a true skill.
Anyhow, my next access to the internet will be in Bismark. I hope to take a rest day there and will have a ton of new stories and info! Stay tuned......Joe

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