Friday, August 28, 2009

Baton Rouge Rest Day

Hello to all you bloggers out there from Baton Rouge, LA!!! 230 miles separate me from the Gulf of Mexico and 130 from New Orleans, LA.

Right now I am taking a rest day and refueling my body and mind for the final push. I am staying with a local river rat Michael Beck who has very graciously offered his house for me to stay at.

(Michael came to meet me out on the river, here we are approaching town)

(Michael Beck's kayak transport vehicle getting ready to take me to some air-conditioni

As Jared has been describing to you all, I have been putting in a number of long days back to back to back. The heat has superseded the level of uncomfortable and for several hours each day stretches into the dangerous. As the humidity increases sunscreen stops sticking to my body because I am sweating so much so I have been starting to blister on the backs of my hands from the sun. In addition, I am going through a remarkable amount of water in order to stay hydrated. In order to prevent becoming hyponatremic with the incredible amount of water loss I have been having to mix in gator-aide to every other liter bottle I drink. Nevertheless I am enjoying the paddling on this section of river.

Each day from Clarksdale to Baton Rouge was beautiful in its own way but the unifying theme throughout this section of the river has been the unexpected remoteness. With thick jungle growing on either bank and islands with white sand interspersed throughout, I feel like I am not in the South but in a remote jungle somewhere. White egrets are now common place, and the blue herons are large enough that they might easily be mistaken for pterodactyls. The gar pike that surface around my boat have become rather large, and the cicadas are deafening at night. Every night I have to be in my tent by "bug-30", that special bewitching hour when the 6-legged demons that have lain dormant during the day take back the territory they believe rightfully theirs. Even 100% DEET doesn't seem to stop them.

(Two large oil tankers on the other side of the river as I approached Baton Rouge. They are HUGE compared to the Mary Agnes)

My stay in Baton Rouge has be en very restful. Michael has been gracious enough to take me out to dinner, put me up at his place and help me make my final resupply.

(Yappy and Fox, Michael's two vicious attack dogs protecting my kayaking gear)

We have toured Spanish Town, seen the artwork of Sam Corso(, walked through the capital and, most importantly for me, enjoyed the benefits of air-conditioned living.

(Louisiana 's State Capitol Building)

(A view of the river at night from the top floor of LSU's downtown art building)

(A view of the old capitol. Apparently Mark Twain was not an avid supporter of this building stating he wished that it would have burned to the ground.)

(Hanging out on the top floor of LSU's downtown art building with the river behind me)

As I mentioned above, my body needed a break too. My hands and shoulders, albeit strong and conditioned at this point, are starting to groan a bit in the morning when I wake up. They seem to be telling me that they are ready for a little bit of a break from this paddling business.

So, here is my plan for the next week. After leaving Baton Rouge, I will probably spend 2.5 days getting to New Orleans weather permitting. I am going to paddle through New Orleans and continue on down to Venice, LA. Venice is the furthest point that one can drive down the Mississippi. From Venice, which I hope to reach around Weds/Thurs, I will paddle another 12 miles down to the Head of Passes, the official end of the Mississippi River. From the Head of Passes, I will head down South Pass for about 4 miles until there is a cutoff where I can bump out to see the Gulf. At this point, the hard part starts because I will then have to paddle upstream the distance I traveled from Venice, about 16 miles. I am hopeful that I will be able to hitch a ride with a tow or a fishing boat but it might just be good old fashioned elbow grease that gets me back. On Saturday, my grandparents, parents, brother,Rick White (designer of the website and owner of and friends Mark and Cody are going to be meeting me in Venice where I will be saying farewell to that muddy river whose water now flows through my veins. All of this is weather permitting of course, but the forecast looks good.

Jared will be taking back over the blogging until all the family arrives in New Orleans.

The countdown from 230 miles has begun. For comparison, this same distance was reached before I arrived on Ft. Peck Reservoir some 2.5 months ago. My how time flies.

Paddling on,

Joe Forrester

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yes, H-O-T and "bug-30" should actually be incorporated into the tri-state motto of the "Ark-La-Miss"
Look forward to seeing you again soon!