3 Days on “The Red”

“Gunter glieben glauchen globen. All right. I’ve got something to say.”-Def Leppard

Tuesday, October 7th

Today was fun. In fact, as my friend Brian Fleming says, “I had a blast.”  I think this is in large part due to the fact I was actually able to paddle upstream. While it was no picnic, (you must have your paddle in the water to move forward) it was “doable” and  I was able to paddle 25 miles.  Conditions were foggy in the morning which added to the aura of canoeing the Red River.  I would not consider paddling under these conditions on the Missouri or Mississippi, I felt comfortable on the Red since I will hug the shore and there is little commercial traffic on the Red-I saw 3 barges today.

Once the fog lifted, there was no doubt I was in Louisiana.  The Red “feels” like Louisiana. As I progressed my way down the Mississippi River it “felt” like the Mississippi River, not necessarily a particular state or locale, just on the majestic, big river.  The Red is smaller, has a bayou feel and I must have seen 10 alligators today.  I only saw one on shore, the rest in the water.  I didn’t realize they were alligators until they disappeared under water.  Initially, I though I was seeing “magic logs”,  logs that move in unique ways.  Eventually, I figured out those aren’t logs!!

I was pleasantly surprised that paddling upstream wasn’t horrible, I basically stayed close to the bank and the current was reasonable.  No way I could make this distance on the bigger rivers.  I eventually found a real nice camping spot around 4:00 and called it an afternoon.  Good camping locations may be a challenge on the Red, there aren’t nearly as many sandy beaches as the Missisippi River.

I made arrangements with Howard M, another Sam Pitts connection, to have my canoe stored at his house in Alexandria as I will be taking 4 days off with my spouse to celebrate 15 years of marriage.  Howard took up flying in retirement and decided to buzz me just after I established camp.  It now appears that I will have air support, it was neat seeing him buzz by me in the afternoon.  Lastly, just before sunset, a local fisherman stopped by my camp site (hard to believe since I am in the middle of nowhere..um, Acme, LA) and furnished me with a few cold drinks.  Great Day.

fog

fog

magic

magic

do yo see the gator?

do yo see the gator?

now you do

now you do

air support

air support

(2)

(2)

air support

air support

Wednesday, October 8th

Another productive day on The Red.  I will definetly make Alexandria by Friday..if not tomorrow.  I paddled 25+ enjoyable miles…seeing more birds and alligators, including a 6-8 footer on the shore.  I grabbed my camera as he hoped into the water, trust me, she was a big one.  I passed through another lock and dam, this time it took an hour to pass through as I failed to ring the bell correctly.  Not sure I should admit that but it happened.  I eventually called the dam operator, Morris, at the MS/Red dam and he called over to the lock and dam to get me thru. Morris suggested next time I should walk and he should paddle. True that.

After the Lock and Dam debacle I enjoyed another fine afternoon of paddling, eventually settling in at one of the recreation areas downstream of Alexandria.  I really have enjoyed my time on the Red River so far although I have a long, long, way to go.  These past two days have been encouraging.

the red

the red

lock and dam

lock and dam

inside

inside

flaps down

flaps down

redrum

redrum

lewis and clark

lewis and clark

reverse angle

reverse angle

Thursday, October 9th

Into Alexandria under the cover of darkness.  Yes, I paddled into Alexandria, reaching my destination around 8:00.  My intention was to stop about 5-7 miles below Alexandria making for a nice easy paddle tomorrow.  Howard called and suggested I stay with him tonight if I could make it…this pretty much provided the necessary motivation.

It was another foggy morrning today, this really adds a magical feel to the river. This morning I met another fisherman at the recreaction facility as I was preparing to launch.  I think he was so shocked at my story that he forgot to tie up his boat.  I had to come to the rescue and rescue his craft and tow it back to the boat ramp.  I felt like a hero.  For lunch, I decided to take a side channel and head to the local gas station.  I stealth landed at a private residence, walked through their yard and made my way to the gas station.  I did ask the property owners neighbor, who was mowing his yard, if he thought it was OK.  I’m not sure he bought my story, I’m certain he thought I was a homeless guy with a great imagination.  He did indicate that it would be OK if my story was accurate.  (the owner wasn’t home)

I paddled into the night, passing under three bridges in Alexandria, feeling like I was on a covert operation.  It was great reaching the boat ramp knowing I would have 4 days off to spend time with my new bff, Howard, and Vicki.  Howard also made the comment about not having a bar of soap in my supplies….after some hot, sticky Louisiana days and a long day of paddling, I wasn’t exactly smelling like daisies.  Of course, I came out smelling like a rose.

I am off the next 4 days.

fog

fog

again

again

paddle look from river

paddle look from river

and air

and air

river level

river level

air

air

flight

flight

red

red

river

river

even at night i'm cool

even at night i’m cool

sneak preview for next entry-me and Howard

sneak preview for next entry-me and Howard

air voyage?

air voyage?

too low?

too low?

nah

nah

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10 Responses to 3 Days on “The Red”

  1. Patrick Buttil says:

    You’ve accomplished about 10 of my “bucket list” items in one trip. Fly baby fly….paddle baby paddle…..

  2. Mav says:

    Wishing you a safe journey to Dallas. Look forward to reading the remainder of your travels. Happy paddling:)

  3. Donald Zinter says:

    Talk about Rock Star status, you now have your own private plane and pilot, thanks of course to Howard, who is to be commended for taking you under his wing, literly. You never cease to amaze me Son.

  4. Sam Pitts says:

    Yeah, we may need to do some fact checking if you start making unbelievable time. I can just picture a low flying Cessna dragging a pink canoe behind it. Done by Thanksgiving!

  5. Elizabeth Bienkiewicz says:

    Happy Anniversary Vicki and Keith. xoxo

  6. Carl Burchill says:

    Just checking in to see how your journey is going. The Burchill’s & Boens are both back in AZ for the winter. Enjoyed our time with you in N.Dak. and wishing you safe travel the rest of the way. Happy Holidays

  7. Michael Callaway says:

    Thanks for the Def Leppard quote, sorry that it will not work out meeting in Shreveport, you are just going to fast.

  8. Wesley bright says:

    Wow I just found out about your voyage. I have a lot of respect for you. I hate that I missed your Vicksburg landing. I wished I could have followed your entire voyage but I gonna follow you from here on out. Be safe and God bless.

  9. Wajid says:

    Wow you now have air support and gators!!! This adventure is quickly turning into a Bond film!!!

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