Into Bismarck

“If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now. It’s just a spring clean of the May queen. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.  And it makes me wonder……does anyone remember laughter?”-you already know

Monday July 21st

Today I paddled zero miles and it was a good day.  I am camped at Dakota Waters Resort, a really nice campground, and my body is thanking me for taking the day off.  I received my plug and was able to update my website much to the chagrin of the employees of the resort.  I think they are tired of me taking up there space, internet connection, and candy bars (don’t tell them please).  Amber and her younger brother Tom run the resort and have been very accommodating, to the point where I almost feel guilty about all they have done for me.  The resort scene is interesting, there are quite a few locals who take out a seasonal space and leave their campers and boats on the grounds. The bay seems protected and is one of the nicer facilities on Lake Black Cat.  Also, good fortune arrived when I was able to huddle inside the marina when a violent thunderstorm came through…probably the most severe of the trip.  I had my tent tied down with 6 storm lines and it handled the storm like a champ. I was surprised when my tent was A)still upright and B)Dry when I went to survey the damage after the storm passed.  The marina stays open until 7 but Amber let me hang out to finish my updates and provided me with some tasty Walleye.  I am getting antsy about heading out, I love this lake but it’s time to leave.  The weather is suppose to be cooperative tomorrow..we’ll see.

Preparing for the storm

Preparing for the storm

Here she comes!!

Here she comes!!

Amber and Tom and their deer

Amber and Tom and their deer

The calm after the storm

The calm after the storm

Tuesday July 22nd

Today was a brilliant day. It ended on a slightly sour note.  I simply could not have mapped today out better.  I did get a late start and was able to say my goodbyes to Amber and Tom.  Tom is quite the photographer, he will be hitting 8th grade this autumn.  Back in the fall of 84 I arrived in 8th grade and yes Tina Turner’s “What’s love got to do with it” absolutely whipped me. Also, the Cubs melted down agains the Padres and (gulp) Punky Brewster was a hit…but I digress.  So, Tom, I hope you pontificate about my adventures in 30 years…wow, hard to believe.  Anyway, Tom assisted with my launch and I was off to Lake Black Cat.  The lake has never looked better, hardly any wind and a beautiful 75 degree day.  I was able to finish the lake and arrived at the marina by 3:30, I decided to go to the marina rather than Garrison Dam figuring I would have better luck.  Last night I had a nice chat with a couple, Carl and Brenda Burchill, who had dinner at DWR.  They were interested in my trip and offered assistance with the difficult portage, Carl has canoed the Missouri Breaks and has built a mahogany canoe.  Once I arrived at the marina I figured I would try Carl and he answered immediately and he and his relative (I am sorry Ron and Carl, I am remiss of your relationship but clearly it is flawed) arrived within 15 minutes and swooped up my canoe and portaged me to the Downstream Campground.  They invited me over for dinner since they were also camped at the DC.  They camp in style, like with nice RV’s and stuff.  They picked me up from my location since it was about 3 miles from where they were staying (my site was closer to the river) and we had a really awesome dinner.  We are talking sliced beef, cantaloupe, veggies, etc.  We sat around and chewed the fat for some time, this has been one of my favorite overall days of the trip.  Weather was perfect, portage worked out beautifully and I was able to have a free, delicious dinner.  I will make a public apology to the Burchill’s and Boens.  You see people, they are retired.  They worked very hard their entire lives to set themselves up with a decent retirement.  Once I left, they insisted I take a couple Diet Coke’s and some granola bars.  These are items they worked hard for to obtain…and I basically wasted their money.  My site is a “River Bottom” site, this means lots of trees, weeds…and mosquitos and critters. The mosquitos were unbearable, I was wearing 98% deet to no avail.  I mean these things were ALL over me…I setup my tent and got inside…there literally was probably 300 mosquitos trying to break on through.  No way I was getting out of my tent for the rest of the night.  The site was also remote, like no one was around, it was only me.  In the middle of the night I heard some rustling around outside…uh oh, is this the end? Is come crazy DAK (Dakota local) out there stealing my canoe? Is that a wood chipper I here? I yell out “Hello!!” That will scare them away…and then I hear a sound like plastic dropping and then a crunch crunch sound.  Clearly someone or something is probably eating my breakfast granola bars.  I had all my dry bags on the table and wanted to ensure they were OK..but I didn’t want to get eaten alive either.  What to do?  Well, I got out of my tent and sure enough the bag with the granola bars was missing so I sought out the crunching sound.  I flashed my headlamp and saw two eyes staring right at me.  I believe it was a raccoon.  Man, another idiot mistake, not sure why I didn’t put my bag inside my cooler although that would have made too much sense.  I also did get about 20 mosquito bites as a result of this oversight.So sorry Guys, your granola bars were consumed by said raccoon.  This also created a situation where I was nervous about this bugger getting into my bags.  It was somewhat of a sour ending to the day.

Heading out for a glorious afternoon

Heading out for a glorious afternoon

Still Calm

Still Calm

Almost off this thing

Almost off this thing

Break time

Break time

Hurry up Carl, I am prepared for the portage

Hurry up Carl, I am prepared for the portage

DAKS & Me

DAKS & Me

 

Racoon around the corner, mosquitos are ever present

Racoon around the corner, mosquitos are ever present

Wednesday July 23rd

I awoke and took inventory of my goods-said raccoon only was able to clip my granola bars.  That was a relief.  I am back on the Missouri River which is a welcome site.  I gathered all my bags and brought them to the river from my campsite, cleaned my boat and headed downstream.  It is beautiful having current although a pesky South wind kicked up.  I won’t complain due to the fact that if I was on Black Cat I would not be moving at all today.  I fought the wind all day and still made it to Washburn (35 miles) which is the historic ND town where Lewis & Clark wintered in 1804. I wonder if they still have buffalo dances-probably not.  I beached my boat and walked into the town convenience store for a late lunch/early dinner.  At this point, my supplies are desperately low and I really need to make my way to Bismarck, fortunately I should easily be able to paddle to Bismarck tomorrow.  My objective was to find a campsite and call it a night, I opted to head down river about a mile and camp on a sandy beach rather than the city park which had a steep hill to walk up.  I was in no mood to have to lug my stuff up the hill.  I beached The Helinda, setup my tent and went to bed.  I awoke around 12:30 to the sound of water and realized the water level had risen to the point where my boat was actually in a puddle of water.  It was fine, I had it anchored but still this was disconcerting.  I pulled my boat another 15 feet onshore and was finally able to conclude the day.  Off to Bismarck tomorrow.

Path to the river, thank you DAKS for assisting with getting the boat through this thicket

Path to the river, thank you DAKS for assisting with getting the boat through this thicket

Reverse angle

Reverse angle

Take me to the river

Take me to the river

Launch Time

Launch Time

It's not ALL pretty out here

It’s not ALL pretty out here

Lewis, Clark & Lynch

Lewis, Clark & Lynch

Almost to Washburn

Almost to Washburn

Thursday July 24th

Maybe not.  Last night skies were clear as a bell and conditions today were suppose to be favorable.  I awoke to my tent rattling from the wind and skies were ominous looking.  Yep, it’s gonna be a wet one.  I scrambled to put on my rain fly and storm lines, I reviewed the radar and a thunderstorm was quickly approaching.  I hung out in my tent and waited for it to pass and it was quite the storm, I stayed dry in my tent and intended to head out as soon as it passed.  The storm passed and then the wind kicked in…and didn’t stop.  It is really hard to explain what the wind is like here, I can write about it but it is truly inescapable. You simply get tired of the wind. Locals say it is like the cold, you just don’t get it unless you experience it. I was extremely frustrated about the reality that I was not going to make it to Bismarck, in fact it was so windy that I couldn’t get back to the other side of the river to the park and walk to town.  I decided to walk my boat around the island and stow it on river right.  I looked at the map and there was a pathway back to the bridge, so my intentions changed to walking to Washburn, checking out the Lewis and Clark Interpretive center and then coming back to camp out.  I had intended on staying in Bismark a couple days and driving back to Washburn. Clearly, that is out the window. Then, good fortune struck.  As I was walking back to the bridge to go to town, I saw a couple folks working on their log cabin.  I asked the gentlemen, Doug Price, about the dirt path I was walking on and he confirmed it goes to the main road.  He offered to transport me to the convenience store (the Interpretive Center is across the street) which was clutch.  I had another quick lunch at the convenience store and walked over to the interpretive center.  It is smaller than the one in Great Falls but very well layed out, an overall enjoyable experience.  I walked back to the boat (about 2 miles) and crossed paths with Doug who was still working on his cabin. He was putting the finishing touches on it after working on it for 2 years with his friend Chris. He was interested in my journey and invited me in for an adult beverage.  The 3 of us enjoyed a few cocktails and discussed the history of Washburn and life in North Dakota.  He offered to let me stay at the cabin…an offer I couldn’t refuse.  He and Chris invited their wives over along with his neighbor Kyle and his wife Marlene.  It turned into quite a festive evening.  Doug is a 5th or 6th generation farmer and has turned the keys over to his son Clay.  Clay came by after finishing his day on the farm and I beat him down with questions about the process of his daily activities.

Today was a total 180, I went from being wildly disappointed about not being able to paddle and ended up staying in an awesome log cabin (like were talking top notch) on a soft bed with a shower.   A big thank you to the Price family, Kyle and his wife, and yes, Chris, even you.  The generosity of some of the people I have encountered has been indescribable.  Who lets a hobo looking canoeist stay at their nice cabin?

Morning Storm

Morning Storm

Log Cabin, my future home

Log Cabin, my future home

Lewis Clark and Lynch

Lewis, Clark and Lynch

Lewis, Clark, Captain Morgan and Lynch

Lewis, Clark, Captain Morgan and Lynch

Petting the Buff

Petting the Buff

Photo of said Buff

Photo of said Buff

walking back

walking back….

...home

…home

 

Doug and Chris, THANK YOU!!!

Chris and Doug, THANK YOU!!!

Friday July 25th

A fine morning and afternoon.  Temps were in the mid 70’s and I had a nice cool north breeze.  Simply doesn’t get better, I took my time and made it fairly easily into Bismarck. I canoed into a local iconic restaurant-Captain Freddy’s.  It is pretty neat canoeing up to the dock, securing the boat and walking into the restaurant.  You can actually bet on the ponies right from the bar!!! I refrained from indulging.

The float was pretty today and the plains are becoming more evident. As you approach Bismarck, homes start appear on the river bank.  Practically every single house has a dock with a boat, clearly residents of Bismarck love their Missouri River.  Boat traffic started to intensify as I neared my destination of Southport Marina and was glad I arrived relatively early and not on a weekend.  This place must be “crazy town” for a canoeist on the weekends.  The river here has more of a recreational boating flavor with many house boats and jet-skies.

I am glad to get to town to resupply although I ended up walking to the airport from the marina (nothing like walking 4 miles after canoeing 40) to secure a rental car. I impulse bought a chocolate shake when I passed a local ice cream joint.  It was strange driving again, I haven’t driven since back in Great Falls.  I went to a local laundry mat and finally was able to wash my wardrobe. The Friday night scene at the laundry mat is exactly as you imagine. I met some great folks who were passing through town. My intention is to stock up tomorrow and head out in the late afternoon.  Winds may be strong so we will have to see how conditions hold, hopefully my boat is OK at the marina.  I will be in South Dakota soon…but on big, bad, windy Lake Oahe….stay tuned.

Finally good conditions

Finally good conditions

Great Float

Great Float

Welcome to the Plains

Welcome to the Plains

you can guess

you can guess

Into Bismarck

Into Bismarck

I wonder if my name will be on a sign someday

I wonder if my name will be on a sign someday

 

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9 Responses to Into Bismarck

  1. Rob Walker says:

    Great stuff, keep it up, bro!

  2. Christopher Reagh says:

    Thanks for a great report

  3. Jim McKay says:

    Great update Keith!

  4. Norm says:

    Way to go Keith!! You ARE doing it!!! Press on and great inspiration to us all.

  5. Michael Callaway says:

    I sure hope your log cabin friends do not let everyone that looks like you into their home, at this point you could be set up nicely on a street corner asking for change and making a killing.

  6. Keith, you crack me up! I’m having fun reading about your experiences. Onward! Enjoy!

  7. Dana TeCulver says:

    Excellent update! You’ve helped my Monday at work along. Enjoyed the phone call on Sunday as well. You sounded in good stead.

    “Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
    Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?”

  8. Donald Zinter says:

    I’m sure if your name is not a sign someday it will probably be a wanted poster somewhere. You are destine to be famous, but maybe not rich, but then again one never knows. You certainly had quite an adventure getting to Bismarck, thanks to all the good people who helped along the way. I still say you are having a much easier time making your trip than Lewis and Clark had making theirs. Keep plugging along, you are making progress and a lot of new friends along the way.

  9. Thomas says:

    Good job Keith be safe and keep going hope I see you again some time
    Keep it bro

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