Day 37 Monday October 15 Getting Ready for Crossing Cape Fear River

I got up at around 6:45 AM as I knew that Bill S. would be leaving for his dental office at 7:45.  He was already up with a cup of coffee.  I updated my maps so that the current section would appear in my map case, and put away the old one.  I made up the bed, and made sure that all of the things that I had brought into the house were near the front door.  Cereal was on the table for me, and after breakfast, I took some of my things out to the kayak, which had from all that I could see,  also spent a good night.  I was happy to see that the tidal current was negligible, making my exit easier.  Bill took a few pictures, and then he had to leave for work.  I went back to the house, got my dried shirt and shorts, finalized the charts and gave Gail and big hug for all that she and her husband had done for me.  She insisted that it was the two of them who really received the blessings. (As I write this journal entry, big thunderstorms are raging outside).

My new technique for getting into the kayak from a dock worked like a charm, and I was off shortly after 9 AM to go under the Wrightsville bridge and continue almost due south.  I was very pleased that the current was with me, and the south wind was very mild.  We initially made some good time towards the objective of getting to Joyner Marina opposite the Snows Cut that leads to the river, but halfway there, the tides changed direction, and more importantly, the wind preceding the cold front really picked up, and of course, came out of the SSW, almost directly in my face. I kept looking towards my right, hoping that the storms would hold off until I reached the marina.  In my mind, I  confirmed my plan for tomorrow’s crossing, taking a room in advance of the storm and proceeding on to Carolina Beach, where there are motels and restaurants.  The sky indicated that I would have sufficient time to reach those destinations, but the wind kept picking up, to the point that I was making little forward progress.  The last 2 miles to the marina were very tough, and I decided to see if I could leave Katie there at the marina, and get transportation to a hotel.  That is exactly how it worked out.  The marina let me leave Katie tied up and the gear secured without charge.  It felt strange to leave her there alone, especially with the storms approaching.  Later at my room, I reread the section in the Waterway Guide regarding the river, where to cross and how to make the turn around Southport, at the western end of the river where the ICW resumes its course towards Myrtle Beach.

I continue to get inspiring messages from family, friends and others reading the journal entries.  These have been a wonderful support to me, and have helped offset those times of loneliness, and discouragement that inevitably accompany a venture of this type. As my progress has added up, my thoughts of abandoning this journey have receded, and now that I am almost halfway home, I am more than ever committed, health permitting, to finish what I have started with much fanfare.

The total miles completed today, mostly in the morning, were not impressive, just 12, but most of them were hard fought, and gave us a total of 34 for the beginning of the week, and I was very pleased with that result.  But due to the tough slog for much of the time today, offset by the smart decision to get a room in time for the adverse weather, I rated the day a 3.


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Day 36 Sunday October 14 A Reach to Wrightsville Beach


Monday, October 15, 2012 5:45 PM

Sunday arrived bright and cool.  I planned on leaving Surf City after a Baptist Church service, as that church was the only one I could find in that part of the city.  I got to the marina at around 11:15 AM, but did not see Ray.  He came after I called to open up the shed so that I could get my things.  He then left, telling me to be careful around Cape Fear River, especially about timing my passing through with an ebb tide.  This is to avoid major standing waves that occur when an incoming tidal current collides with the strong down river current.  He recommended that I speak to someone at one of the upcoming marinas either in Wrightsville Beach, or closer to Carolina Beach near where Snow Cut takes you out to the river.  Before he left, we picked up Katie and dropped her in the water, and I secured her to the dock.  I was a little concerned about how I would get into the kayak without someone there to hold her steady. But then I had the idea to clip one end of each of my two lines to the two side black grab lines that go around the kayak, and then tie both of them tightly to one of the cleats on the dock.  This should prevent the kayak from turning over as I got in.  Anyway, it took some time to pack up the kayak in the water, but finally, it was time to try to get in.  I had visions of me turning over and having to swim to the rocks on the outside of the marina, but the idea worked brilliantly.  I was off at 12:30 PM.
As the wind was at my back (yeah!), and the tidal current moving southwest, in my direction, I had a very pleasant paddle, and the miles passed by quickly.  I had hoped to get in around 10 to 12 miles that afternoon, but with these conditions, I gave increasing thought to trying to get all the way to Wrightsville Beach, 22 miles away.  However, after around 10 miles, the tide changed, and the wind shifted, and very quickly, the conditions deteriorated and I began to lose hope that I could attain that goal.  I continued to look for good camping sites, and they were few and far behind.  To the right, along the mainland facing the bays, there were wall to wall houses, many quite grand, and on the left there were many small inside barrier islands with small twisted trees or large bushes, that offered little prospect for holding up my hanging tent.  At 3:45, I saw a workable place on the mainland side, but for whatever reason, perhaps I did not want to lose too much valuable paddling time, I decided to pass up on that alternative and continue.  As the afternoon progressed, I really started getting worried.  I stopped at a couple of the islands to check them out, and my worst fears were confirmed, plus they were very buggy.  My back started letting me know that it was time to find a place, and get off the water.  I reminded myself that I should trust in the Lord, and let him find the place he had in mind for me that night.  I saw that I was only 4 miles away from Wrightsville Beach, so I resigned myself to go into a marina in the city, and be forced to find a motel room.  This was frustrating to me, as it was tomorrow night when the large front was due to hit our area, and that was the night I should find someplace to hide from the wet and windy storms.  I also wondered when I would be invited into someone’s home.  But there were few opportunities for that to happen, as most of the docks that I pass are empty of any persons.
As I approached the city, I crossed over to the mainland side,  and continued fighting the very strong tidal current.  As I passed one of the last docks before the fixed bridge, I heard a man’s voice call out, and I responded without much thought that I was heading to Florida.  I heard him say something else, and something inside me made me turn back to see what he wanted.  He was high up on the dock, with someone else, and I let the tide take me back to within earshot.  The man wanted to know about my cart on the back of Katie.  I briefly explained, then said that this was my second great outdoor adventure, and when I told him what the first one was, he became quite excited, and suggested that I stay with them for the evening, putting my kayak next to one of the other boats tied up at the dock.

What happened next was like a beautiful dream unfolding before my eyes.  Bill introduced his wife Gail, who has recently retired, and suggested that I take what I needed for the evening (clothes, maps, etc.) and we would go across the road to his 1926 house, with a nice front porch.   There, Bill who is 69 produced a glass of wine for me (the first in 4 weeks) and Gail brought out some cheese and crackers, and we began to share our stories.  The more I talked, the more interested they were in what I was doing, and why.  Bill ordered pizza (“Is that ok with you, Fal?)” – “Yes!”.  Bill showed me where I could take a quick shower and change into clean clothes, and by the time I returned downstairs, we moved into the living room to have more wine and have our supper.  I offered to pay for the pizza, but they insisted that I was their guest for the night.  Bill has been a dentist all his life, now working 4 days a week while his partner and son take on more of the responsibility of running the practice, but his passion is sculpture, and he took me down to “Willy’s world” in the basement, where there were several excellent clay busts of friends and others, several of which had been cast in bronze, and other pieces including one that was riveting – a scene from the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1862 that devastated white and black families.  Bill also pulled out an original  manuscript written by a forebear who walked across the United States over 150 years ago, that he had not looked at in many years.  That generated a great conversation about possibilities to bring that story to light.  All in all, a truly remarkable evening.  As I fell asleep in the clean bed, I thanked the Lord for having so well provided for me that evening.  What a blessing to have been pulled out of the water at that very moment when everything looked so lost.  And for Bill and Gail, new additions to my small but growing list of angels, an equally remarkable evening, as reflected in the email they sent to me today, in part… “Much enjoyed your stay with us in Wrightsville!  Gail and I agree; you are definitely the most interesting creature we’ve ever pulled out of the waterway!”
It is days like this that make this journey so special, and worth the massive amount of effort, loneliness, worry and pain.  And it reminds me that the spiritual component is very much alive and well, where the thought that comes to mind frequently is “Watch what happens, and believe in me”.
I rated this day a 5 for obvious reasons, with 22 miles paddled.  A very good start on the week with the goal to reach Myrtle Beach in South Carolina by the weekend.
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Day 34 Friday October 12 Surf City NC

As I pulled away from the Onslow Beach camp, I reflected on the many blessings I had experienced in such a short period of time the prior day.  Even listening to the ocean waves hitting the beach so close to where I slept was a blessing.  I could not help thinking what a nice group of people I was leaving behind, with so many coming up to me and introducing themselves, shaking my hand for what I was trying to do.  Apparently, the word had gotten around quickly.  This time, the loneliness did not hit so hard, and I had the happy thought that this was Friday, my last day on the water this week, and the last day of being 65 years old.  The setting before me was full of promise.  I only had 20 miles to paddle, and with my getting underway around 9 AM, I should roll into Surf City around 3:30 PM.  The sun was up, and warming me up, the slight breeze to my right, the water quiet.  I proceeded along the canal under the swing bridge past the cable and pipeline area with warnings not to anchor – not much risk of that from me!  Soon I was entering a series of bays to go around the New River Inlet.  I proceeded to my right and found the tidal current pull me back.  In actually crossing the New River, I suddenly found myself in tidal waves, and paddled hard to overcome them, ferrying across to an island on my left.  I followed that island around past Swan Pt. and into Chadwick Bay, where I really got confused about the direction of the ICW.  I started along the north shore, then realized my mistake, and cut across the bay towards a far marker I had missed.

As I paddled across, I noticed a kayaker coming in my general direction.  You could easily see that he was in a sit atop kayak, with his fishing gear readily visible.  I noticed that he was an African-American, fully outfitted with a GoPro camera sitting tall behind him.  I stopped paddling as he approached.  The next 5 or 7 minutes led to a great conversation.  We introduced ourselves as we floated next to each other.  He told me his name, but he said everyone calls him “Cheeks”, as he pointed to his chubby cheeks on his face.  His smile was infectious, and as I explained what I was attempting to do, he got really excited.  He could not wait to tell his other fellow kayaker fishermen about me.  I told him the website, and I said to him that if he writes me, I will send him a personal note about how it would all end.  I finally said to him that this meeting and this conversation, however brief, would lift my spirits for hours, and he gave me that great smile again.  He turned his way, I turned mine, and he was gone.

I continued to paddle through the remainder of the bay and back into land coming closer together with houses on both sides, when I saw another porpoise rising going in the opposite direction.  This was my second sighting in two days.  They always make me smile and pick up my spirits.  So far, this was turning into a really good day.  I continued along the canal, passing houses on my right bobbing and weaving around their docks to minimize the tidal current going against me. Mile marker 250 came and went. Eventually this canal ended into another bay, called Alligator Bay, a mile across.  The wind shifted, coming across my right bow, pushing me somewhat backwards.  So now I had the wind, small waves and the current against me.  Shortly thereafter I passed under another fixed bridge, where I rested and had some gorp to eat. I changed the chart to show what was upcoming.  The canal resumed until we reached Turkey Creek on my right, and I paddled through Stump Sound, a series of bays with islands and spoil areas  all over the place.  Mile marker 255 went by, and I knew that my week’s paddling would soon be over.

It is interesting to note that the kinds of trees that are along the shore are quite different from the inside of North Carolina at the beginning of the week.  Before, there were lots of pine trees that made for good primitive camping.  Now, those trees are few and far between.  What I now see are twisted oak trees and small shrub trees that would make finding two trees alone to hang up a tent difficult.  Many of the trees are shaped by the easterly wind that must come with the storms.  In addition, there are fewer beaches – most of those have been replaced with marsh grass.  Finding places to camp overnight is going to be much more challenging in this environment.

The current moderated, and I sat back and initiated long pulls on the water.  This was just great paddling country, and if it were not for the back giving me pain, it would have been totally pleasant.  I finally reached the swing bridge signifying Surf City, and paddled to where I saw a sign for the Beach House Marina, that advertised gas and diesel, and lodging.  Wow, this was looking great.  I paddled in the direction of the sign, and finally concluded that the marina was really just a boat storage facility owned by the boat owners.  I could not find anyone around, so I yelled out load, “Is anyone here?”  I heard a response, but did not see anyone at first.  I asked where the response came from, and someone came out of the boat next to where I was floating.  He helped me get out of the kayak onto the dock (first time that has happened).  He introduced himself as Tom, one of the boat owners, and his friend came out and introduced himself as Robert E. Lee (for real), and we had a good conversation, as we introduced each other.  They said this was not really a marina, there was no fuel, and there was no lodging.  But Tom agreed to call Ray, the manager of the facility, to see what he would suggest.

When Ray got on the line, Tom handed me the phone, and Ray said he would get there in 25 minutes or so to see what could be done.  So I tied up Katie on the dock, and proceeded to take all of my gear out of the kayak.  It looked like a disorganized mess, until I put everything into the proper mesh bags, at which point it all looked quite well-organized.  Ray arrived, and we agreed to put the kayak next to some of the boats in the storage building.  Ray and I picked up Katie and took her over, were I locked her up. I put all the gear into one of the black carts and we picked that up and placed it on the same level as the storage facility.  I then separated what I would need for the weekend, and what could be left there.  Ray made room in a lockable storage shed for the latter.  He said he would take me to a motel, and we loaded my stuff in the back of his red Ram truck.  We stopped at a couple of close motels, but they were all booked up with fishermen.  We finally found lodging at the Loggerhead Inn a half mile away.  I asked Ray when could we settle up, and he said forget it, there would be no charge.  He would be there at the facility Saturday, if I needed to get anything, or Sunday to help me get on my way.
I rated the day a 4, with a total of 20 miles paddled, adding up to 91 for the short week.  With an extra 2 miles for the trip to Coinjock (following the shoreline instead of going directly along the ICW marked waterway), and an extra mile for going down the Alligator River for the same reason, the total so far is 386 miles paddled.  I continue to be amazed when I see the distances traveled on the broader maps, but I still have around 500 miles to go.  But at least most of the big water is past me, and that makes me much happier.

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Morehead City-Lunch

Katie and Fal crossing Neuse River on ferry.

Morehead City, NC/ lunch break
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Day 33 Thursday October 11 The Marine Training Facility Camp Lejeune

As I started in the cold morning from the campsite near the farmer’s field, I reflected on the prior day, and considering the 29 miles completed and the nice time in Morehead City, I gave that day a 3.  This day, I was looking forward to the more classic ICW scenery going through bays connected with short canals.  The early morning sun began to warm me up, along with the paddling.  There was a slight wind from the NNW (from my right), which was fine with me as I was on the lee shore.  As I proceeded, I could see ahead that the Bogue Sound was coming to an end.  The ICW followed a series of tiny barrier islands and sand bars, and we entered into a beautiful section, and I felt myself relaxing and truly enjoying the paddling.  There were a series of inlets with tidal currents, but the scenery was great.  I passed marker 225 on the way to Swansboro.  I found the town, and paddled to Caspers Marina, where a personable young man named Jake said I could leave my kayak on the beach, and told me where I could get a great breakfast (Jana’s) and a great sandwich to take for dinner (Church Street Deli).  I found the old part of the small town very cute, and wished I could stay, but I had more miles to go before this week’s effort would come to an end.  The draw to get on towards home is growing all the time.  Jake told me about a camp located near a swing bridge on the marine base at Camp Lejeune, and said they have showers and electricity, and I decided that would be a good place to spend the night.  (The only problem was that Jake did not mention that you had to be an active or inactive member of the military to stay there).

It was only another 11 miles or so to the camp, so I could afford to take a leisurely paddle down there.  As I proceeded in that direction, and entered into the marine base territory, I saw a Osprey  jet performing landings and takeoffs, often going over me at less than 400 feet.  That plane makes a lot of noise when you are that close!  The pilot must have made 20 or so of the maneuvers while I was there on the water.  I then passed by on the left a section of “prohibited area” used for target practice, complete with old vehicles and other objects that are used for target practice.

Shortly after mile marker 240, I came to Onslow Beach Camp Ground.  I beached Katie and walked into a very neat camp with rows of large RV’s and motor homes parked.  I saw a group of men talking, and walked over to them with my skirt and vest on.  One of them said nicely, “What helicopter did you land from?”  I explained where I had come from, and one of them offered me to take their truck to the office down the road to register, and another offered a bike.  So I biked to the office, where they told me that the camp ground was reserved for those with military id, which of course I did not have.  They asked me to wait while they discussed the options.  I told them I could camp out in the woods, but they asked me to wait.  Finally, the manager came out, and said they would make an exception, and allow me to stay one night, just be quiet about it.  Elated, I paid the $14 and  peddled back to return the bike to the gentleman who lent it to me, and he introduced himself as Bob.  I had asked for a pad with one of the small shelters over a picnic table, so I could use two of the posts as my “trees”, and they gave me pad #25.  There I put up my tent, hung up my wet things to dry in the fading sun, and went for a shower (GREAT!!!)  When I returned to my table, there was a red plastic cup of ice water and a cold pear waiting for me.  I knew it was from Bob.  He later came over to see if I needed anything from the store (no), and asked whether I would like to join he and his wife Kathy to watch the VP debates.  I thanked him and said yes, I would.

After things were organized for the evening, and I was washed and shaved, another family came over to introduce themselves, and later invited me to join them for hamburgers.  Even though I had eaten my supper, I joined them for the hot food, and for the company and fellowship.  They were a very nice family, looking to find a home in Florida and ultimately, to find a boat to live on, where they could continue to home school their three children.

I joined Bob and Kathy B. in their very nice 2006 motor home that Bob had been washing and polishing that day at 8 PM, and we talked until the start of the debates.  I stayed for about 40 minutes, and then said good night to Bob.  I found his company very welcoming, and appreciated sharing our histories and stories during the enjoyable time we spent together that day.  A former marine and manager at one of the major military equipment manufacturers, he retired around 2004 or 2006.  Shortly thereafter, they sold their home and purchased their motor home, and they now travel all around the country, visiting grandchildren and friends, with “home” in western Florida.

The following morning, as I was getting everything ready to push on,  Bob asked me to come over for breakfast, where I had cereal and we were able to continue our conversation.  There are rare people where you can strike up a friendship in a matter of a few hours, and Bob is one of those special people.

This Thursday had been a great day.  I had only gone 22 miles,  but with a rating of a 5, I did not mind stopping early so that I could stay at the camp. One more day to go before I reach Surf City, only 20 miles away, where I would stay for a couple of nights in a room and get laundry done and the blogs updated.

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Day 32 Wednesday October 10 On to Beaufort/Morehead City NC

Wednesday broke cold and damp and I made a quick escape from my camp, having repacked all of the food etc. into the kayak before turning in the prior night.  I was just warm enough – any colder and I would have been shivering. But it felt great to be off towards the Adams Creek canal, with the slight breeze in my face.  I was hoping to catch the end of the ebb tide when I got passed the fixed bridge just on the other side of mile marker 195.  I moved quickly through the short canal, and found the waterway opening up to a wider creek called Core Creek, which continued to open up to the Newport River, with the wind coming down that river from the right.  The ICW continued past a number of small shoals and islands to the right, which helped cut down the waves from the wind.  Around noon, I passed under the fixed bridge that connected the two cities.  I had no interest in stopping at Beaufort, which looked like a great city to visit, but I wanted to keep moving.  Coming around a large Potash plant in the state port terminal, I passed under the stern of a large ship from Panama that was covered in pipes, and as I came around the bend, I found myself in a fast-moving tidal current, carrying water out towards the Beaufort Inlet.  I paddled hard to overcome the current, and found myself on the wrong side of the sharp right towards Morehead City.  I recrossed vigorously above the tidal rip current, and saw in front of me a large sandbar, with lots of buildings and boats behind it.

Intuitively, I paddled into the calm water and found myself passing restaurants and shops – a very nice area for me to stop and get something good to eat.  I saw a waiter out on a dock at Captain Bill’s, and asked him if they were open (Yes), and where could I beach the kayak.  Unfortunately, there was no beach, just a bar of oyster shells. I carefully landed, stepped in some thick mud, and after extracting my feet, tied Katie to another small boat by the dock.  I then washed off my shoes, and entered the restaurant, where the man who I saw, Kim, brought me a great meal and an ice tea to enjoy out in the sun, that had reappeared during the morning.  He was so kind, and brought me an extra serving of his favorite, Conch soup, that warmed me up.  It was a very happy moment for me.  I noticed a number of tourists looking at Katie, and I called over to them, and gave them the 20 second version of what I was doing.  They all gave me the usual reactions!   After washing up, I met the owner and thanked him and Kim for such a great break.

After 1:00, I got back carefully into the kayak, and pointed her bow southwest along the northern shore of the large Bogue Sound that runs 20 miles or so along the barrier island.  I passed one house after another, slowly as I was fighting the tidal current as well as the wind and waves.  Many of these houses were magnificent.  I kept as close to the shore as possible, where the current is less, but then I had to go in and out of the docks, occasionally running into very shallow water.  The wind shifted to my left, and the waves started coming across the bow from that direction.  I passed mile marker 215, and the afternoon passed by without my seeing any woods for me to put up my tent.  My anxiety started building, to the point where around 5 PM, I said to the Lord, ok Lord, I will leave it to you to find the place that will be my campsite.  Almost immediately thereafter, I saw a woman sitting at the end of her dock, and we spoke for a couple of minutes about my journey.  She asked how I was doing, and I told her I was getting quite tired, and frustrated, because I could not locate some woods for me to put up my hanging tent, as the houses were one after another.  She said nicely, that there were some woods around the next point nearby.  Encouraged, I paddled around and found a tiny beach next to some small trees near a farmer’s plowed field, with the grass cut.  I parked the kayak at the beach to check it out, and saw a house nearby with a truck parked outside.  I left a note on a card in the front door, explaining why I was camping, not receiving any response to my knocking on the door.  I took out my camping gear and some of my clothes and dried them on the cut grass in the waning sun.  I could tell this night was going to be quite cold, so I got out the fleece blanket to wrap around the sleeping bag.  I saw the truck from the house go back and forth but no one came over to question me, to my great relief.  Darkness came finally, and I knew that I would be ok for the evening, but it was really cold.  I finally fell asleep, listening to a high school football practice under the lights not far away.

12 hours later, I opened my eyes in the early morning light, and could feel the outside temperature in the mid 40’s – cold!  I finally got out of the tent, and gathered everything together, packed up, and finally pulled off my long pants and long shirt to get ready to paddle away for the next day.

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Day 31 Tuesday October 9 Crossing the Neuse River

I was up early as usual, finding myself in a luxurious suite at the Oriental Marina and Inn. The prior day, Young Axson drove me from Belhaven all the way here around some big North Carolina water based on adverse weather reports.  We arrived around noon, having left at 9:30 AM.  Tom M. was in the office at the marina, and welcomed me enthusiastically, and gave me two pieces of mail, one, my charts purchased back in Portsmouth VA, and the second a burgee sent from John at the Seminole Canoe and Kayak Club.  Tom arranged for me to have this suite on the ground floor,  where we put Katie just outside the door near a small tree so that I could lock her up.  I said goodbye to Axson – he is a nice young man and I enjoyed having the chance to spend some time with him. Later that night, I found my right hip giving me all sorts of difficulty, to the point that each time I got up, it felt like my right leg wanted to come out of its socket – giving me sharp pains.  I suddenly thought that I might not be able to continue this journey.  I went to bed hoping that a good night sleep would help the hip and allow me to continue.  When I arose on Tuesday, it felt very sore, but that I could continue.

I packed up the kayak near a shipyard nearby that had a small beach covered in broken glass, rocks, concrete blocks and all sorts of unmentionables, as I did not trust myself to put in from the marina dock.  I left late at 10 AM as I was supposed to meet someone for breakfast that did not show.  As I left Oriental, I followed the markers out to the Neuse River, and past Windmill Pt.  It was cloudy and threatening, different from the forecast, and with a north  wind. I was tempted to cross directly to Adams Creek, but that would take 4 miles and I did not trust the conditions and did not want to repeat my experience on the Rappahannock River.  But as I proceeded past Wiggins Pt.  I kept feeling the temptation, until a strong gust of wind convinced me not to take that risk.  The alternative was to paddle 8 miles upriver (southwest) to a point where I could either paddle across when the other shore was only 1 and 1/4 miles, or to take a free ferry.

I finally arrived before noon to the location of the Minnesott/Cherry Pt. ferry, and one of these boats was getting ready to leave.  The large waves from the wind coming down the river from the west were crashing against the local houses’ bulwark, and I initially could not figure how I was going to get out and get Katie up to the ferry entrance.  Then on the right, I saw a private house boat ramp, with a small piece of beach to its left.  I looked at the scene, trying to figure out how to manage it given the waves.  I decided to drive the kayak into the beach, jump out before it swamps, tie a line to the bow, push Katie back out into the waves, and after putting the cart on her stern, pull her out with all of the gear on, and that is exactly what I did.  It worked well, except that one of the tires to the cart was really flat.  I just pulled her up the ramp, then up the road to the entrance, and finally put her down next to a small line of cars waiting to go on.  No one came to tell me I could not go on, and finally, the next ferry arrived.  After all the cars were loaded up, I walked Katie on, and arranged for a young man to take a picture of us taking a ride across.  25 minutes later, we arrived at Cherry Pt., but my worst fears were realized.  There were no low docks to get me back on the water.  I thought, ok Lord, what do we do now?  There was an office close by, so I walked in, and told the lady in charge what I was doing and my current dilemma.  She conversed with some of the members of the office – there were security personnel and Coast Guard representatives, and they offered to help me get to a nearby beach.  I will not describe what they did, but it was great.  They were so helpful and their attitude was terrific.  After they left me off at the beach, I walked Katie down to the edge, and returned back to the side of the road to have something to eat – an apple and some trail mix (gorp).  As I sat down, tears of gratitude came down my face for all the blessings I just experienced.  I continued to cry, for the loneliness, for all the sheer effort to paddle this big water, for fighting the wind and waves.  It soon stopped, and I finished my simple meal: I had to get going as there was another 6 miles back to reach Adams Creek and it was 1:30 already.

The paddle to that creek was a slog, with wind and waves coming from my left.  I stopped once to rest for a few minutes and stretch the back.  I finally turned southeast into the creek, and for a couple of miles, those waves continued to follow me, but this time, I was going in the same direction, and eventually, they lay down.  In two miles, the creek turned south to the right, and the water became calm and enjoyable to paddle.  It was getting late, and I felt some sprinkles – not a good omen for the evening.  I finally found a decent campsite across from some houses just past mile marker 190.  A fine mist started coming in the growing gloom.   I quickly put up the tent and rain fly, and the blue tarp, so that I could cook something hot to eat.  Everything was wet from the previous day’s rain storms, and so I pulled out my dry twigs that I had been carrying all this time in a small bag, and we quickly had a nice fire going in the small wood stove, cooking up enough water to mix with two packages of instant oatmeal.  It was delicious, and warmed me up for what turned out to be a cold, damp night.  As I fell asleep, I reflected on the magic that surrounded the crossing on the ferry, and said my prayers of thanksgiving.  Another day was done. With the late start, and the time spent waiting for the ferry, then the time spent trying to get back on the water, the 20 miles done was a good effort, and due to the blessings received, I rated the day a 4.

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