Who Ordered That Launch?!

VROOOOMMMM!!! What the……   I must have fallen asleep on the flight deck.  Roll-Roll-Roll…..  I have to get off this deck.  I hope the safety net catches me.  Yes!! I have fallen into it…… VROOOOMMMM!!!   Who ordered these launches and how did I miss it and fall asleep on the flight deck? Weird how our mind works when we are awakened suddenly.  Our senses are wide awake sending signals to our brain, but our brain is not fully awake for processing the incoming information.  As the rest of my brain finally woke up and got engaged I could realize that I wasn’t on the flight deck of a carrier.  I was in a tent off of a road in Georgia.  I hadn’t rolled off the flight deck into the safety net.  I had rolled into the side of my tent and almost rolled the tent in the process.  Oh, and those F-14 Tomcats being launched?  That was actually the logging trucks that started back running and were going full blast.  What seemed like a safe distance from the road last night now seemed way to close to the side of the road.  It was still dark and earlier than our planned wakeup time but getting to sleep with these trucks blasting by just wasn’t going to happen.  Time to get up and see how Rod was doing.  The trucks had woke him up too and when I called his name out I got the normal Rod response, “Yep, I am up.”  That’s a good sign.  Then it was time to get out of the tent.  Yesterday was a true test and measure of just how high Rod’s pain tolerance was.  This morning was a renewal of that test in a big way.  Even with the pain, he wasn’t going to stop.  I truly believe he would have crawed into Fargo if he couldn’t walk.  So the first action item for the morning was to doctoring Rod’s feet.  Cleaning wounds, draining blisters, applying antiseptics, and putting special pads on his feet.  My oldest daughter is a certified athletic trainer who has worked with various college sports teams and is presently working on her PhD at the University of Kentucky.  Prior to the UFC she had given me some tips on dealing with blisters and had given me some special pads that are similar to mole skin but much better.  I had never seen them but if she said they were good I was going to take them.  All through this, Rod was a trooper and just sucked it up and got through the pain.  Luckily his feet had not swelled up that much during the night and we were able to get his shoes on.  Next, get the boats packed, balanced, tied together and then back on the road.  Rod was actually walking pretty good.  Either the pads were working or he now had the energy to just mentally block the pain out.  As I looked up the road, I saw a familiar van coming.  It was Chief.  He had been tracking us on our SPOTS and was coming to welcome us to Fargo.  This is the video he took of our portage.  Oh, and he had some cold Cokes.  Ohhhh soooo good.


As you can tell from the video we made it into Fargo.   Guess what’s there?  A restaurant and it was breakfast time.  Let’s go eat!!!  Now, Chief is a pretty tough guy in his own right. The creator of the WaterTribe, designer of the Evergaldes Challenge, and the UFC.  He is a veteran of the Vietnam War, US. Marine Corp, and he sleeps in a van when he is managing the race.  So not a guy who expects the Hilton.  I share that with you to get a measure of just how bad Rod and I must have been for him to say what he said.  When we got into his van to go to the restaurant, his first comment was “Gee, you guys really stink!  Man I hope I can get this stink out of my van after you guys leave.”  I looked at Rod and I am thinking, I don’t smell anything.  I know we must have smelled but you would not have known it at the restaurant.  They served us a wonderful breakfast and our bodies needed it after what we had put them through on the portage.

The process of disassembling the carts and repacking and cleaning the boats was slower than both of us would have liked.  My hauling rig was bent and distorted from the load of pulling two boats which made disassemble difficult.  The condition of Rod’s feet made even the simplest task painful and a difficult one for him.  He definitely was a happy camper to get in the boat and get off his feet.  Prior to the start of the UFC and leading up to getting to the Suwannee River, everyone was worried there would not be enough water in the upper sections of the river to be able to paddle it.  I didn’t want a repeat of what we faced in the upper sections of the St. Mary’s.  Again, I think God was looking out for us because there was plenty of water in the river.  In fact, there was enough water that running the Big Shoals rapid would be a concern.  Well, we said good bye to Chief and we pushed off from Fargo.  It was nice to be on the river, to have no wind in our face, and the current going with us.  We spent the rest of the day
enjoying our paddle down the Suwannee River.  At each bend there were these beautiful sand banks that were perfect camp sites.  There was no problem finding a nice camp site and it was quiet.  That night as I sat in my tent I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we now only had two real stressful situations in front of us.  The first would be the rapids at Big Shoals and the next would be the big open water crossing  after Cedar Key.  Just hope Rod’s feet don’t pick up an infection.