Today was a monster day on the river. I think I got in around 30-35 miles. I stopped into New Cumberland, WV to get gas. I got directions for a gas station that was ‘only a quarter mile down the road’. That was the longest quarter mile in my life! Thinking I was lost, I stopped into a mom and pop drug store to get more directions.
Today was what I had envisioned for this trip. I got a bit of everything. I woke up (and went to bed) to rain showers. It’s nice to know that my canopy works! As a bonus I was able to catch rain water off the top to bath in. I would like to say that I planned for that but it was just plain luck. I talked to a couple walking their dog and they were quite excited. They took pictures and said this was their son’s speed. This was just northwest of Pittsburgh. The locks are getting easier. The radio is absolutely necessary.
I stopped for gas in Midland, PA. As I was walking into town, two nuclear plant guys gave me a lift into town and back down to the river. Very nice! As we were leaving town, I noticed a Subway and a variety store. I couldn’t very well ask them to stop so I went back to the canoe with the gas and returned back to town. As soon as I got back on the highway, another guy stops and gives me a lift. Small town americana! Of course I told everyone what I am doing. Both of these guys bought into it. So I got a cell phone charger and a sandwich and headed back to the river. Then another guy stops and gives me a lift there. He just laughed at my idea-two out of three ain’t bad.
I had a stiff headwind all day. I started out paddling for about 20 minutes and noticed that I was being blown back to Pittsburgh! So I motored onward. The wind was making the waters choppy so I was glad I had the deck on top to cover the canoe. I made a mistake though, as I was motoring along. I went to the front of the canoe to get something and ended up pushing the front of the canoe a little too far down. I took on about twenty gallons of water during that adventure. I quickly scurried back to the rear of the boat and made a mental note-balance is everything! So young grasshopper here is going to pay a little closer attention to that. It also made me reassess what I am carrying and is it worth the extra weight. I put in a false floor on the inside of the canoe to keep things off the floor and away from the water. It worked for the most part. Although, I think on a craft this size, you are always going to take on a little water. I use a big sponge for my bilge pump. It works quickly on weighs nothing. I’m glad I’m going to be able to stop by home in ten days. I will off load some stuff and bring on the things that I forgot.
Today I was the bug! Stopped early on to fix the maladies of yesterday. I went through the first lock which only took four hours-almost all of it waiting. I don’t think lock masters are happy on their jobs! Actually, I think us recreational boaters are just a pain in their butt. Rather akin to highways being for truckers. The second lock took all of 15 minutes. I learned that I went through one of the busiest locks in the world which was also my first one. It was very intimidating for me. I planned for alot but when you are staring down a huge barge with your measely little homemade craft, you tend to think very humbly! I’m extremely glad I got this UHF radio. Not having that would be a potential trip stopper with these locks. Only 16 more locks to go! I passed an old wooden barge on the river-you will likely never see one of these again. The all steel barges took over and the wooden ones went the way of the dodo. I have only gone about 12 miles so far. I had hoped for more but considering the trials I am pleased. The further away from Pittsburgh I get, the quicker I will move. It is about 6:45PM and I am getting ready to make dinner. Actually, it will be breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is going to be hard to prepare meals as I want to spend most of my time on the river. My homemade mattress worked out well. It is just a tad bit firm but it will work great. I have my generator out recharging batteries. This will probably be an every three day occurance. Time to eat!
Got to Pittsburgh around 3PM today and spent a stressful afternoon getting the boat put together. In my haste, there are several things that I am going to have to revisit tomorrow. I didn’t fit in everything that I had packed but almost everything! Finally got on the river around 7PM-just in time to try to find a place to spend the night. I will stay aboard and have found a spot under some trees with the cicadas and the mosquitos! Tomorrow will be a day full of going through locks so that will be interesting!