Dear Matt and Ashley,
It’s hard to believe that we paddled 24 miles the day we met you. I can tell you that we sure were glad to find your small creek to paddle up. We had looked at the maps for a place to pull off. I should say Karen looked at the maps as she is the navigator. You know, some people laugh when I say Karen is the navigator because 1) they know that we are both control freaks and wonder how we figured out who would be in the stern. Obviously Karen is more a control freak than I am. Well, that’s not really true. I don’t just don’t like that kind of responsibility. Just give me the grunt work and I’m happy (mostly) to be the engine all day long. And 2) they think one should not have to navigate down of river. Like somehow we should simply flow with the current. Well, you live on the river and you know that the river only has current when it is flooding and then you have other problems to contend with. I guess a lot of people don’t realize that a big river like the Ohio which is really just a series of lakes created by the lock and dam system. How else would the barges handle it, eh? The locks and dams are cool and I still think I want to work for the Army Corps when I grow up but they sure do slow down the flow, don’t they!
So, in the cool of the early evening, he headed towards what the map said was a public boat ramp and figured we would find somewhere to camp there. Before we got to the boat ramp, we found your dock. We went ahead to the ramp and decided that since it appeared to be a public park, it might not be the best place to stay, if it would even be allowed. So, we went back to your dock, tied up and headed up into your campground. We have become very bold on these trips so we decided to just knock on your door. I suspect you don’t get many people knocking on your mobile home door. You seemed a little hesitant as you called out and asked who it was. But you graciously came to the door anyway. You are likely among the youngest folks to help us out and you were so kind to let us set up our tent down by the river. Thanks for pointing us to the convenience store in town as well and for offering us a ride. Frankly, we are usually very glad to walk after a day in the canoe even though I especially feel a little wobbly after a day on the river. Before we headed off to the store to buy water and ice and use the facilities, including washing a day’s worth of sunscreen and sweat and grime off, we asked about the train tracks. Of course, along the river there are always trains but this track was literally within about fifty or a hundred feet of our tent. Turned out, as we told Matt the next morning, that since we were below the raised tracks, the sound was nowhere near as bad as we expected.
It was kind of fun walking into town along the tracks. Made me feel like we were hobos or something. Your little town of Vanceburg, KY, has some charm. Obviously it was a railroad and river town. Majestic old justice building, Victorian homes, train station. Hopefully all that digging up of the streets will be over soon. We needed more bug repellent so we stopped in at the pharmacy because the convenience store didn’t carry it, something I found odd since the mosquitos are the size of small birds with the appetites of a T. Rex! And they seemed to like me far more than Karen which I don’t think is very fair. I thought the pharmacy was cool because it had a lunch counter as well just like in the old days. I asked permission to take a photo which I have included below.
That evening we didn’t have to make our usual dehydrated dinner as Christine from the night before had given us ribs from the Scioto Ribber in Portsmouth, Ohio. We nibbled on those and then walked to your uncle’s deck where we saw, as you promised, the most beautiful evening view of the river. And the fireflies were busy that night as well. Later in the night, we had to get out of the tent and put on the fly because it rained a bit. When the fly is up, it is very stuffy so we tried it without the fly. It helped with the temperature until the rain came…between trains. So, we didn’t get a lot of sleep but, as usual, were glad for a place to call home that felt safe for the evening.
Thank you again for your assistance. I hope that dog and cats are doing well!
PS: The day we met you was a milestone. We had paddled over 615 miles since leaving Western New York 12 years ago which marked our halfway point between NY and the Mississippi River!