Paddled through the woods and up the chute to where SPOT Tracker had been turned off the night before. Found paddling up stream difficult, but with adrenalin flowing high, we managed to reach the bean field where we encountered the six foot vertical bank the night before. With SPOT working perfectly, I managed to finish writing the blog for yesterday while waiting for cameras to be positioned. With GoPro cameras mounted on our vessels, the paddle into Shelby Forest was no longer a dream…but a reality.
There she was, standing in front of a huge sign, my wife Merriam and Mollie my dog. There was a large gathering of people, many sporting long creative grey beards and shouting love and encouragement from the river’s edge. I can’t tell you how good this felt to see Meriam, Molly, and Memphis. The next hour was filled with greetings, photographs, hugs and tears. It was surely the highlight of the trip. Cameras were everywhere.
The paddle downriver into Memphis with 36 boats was filled with laughter and joy as we managed to stay within the fast waters of the channel in the flooded, now turbulent, waters. Needed to avoid the wing dikes as well as the barges, whose navigation routes are unpredictable in this flooded area. Passed four barges without difficulty and made our way to Mud Island.
The Adventureitus Productions crew, Brad Tallent, Austin Graham, and Coltin Calloway (who traveled from Cookeville, TN to join the fun) were able to shoot movie theme scenes, footage that has been long awaited. Thankfully they were able to use motorboats made available by Tom Roehm. It was a beautiful “3 hour tour”! When we rounded the southern bend of Mud Island, there was yet another large crowd of followers awaiting. This approach to downtown was once again emotional, a site to behold.
I was blessed to have Richard Sojourner and the camera crew along side of me. Also thanks to Jonathan Brown for flying in from California to be part of this great festivity. Another special guest was paddler/author, Rod Wellingon, who journeyed from Canada to join this momentous event. My feelings of joy, excitement and appreciation are hard to express in just a few words within a blog.
I want each and every person involved to know that their efforts were appreciated. A great cheer of appreciation goes out to Boar’s Night Out Barbeque and Catering, who DONATED the best pulled pork I ever put in my mouth. WOW, did it hit the spot! Cooked to perfection, the pork had just enough juiciness and smoke flavoring to make your mouth water with each bite. Sweet Swine O Mine provided the dry seasoning and the sauce, which was to DIE FOR! These two organizations are very involved in “Operation Barbeque Relief”. The mission of Operation BBQ Relief is to provide compassion and to offer hope and friendship to those whose lives have been affected by disasters across the United States through their expertise in cooking and catering barbecue meals. We were honored to have them present at our gathering.
I'm the Grey Beard Adventurer. But you can call me Dale Sanders, and these are my stories.