Bonus blog by Judi Sanders Silvey
Our Hankins and Sanders families were very close knit. Family reunions were always made perfect because of the efforts that you made to clean up the picnic area on the banks of the Whippoorwill Creek on our family farm. The legendary “foot rocks” are still in place today because of your efforts to preserve them. I have often wondered about the stories of those who crossed the Whippoorwill on our foot rocks, just to gather fresh water from the spring.
Then came Meriam, and three of the most beautiful little babies I’ve ever seen. I fell in love with them, even before I met them. That love only grew stronger when you brought them through the door of my home in Bowling Green. And then began the Christmas “slumber parties” with 20 people sleeping in my house over the holiday. People and kids were everywhere. We still tell the story of one Christmas Eve on the way home from Aunt Bill and Uncle Claude McCoy’s house. I nearly ran over you when you jumped out of your van and started pointing at the sky…then three little Sanders kids jumping up and down with excitement as you explained in great detail that you had, indeed, seen Santa Clause. I also remember the Christmas that it snowed. Your kids had never seen snow. Oh, the screams, the laughs, the excitement! You were just as big of a kid as they were!
I remember the weekend that we had been cleaning up an area of the creek bank, when we heard you yelling “FOX FIRE! IT’s FOX FIRE!”. We were all wondering what crazy joke you were pulling this time, when we skidded to a halt in front of this gloriously glowing log. You were pointing to the greenish yellow glowing matter that was kind of spattered over the entire area. Again, we asked, “What did you spray out here Dale?”, for we just knew that you were pulling a joke. You finally calmed down enough to explain that Fox Fire really is a thing. And then it became a real thing. A something that we will all share for years to come. We had fox fire right there on our farm, on our creek bank. Not long afterwards, Tommy and I named our part of the farm “Fox Fire Ridge”.
Fox Fire Ridge
Through the happy times of camping, playing, and working on the farm and the creek, I’ve always loved you. Through disagreements, I never stopped loving you. We didn’t talk often, but I always knew you were there. You were just a phone call away if I needed you. Did you get on my nerves sometimes? YES. But I still loved you.
In June of 2014, we gathered at your house in Memphis for a “big announcement”. Even though I knew what the announcement would be, my emotions overflowed when you said you wanted to paddle the entire length of the Mississippi River, at 80 years old…and you wanted to do it in 80 days…and you wanted to raise funds and awareness for JDRF...in honor of Anna.
Forty-seven days later, you paddled into sight in Hannibal, Missouri. All I wanted to do is hug your neck. The following days were nothing but a blur, running up and down the Mississippi river to find campsites in flooded conditions. After a July 3rd celebration below the last lock and dam in Alton, Illinois, Big Muddy Mike changed my pride into a sense of excitement that I had only dreamed about. Paddling in the beautiful Voyageur canoe named Junebug, Big Muddy allowed me to experience a small taste of what draws you to the river. I felt an immediate sense of adrenaline when I was the first person to step onto that big ole cottonwood tree.
In Cairo, Illinois, Anna was able to come with me for a very emotional, yet short celebration. It was the precursor to your team’s entrance in Memphis. Each person who introduced themselves to me painted a picture of the great man that I have always known. Your circle of friends in Memphis is more like extended family, and for that, I am so grateful.
There are no words to describe the feeling I had when you paddled into Burras, Louisiana, with Anna standing at the dock with a cold bottle of water for you. You two were both winners in that moment in time. Both of you…heros.
I counted your paddle strokes as you pushed that last mile into the Gulf of Mexico. I watched through tears, as you struggled against the current and the wind. I knew you were determined to reach the Gulf. NOTHING was going to stop you.
While you were breaking records, and Elaine was becoming a world renowned research scientist, all I wanted to do was get married and have babies. While I have never broken records, and I’ve never been published in a medical journal, our family tree did grow. The most noteworthy of my accomplishments is the birth of two beautiful children, and three beautiful grandchildren…one being named Anna.
My world crashed down the day Anna was diagnosed. You stepped in to help bring awareness and show the world how important knowledge and research is. You brought us one step closer to finding a cure for this vicious monster we call Type 1 Diabetes. I love you Brother, and I always will, and "thank you" will never be enough.
Your baby sister,
It has been an incredible journey, with literally thousands of followers, help from hundreds of River Angels, several on water paddlers, and a ton of family support. Today, Richard Sojourner and I reached the Gulf of Mexico, 22 miles south of Venice, Louisiana at 1330. Following close behind us were Layne Logue, Austin Graham, and Dominique Lebanon.
The words of my dear friend, Papaw Richard Day summed up those last 10 miles perfectly
It was a long boat ride at slow speeds, with much bonding, fellowship and love generated. As the canoes neared the gulf, the whole group was nearby. The sisters, Judi Sanders Silvey and Elaine Bush, watched intently, as if counting down the strokes. The group became silent, very silent, the hum of the motors at almost idle speed accentuated the heart beats and the deep breathing going on. And then, Dale Sanders beaches his craft, stands in the boat - not as usual with a raised paddle and shouting - but comes up erect and then with a lean to the left, goes overboard For THE SWIM.
Congratulations goes out to Dale Sanders for paddling the entire Mississippi River at 80 years old, in 80 days, and raising over $22,000 for Juvenile Diabetes in the process... That's 2350 miles in 80 days and not in an RV... In a canoe. You have reached legendary status! -- Jonathan Brown
It's an honor to know the first 80 year old to paddle the Mississippi River source to sea for such a noble cause. Dale, you're the greatest! Remember to take the swim! -- Ellen McDonah
The weather took its toll today with one day left before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. WIND! Several times it blew my boat sideways. Took all my effort to right her back into the wind. Because of the direction traveling, it was hard to avoid whitecapping waves from spilling over the starboard bow. Couple of these whitecaps were large enough to easily swamp a small craft.
It was not supposed to be this way. We hoped to have an easy day paddling the 25 miles to a boat ramp in Venice. We planned on finishing NLT 1400. Actually didn't reach the ramp until about 1600.
Will paddle out early tomorrow morning. Wind once again predicted. Hope to be on the water by 0700. There will be four boats following me on my solo We-no-nah Wilderness 15.4 foot canoe which John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, a primary sponsor helped me acquire. I have been supposed by several other sponsors all of which are recognized on the "Sponsors" page on this website.
Hope all of you can follow this last date on SPOT Tracker. This company and their SPOT Tracker programs have been a life saver.
With evening of activity tonight coupled with the difficulties paddling today I must turn-in early and pray for a good nights sleep. I pray that tomorrow will be filled with celebrations many followers shouting cheers of joy.
All in all it has been a great ride. Good night and pleasant dreams.
The three of us, all in different boats, finally paddled out at 0900. Soon after we started paddling, Dominique began having issues with blisters from yesterday's paddle. We tried tape and glove combinations. However, with ruptured blisters on both hands, plus the heat and humidity, it soon became apparent he would not be able to keep up with paddling the miles we must navigate today. Tried changing paddling techniques, but there was nothing we could do to fix the pain and discomfort Dominique was experiencing. He hung it up for the day at mile marker 55. We are sorry to see you off the water Dom, and understand the philosophy to save energy for the final push to the Gulf of Mexico later this week.
Austin and I kept paddling and finished the planned 37 miles near mile 35, hiding the boats for the evening. We stashed them well off the river in tall foliage, down in a slough. A mosquito’s paradise.
It was SO great to see family and friends waiting river left on a gravel pile. AnnA was there with her mom and dad. Sisters Judi and Elaine. My son Jony. Don and Holly from Summer Breeze RV Park in Florida. Plus doggies Grace and Zoe. Thank you guys for locating perhaps the only place in the area where boats could be taken out. Too bad the property owner did not share our enthusiasm.
The evening was marvelous. Wonderful food. Cody had again turned on his magical powers and whipped up some incredible Cajun cookin! Thank you to all involved. All 30 or so guest were fed well.
I intend to paddle the remaining 25 miles to Venice, Louisiana tomorrow.
Plans are to board my We-no-nah Wilderness class canoe this Saturday morning for the final paddle. I intend to paddle, far down into the marshes, beyond civilized development and through the fingerlike chutes where the Mississippi River eventually dumps its waters into the Gulf of Mexico.
When I reach the end of the South Pass, I will have accomplished all I can do, fighting Juvenile Diabetes to the river’s end.
"You can't get in the water from here" she repeated over and over. I was sick. Literally, I had to squat to avoid getting nauseated. Looked like we are not leaving from here. I thought to myself, “Today we will not be able to paddle the miles necessary for us to reach Venice by Friday.” Saturday, August 15th, we MUST paddle into the Gulf for that is the only day that AnnA can be here. Sensing my angst, the police lady soon called her supervisor.
We loaded our supplies and departed AJ's house later than normal. Dominique, who was joining us from Canada, could not pick his rental canoe up until 1000. We had enjoyed our stay, so conveniently located in the French Quarters of downtown New Orleans.
Looked like it was going to be yet another hot day.
Several vehicle trips later, all of the logistics for launching two canoes and one kayak were in place. To continue the journey downstream, we needed to launch each day from the same location. We had taken out at these steps upon arrival.
The officer’s supervisor arrived. He confirmed her orders. It looked as though there was no way we would be launching from here.
After much debate on alternate locations where we could put in our paddle craft, I kindly asked if there was any way possible he could contact yet another supervisor level and see if they could make a one-time launch exception. He had no problems with doing so and thank God the approval was granted. A HUGE "Thank You" to New Orleans Port Authority and New Orleans Police Department for their cooperation and assistance!
Photos by A.J. Foret
It was after 1pm when we paddled out of New Orleans. Some 20 Miles down river, a horrendous storm forced us into the shoreline trees. The lightening was fierce. One and two seconds between flashes, and thunder everywhere. Tried to make a movie during the worst of the storm but my iPhone Six Plus and fingers were too wet for swiping.
Winds were still too strong for paddling when the storm passed. But, short on miles, we had to get moving. The winds were now blowing from directly downstream. I found myself floating sideways down a long stretch of parked barges and literally could not find a way to get the canoe headed back into the wind. Just too strong. It took what seemed like forever to float through the whitecap waves to a point where I could paddle yet another time into the eastern tree lined shore.
After several miles of hugging the east bank, we still had not found a place to camp. Now getting dark, we reached a large driftwood pile and even considered pitching tents on there. The community on the land side of the levee was also an option. I asked one of the home owners if we could camp in their backyard. We ended up camping nearby. After pitching tents, we were welcomed by one of the residents. Food was ready. They had Googled "man paddling Mississippi for Juvenile Diabetes". If I have learned anything, I must always take calling cards along when asking someone if I can camp on their back yard.
Photos from the family of Romona Treadway
Such a delightful evening with these fine folks. Was even able to dry my phone out for it had somehow leaked through the waterproof case during the storm. Problem now is it won't charge. With only 10% battery life, will now try and get this blog to Shannon Williamson for posting. Sorry folks, my photos and videos will have to come later.
Over the past four days, Austin Graham and I were able to read the water and paddled the fastest currents. We arrived in New Orleans a day ahead of expectations, which means that I will be able to pull this expedition off. At the end of Saturday, I will have paddled the Mississippi River, Source to Sea, in exactly 80 days, one day for each year of my life.
When we arrived in New Orleans yesterday, we shuttled our boats and gear to AJ Foret's home in the French Quarter. I was able to shower for the first time since we left Donna Graham’s "Camp" last Friday. What a great feeling, especially since it has been so hot these last four days.
When I dreamed up the idea of paddling the Mississippi River to raise awareness of and research funding to fight Juvenile Diabetes, I set a suggested donation goal of 8 to 80 dollars per mile. I still feel this is possible and I thank each of you for your donations, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. May God bless each child afflicted with this awful disease. And I thank each of you for what you have given, whether that be direct donations to research, or River Angel support for making my Journey down the Mississippi River a reality.
We will paddle out tomorrow from the steps where we arrived yesterday, with a new member joining the team. Dominique from Sksgchawsm, Canada. His purpose for paddling from the wooden steps her in New Orleans is a true story worthy of being told.
Bonus Blog Entry (by Shannon Williamson)
Often, Dale's blogs take a more "serious" tone, so it wasn't always appropriate to use some of the funny pictures or videos that he sent to me for editing. So, here's some good ole GBA humor for ya...goofy, cheesy, wonderfully funny Dale! Hope you enjoy the laughs as much as I have!
Shannon (Dale's niece)
Watch to the END!
And, on a more serious note, here's some words from a follower. She perfectly sums up what I have been feeling about Dale's expedition.
Along the way of this journey, many examples have been set.
When passing by large crafts, the worst is their followed waves, waves generated far behind the vessel. I find it difficult to paddle close to the shorelines because once the big swells reach the shallows they broke, sometimes exceptionally high and over a small crafts forward bow.
I have come to the conclusion the safest place to paddle, at least through the busy industrial waters of the south Mississippi, is right down the charted channel. The tug boat Skippers tend to criticize that decision and have asked, more than once, for me to paddle close to the shore line. We have a marine radio and monitor the tug boat skippers chatter. I cannot comply in most cases, for fear of not being un-seen and consequently the larger craft not slowing down as they tend to do when I paddle in the charted channels. Also, there is no way we would be in New Orleans today, a day earlier than planned, had Austin and I stuck to paddling the shoreline through slow waters where the big eddies swirl.
Some more personal notes from today’s paddle are on my heart and need to be said. Trixie Pocket, although not home herself, the neighbors were there awaiting, shouting and shooting bottle rockets and welcomed us with open arms with food, ice cold water, and all. Thank you also goes to Robyn Bordelon who was planning to paddle with us tomorrow. With the unfortunate issues associated with fast waters, her plans changed, so she met us at the wooden steps in New Orleans, with sandwiches, cold drinks, a truck and a big hug. River Angels like Robyn are a paddler's dream.
A group of people awaited my arrival at the steps downtown New Orleans. There were two individuals I noticed specifically on the bottom step next to the water’s edge. It was Robyn and AJ Foret. I have not met either in person, but AJ and I have been Facebook friends for years. His presence made the emotional adrenalin flow. We are now staying at his home. Two nights without heat and mosquitoes, what a relief! Before dinner, went for a short walk through the nearby French Quarter and now, I must now sleep.
Our campsite last night was perfect. Got a much needed good night’s rest.
After breakfast, Austin and I discussed paddle strategies over a cup of New Orleans style coffee given to me by John Ruskey. Delicious, but we had to figure out how to paddle these waters and share them with the big ships.
As we paddled out, we almost immediately had to maneuver around several large vessels that were selecting their routes based on efficiency and without regard to the channel markers. Barges and tugs are all over the place. Fortunately, the seagoing vessels tend to predictable stay in the channels, otherwise paddling the Mississippi in these flood state waters would virtually be impossible.
The big ones don't scare me. It's the massive waves left behind from the upcoming vessels that cause me the greatest concern. This is especially true with the large freighters. Austin and I would like to video them, but truthfully, we must keep both hands on the paddle to safely pass through. Maybe we can rig something with tape so I can mount a camera on my head.
Sat outside the tent, letting it cool down long as I could, until the mosquitoes were so bad that I had to go inside…no matter how hot. Figured I could deal with the heat better by stripping down to my shorts. I had earlier left the screens unzipped to get the air flowing. That was another mistake.
Tomorrow, we will attempt to reach New Orleans a day earlier than expected. If Austin and I can paddle that fast through these waters, I can take my 11th, "0" miles paddled, day of rest. If I can take one more "0" day, reaching the "Gulf of Mexico in 80 days" could become a reality.
We were running low on water, so Austin plotted a course to Donaldsonville, Louisiana.
After departing our "Creative Campsite" for last night, the wind started billowing as we rounded the first bend. Was different paddling. Determined to paddle at least 35 miles today, Austin and I pressed on. I would soon reach the mark of the 2000th mile paddled on this trip.
Beginning to understand the meaning of "Industry" as the amount of commercial activity on the river increases daily. We can manage the constant need to modify our planned routes for safe passage. The turbulent waters left behind by the massive ships is our biggest challenge. Hove noticed though, if I communicate with my Marine radio, the Skippers are doing what they can to help with safe passage. Just so many barges, tugs and ships it's hard to communicate with all of them.
High waters have blocked entrance to the boat ramp with acres of log jams. We must get water here. With no way to reach the town boat ramp, we had to find passage through the flooded forest and pull the boats up on the concrete reinforced levee. Once on the other side, a nice couple that gave us ice water. Would like to thank them but didn't get their name.
Had ice water with dinner last night. A rare treat indeed. As Austin said "you know when you have been on the river too long when you drink ice water for desert".
I'm pretty sure that these guys aren't getting enough credit for what they are doing. So, here's a big shoutout to Brad Tallent and Austin Graham of Adventureitus Productions for filming this documentary for the ole' man! Hope you enjoy their weekly updates! Stay tuned in the Spring of 2016 as the film is released.
Hope all of you can share this website with your friends. Let's continue to spread the word. Somehow, someday, our efforts to raise awareness and spread the word about the need for a cure for Juvenile Diabetes will be heard. And, once again, I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart, for all of the support thus far.
Tomorrow morning, Austin Graham and I will begin the most crucial leg of this entire journey. The paddle between St. Francisville and New Orleans. When we paddle into New Orleans, we will still have 100 miles left to paddle before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
The next 175 miles, as we pass through the heavy industrial sections, will likely be the most stressful, possibly difficult, of them all. High waters will further complicate matters making tent sites rare and possibly impossible to find. The heat, coupled with today being the last rest "0" day on the entire journey, I expect the next five days to be the toughest of all.
I have been resting today at Austin’s mom's weekend, year-round "Camp". Donna has been such a gracious host. I am thankful to have met this fine River Angel family. Austin Graham you are my hero! I can't wait to see the full length movie you, Brad Tallent, and Coltin Calloway will be producing at Adventureitusproductions.com
Slept till after 0800 this morning. Nice breakfast and off to wash clothes. Did shopping for foods that should last to the Sea. Also did "Boat keeping" chores part of the day. Tomorrow morning early, we will be off to the GULF OF MEXICO! The next scheduled day off will be after we reach the salt water, 22 miles south of Venice, Louisiana.
Paddled the last three days with river brothers, John Ruskey and Mark River. I have been blessed, not only for being able to do this expedition at 80 years old, but for the opportunities it has provided me. I feel so grateful to be enjoying river time with some of the most well-known adventure paddlers of our generation.
The time spent with John and River has been more valuable than words can express. I needed this morale boost…and they came to my rescue. I was tired, and they were there. Got me through the last three days. Was a relaxed a and peaceful paddle with great food and shared stories. They quite possibly saved the completion of the Expedition.
John Ruskey and the fine folks at Quapaw Canoe Company are the creators of the #rivergator, which is a priceless guide to the Lower Mississippi. I have found the information it contains to be my most valuable source of information. I highly recommend anyone paddling, or just interested in the lower Mississippi, review this original creation as often as possible.
As I get closer to the end, I am aware of things I feel clearly now as being the most important to my life. Find myself often reflecting on how good returning home will be. I miss my wife Merriam, my children Jony, James and Sunshine, and my grand children, Bella and Isaiah.
The uneventful 30 miles paddled today got me thinking about the true meaning of life. River time has slowed me down, making it easier to use some time to reflect back on the past. Never realized how much I would miss Richard Sojourner until he was gone. He was my on-water inspiration. A cog is now missing. I pray the Doctors will let him return soon.
I think of the children out there like AnnA with Type 1 Diabetes. How society has seemingly forgotten them, not getting equal research funding that many other diseases receive. Even though I am tired, and I miss my family and my paddle partner Richard, the quest to complete this journey will continue for now.
I will paddle out from St. Francisville, Louisiana this Friday morning with Austin Graham. Austin rejoining me on the water is also a vital cog to the potential completion of this journey. My thanks to him and his family.
Today, we paddled past the outlets, where one third of the Mississippi River water passes into the Atchaflaya, the shortest big river in North America. Needless to say, I was a little apprehensive, fearing we would approach the area too far river right and get sucked down one of the chutes. John and River passed much closer than me, though, without any difficulties.
The current is slowing a bit. It will take longer to average the miles needed to make this journey in 80 days. Also, for the first time since above St. Louis, I am beginning to see signs that the flooded river basin is beginning to recede.
We must find a campsite for it is getting late in the day.
He could not have been more correct. After we got our gear up, we set up camp. Under these large trees, we were just far enough off the main river to not be disturbed by the passing barges. With all day shade, clean, dry, and level land, it was the most ideal conditions a creative camper could ever hope to enjoy. The undergrowth and terrain reminds me of Lickskillet, Kentucky where I grew up. Happy campers here tonight! We even joked around with some entertainment video clips.
Would highly recommend this campsite for high water conditions. Unfortunately, there is no way to boat into this area at normal water levels.
One again, I have learned never underestimate the knowledge of the Mighty Quapaw John Ruskey. I must also write my next blog discussing the great camp foods we have been enjoying. John Ruskey and Mark River - you guys are a sight for sore eyes.
I was blessed today in that the major sponsor of this Cruising for a Cure Expedition will paddle alongside my boat "AnnA”. John Ruskey will accompany me all the way to St. Francisville.
Ruskey and his sidekick, Mark “River”, arrived in Natchez at 1300 as planned. All of us had lunch at Gail Guido’s house, literally about 10 yards across the road from the boat ramp. The Natchez news paper showed up, as promised, for photos and interviews at 1330. We said goodbye to Gail and others under the hill, and was able to paddle out by 1430, hoping to get 30 miles in before dark.
The paddle down was filled with laughter and catching up on stories. We stopped to swim several times, and I have found that getting back in the boat as it floats downstream is a piece of cake. The cool water, coupled with the shade from my umbrella, I was quite comfortable, even though it was hot.
We found one of the finest campsites on the Mississippi here at mile 335, some 28 miles below Natchez. Just love this site. Ground has clean sand at the shoreline, with a deep bead of leaves covering the small island knoll that is surrounded by water. I don't recommend trying to find it on your own though, for it is tucked away deep in sycamore saplings, which will soon be on the other side of the shoreline debris. Those following with SPOT can see where we are, as well as follow the journey, with pings every 10 minutes.
I am now relaxed and listening to music by John Ruskey with River turned in for the night already. John cooked dinner, and River and John built a fire. Our spot is shady, so it should cool off soon for a good night’s sleep.
Would like to take this opportunity to thank Layne Logue for paddling from Vicksburg to Natchez with Me. I can’t imagine completing this journey without the Quapaw Canoe Company, John Ruskey and River. A huge thanks to them for driving down and paddling to St. Francisville. And, finally, Gail Guido, who hosted my stay in the fine city of Natchez. Without River Angels such as these folks, this Expedition to raise awareness and funding for research to fight the dreaded childhood disease Type 1 Diabetes would not have been possible.
I witnessed the whole episode from the balcony of my riverside suite here in Natchez, Mississippi. The man backed down the boat ramp to unload his kayak. As he prepared to drive out, his vehicle was in reverse. He gunned it, laying rubber in the process. It was too late when he realized that he was in deep trouble, in fast flowing waters. He was traveling backwards down the ramp at a high speed.
The splash covered the cab from the back through the truck bed. I could have started my video here, but decided to call 911 first, thinking they might be here in time to latch on to the truck and pull it out. Not so, as the truck began sinking shortly after he scrambled out of the driver-side window. Just before that, he did try at great motor speed revolutions to drive out of the river, while the vehicle was bouncing in the waves. Guess he thought the tires would act as a propeller.
Today was weird, felt like something was missing. Richard Sojourner was not paddling along side me. That was a heart breaker. It was a beautiful day to paddle though, with great winds and following waters. Layne and I paddled the remaining 37 miles to Natchez, Mississippi in five hours. Although there were some interesting things to write about, I am devoting the remainder of this blog to my great paddle buddy and river brother Richard Sojourner.
MESSAGE FROM RICHARD SOJOURNER:
As you already know, Dale and I left Greenwood MS early Tuesday morning July 28th, camped at a most miserable campsite that night and arrived at Vicksburg MS by12:30 pm Wednesday July 29th. Although fast, the 100 mile paddle took a serious tole on us. It was 99* with a heat index of 113* on Tuesday and Wednesday, the hottest day of the year thus far in Mississippi, it was 101* with a heat index above 115*. I became dehydrated on Tuesday, didn't fully recover that night, and was even more dehydrated the following day.
With Dale's and Tim McCarley's help, I made every effort to recover but Wednesday evening, I experienced some concerning medical issues and decided to get a medical checkup. The examination confirmed that I was quite dehydrated and, in addition, had developed Bursitis in my left knee. Tim's Dr, Dr Bynum, ordered several tests, the results of which would be known Friday morning, before we planned to paddle out. I was feeling better Friday. While preparing to depart, we had a nice interview with the local News Paper and talked with several folks who had come down to see us off. Shortly after 9:00am, I received the call from Dr. Bynum's offices...and that's when things went downhill.
My Electrolytes and Kidney Functions were well out of normal range. Dr. Bynum wanted to retest me in 4 - 5 days and strongly discouraged me from paddling. Needless to say, this was not what I had anticipated or wanted to hear. I was a bit emotional, and become so even now when I recall the conversation.
When I announced to Dale that I couldn't paddle. Dale, also became emotional and immediately decided to delay our departure 4 - 5 days until I received the go ahead. I said "no way, there's not enough time! We only have 16 days left to complete our adventure, and there are far too many folks involved in this effort, plans are already made, and there are several long-standing inflexible deadlines for such a delay".
After some convincing, Dale reluctantly agreed to continue without me. Lane Logue, another paddler and Vicksburg River Angel was already set to paddle with us to Natchez. Several folks from Natchez were scheduled to paddle from there to St. Francisville LA. where Brad and Austin will rejoin us.
So, the bottom line: I am TEMPORARILY not on the river. I informed my wife of the situation. My brother David, who was visiting from California, picked me up in Vicksburg. I have a follow up appointment with my doctor on Monday afternoon. WITHOUT QUESTION, I WILL BE REJOINING DALE ABSOLUTELY NO LATER THAN IN VENICE POSSIBLY SOONER AND I WILL COMPLETE THE MILES I'M MISSING, WITHIN THIS CALENDAR YEAR. I appreciate all the support and encouragement we have received and encourage all to stay tuned, it's not over yet.
God Speed Richard may you be able to join us again soon.
Here's some bonus pics that Layne took on our 2-day journey. Rivergator
I'm the Grey Beard Adventurer. But you can call me Dale Sanders, and these are my stories.