I talked with Mike Frost, of the Haitian Pilgrims, the other day. The news from Boileau is that the village is holding up under the stress of the people who have left Port au Prince to escape the devastation there. The work the Pilgrims have done over the years has equipped Boileau to be something of a buffer for at least a few of the people who have evacuated Port au Prince. One of the two containers of emergency food ordered for Boileau had arrived but the other was still held up in the destruction in the port. The school has grown from about 400 kids to something like 650 – again, new arrivals escaping the earthquake damage – but continues to operate. There are a lot of great people in this group who are working hard for the folks in Boileau.
The White Rock Navy – YOU – have responded. Pledges are up to $1,716.00 at last count. When I’m headed down the Missouri River I’ll be counting the miles as $5.00 a mile. That will help keep me paddling. And we’re up to 110 members of the navy. But, just 50 days to go before the boat hits the Missouri River and a long way to go to get myself in shape for it. I’ve been trying to get out on Cross Lake three or four nights a week and all day on Saturday. I’m usually out there by 6:00 and get back to the apartment around 9:00 in the evening. Since that’s three hours I thought I’d make that the title of the blog this week – and take you on a tour.
Before we get started you’ll need to hum a few bars of the Gilligan’s Island theme song to get in the mood. Let me know when you’re ready.
OK then. There’s a bayou that runs up to the apartments where I’m living, so the boat’s only about 50 yards from my patio. I jump in the boat and paddle down the bayou toward the lake….
This stretch is very quiet and full of birds, fish, and other animals. It’s a bayou! But when I come back through it after dark there’s ALWAYS something that jumps out of the water about a foot from the boat and makes a big “splosh” sound. It usually scares the bejeebers out of me! But, don’t worry – I haven’t seen even one ‘gator in here (although the locals tell me they’re around).
At the end of the bayou I paddle under a small bridge. Like the bayou it’s a little creepy in the dark but the biggest things I’ve seen are the mosquitos.
Just past the bridge is a grove of cypress trees growing out the lake. This picture is taken looking back toward the bridge. The second time I got out on the lake I couldn’t figure out where to go through these trees to get back under the bridge. I paddled around for about an hour poking the kayak into the trees here and there (in the dark) until I found the right spot. I’m sure glad I had the boat rigged with nav lights and a good flashlight with me! Now I know to look for that pontoon boat. I sure hope that guy keeps it in the water there.
Off up “Clark’s Pocket” (pockets are coves and creeks are bayous here in Louisiana) and I paddle past the VFW hall.
There are usually a few vets out fishing from the bank and waving. I almost always have to answer the question: “What the heck IS that thing?” Those vets are a rowdy bunch. The day I took this picture they were getting ready for some sort of fund raiser and the band was getting set up.
Just past the VFW hall is the big part of the lake. I get to play in the waves kicked up by the wind and powerboats. The boat handles great in this stuff but I never feel that I’m going as fast as I do in quiet water.
Last stop on the tour, before I turn and head for home and a hot shower, is the Shreveport Yacht Club.
Once I figure out how to paddle the kayak in a suit, with a martini in my hand, I might stop by and say hello to the club members. Until then I’ll stick with the Vets and a cold beer now and again!
That’s about it for the three hour tour. Time to turn the long boat around and head back. Thanks for joining me on the voyage!
PS: Next week is the Cross Lake Floatilla. I’ll be out at the VFW hall with all the big boats – decorated as Mardi Gras floats. I’ll take some pics of THAT and send them on to you.