The River Rat Ranger hits the River
So the journey began. The RRR and Mrs. RRR returned from the trip to Dallas and loaded the "new" little jon boat into the Suburban and all the gear and left for the river. We drove to the town of Pella, Iowa and north to a bridge over the South Skunk River. It was in flood stage. First we unloaded all the gear beside the bridge. How do I accumulate all this stuff? Then we slid the jon boat out and down along the bridge abutment, across a barbed wire fence and down a mud bank to the river. We slid the boat in and I tied the bow rope to a small tree stump and started backing down the bank. As I stepped into the boat there was a load "pop" and the rope went slack and I fell into the boat almost rolling it over. Water slopped over the gunnel, soaking me. The stump had pulled out by the roots! Mrs. RRR dived on it and grabbed it before boat, stump, and I floated away downstream.
She found a better place to secure the bow line and began dragging the camping and boating gear through the mud. Soon with the help of Bay Toe Ven who ran about getting in the way barking and whining and generally being under foot, we had the boat loaded. A quick kiss from Mrs. RRR and I was off.
At last! Headed down river and into Nature and away from the things of man. It was a good, good feeling. The once a year quest I live for was at last beginning. A blue heron waited around the first bend and flew off squawking as I approached. A vulture circled overhead. "Not today bro.." I called out... "not today". It was 1615 or 4:15 p.m. to non-rangers. The clouds over head tumbled and rearranged themselves, the sunshine glowed on the water and all was good with the world. I began watching for a place to spend the night. The handiest on a river trip is a high sand bar. Being part of the river, there is no issue of property rights. It is more open to the breeze with less infestation of mosquitoes and gnats and has easy access back to the water. But this was a time of flooding and most of the sandbars were under water or washed away. I started looking to the steep river banks for a place to tie up.
I became somewhat worried. It was getting later and later, eventually almost 2000 (8:00 p.m.) and dusk was descending, when I found a tree leaning out over the river and footholds among the roots going upward. I swung the boat about and fought the current to it and grabbed on and lashed the boat to the tree trunk. Then I scrambled upward. It was an ideal spot. I was on the edge of a farmer's field. The field had flooded earlier this spring and he had chosen not to plant it. So I had a flat, sandy area to pitch my tent. I hurried to get the gear from the boat. Carrying each bucket or bag upward, then sliding back down for more. The mosquitoes descended in fury, so I quickly put on my canvas long sleeved shirt and doused my hands and neck with Deet and kept them somewhat at bay. Once the tent was up, I made supper. Then I called Mrs. RRR and checked in. She had herded the old Suburban home safetly and was glad to know I was ok.
I wriggled into the tiny one man tent and listen for a moment to the hum and song of the insects and river creatures and the night and fell asleep smiling.
It was the end of day One.