Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hello everyone. Apologies for the delay between posts, and apologies in advance for the post that is about to take place, as it will be brief and sharp. We are camped 90 miles outside New Orleans, having stayed in Baton Rouge last night, and the trip will be over in two days. We are all very tired, and are planning to wake up at dawn tomorrow and paddle roughly sixty miles, a distance we have never done. That said, we are in good spirits. The last few days have been one last foray into the trance, full of people and heat and stories, of which I will tell you all tomorrow. But for now, today was especially surreal, and I thought I'd clue you in, as roughshod as it might be. Thank you for your tolerance, and thank you for reading. We hope you're all leading wonderful, impactful lives.

We woke up at seven A.M. in the living room of Jacob Savoie, a 22 year old LSU student who none of us know. We ended up there through the sister of a friend none of us know, who was notified of our trip by another friend who none of us know. He took us out drinking and we watched Old School on dvd. Obviously, quite accomodating.

But that is a story for tomorrow. What matters now is that we woke up at seven so Jacob could drive us before work back to our canoes, which we had stashed along the Baton Rouge bank, next to the Hollywood Riverboat Casino. Jacob drives an old, white Eclipse, and the five of us squeezed in, Danny's head pressed against the ceiling and Mippi stinking as usual in my lap, and we drove down the river bumping Juvenile, which Jacob swore he'd taken out solely to reminisce on his middle school years. Not sure if I believed him. Got down to the river, said goodbye, and headed for the casino to find food. Nowhere opened before eleven, however, and so we ended up wandering down an industrial, waterfront corridor for twenty minutes before realizing we were unlikely to find a sunshine cafe, or starbucks, or anything really besides gravel heaps and piping, and really, our lives were futile. We walked back to the casino. There, the woman at the front desk told us that the other casino, do!
wn the ri
ver, had a breakfast buffet. We paddled down. Got out of the canoes and left Mippi in her cage, walked up and passed a shady looking character, a vagrant maybe, sitting on a bench on the levee, eyeing our things. I introduced myself in the interest of self-protection. Turned out his name was Dodd, and he was a homeless Jehovah's Witness. I asked if there was any way I could help out, and he said a coffee would be great. "Watch our things," I said, "And I'll be back in forty-five minutes."

Ate breakfast, got Dodd a coffee, walked back. Talked with Dodd about Sodom and Gomorrah, said goodbye, walked down to the canoes. The second we get there, Mippi lets out a screech heretofore unheard, a sound terrible and tortured and angry, a noise you'd never imagine she held. I pull her out of her cage and she is panting with her mouth open, frothing at the mouth. Dehydrated maybe? Heat exhaustion? Food poisoning? I have never seen a more feral, savage looking thing. Her whole cage was covered in piss, shit, vomit. She wouldn't take water. So we dunked her in the water to cool her off. By then, it was later than we would liked, so despite her pained protests, we stuck her in the canoe and pushed off. She went crazy. Started stumbling around like she'd lost it, letting out the worst noise you can imagine, whimpering, hyperventilating, acting like she might die. Fifteen feet from shore, she climbed up onto the gunnels and jumped clear out of the canoe, and started swimming!
for shor
e. I jumped in after her, shoes and paddle going everywhere, and pulled her out.

Back in the canoe, she still wouldn't stop, like something was not just awful but intolerable, and we are feeling awful because we are awful owners, we are bad people, subjecting a poor kitten to such torture. We actually talk about simply pulling over and calling the Animal Humane Society and having her taken away, accepting our failure and her right to a better existence, but eventually decide against it and instead pull over to shore and let her get her bearings. Slowly, sanity returns. She huddles in the shade as if hiding from the trauma, the demons receding, that hideous noise reduced to a whimper, me petting her and trying to get her to drink, until she is somewhat calm and we can go again.

By now, it is quite late, too late to make the miles we had planned, but off we go, paddling down the river, doing that thing that we do. It is hot and we've run out sunscreen, and we paddle into the day, past barges and oil refineries and now huge ocean-going ships now, with chinese lettering on the sides, tranced out on plans for the future, where we will be, what we will do, about New Orleans, what we will do, the people we will see, about the river itself, drawing now to a close. Stop in a town, the name of which is eluding me, and go on a grocery and sunscreen run, and fill up our water, meeting a man in the process named Stan Richardson who shows us a rusty tap and takes our picture and says, very slowly, "Well! Minnesota! Wow! Now ain't that something!" We load up our things and go.

On the water, we hug the shore while the barges haul up and down the main channel. There are wakes all day. They crack against the front of the canoe and toss us up and down, Mippi recovering but obviously displeased with the inconvenience, trying to sleep the whole thing off. She is more displeased though when a sudden, violent and acute rainstorm blows across the river, drenching the whole damn scene. It is the bizarrest thing in the world. All around there is blue sky, on the other bank of the river there is blue sky, and then there is us, in the middle of a ridiculous rainfall. It rains so hard. The bottoms of the canoes fill up with water, and the raindrops hurt. Danny and Ryan charge into it, singing knock-off Irish shanty songs, blinded. We are in the middle of it, the wind blowing, water falling, it's absolutely crazy, etctera etcetera, and then suddenly it is gone, there is no more rain, it is blue sky again. The sun is setting behind a cloud. So picturesque. In fac!
t, I stop
and take a picture. Aw. The Mississippi River. Etcetera etcetera. Like that, our things are drying, the moment is gone. Then suddenly behind us, emerging from the fog, the Chinese ocean-liner. It comes steaming down the river like a ghost ship, emerging from the fog as I said, not a crew member in sight. Ryan and Danny are so close to it that they actually have to pull off to shore. Kevin and I paddle down to a flat spot and stand gawking at it as it silenty rumbles on, in a language we don't understand, going somewhere we couldn't possibly know. I take pictures. It takes no notice, and on it goes.

We decide to camp where Kevin and I stopped. We pull up the canoes, and let Mippi run around, already oblivious to the fact that this morning she thought she was going to die, that she in fact almost did, taking a suicidal leap into the river from the canoe with a terrifying screech, meow she went and in, and now prancing about, scratching her claws on a stick. We make dinner quickly and set up the tents with the sun setting, wondering at the whole damn thing and how this river does that, how it just throws you every time. We finish eating and sit in the dusk, thinking little, except to note that gosh it is all soon to be over, that there are two days, and then New Orleans, and July, hardly come and already gone so soon, and we go straightaway to bed.

And so we continue on.


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Jamie-Lee said...

i wonder who's going to play Mippi in the film version of all of this.

i wonder who's going to play me, reading this blog from my little office at the writers house...

jacob said...

of course it was old cd. i ain't no biatch. y'all were jamming it too, dont lie.

anyway, hope y'all made it back to wherever y'all were heading safely.

peace out. i'll get my payback later.

peace out home skillets

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