Monday, July 16, 2007

Some simple observations:

We are in Louisiana now. We crossed over from Arkansas yesterday. We have now been out here for fifty days, and have paddled through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and now Louisiana. We will be in New Orleans in two weeks or less.

One thing you learn after a while is that the river always flows fastest around the outside of a bend. Even though it may seem faster to take a shorcut and paddle straight across, or hug the inside of the turn, it's almost always the other way around. This is something you simply come to accept. Yet even though we know this, we still will manage to mess it up. We stare across and the other shore looks so close, and we think to ourselves that if we just cut across here, we will save ourselves such trouble. And so we cut across, and the current dies, the other canoe flies past, and we relearn the lesson all over again. The interesting thing is that the person most likely to forget all this is the person steering in the back of the second canoe, playing catch-up to the first. They see the bend, and the first canoe so far ahead, and a chance to make up lost ground. And in doing so they fall even further behind. This is what is called a metaphor.

It is still humid, but slightly cooler now, balmy even, and there are pelicans, and you can feel the ocean in the air. You are getting closer! it says, you are so close you are almost there! Meanwhile, water levels have risen dramatically, to the point where most sandbars have disappeared, and bends in the river have turned into bays. The Arkansas River poured in at floodlevels, carrying the load of the thunderstorms down, the water a strict and muddy pink from the caved-in shore. We paddle alongside branches of trees, logs, the trees themselves, still living, bobbing in the froth of the current, and Ryan tries to climb one. He fails, but in his attempt he tilts the canoe enough that Mippi's cage slips off and into the water. The cat floats with a panicked look in her eye, wondering how she ended up with owners so stupid, bewildering really, and perhaps also if this is it, if this is how she is going to die, slowly and helplessly sinking into the Mississippi River, goddamn t!
year old idiots, keep me locked in this cage all day and can't even keep the cage out of the water, and now I am paying for their carelessness, with my life, no less, how horrible, how fitting and horrible, bastards... We fish her out and she settles down. In half an hour, she can't even remember what happened. And the tree keeps floating downstream.

P.S. to the Marrinin's: if you are reading this, please email danny so he can get his sweatshirt back. He appreciates this greatly! His email is


famille stoa said...

Welcome in Louisiana, the last leg of your journey!
Be even more careful now that you are closer to the goal!
Tell Ryan to quit climbing trees or electrical towers!!!! And tell him to contact his cousin in New Orleans!
Be safe!

Dudley said...

Word from a devotee.

It is the simple observations that usually go by unnoticed, and not surprisingly, it is the ones that end up mattering the most.

At times, even with a simple fact blatantly standing in front of our faces, we still choose to ignore its existence.

On July 3, 2007 Carlos Slim's wealth was estimated at 67.8 Billion Dollars. Paradoxically, the richest man in the world is a Mexican. I sometimes wonder how he sleeps at night? Or better yet, I wonder he sees in the face of the woman that stands at the red light begging for money with one child walking next to her and the other baby hanging on her back, wrapped in a cloth as if on a hammock.

On a lighter note, Mippi is most definitely welcom at our spot... but then again, I am not sure such a free spirit will be at peace kept behind some doors.

Keep rowin' bihotch!


Priya said...

Hi Gabe,

I'm the writer at the School of Arts and Sciences whom you spoke to a while back. I see you're almost at end of your journey, and I'd love to talk to you about it for the story. If you have a chance to talk while you're on the river, please give me a call at 215-898-5262.


Jamie-Lee said...


Your pal PH has asked me to post some info re: his upcoming visit. He says he'll be in town on thursday afternoon or early eve, and that in the meantime, you should check your email whenever you can and leave him an email in response about where you'll meet, if you don't otherwise
connect by phone.

All's well in Philly. Maybe I'll go visit John at Avril 50 for ya today ... Oh, Janine will be visiting town later this week, so all hell's about to break loose.

famille stoa said...

Do you have any pictures????
Any alligators yet?

markie said...

Greetings from "hunkered down in AZ".

How do you all feel, seeing the end grow near? Anxious to keep on?...anxious to move on?

You may be entering alligator country. In the swamps, yes. In the river, don't know. Plan to call Tulane tomorrow. If you see one, I will be so jealous, (as long as he's friendly). Remember, I predicted the carp!

Just in case, and especially as you near NO, don't stand or camp close to shore. That's where they look for supper. I also might rethink an up-and-coming capsize.

Tell Danny thanks for the call. I was in Portland and drove around Reed. Gorgeous. My AC went belly-up, so we're hanging out in the bedroom, the swamp cooler, dog, lizards and me.
stay safe.

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