Day 4

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Wake up you little turkeys! We stayed at the Best Western in St. Clairsville last night. 

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We had about a 20 minute drive from the Best Western back the the marina where I finished yesterday. The family waved goodbye and I paddled away.

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The conditions yesterday were ideal for getting in 30 + miles and the first hour felt similar. 

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The sun found the one part of my body that wasn't covered. It got badly sunburned on my leg yesterday so today I put my map over it. 

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The water level was much lower today. I could actually see the bank in some spots. 

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Barge traffic yesterday and today was nonstop. In fact, I don't see anything but barges. At times I feel like a squirrel trying to cross a busy intersection.  I always keep a safe distance but today I tried racing a barge to combat the boredom. I kept up with him for about 5 minutes but my vessel is powered by the Best Western breakfast buffet and his is powered by Liquefied Natural Gas. I lost! 

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The river changes constantly. Its unpredictable. One minute, it feels like a lake. The next, an ocean. The vast majority of today, I fought debris, wind and the flow of the river was not on my side. Several times I thought I saw Nessie the Lock Ness monster up ahead but it was only a tree floating down river. My shoulders were burning. 7 hours of endless paddling and creative strokes to find a different muscle group in my back. My energy was zapped. This felt like a 100 + mile day on the bike I had five years ago in Texas. My muscles reminded me of my kids on the way up to Pittsburgh, "how much longer until we get there?". 

One stretch of river is easy. One stretch is grueling. That's life and we have to view it from the lenses of adventure and thankfulness. I could focus on all the bad things today or the bad things that stole my Dad away. I've found that I can paddle a little farther and faster when I focus on HOPE.  

Romans 5:3-4 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 

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At times it felt like I was going backwards today. I finally got to rest for a little bit inside the Hannibal Lock. These Locks freak me out to begin with so I wasn't loving the name. 

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Today was a long day but it's built character. My reward was seeing my family down Fishing Creek. I had to paddle by several pods of intimating fishermen with cutoff sleeves and cigarettes barely hanging on to their bottom lips. I didn't make eye contact with them, I just foucused on a good thing - my family;)