Last night we stayed in the Comfort Inn and Suites in Marietta Ohio. I have now mastered the waffle machine and finding the most amazing people around them. Meet Mark. Mark reminded me of my Dad with his warmth and kindness. His story is an adventure. He went from being a nurse, taking care of the elderly to changing his career path at the age of 39. He went back to school so he could mentor kids in elementary school with autism. He said a lot that stuck with me. His approach to teaching was unorthodox, just like my Dad. His secret was simply to just love the kids as they were. Whenever he saw a kid that looked sad, he said he would go to any length to make them smile, even if it took doing a cartwheel. He's also an expert on the Ohio River. He guided me a overview of it's history and the changes to natural energy that are happening to this current day. He told me here is nothing like this great river. It's bigger than the Mississippi River when they collide so he said, "it doesn't become the Mississippi, it just lakes a left". Mark did cartwheels that morning for me and my family. Like my Dad, I'll never forget Mark and his energy for life.
Today was our shortest day in the trip with only 15 miles so we didn't have to rush. We started at the Marietta Harbor, a perfect place to launch. They even had ice cream for the kids.
The family helped me load in and I headed towards Blennerhassett Island where I would setup camp for the night. After a few minutes on the river, I quickly realized that the extra supplies added a lot of weight which significantly slowed me down. I've been sore for days but my arms felt dead today. I wasn't able to accelerate as much, so I hugged the shoreline and paid closer attention to the barge lane.
After a few rough days, the river released her fist and gave me smooth water the entire way.
I made it to Blennerhassett Island and waited for Sarah and the kids to meet me there by ferry. This Island has a lot of history but we simply didn't have enough time to fully experience it as a family.
Mark told me all about Blennerhasett Island. He actually used to work here so he told me to look for Miles. He told me to look for a guy with a gun on his hip. He told me to tell him about my journey and he would surely take care of me. Shortly after made it to the island, I found someone who fit the description. I said, "excuse me sir, are you Miles?". He had a grin on his face and he said, "Miles is off today. My name is Craig". Craig was one of the highlights of the trip so far. He loved my adventure and put me under his wing. He gave me permission to camp on the Island, gave me a free meal for dinner and introduced me to Tom. Tom is the guy who lives on the island in a log cabin.
They caught the last ferry of the day so we only had a little more than an hour to explore the island. The captain said I could ride it back with my family because he was coming back to dock the ferry on the island. All the kids got a turn playing captain and making announcements over the PA. I was slightly embarrassed until I saw how much the other passengers were enjoying it.
I said goodbye to the family until I will see them again in Gallipolis Ohio on Sunday evening.
Once the ferry docked for the night, I jumped on a small boat and they took me back to my kayak. I asked them what animals I might see and they told me fox, coyotes, deer and maybe a bear. When they said a bear, they laughed and drove off. Great!
My view from camp site. There are two deer that come close enough to investigate my hammock and five finger shoes.
I used the paper bag, empty from the dinner Craig provided, as a fire starter.
You can see my white tailed friends in the background.
Shortly after I was getting ready for bed, Tom came to check on me. He told me stories of the island and was extremely hospitable. He told me that the island gets pitch black at night, only lit by the fire flies. It was so dark that when I opened my eyes, it felt darker than when they were closed. When my Dad passed away, I felt like I was on a pitch black island but a distant sound of a train reminded me that I will never truly be alone.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”