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Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Rooster's Crow

As the tiny pellets of rain sprayed our face like buckshot in the wind, the only thing we could see was an abandoned dock across the lake. We pulled in - this pirates dock even had a roof. With some tarps strung up to block the diagonal rain and creep out the well-to-do-neighbors, we landed into yet another little paradise. And it was dry. 

The rain, lightning, and wind had ceased for time being and it was a toss up whether or not to proceed. Our zest and valor told us to voyage through, despite the day's spontaneous ability to create instant stroms. The horizon looked clear, the skies held an erie promise. 

There was a constant crow of a rooster in the distance, and I couldn't help but give it a great piece of my attention. We really didn't have much to base our decision to continue so we used the rooster - The rooster symbolizes making cautious and careful decisions. So that was that. 

Sure enough the blanket of Black Death rolled over the sky and heaved with a blast. Safe in our new abode, eating little Debbie's, the sound of the rain buzzed, and the rooster still crowed. 

Some folks might find this unfortunate. When you live on the river, and you come across a dock with overhead protection, somewhere to park your vessel and stay dry, well that's like front row parking at some professional sports event. 

And you can't put a price on "dry" when living on the river. Everything you own is now a sponge, and when the moss starts to grow on your skin, and a tree can grow in thin air, dry land and cover are invaluable

As if it couldn't get any better, two of our followers, Chuck (left) and Walt, used the GPS on our website to find us, and brought us hammock-side breakfast the next morning right up to the dock.

Answers are not always so clear. Sometimes they are right on front of your face. Other times there may be no right or wrong, just a decision to be made. Should we have paddled through, Did the rooster crow as a sign? The skies looked clear and the water looked tempting, but my gut had a buzz to it; an intuitive nudge. Many cases call for us to use our senses beyond logic - so reach beyond the voice of reason and feel life through your heart rather than strain it through your mind. 


Cars brushed by us as we trekked along the shoulder of a US highway into town to resupply on food and water. Not much luck on hitching a ride there, and it was comical how many cars passed us without even giving us a glance. Maybe it was the amalgamation of Chuck Taylors, pineapple swim trunks, a travelers life vest, and a wide brimmed hat with a feather. 

The thermostat read 100 degrees but laughter was still in the air. Sweat and sunscreen concoct on our skin, our brains pickled, yet we still have the energy to muse on the foods we could eat if we had a fridge in the boat. 

"No more bars, no nuts, oh god no cliff bars!" - Nolan

"I would have a big salad, all greens," I said. 

The grocery store has some food for us, not too heavy in the produce department. Rice and vending machine pastries it is again. The universe always looks to balance; we did manage to hitch a ride back to our boat. 

The gas station next to the boat ramp would suffice to fill our usual 10 gallon jugs. We drink a gallon of water a day. I'm still only 80% water though. A conversation sprung up with the kind lady filling our containers and she turned out to be a diabtetic. And she spontaneously offered us fresh garden-picked cucumbers. Those greens I needed almost showed up too quick.

2 days earlier I told Nolan we should find goji berries (an uncommon Himalayan super fruit) when we hit civilization to keep our immune systems boosted and digestion regulated. The day after we ran into an older man at a camp ground who was concerned of our nutrition and energy levels on our trip. His demands were that we wait for him to run home and grab us some canoe sustenance. He came back with a pound of goji berries and a vial of chia seeds. As if he heard my invocation; the odds of some stranger having goji berries in the sticks of south eastern Tennessee is, well, zero. 

As you loosen the grip of control on life, the universe's synchronicity begins to grip you. The vast supply provides you with the things you need- sometimes before you even realize you need them. It's not so much the point of receiving things, but a demonstration you needn't worry so often about the unfulfilled. 

Too much valuable time is spent plotting out the completion and fulfillment of our needs when the trend of life shows they naturally drift into you. Don't steal the world of its spontaneousness, or it will steal your zest for life. And this is where the meditation begins; the myriad things come and go, and you become part of the rhythm of life. 

Energy is no longer wasted scrambling for what already is, but is carefully spent walking along your spiritual path -Learning and enjoying the life you have been given, watching the miracle and knowing you are part of it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wilderness Wisdom

Outdoor goods stores sell these nice little trinkets called "bear bells." Bear bells are marketed as loud clanky bells you wear to let bears know you are present so they can retreat back into the bush. The locals out here call them "dinner bells." They essentially let the bears know supper has arrived and dinner will be served soon. 

Another expendable purchase was the "bear mace" or pepper spray intended to defend off a bear attack. A local asked us
"Do you know the difference between bear poop made of a tourist and bear poop made of a local?"
"The tourist bear poop has little bells in it and smells like pepper."

It is okay to urinate in most places in the wilderness. But doing so into the wind is still not a bright idea.

Canned food is still not good. 

Always accept a free meal.

You can never have too much sunscreen. 

Don't take your shoes off in your friends tent or hammock. It's just plain cruel. 

Before you leave on a trip split your gear into a primary and secondary pile. Leave the second pile behind. 

Falcons hate their picture taken.

Stretch it out! 

"Stay calm, paddle on" - Jeff Wadley

Trust the universe and your gut instinct.

Monday, July 7, 2014


2 days of insane 4th of July week boat traffic, gusting head winds, and waves toppling over our bow - we were getting licked again by our enviornment. The sun ran high and hot, our skin pulled tight like leather, and no amount of water cooled us down. 

Hope was still high, but our bodies ached with exhaustion. As we drifted around a bend, just about on empty, we heard the sounds of salvation. Blasting AC/DC, laughing voices, barbecues, port-a-johns, the real deal. A small crowd came to shore to great us. 

When the first question your asked is, "so where do you guys take a crap?" You know they are some laid back people. They had noticed us from the newspaper and TV and pulled us right onto shore, putting us in chairs and placing big Ol' cheeseburgers on our laps. 

Dannyland is 5 lots connected together, compiled of campers, tents, houses, docks, canopies, BBQ, loud music, corn hole, good food, and even better people. Families of blood and fellowship, it was the archetype of southern kin.

They treated us so kindly, brought us right into their family. It was made sure we were rolling on the ground laughing within minutes. We were immediately made part of their family of 50. Us not staying the night was not an option. We danced and sang into the night. The hospitalities were unbelievably gracious. It gave me a warmth of being home; I diddnt feel like a river drifter for the night thanks to Dannyland. 

I'm still taken back by people's capacity to love and share. It's something to never take for granted. The night was not about jobs or things, but was about people, and treating each other good. They loved our stories, and encouraged our cause. Sharing was the cornerstone of their community, and it was made certain we were a part of that. Never underestimate someone's ability of be kind, and never underestimate yours. 

Thank you Dannyland. John Trip, you the man. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

New families

As we finished up a Tellico lake, we drifted into Fort Loudon Marina in Lenoir City, home of the famous Calhouns restaurant. We hadn't even sat down and the owner came up and snapped our picture. Apparently they knew who we were. 

They entire day was spent talking and sharing stories with all the boaters and workers. What amazed Nolan and I the most was everyone's generosity and accomodations. It was made sure we were well fed, put up for the night, and driven into town to resupply our food. 

The TV stations showed up and crowded around, it was certainly a new experience and I kept telling myself to remain humble. Humility has been such a valuable asset on this adventure. So many people have taken their time and kindness to let us know they believe in what we are doing. 

And it is a reminder to take the time. Take the time to chew your food, to take a breath of fresh air, to look someone in the eyes and say hello, and thank you, and see how their day is. Take the time to laugh, and cry, and to enjoy your life. Take the time to hold the door, give someone a hand, go out if your way, change someone's day, even their life. If you don't take the time you will only look back and wonder where it went.

Thank you Kyle for the ride into town, thank you Nicole and Calhouns staff and owner for taking care of us, thank you Edwin and Jean for letting us sleep on your captains deck, and thank you everyone at Calhouns for making us feel like family.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Both ABC and CBS covered Pete and Nolan on the news last night and this morning. Here are the links to check them out. Awesome coverage from WATE and Local 8Now.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The universe works in obvious ways

After a few wrenching days, everything we owned wet, intense storms, pletheras of chiggers and ticks, heat exhaustin, and no clean clothes - things were getting tough, but things can change in an instant. Our spirits have been revived. 

Today we arrived at the Sequoyah Lake Tellico Resort and Marina and were graciously welcomed by so many great people. The owner of the restaurant made sure we were well accommodated and hosed down with sufficent suds. 

One kind miss, Porsche, gave us a lucky 4 leaf clover she found, and another man in retirement overheard me looking for cheap sunglasses, and came out looking for us 3 miles up river to give me a spare pair that belonged to his wife whom passed last year. If that ain't love I don't know what is. So many wishes and blessings by the locals. We are truly grateful.....and camping on an island :) 

Just when you think no one is there, someone steps in. Everything we need is always taken care of, we just have to trust that power will be there for us. And it always shows up. Today was a great example of that.