July 6, 7
Mississippi Trek

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7.06.06
The river is now very deep and wide.  Most of the sediment that gave the muddy
Mississippi its color has dropped out, leaving the water a deep clear green.  There is
almost no current and sandbars are few and far between.  Most of the bank is lined with
rip rap, and the parts that aren't, are often bottomless mud.

The peace I so much enjoyed on the lower river before Baton Rouge has been replaced
by the roar of big diesel engines on the towboats, and the noise of busy machinery in
the factories that line the shores.  Gone too, are the seemingly endless uninhabited tree
lined banks I had come to love.  They have been replaced by the chimneys of factories
and refineries spewing foul smelling smoke and fire into the atmosphere.

I am completing this last stretch of river as a matter of principle.  Aside from the initial
thrill of seeing ocean liners, there is nothing down here that compares with the beauty of
the rest of the river.

The thunderstorms continued today.  The first came at a very bad time.  Two big ships
had just passed one another and the water was already rough.  The wind picked up and
the waves quickly became big enough to make me nervous.  The only place to land was
on the rip rap.  I gave the boat quite a pounding by the time I got out and drug it onto the
rocks.

It then began to pour.  I stood in a downpour for well over an hour.  I couldn't have
possibly been any wetter.  When the rain finally let up I got back on the water.  It rained
off and on for the rest of the day just to make sure I didn't get too dry.

As I was nearing my campsite, someone yelled at me from a tugboat.  I looked over to
see that I was being mooned.  This has happened to me twice, now.  I wonder if it's
some strange tradition to moon paddlers.

After my dad died, I got one of the worst colds I've ever had.  I completely lost my voice
and didn't feel up to doing anything.  I got the token invitation to a few family
get-togethers, but turned them down.  I would have liked to have seen my family from out
of town, but it wasn't worth dealing with the three women.

I was completely left out of the planning of the funeral, but I wrote a very nice eulogy.  By
the big day, my voice still hadn't recovered, but it was good enough to say what needed
saying.  When the time came I went up to the podium and read what I had written.

I got through it without crying and did an excellent job of reading.  It was one of the
toughest things I have ever done, but then, just like now, if I give it my all I can do
anything.  My dad would have been proud.

The service was on a Saturday.  I planned on returning to work on Monday.  My dad's
girlfriend informed me that everyone would be coming to the house on Monday to get
what was left to them in the will.  She had a bullshit story about Monday being the only
day that could possibly work.  What she really wanted was to snoop and steal things
while I was away.  I told her we would do it on Sunday.

After much bitching and whining from the three women it turned out Sunday would work.  
Everyone showed up at the house and she had to run the whole show.  My dad collected
antique telephones and each of the family members were to get one.  This was all that
needed to be done.

When all the phones were divvied out my uncle and my cousin were the only ones who
seemed to give a shit that it tore my heart out to see my dad's things hauled off like that.

It was time to confront the bitch.  I asked her when she was going to het her stuff out of
my house.  She compulsively bought food and the kitchen and laundry room were both
so full of old groceries it was hard to walk.

She said it would take months to sort through all the stuff.  She really only wanted
access to the house.  She didn't want any of that shit any more than I did.

I told her it would take one day.  She said she was taking the refrigerator as if that would
change everything and I would give her a key to the front door.  I told her I would get a
new refrigerator.  She would only have one day to get her things.

I said all of this in front of everyone.  She was pissed.  After our exchange no one felt like
sticking around and I was glad to have them gone.  It felt good to know the evil would
soon be out of my life.

I went to the lawyer's office to pick up a copy of my dad's will.  That's when I found out
there was still plenty of evil in store.
Mississippi River Quest - Page 16
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7.07.06
My last day on the big river.  As I write this I am twelve miles from New Orleans.  Two
hours of paddling will bring me to the completion of my journey and my dream.

Today the weather was better than it has been.  It did rain, but only briefly and no
lightning.  There was a bit of a breeze today and with all the boat traffic I was hitting
some pretty big waves.  In many places I was able to paddle between long rows of
moored barges and the shore.  This was nice as it protected me from both the waves
and the traffic.  Most of the time I was forced to paddle out in the open and hope for the
best.

My journey won't end tomorrow.  I will be meeting some people who live in town (a
friend's daughter and her husband) to see what Katrina has done.  I have never met
these people and can't help but feel I am imposing, even though they seemed very nice
the times I talked to them on the phone.  At least there is someone waiting for me at the
end.

Dave and Donna can't come down to pick me up until the sixteenth, so from New
Orleans my paddling friend, Travis, will take me to Gulfport, Mississippi where I will
spend the rest of my time leisurely exploring the Gulf of Mexico.  I am sure this, too, will
be an adventure and I will share it on my website.

Tonight I stopped early to enjoy my last night with the big river and a bottle of brandy.

When I picked up the paperwork at the lawyer's office I found that my dad's girlfriend had
been quite busy in the days leading up to his death.  Without my knowing, the will had
been changed to leave her $50,000 instead of the $10,000 she was originally to get.  
Worse yet, there was a hand written list of every single item of value in the house.  The
list was in her hand writing and next to each item was either her name or that of one of
my aunt's.  I was left nothing.  It was signed by my dad on my birthday.

If I had seen her that day I would have killed her.  I went home and did the only thing I
could.  I cried and asked the Lord for help.

The next day I returned to work.  Dave Pribyl stopped by and gave me $500 to help me
out since I hadn't been working for quite a while.  I never asked for the money.  He gave
it to me because he cared about me.  After all the greed I had seen in the last few days it
was wonderful to have someone give me something and show me love instead of hate.  
I have repaid the money, but can never repay the kindness.
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