North Dakota
Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 9
It was cold when I woke up this morning.  It would have been a good day to stay in the
sleeping bag for a while, but I had a ride lined up at 7:00 and didn't want to be late.

I paddled to the boat ramp at Captain Kits Marina.  I went in and talked to the owner, who's
name I can't remember.  He gave me two cokes, a Snickers bar, and hauled my boat
around the dam free of charge.  I thanked him for his kindness and offered him twenty
dollars, which he refused before he took off.

Below the dam, the water was clear and very cold.  It hurt my feet to stand in it as I loaded
the boat.  The current was swift and the river was lined with tall bluffs.  I was looking
forward to the day's paddle.

I rounded the first bend and the river dumped into a wide open plain.  All I could see from
the boat were the tall mud banks on either side.  The river bed was three to four hundred
yards wide.  The channel wound from bank to bank through a maze of shallow sandbars
and islands.  I was covering a lot of extra miles to avoid running aground.  To make
matters worse, I was fighting a strong headwind.

I battled the wind and the shallows for as long as I could.  By 7:00 I was exhausted.  I feel
better after a good meal, but my shoulders are really burning after fighting the wind all day.

I am about twenty miles from Bismarck.  If things go reasonably well, I should be there by
noon tomorrow.  Some people from MDU will be providing me with a hot meal and a
shower once I get there, so I have a good reason to hurry.  It also sounds like there is rain
moving in, and I want to beat it there if at all possible.

I have covered 1000 miles of river now.  Considering the crappy weather I've had for the
last two weeks, I'm pretty proud of that.  The kayak doesn't leak yet and I haven't tipped
over.  I hope the next 1000 miles go as well, but with a little better weather.
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been talking about on the radio is the severe weather moving in.  There was a warm bed
waiting for me in Bismarck, so I intended to get there before the storm hit.

Once again, I had a headwind to contend with.  It wasn't as strong as yesterday's, but it
was enough to obscure the many sand bars, and make going tough.  I wound my way
through the shallow braided channel.  By 11:00 I was passing giant riverfront homes.  By
noon, I was in Bismarck.

I called Cindy Levi, my contact through MDU (
Montana Dakota Utilities, which owns the
company I work for).  She and her husband, Kevin, picked me up at the boat ramp.  We left
the boat and my gear in their garage.  Then they treated me to dinner at the Pizza Ranch.

Kevin took the afternoon off from his job at the DOT to haul me around town.  I caught up
on all of my errands, and that night, they treated me to dinner at Applebees.

Tonight I am freshly showered, wearing clean clothes, and will be sleeping in a real bed.  
I'm glad to be indoors, since it's starting to rain and the forecast calls for some really nasty
weather overnight and through tomorrow.
A storm raged all through the night.  I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to be indoors
each time I was awakened by thunder crashing outside.

The weather was still terrible this morning, so Cindy and Kevin invited me to spend the day
offer.  I slept in and spent the morning watching TV and listening to all the flood and wind
warnings throughout the state.  I was sure lucky to get to Bismarck when I did.

Kevin showed up at noon and took me to the buffet at Bonanza.  Then he brought me back
to his house to relax.  The weather was terrible.  I'm so glad I wasn't in the tent!

I spent the afternoon watching movies on HBO.  Kevin and some of his friends came
home in the afternoon.  We sat in the garage and drank beer for a while.  It finally stopped
raining, but the wind was still blowing at nearly 40 mph.  Bismarck got over 3 inches of rain
in the storm.

Cindy cooked sausage for dinner.  I ate my fill before heading to bed.  I'll be back on the
river first thing tomorrow morning.

I can't thank the Levi's enough for their hospitality.  They gave me shelter from the storm.  
They fed me, which is like feeding two or three normal people.  I needed to go.  They have
a beautiful home and they let a river rat into it.  They have to be great people to do
something like that.  I'm very thankful that I didn't have to ride out a storm with winds over
40 mph and three inches of rain in the tent!
Kevin and Cindy brought me to the river first thing this morning.  They stayed at the ramp
while I loaded the boat.  I thanked them to the best of my ability, although I could never
thank them enough, and shoved off.

I turned around and waved, and then went off on my own.  The weather was beautiful in the
early morning.  The sky was clear and the winds were calm.  The forecast called for a stiff
south wind, so I hurried to make some miles before it hit.

The wind picked up at 9:00 AM.  The river is still very wide with many sandbars to wind
around.  There was no place to get out of the gale.  I had to stop on several occasions for
an hour or more to let the worst of the wind pass.

I passed some very pretty bluffs and even saw another bobcat, but the waves were too big
to let go of my paddle and take pictures.

By 5:00 I was exhausted.  I passed some tall sandstone cliffs that were large enough to
offer shelter from the wind.  I decided to set up camp in their shelter.

It warmed up nicely today.  I bet it's nearly 80 degrees right now, and the radio says it's
supposed to be nice tomorrow.  I haven't heard them mention any wind for the next few
days, either.  Maybe I'll finally get a full day in on the water.
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