I got up early, drove to Walmart, and bought a new pair of river shoes. After paying all of twelve dollars for my new sandals, I paused in the entryway to shed my pink, gray-duct-taped flip-flop and don my new shoes. It felt wonderful to be walking on a pair of shoes that were of the same height. When I got back to the Super Inn, Jerry and I repacked our gear and called our river angel to let her know we were on our way to retrieve the rest of our stuff–if it was still on the gravel bar that we’d bailed off of in the night.
Thursday, May 20th
When we got back to Juanita’s place, we put the canoe back in the river and paddled across the rain-swollen stream to the gravel bar we’d left much of our gear on the night before. All of our stuff was still there. The tent had collapsed, though, and everything was submerged in six inches of water that was standing in the bottom of the tent. My cell phone, which I’d left in a pocket of my sleeping bag, was dead–drowned in rainwater. Ouch.
We wrung out the sleeping bags, drained the water from the rest of the gear, and packed up. Then we loaded everything into the canoe and made the treacherous trip back across to Juanita’s. After dragging the gear in the canoe up the stairs into Juanita’s yard, Jerry and I proceeded to load everything into Jerry’s car. Finally, we strapped the canoe onto the roof and said our goodbyes.
We drove back up to where we’d left the Xterra, stopping for delicious barbeque sandwiches at a place at the intersection of Highway 59 and Highway 412. When we got back under the Highway 412 Bridge, we transferred my gear and the canoe to the Xterra and took our leave of each other. Then we went our separate ways–Jerry back to Texas, and me to South Carolina. We had a rough go of it on the Illinois River. It was by far the most physically challenging canoe trip that Jerry and I have yet taken. But it was certainly an adventure. Maybe next year we’ll try to find a river that’s not in flood.
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