Steve Downs told me that I would be an ungrateful wretch if I missed this opportunity.
Kathy Manley decided that I will learn to like current and fast water.
The Journey for Justice took to the water today. Paddling a canoe is like walking with one’s hands. We had quite an adventure boating in the Susquahanna today!
My husband, Dan Van Riper, Steve Downs, Kathy Manley, Mari Matsuo and I got into boats and put into the Susquahanna at Wells Bridge. Oh my goodness – the Susquahanna is beautiful. Like a primeval forest. I had no idea it would be so beautiful! Dan took photos of the incredible scenery.
We were in four kayaks and I was in my Hornbeck canoe. At first, I was not happy with the swift water, but, I followed Kathy and started to get used to the idea. Kathy really likes the swift water and rapids. Our goal was 25 miles today, to make up for the time I had lost due to the extreme weather. We were hoping for Afton. To get to Afton, we needed to pass through Unadilla, Sidney and Bainbridge.
The river was high, and the currents were quite different from anything I was used to. Dan and I have never done a trip like this, where one paddles down a body of water and not paddle back to the beginning again – because it is not possible due to the swift currents.
We wanted to hurry to Afton as thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon.
Mari was quite a trooper – she had never been in a Kayak before. But, she got the hang of it quickly.
However, there were many downed trees on the side of the river. Steve called them “sieves”. These trees can be quite dangerous.
As we came in to Sidney, Mari got swept up in a strong current, and her boat was tipped sideways and trapped against a tree. I went over to help her, only to have my canoe caught in the same strong current. My canoe tipped sideways and filled with water. I went under and when my life vest pushed me back up, my head was stuck in the water under a tree. I was not a happy camper! Somehow, I got out from under the tree limb and I was able to stand up and cling to a branch to avoid being swept away any further.
Dan came over to help us, only to be caught in the same current. He went under too, but, he relaxed and his life vest brought him to the surface, and he was able to help me to shore and free a couple of the boats. At this point, an member of the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department was coming down the steep bank. We climbed the very steep bank. Once we arrived at the top, we were forbidden to go back down. Neighbors on a porch across the street offered us a place to sit, some ice tea and conversation. I think the entire Sidney Volunteer Fire Department came for our water rescue!
Dan and I were fine – however, Dan lost his glasses and camera (along with all the beautiful photos) and I lost my light-weight paddle. And, my canoe, alas was destroyed.
We did not know exactly what was happening with the others. Steve and Kathy had not capsized at all and completely avoided the area with the strong current. Mari was safely with them.
Steve rescued the petitions with the signatures that I am carrying to the court in Binghamton. (Have you signed yet? Please do! http://www.change.org/petitions/a-victim-of-mistaken-identity). The petitions are drying out as I write this.
Eventually, we reunited with Steve, Kathy and Mari. One of the neighbors offered to drive Dan to our car, so Dan could get a pair of sunglasses he had in the car and to put my damaged boat on the car. Mari decided she would go home.
Then, Steve says – lets get going! So, we got back in the kayaks and set off again. I was extremely careful to avoid all trees. We paddled fast, and finally arrived in Afton at 3:30. Gary Doupe greeted us at the boat landing. More cars/boats were shifted around and we went to dinner in Afton. While Gary and I were waiting for the others to arrive, Fred Childs called on my phone and he was in Ninevah! He drove over to have dinner with us and join the Journey for Justice again.
Gary’s wife, Elaine is a retired nurse. After Gary, Fred and I arrived at the Doupe residence, I took a shower and Elaine agreed to re-bandage my blister. She only had one word of advice for me about the blister – don’t walk on it.
Oh, so frustrating! I feel great! I really like taking these long walks. However, my bandaged foot will no longer fit in any of my shoes. This makes walking difficult. My foot does not hurt – unless I try to squeeze it into a shoe.
Fred and Gary went out and Fred bought me more moleskin, cheap canvass shoes two size bigger than I wear, soft socks and heel cups. So, now I have some shoes I can walk outside with. However, I cannot walk miles in these cheap canvass shoes. Or any shoes.
I walked a gazzillion miles to train for my Journey for Justice and never had a blister. Why now should I get one? I realize that I walk on sidewalks in the city – now I am walking on the side of the road. Sidewalks are flat and good for pedestrians. Road shoulders are not made for pedestrians – they are made for water run-off; they are sloped. This slope causes me to walk with the right foot slightly higher than the left. I think it is this slope that gave me the blister.
One thing I am learning from this trip is that there are no pedestrian accommodations for long distance walking. Walking into even small cities, like Otego, can be quite miserable, due to the sloped shoulder, crumbling shoulder, and sometimes, non-existant shoulder. And, there are the trucks and inattentive drivers. Why should walking be so difficult? It is so much fun, yet traveling from one little city to another is quite a challenge.
Jack Gilroy has offered to walk for me tomorrow. I will gratefully accept his offer. The Journey for Justice, besides being about bringing signatures on petitions to the court, is about people coming together to work for justice. I am so happy so many people wish to become involved.
Thank you all!
PS – If you want to join up with us, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 518-366-7324.
PPS – And, if you can, please come to our press conference on Tuesday, July 23 at 11:00 AM at 15 Henry Street, Binghamton. We have a great lineup of speakers. Please join me as I deliver the petitions I have been carrying to the court.