Monday, July 31, 2006

A wonderful week comes to an end – Melanie Cheney
The River Refuge at Alligator Cove
River Mile 343
July 29th, 2006

So here we are at Alligator Cove on our last day of the trip. Stew Miller and Janie Breyfogle cooked a lovely organic breakfast with coffee, espresso, and the works! A big thanks to Captain Brey who allowed a bunch of stinking, low energy, river rats camp at his wonderful place for two nights! It was great.

We boated up river Saturday morning to La Benite Park for our Boats & Brauts event (or as we've been calling it, Boats and Brats...after our own moody & grumpy selves.) Vicky and Mike Richmond helped put together an awesome event. Being a native plant person, I was so pleased that there were native plant people there, and rain garden extraodinaire's. They auctioned off some beautifully painted rain barrels by local artists, while our guys took people out on boat rides. In the meantime, the rest of us lounged around in the shade eating brauts, listening to music, and watching some really talented jugglers who rode around on unicycles.

As it wound down, I wanted to get out on a boat. Tim told me I was welcome to take one out if I felt ready enough to become a certified boat driver. After months of training, and a week of navigating this unpredictable river, I told him I was ready.

Stew hopped in with me, and then 5 people came walking down the bank. These people included organizers, Blue River people, the guitarist and one of the jugglers. I was thrilled to be able to take them out on the river, some who had never even been out on it in a boat! It was so exhilarating and cool. We had great conversation about our natural resources and what we do. The ride was incredibly smooth and pleasurable, one I will never forget.

Back at camp, everyone went into lounge mode, now that we were officially done doing good deeds. Anthony caught the fishing bug, and finally caught himself a catfish. And Tim & Dan slept in front of the Cardinal's game, one slumped over in each direction, looking like they were dead.

Stew never took a break, preparing for his dinner for 40. Some friends of Alligator Cove pulled a bbq grill up, and helped cook. They actually cooked us steaks to order! So tasty, we stuffed ourselves silly. Mike Richmond gifted me with a pint of Jim Beam and we passed it around.

After dinner we all meandered down to the boat dock for a sunset cruise. Anthony was of course already in the boat, as he had become one with the boat over the two weeks. If he wasn't driving it around, he was sitting in it , fishing off of it, or sleeping in it. Heidi finally made it in, and they were out tooling around in the cove. Out of the blue, and much to Heidi's surprise I'm sure, a crazy fish (flying carp) jumped in the boat. Heidi quickly moved to the front as we all yipped and hollered from shore. While Boudreaux got his whacking stick out attempting to whack the flopping massive fish, Heidi couldn't take it anymore and dove off of the boat, head first, clothes and all. It was hilarious! Unfortunately, my life jacket got slimed in the process. Uggghhhh!

After waiting around for everyone, we finally took the Saskia, the Char, and the Stous' houseboat upriver to a big sandbar we had camped on 2 nights before and played like children in the big muddy river one last time.

We headed back to Alligator Cove, navigating the dark river exquisitely, and watched the setting crescent moon. Later we all ended up on the deck overlooking the water, and had a really nice circle session, in which we went around and praised each other and what we do, passing the maple twig.

What an amazing experience and chance of a lifetime. I've learned and experienced so much, sharing this life energy with my closest friends, and my beloved Big Muddy. Instead of feeling drained and worn out like most of the crew, I came back energized and happy.


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