July 20, 1997
Black River, Washington, USA

When I woke up in the morning, Preston’s son, Avery, had a tasty breakfast of toast, potato and eggs made for me. After breakfast, I got a shower, said good-bye to the gang, got in my boat, paddled to the park, put my kayak on its little cart, then hit the road. It was a Sunday so fortunately there wasn’t much traffic.

In the first twenty minutes, I had three people holler stupid stuff out their car windows at me: "Hey..., you’re going the wrong way!" "The lake is in the other direction." It was a hot day, so after about a mile I stopped into a grocery store to pick up some fruit juice and a few other things. As I was walking toward the bread rack, a guy passed in front of me, and I got a feeling inside that he was going to ask me "Is that your kayak out-front?" He didn’t even look at me when he passed, but I just knew that’s what he was going to do. Right then, he turned around and walked back to me. You can guess what he said. I answered back, "I’m not sure how... But I knew you were going to ask me that! And Yeah... that’s my boat." It turns out that he lives right on the bank of the Black River, and would be glad to give me a place to stay for the night when I get there.

After he gave me directions, I headed down the highway, hauling my boat behind me. I pulled it by a rope tied to the front and kept switching hands as my arms got tired very quickly. Ater a while, I put my backpack on and used it as a harness. It worked so well, I was even able to jog.

As the sun got closer to the horizon, I started to think about whether or not I was going to make it to my destination before dark. When I realized I didn’t have my headlamp with me, I stopped at a farm house and called Preston to see if I left it back at his place. I specifically remember setting it aside the day before.

The phone was busy, so I sat down and talked with the old man who had answered the door. He told me he was impressed with the fact that I was portaging this section by foot, since this is actually a historical Indian Portage route. "In the field out in front of the barn, there is still a dent in the ground where the squaws(native indian women) used to drag the canoes." he told me. I wanted to see it for myself, so we went out to take a look.

He told me about his grandfather, who was one of the original settlers in the area, and the history behind the farm. I spent well over an hour with him engulfed in a living history lesson. He showed me the huge barn his grandfather built without a single nail, and the rock on his front lawn, after which the town of Little Rock was named.

Before leaving, I was able to reach Preston on the phone. He told me that my light was nowhere to be found at his place, so I hit the road again. A little way down the road, I met a kid around my age. "Do ya got any herb?" he asked. "Not today." I replied. He was coming from a hippy colony called "Rainbow Valley" which I passed a few minutes later.

By the time I put in at the Black River, the sun had been down for fifteen minutes. Afraid of being trapped in the dark, I paddled like a bat out of hell. Forty-five minutes later I arrived at Barry Dahl’s place, just as the last shred of light faded into the heavens.

I found Barry and his wife watching TV. As I was speaking with them, I noticed several stacks of bottle rockets and fire crackers next to the TV, and made a dumb off-the-cuff comment like, "You’re a big pyrotechnics fan, eh?". Barry then handed me a handful of each. While waiting for dinner to cook, I shot off bottle rockets to amuse myself. Twenty rockets later, it wasn’t fun anymore. I ate dinner and went to bed.