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Current River Adventure, 2009
Day 01, Monday, July 13, 2009.....

As I pulled into the gravel parking area at the Two Rivers Canoe Rental location, I could see that Anita's employee(s)
were way ahead of me. There in the parking area set the big white Two Rivers van with a canoe trailer attached to it,
and on the trailer was two canoes. One of them was the green one I would be using for this this two week adventure. It
was easy to see because it had the name  TOM BALLARD in big letters on both sides of it. I knew this was going to be
a great trip!! I was here, the canoe was loaded and ready to go. Now all I had to do was go in the office and announce
that I was here and ready to go. Anita and her crew would take over from there. Inside, I was greeted with a big hug
and a big smile  from Anita. I think she said “ Are your ready”???? I was!!! I paid her the amount we had agreed on and
did all the official stuff. Since there were two canoes on the trailer, that meant someone else was going in the same
direction I was.. But how far.. Turns out it was a father and son team. They were from Ohio I think it was. They had
been coming here for years to float the Current. Later I would ask how they knew about this river. They told me they
were big on canoeing and had seen a story about the Current River years before, in one of their canoe magazines.
They had driven down, tried it, loved it, and have been coming back each year since. Today they would be riding with
me and going to the same put-in point, Baptist Camp, the upper most official put-in point for the outfitters.
The drive to the put-in point took about an hour, but the time seemed to fly by. Brandon, the driver, and the man with
the young son, did a great job of chatting away and exchanging stories while we weaved our way though the winding
back roads to the put-in point. If I remember correctly, we arrived at around 11 AM.. Brandon unloaded our canoes and
gear. The man and his son, loaded up pretty fast and were on their way.. I on the other hand was much slower, as I
wanted to do the memory photo thing, etc.. Brandon helped me get this accomplished, by being my photographer.
When Brandon was gone, I started loading the canoe.. I had done this many times, so there was no mystery to where
things would go, but I was in no hurry.. Then about the time I was to shove off, a couple of park employees arrived to
sit beside the river and eat lunch.. Super, someone else to chat with.. The two men were born an raised in the area, so
I was able to learn more about the area from them. I had planned to be on the water at 12 noon, but it was probably
more like 12:30 PM, when I actually cast off in the mother ship. This was exciting!! After only a few yards on the river, I
knew it was going to be fun.. The river in this area is narrow and swift, but not a problem... I tried to capture enough
images on the trip to be good memory shots for me, and enough visual shots so that you could get a real sense, or
feel, of the river. The camera I chose for this trip was the Canon PowerShot SX1-IS.. It did great.. The little digital
camera that I started my digital photography with, a Canon A95, would have been great for this trip, but I had worn it
out and had to retire it.. The best feature on the A95 was the swivel monitor on the back. With this, I could do better
angle shots, and I could photograph myself much easier than with any other camera I knew of. When the A95 was
dying, I had to find the same feature again.. Bad was the fact that Canon was doing away with this feature.. But, good
for me was that their latest PowerShot had this feature on it.. So, with the A95 sitting home alone, retired from doing
adventures, its replacement, the SX1-IS and I were off to see the world!!! Besides the camera, I am carrying a Gramin
GPS. The Model I am using is the Vista HCx.. Remember this, it will be important later in this story. The other item to
make note of is that I am also carrying a Sony digital voice recorder to keep my notes on.. And the item that will be my
security net and connection to the outside world is my SPOT. The manufacture calls it a “SPOT Satellite GPS
Messenger”. If you read my story about the backpack trip I did in 2008, you will understand why I now carry this SPOT
thing with me everywhere I go. If you want to read more about this device, which I strongly recommend, go to www.
findmespot.com.

Since I do many of my adventures as solo trips, and they are generally about two weeks in length, I have had few
options for letting friends and family know if I am okay, or need some help, even a LOT of help, which is 911. With the
SPOT device, which is about the size of my GPS, I can transmit messages from almost anywhere, anytime, and let
people know if I am OK, or need help. I can even by-pass the friends and family thing and go straight to the local
rescue service by pressing the 911 button. I have not had to use this option, but I hear it works real good and help
arrives fast!!! In short, what this little device does is, it takes a GPS reading, sends it to one of the orbiting
communication satellites, which in turn sends the information to a ground station. The information is assembled into an
email or cell text message and sent out the people I have assigned to get the messages. Each person who gets a copy
of the email, gets a GPS location of where I am, plus a Google Map, showing exactly where I am at that moment. I also
have a locator “share” page where people who do not get the email messages, but want to watch my progress I can do
so by having the web-address and the password.  I am allowed ten pre-assigned recipients per sent message.. I get
ten for the OK, button, ten for the HELP button, and then local rescue gets the 911 messages. This little thing is really
built for the outdoors. It can be dropped, it can take the cold and the heat, and it floats!! My model is one of the first,
and it uses two Lithium AA batteries.. I put these two batteries in this device in October of 2008.. I have sent many
messages, and it is still going.. I have no ideal how long it can go. It was suggested that about 1900 messages is
average for a set of batteries. When they have only 30 percent power left, the buttons that are generally flashing green
will start flashing red. Mine are still flashing green. I carry this device with me for all outdoor activities.. SO FAR, I have
only transmitted OK messages.

All righty, lets talk about the trip. The Current is really awesome in these upper areas, so I had some great views as I
floated downstream. At around 1:00 PM, I stopped for my first lunch, and sent out another SPOT Message. As usual I
took photos, but I soon learned that paddling a canoe that is nearly 17 feet long, in fast water, solo, does not make for
easy picture taking.. You gotta be an octopus!!! Around 2 PM, I found a neat place, set up a tripod and did a little of
that photo stuff for my memory shots.. This means that I got to be in the photos.. And, but using the special camera I
had, with the monitor that rotated from viewing from the front, it was easy to do photos with me in them, because I
could watch the monitor and move around until I was in the right place.. I had a remote device to fire the camera, but
only used it a couple of times.. Mostly I just used the timer... The transmitter kept getting lost. Around 2:30 PM I find a
nice snake to photograph.. The advantage of being solo is that I see more. I have tried to travel with two or more
people and the noise scares the wildlife away.. You will see in the images of this trip, many animals that I would not
have seen had there been more people around.. Too much noise. At around 3:15 PM, I catch up to a neat couple that
are doing what looks to be a little fishing. In chatting with them, I learn that their names are Casey and Angela, and the
dog with them is named Tracker.. I also learned that this was their anniversary, maybe their first.  They had met on the
river, while canoeing with friends, and now they were back to celebrate their meeting and their marriage.. Neat story..

At 3:30 PM I find this huge turtle crawling along under the water and along the bank.. I followed it for awhile, got some
photos and moved on. At around 4:30 PM, I arrive at the low water bridge, know as Cedar Groves. The way to get past
this is to tie up the canoe, hand carry all the goodies to the other side, reload the mother ship, and cast off again.. So,
that is just what I did.  At the location below the bridge where I was to take my stuff, was a young man, Perry,  and his
family enjoying the river.. When he saw what I was up to, he offered to help, but I told him no, I needed the exercise,
but appreciated his help. We chatted a long time, then I did my moving job, reloaded the canoe and headed on
downstream at around 5:30 PM..  Not long after leaving the bridge, I run onto the man and his son, who I had ridden
with earlier this day. They had left ahead of me, had found a campsite, set up, had dinner and was relaxing by the river
when I got there. We chatted for awhile, then I moved on downstream to locate a campsite.. Problem is, there aren't
very many places to camp anymore, all have grown over with brush.. But, at 6:30 PM, I found a rather nice place, but it
was on what I would call a horse trail. It would seem there is a lot of horse traffic in this area as a result of the riding
clubs. The horse poop was not too bad, so I claimed the place and started moving in and setting up, but, I could hear
what seemed like ATVs off to the west of me, on my side of the river. They kept getting closer and closer. Then, at 7:
00 PM, all of sudden three ATVs blasted out to the brush, across the sand and into the river where they started doing
doughnuts circles, etc. Each ATV was driven by a young male that I would guess to be of High School age. On the
back of each ATV was scantly dressed young female. The young men parked their ATVs in the river, then started
rinsing the mud etc off of them. Once the mud was rinsed off, they drove out on the bank, said a few hellos to me, let
their machine dry a bit, then as fast as they had arrived, they were gone. One was sliding around so much that it
looked like the driver and the gal were about to get hurt real bad.  After leaving, they never came back. I sat up camp,
started my happy hour with a glass of Merlot, then fixed dinner and ate. Was very good. Two things you might like to
know now, Generally when I go on short trips on the river, cold beer is the way to go for me, but for a long trip like this,
wine is the beverage of choice for happy hour. I researching this, I found that the “Box Wines” were the answer. I carry
five gallon buckets that have been made water tight by using an adapter top made by Gamma Seal. They work great. I
found that a 5 liter box of Franzia Merlot fits in one of the bucket, perfectly.. And there is still room to stuff other
goodies in with it... Using some high powered math stuff, I figured that 5 liters was about the same as 5 quarts. One
quart is 32 ounces, five quarts would be 160 ounces. I am on a 14 day trip, which means 13 happy hours. 160 ounces
divided by 13 happy hours is about 12 ounces per happy hour.. That is roughly two glasses of wine per day.. Perfect..
I can do it.. But, as you will find out later, I had wine left over, even though I expected to run out before the trip was
over.

The dinner I prepared was one of my Mountain House freeze dried dinners. Not sure which one I had this night, but the
company makes several good ones. I have my favorites, which I will try to list later. But now I can tell you I use these
freeze dried dinners for all my adventure trips. They weigh about 4 ounces and require 8 ounces of boiling water to
bring them back to life. Since I started using Mountain House products, the packaging has changed a bit, and for the
better.. Now it is really easy. The food comes in a heavy duty foil pouch, which you rip the top off of when you are
ready to eat. You add the boiling water, stir the mixture with you special spoon, which I will tell you about, then  you
seal the pouch with the built in zip closure. Make yourself busy for about 10-15 minutes, open the pouch and have
yourself a fine evening meal. These things really are good, and even better when you have put in a hard day of
playing.

At this point I have to tell you about the special spoon you have to have to enjoy the meals in a pouch. The pouches
this food is in is rather deep, compared to the handles of most spoons that have been on the market. And, for years I
have been getting sticky fingers trying to fish the food out of these bags with the normal spoon. Its even worse in
winter when you try to eat with gloves on. I had tried to think of a way to modify a spoon to make it a better product.
Then, one day, on an adventure with some other people, another adventure man pulled out this long handled spoon
from his jacket pocket and started eating with it. My mouth dropped open!!! There was the answer to my problem!! I
almost took it away from him!! But, in talking to him, I learned that it was a new product that REI had just brought out. It
is titanium and it is 8 inches long! PERFECT..!!!!!!!! And it is shaped just perfect for my adventures. The spoons are
so good that besides the one I carry with me on my adventures, the original one, I have now given them to friends for
birthdays etc., Plus, I have more in my kitchen. They are great. Get yourself one and see what I mean. Right now, they
are costing about 10 dollars each and worth every penny of it.

It is always tradition with me to heat up some water and take a bath every night before I go to bed.. This will be true
every night on the trip.. How to do it??? My method is approved by me and has been used by me for many years with
great success. No soap is involved.. I like to have something to stand on that is smooth and comfortable for my feet
when I do my bath, so I take one of the huge waterproof haul bags and lay it out flat. I take one of the five gallon utility
buckets and wade out into the river. Put about 2 gallons of water in the bucket and bring it back to where the camp
stove is located. I will try to remember to give a complete list of all the stuff I used at the end of this story, in case some
of you want to use the same ideas etc. I fire up the stove, using the cooking pot to heat the water, by scooping water
out of the utility bucket, heating it in the cook pot, pouring the boiling water into the bucket, stirring it up, scooping up
another pot of water and bringing it to a boil and putting it in the bucket.. Keep doing this until the water in the bucket is
almost too hot to touch.. Don't heat it enough to get burned, but hot enough to cut the grease on your body.. Mine in
this case. Once the water is real hot, I sit it beside the flatten dry bag, I get two synthetic towels, one small one, like
12x14 maybe, and one that is big enough to dry off with. Time to getter done. Strip off, get on the bag, soak the small
towel in the hot water. Get it to absorb as much water as possible and take it out fast so as to scrub your body with this
hot juicy towel. Start at the top of your head and continue down until you hot scrubbed everywhere. There should be
water left over.. Pour it over the top of your head and stand there long enough to let most of the water drain off of ya.
Grab the big dry towel, finish drying off.. You are now one very happy person. And, you did little harm to the
environment. Going to bed after a hot bath like this is sure to get you a gooood nights sleep. I think it rained today, not
sure, but it rained on me nearly every day of this adventure. When I put this trip together, I made a little booboo in my
timing. I'll explain later, but when I found that I was only going to canoe from Baptist Camp to the Arkansas State line, I
figured I would like to be out for 14 days, two weeks, so using my high powered math, I did the calculations. Most of my
canoe trips have averaged about 10 miles per day, so this was my goal for this trip. I divided the river up into ten mile
segments and limited myself to ten miles per day. The fact that ten miles per day for 14 days will ed out perfectly for
this adventure was just pure luck... Now, take the date you start, add the number of days you will be gone, and you
have the calendar date that you will end the trip on..  That is what I did, I told Anita that I wanted her driver to pick me
up 14 days after I left.. I did the math and gave her a date. Since I was leaving on the 13th, a 14 day trip would mean I
should be picked up on the 27th, right?? Not right, but I will not know this till nearly the last day of the trip.  Tonight, I
turned  the lights out at 9:00 PM. The location of campsite one is N37-24-45.7, W091-35-15.8. To see the images from
this day, the first day, day number one of 14, click
Current River Adventure, Day 01.
To go to Day 2, click here.
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Tom Ballard Photography