Call your wife.
(The posts made already were limited to what photos and minimal text I could manage by phone from the water. Here, and over the next few days, I’ll fill in the back story and post a lot more images, some video, too.)
The sun was down when I reached Molly’s Tractor Supply to pick up the ramp permit ($60 for a year if you’re out of state.) Getting dark fast. Nothing around but miles and miles of corn and wheat. Silos in silhouette against the horizon. A piece of farm equipment rumbled up, sat idling while the guy got out, went in for a drink, then throttled up and rumbled off again.
Dusk was deep and damp at the ramp. Just a little glow left to rig up and launch, row out and anchor. Maybe get the tent up before full dark if I hurried.
Then an old pickup turned into the lot, swept Caesura with the headlights and stopped.
He introduced himself as Brandon Ingram, a boat builder, and wanted to know what kind of boat that was. He showed me photos on his phone. Pretty boats. It was getting darker. I got him to hold the light while I rigged up and we talked.
He’d been living on that 43 foot sloop anchored out in the creek while he restored her, for 12 years. Knew boat builders in Still Pond who still built traditional boats the old way. I should stop by. Turns out he has oblique connections with two of the guys on their way for the weekend. The sloop he lives and works on belonged to Bus Mosbacher, an America’s Cup skipper who Mike Wick crewed with when he was a teenager. He also thought he knew Doug Oeller from his days in veterinary medicine. Brandon said there was a storm coming in the morning, a big one, and I could tie up to his stern line if I needed it. I heard the splash and squeak of oars as he rowed a little dink out into the dark. A little later, an anchor light flickered on way out in the creek.
Rowing back into the creek by the light of the moon was nice. A quiet night, and clear. My phone chirped. Nestled into the lotus bed and anchored, the phone chirped again. A text from Terri, “Call asap!” No signal. A whippoorwill called out from the woods. I stood up in the boat. One bar. Up anchor. I rowed a mile and half out into the Sassafras River before there was enough reception to make a call, and we talked as the boat bobbed gently under the stars on the wine dark river, a mile from shore.
Kevin had called. Said the 20% chance of rain for Friday was now 100%, plus thunderstorms, hail, maybe tornados. They were going to wait a day for it to pass. I had neglected to tell Terri I planned to be there alone the first night, anyway, so she was worried. Should have given her details of the whole plan, of course. I was only going to be a short row from the ramp, would check conditions in the morning. If it looked bad I would get a hotel room in town.
Back in the lotus bed, the tent went up easily, thank goodness. By then it was well after midnight, and Great Horned Owls called out across the water. It was so still the bugs would have been thick, but the netting was a perfect refuge, so I went to sleep watching the moon sink toward the tree line, and didn’t wake once all night.