Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Synchronized Swimming"

Well, the group made Washington, MO at 4PM today after a 33-mile endurance trial in the heat.  Jim said he was able to get out of the canoe for a bit to stretch his legs during the day, a welcome relief!  It finally cooled off enough last night for the group to get some respite from the heat, but train traffic was non-stop, so sleeping was difficult.  Tonight should be a little "better" - they are camped 150 feet from the tracks instead of 5 or 10 yards.  After years spent aboard vessels at sea, Jim is used to the motion of  boats while trying sleep, but he says having your sleeping bag shaken by trains rumbling by is another matter altogether, to say nothing of the noise.  On the first day of this venture, several paddlers jumped in the river to cool off during their lunch break.  The muddy water put almost everyone else off.  On the second day, the swimming group got a bit bigger.  Today, Jim said about 80% of the group joined in - wading out to where they were about shoulder deep, bobbing about as a group.  Jim described them as looking like a disheveled synchronized swim team, with sunglasses and hats of various descriptions just barely visible above the surface.  He was one of the swimmers today, trying to escape the heat.  One of the boats entered in the 340-mile, non-stop endurance race stopped at the check-in point in Washington while Jim and I were talking on the phone.  The racers in that boat had to be helped out of the boat.  Their couldn't uncurl their fingers from the shape of the paddle handles, and their knees buckled when they finally did get out of their boat.  Jim said the 340-mile group has experienced a high attrition rate because of the heat and non-stop exertion.  All the members of the group Jim is with are still gamely paddling on, but today he really began to feel the effects of the heat and trying to keep up with the group.  The event organizers had arranged for Jim's group to get showers at the YMCA in Washington, which Jim says is really a luxurious facility.  The shower was most welcome!  Tomorrow, -YIPPEE - they get to sleep in - until 6AM! as their days' run is only twelve miles.  The following two days will be runs of 28 and 29 miles.  I think all participants in the event can probably truly appreciate what early explorers and settlers must have experienced.  God bless them all!

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