Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Computer Back - Driving Ahead

I began working on a trip down the St. Johns River in 2010, with the expectation of running the river in January of 2011. The drought and water use demand had been bad enough that I was advised the upper river was dry and being run with ATV’s, so the trip was off. So far this year, water levels seem better, and we can only hope that can hold.

The winter is the best time to run many of the primitive areas of Florida. All resources are absorbed by hunters until the end of the year, and I had been cautioned against thrashing through tall grass in the midst of armed, drinking, and over-zealous men anxious to shoot at something. By March, the swarms of bugs return, and the alligator breeding season begins with bulls becoming fearless and aggressive. That leaves a two-month window when conditions should be the best of the year.

Following the channel, the river is 311 miles long from Central Florida, north to where the river meets the ocean north of Jacksonville, FL. A couple of us were planning to do the entire river together, but then life got in the way. In the end, no one could do the entire river, and more people wanted to join in for smaller segments of the trip, so I was asked to do a schedule so folks would know when to rendezvous with us. So, with the aid of Google Earth, I made my fourth trip down the river as I broke the trip into daily paddles. I was half-way through three pages of detailed planning information when the computer went into meltdown. I wanted to indent a line, so hit tab, and everything on the page immediately shot to the top of the page and apparently continued flying off into space, as it was never seen again. Just like that, two and a half days of work was gone. Yes, I’m fanatical about saving every few lines, every paragraph, and certainly the entire document again before shutting down, but it didn’t matter. All my saved material was…poof. The local computer tech did the usual virus, cookie, and other junk search, cleaned its innards, but didn’t see the St. Johns file anywhere. I got the computer back Sunday night, and immediately started my fifth digital trip down the river, reconstructing the plan along the way.

Long story short, the plan is done. All we need now is for the Florida golf courses to not suck so much water out of the river that there’s none left in a month. All I want for Christmas is enough water to float a canoe.

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