Radical Listening A journey down the Mississippi River using principles of physicality and social engagement. Step by step and day by day we listened, learned, and connected. 2,400 miles traveled human-powered. Listening to the landscape as we moved at the human scale over bluffs, plains, fields, and marshland. 120 Days, and 120 Nights A 120 dance, a durational performance, an endurance feat, a collaboration with hundreds, thousands of voices along the Mississippi River
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DAY 1 – JULY 9, 2019

ITASCA TOWNSHIP Heavy rain moved in around 10:00 PM last night – raindrops falling on the headwaters and beginning a long journey south to join the Gulf of Mexico on October 6. It takes 90 days for water to travel the length of the Mississippi. On that far-away day in October we’ll be gathering the…

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DAY 2 – JULY 10, 2019

HEADWATERS TO BIOLOGICAL FIELD STATION We dipped our toes in the cold clear water. Victoria and I ran together today. We won’t run together again until our last day at the end of the world in Louisiana. Friend and board member, James Pike, had traveled to Bemidji from Chicago to be with us for our…

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DAY 3 – July 11, 2019

ITASCA STATE PARK TO BEMIDJI Tom ran out of Itasca State Park with Jonathan, Tanner and Brittany – with a nice send off from staff, faculty and students. Toes were baptized again at the headwaters along the way. Run/Bike exchange and Victoria headed north. Beautiful day for cycling and gathering the landscape of trees, sky…

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DAY 4 – JULY 12, 2019

BEMIDJI TO CASS LAKE We were surprised by familiar faces on a beautiful sunny morning in Bemidji. Friends of the relay, Joe Hamlin and Angel Staples came to see us off from Paul Bunyan park! They met us again at the end of the segment in Cass Lake and I got to see their special…

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DAY 5 – SATURDAY JULY 13

CASS LAKE TO BENA Finished Day 4 with Mary and Terry Larson at their special place on Wolf Lake – a loon party just starting as we left! Fell asleep to a nice sunset on the south shore of Cass Lake. And what a day today . . .  Woke at Norway Beach to a…

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DAY 6 – SUNDAY JULY 14

BENA TO DEER RIVER Short post today. Just a run and a ride followed by a ride and a run from Bena to Deer River, gathering landscapes (and deer flies) along the way. Tom run – Victoria ride – Tom ride – Victoria run. The exchanges are the fun part! No scheduled interviews today. We…

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DAY 7 – MONDAY JULY 15

DEER RIVER TO GRAND RAPIDS The day stared with a fast 5K by Victoria out of Deer River. I took over on bike, covering the remaining miles to Grand Rapids. Fought a headwind as I rode south, but relief came as I turned east. Heard the first cicada of summer in Cohasset! We stopped along…

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DAY 8 – TUESDAY JULY 16

LAYOVER IN GRAND RAPIDS You know it’s a good day when you begin the morning and end the evening with a good meal among good friends. By that measure, our second day in Grand Rapids was a success. But also because we had an extra day to listen deeper to the community – thanks again…

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DAY 9 – WEDNESDAY JULY 17

GRAND RAPIDS TO JACOBSON When I was a kid, Jacobson was this neat place with a high truss bridge by a wayside rest along a river. We passed through on our way to Hill City. I always wanted to stop, but I was in the back seat of a ’72 Chevy Kingswood wagon and didn’t…

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DAY 10 – THURSDAY JULY 18

JACOBSEN TO PALISADE I pulled the van into Berglund Park to wait for Victoria. She was still a few miles out – biking into town this morning for our big day in Palisade, Minnesota. I was greeted immediately as I stepped out of the van by Sharon DeWitt, our key contact in town. Sharon has a…

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DAY 11 – FRIDAY JULY 19

PALISADE TO Long Lake Conservation Center Now I grew up in southern Louisiana, with the rivers, lakes, bayous, marshes, and general rains and standing water breeding mosquitos like mad. But I’ll give it to Minnesota, and in particular this stretch of Minnesota that we’ve been wandering along starting back around Jacobson, through Palisade and onward to…

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DAY 12 – SATURDAY JULY 20

LONG LAKE TO AITKIN The morning was fresh and cool with a light dusting of rain. We weren’t sure how long it would persist, so we prepared rain gear for the trek ahead. After tidying up at the Marcum House at Long Lake Conservation Center and confirming the new route—taking us off the only gravel stretch of  The…

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DAY 13 – SUNDAY, JULY 21

AITKIN TO CROSBY (CUYUNA) Day 13 is now long passed, it seems. Tom and I have gotten a bit back logged in our reports out with several very busy days keeping us from our computers. However, finally taking a moment now, on the 17th day of our journey as I sit on the back dining…

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DAY 14 – MONDAY JULY 22

CROSBY TO BRAINERD We arrived in Brainerd today. Not the Brainerd lakes area. The City of Brainerd, Minnesota. Victoria ran the last miles into Lum Park at the south end of Rice Lake as disc golfers showered her with errant throws. Rice Lake is a place where the Mississippi rests before resuming its voyage to the…

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DAY 15 – TUESDAY, JULY 23

BRAINERD TO LITTLE FALLS Our route to Little Falls, Minnesota started back at Lum Park in Brainerd, Minnesota. Tom headed out, winding through some neighborhoods until finally reaching the parking lot near the high school—the one slated for a much brighter future by the Brainerd Riverfront Committee. As I waited in the parking lot for Tom to arrive, I was accompanied by Ashley Kaisershot,…

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DAY 16 – WEDNESDAY, JULY 24

Tom’s birthday! A layover in Little Falls and a day of “rest”—rest from running at least, but not from learning more about this community and all that goes on here. Out of bed early and over to Zoomski’s for black coffee and breakfast wraps. Dr. Phil stopped by and we traded notes about last night’s…

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DAY 17 – THURSDAY, JULY 25

LITTLE FALLS TO RICE We packed up our mansion (!) at Linden Hill, and got set for the run out of town. A local woman named Jackie Devine had messaged us earlier, saying she planned to meet us and run out together. She was right on time, as were Deb and Kris, so we grabbed a…

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DAY 18 – FRIDAY, JULY 26

RICE TO ST. CLOUD We were told the Creamery is hopping in the morning, with two groups of men who know their Rice, Minnesota history—seating themselves according to political affiliation: Democrats in the front, and Republicans in the back. We were told to come early so we could learn a lot. Well, we did decide to show…

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DAY 19 – SATURDAY JULY 27

ST. CLOUD TO MONTICELLO An engineer and a choreographer walk into a bar . . . Victoria ended yesterday’s run on the upper side of the St. Cloud Convention Center. I needed to start today’s run on the lower side – the river side. There can be no gaps in our path! Sarah Drake drove…

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DAY 20 – SUNDAY, JULY 28

MONTICELLO TO ELK RIVER Which side of the river to run on is always a question. And on Day 20, we had planned on the west side, but the locals said no, take the east side. One reason was a detour that would have put us way off schedule, but the more important reason was…

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DAY 21 – MONDAY, JULY 29

ELK RIVER TO MINNEAPOLIS Early morning in Elk River, Minnesota, long road to Minneapolis. Of course the Davies had a full breakfast planned for us—an amazing cinnamon nut bread, bacon, eggs over easy, buttered toast, fresh strawberries, juice, coffee, it goes on… We could barely move to get going toward Minneapolis, Minnesota, but somehow Tom managed to…

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DAY 22 – TUESDAY JULY 30

MINNEAPOLIS TO ST. PAULDay two in the Twin Cities. Good friends Tori Nill and Todd Stevens joined the Relay team in the morning to cover the miles on foot. They’re veteran relay runners – gearing up for a 200-mile relay in August. This was just an easy training run for these athletes! Victoria and I…

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DAY 23 – WEDNESDAY, JULY 31

SAINT PAUL TO PRESCOTTPRESCOTT TO THE PRAIRIE ISLAND INDIAN COMMUNITY Tom and I arrived at Lambert’s Landing in Saint Paul, Minnesota to begin the ride out of the city. We decided on a bike only day, due to time constraints and the extended mileage getting to two communities in one day. I was a bit daunted by…

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DAY 24 – THURSDAY AUGUST 1

PRAIRIE ISLAND INDIAN COMMUNITY TO BAY CITY We are so grateful for the gracious welcome we received from the Prairie Island Indian Community. We were given the great honor of meeting with the Tribal Council and spending the day with community members (including the buffalo herd). It was enlightening and inspiring. Thank you, PIIC –…

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DAY 25 – FRIDAY AUGUST 2

BAY CITY TO PEPIN As we prepped to launch from Bay City this morning, fellow Capitol United Cycling Club members, Dennis Williams and Katie Williams, rolled up to join the ride to Pepin.  Our first challenge was a steep climb in the first three miles as we rode south toward Maiden Rock. We were rewarded with a long…

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DAY 26 – SATURDAY AUGUST 3

PEPIN TO ALMA We arrived in Alma and met Dan Kordiak – everyone probably does when they arrive in Alma, Wisconsin. He met us on Cedar and Main just as we landed, giving explicit instructions on how to get to our room at the @Hotel de VILLE – a complex of buildings he owns and operates.…

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DAY 27 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 4

ALMA TO WINONA I ran into one of my best friends today – his name is Joe Welch. I haven’t seen or talked to him for a long time (a very long time) but that didn’t matter. We picked up just where we left off – 30 years ago. I met Joe and wife Kara…

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DAY 28 – MONDAY, AUGUST 5

WINONA TO TREMPEALEAU We overnighted on the second floor of an old Winona, Minnesota home converted into an Inn. You can either rent out the bottom floor in full or the top floor, or some combination of the two. Steve and Nan Bachler own and run the Inn, and close to 7 in the morning, Nan was…

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DAY 29 – TUESDAY, AUGUST 6

TREMPEALEAU TO LA CROSSE After getting to know Bud and Dianna, we couldn’t just leave. I mean, we had to leave of course, but making our way out the door, or even down the road in front of their house, took quite a bit of effort. First there was the enormous breakfast, the smell of…

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DAY 30 – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7

LA CROSSE TO LANSING We started at the Eagle monument on the riverfront in La Crosse with Tom running out of town down Front Street. I had to drive up nearly five miles ahead for the exchange in order to reach a decent road or trail for the bike. I set out on bike and…

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DAY 31 – THURSDAY, AUGUST 8

LANSING TO HARPERS FERRY It’s a narrow, winding, uphill climb out of Lansing toward Harpers Ferry. You crest the first of two mountains just before the Wexford Church and Cemetery. The road shoulder widens there and biking is a little more comfortable, so we decided to run the first 8 miles to Wexford and bike…

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DAY 32 – FRIDAY, AUGUST 9

HARPERS FERRY TO GUTTENBERG I was still in my nightgown when Jane and Wayne walked in the door to our cabin bearing the gift of coffee to add to the muffins and fruit they had given us the night before. It’s a good thing we already felt like family less than twenty-four hours in to…

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DAY 33 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 10

GUTTENBERG LAYOVER From all my childhood memories, fishing happens early in the morning—or at least that’s when you get started. And today was no different. By early, I mean 7am—not the 4am that the alarm rang off at when I was growing up on the Gulf Coast, but 7am was early enough today for two…

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DAY 34 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 11

GUTTENBERG TO NORTH BUENA VISTA (BUENIE) The day started out with some housekeeping, logistics, and the boiling of a dozen eggs to take on the road as sustenance. We had given ourselves a later start this morning, so we thankfully had a moment to take a breath and assess. 10AM did at last roll around,…

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DAY 35 – MONDAY, AUGUST 12

NORTH BUENA VISTA TO DUBUQUE If there’s a North Buena Vista, Iowa, there must be a plain old regular Buena Vista. We never found it as we ran south out of town. Maybe it was lost in the fog that enveloped the Mississippi River bluffs on a beautiful August morning. We covered the miles uneventfully and…

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DAY 36 – TUESDAY, AUGUST 13

DUBUQUE TO BELLEVUE Did we mention Sparky? He barely let us leave Dubuque on Tuesday morning—the little mutt owned by Susan and Scott that seemed to have adopted me for the night, sleeping cozily by my side, following me every step I took to the bathroom in the middle of the night, back into bed,…

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DAY 37 – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14

BELLEVUE TO SABULA Morning at Dave and Carol’s started out busy busy on our computer’s, at least for me and Tom, whereas Dave sat calmly on his patio, drinking his coffee and reading the paper, soaking in the morning sun. Carol had to be in town for some appointments so was bustling about, but made…

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DAY 38 – THURSDAY, AUGUST 15

SABULA TO CLINTON French toast, fruit parfait, crispy bacon, orange juice, coffee—a breakfast for champions, or so we hoped, as we got prepared to leave Sabula’s Castle Bed & Breakfast and make the journey to Clinton, Iowa entirely on foot. Road conditions were again poor for cycling, with no shoulder and high speed traffic, so Tom ran…

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DAY 39 – FRIDAY, AUGUST 16

CLINTON TO LE CLAIRE The story of Clinton, Iowa would not be complete without a brief glimpse of our lodging at the Econo Lodge out on Hwy 30. Our room was in the oldest wing of this hotel-motel establishment that has been put together piecemeal over many years since at least the 50s. The original lobby building…

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DAY 40 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 17

LE CLAIRE TO QUAD CITIES We were hurrying out the door this morning to get launched, so much so that we later learned a few things got left behind—but that’s for another story… I grabbed an egg white omelet, sausage patty, and banana from the Holiday Inn’s hot breakfast bar and rushed to the van,…

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DAY 41 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 18

QUAD CITIES TO MUSCATINE Tom rode south out of Davenport, Iowa toward Muscatine, Iowa—we knew the first 7 miles were bikeable and the rest uncertain, plus the weather forecast showed a storm system moving in, so we knew we might have to be on foot for most of the miles. However, the rain stayed away, and the Sunday…

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DAY 42 – MONDAY, AUGUST 19

MUSCATINE TO OAKVILLE Our host, Greg Jenkins, made a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, and we shared a few final stories before starting our day. He also helped Tom secure the new cargo arrangement in the back of the van, scrounging up several bungee cords and straps to makeshift our way into a…

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DAY 43 – TUESDAY, AUGUST 20

OAKVILLE TO BURLINGTON We woke on the shores of Lake Odessa and Bev served us a delicious breakfast with plenty of coffee. We enjoyed a beautiful orange sky that colored the lake. After breakfast, the Columbus Junction cross-country team would join the run out of Oakville, Iowa – an awesome day was ahead of us. Except for…

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DAY 44 – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21

BURLINGTON LAYOVER The day started with a drive into town to meet Savanna, the host at the Burlington, Iowa country music station, for a quick on-air interview between songs. The interview went well, short and to the point, followed by a song about a man and his truck. The air was heavy, like rain was coming in,…

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DAY 45 – THURSDAY, AUGUST 22

BURLINGTON TO NAUVOO We drove to Crapo Park to start the day. No runners to join us there so we drove down to the Port of Burlington and met Tim, our police escort. Biked over the US 34 bridge and down Carman Road toward Nauvoo, Illinois. Heavy traffic initially, but it tapered off as we rode. The roads were not…

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DAY 46 – FRIDAY, AUGUST 23

NAUVOO LAYOVER Our hosts don’t drink coffee, but understood that it was an important part of our morning routine. Tom drove into Casey’s and grabbed a couple of large cups. The lady at the counter is still pushing donuts on him, but he didn’t give in. Breakfast at the Nicholls home was slated for 8:00…

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DAY 47 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 24

NAUVOO TO WARSAW We packed up our things and made our way to the Red Front for the launch. Our destination today was Warsaw, Illinois, but first order of business was a nice morning conversation with Sharon and Larry, and another fabulous breakfast to top it off of course. Tom ran south along the most…

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DAY 48 – SUNDAY AUGUST 25

WARSAW TO QUINCY The Quincy, Illinois bike club met us at the Warsaw Brewery. I started our journey toward Quincy on foot, retracing part of yesterday’s route to capture some missing video. The bikers gave me a head start, but eventually passed me as they cruised south toward Quincy. Tom gave them all high-fives as they passed…

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DAY 49 – MONDAY, AUGUST 26

QUINCY TO HANNIBAL The road to Hannibal, Missouri wasn’t very friendly for running or biking. Narrow highway, big trucks, rough gravel road at times, and an interstate highway bridge to cross. Despite that, it was a successful journey into town. Mary Lynn Richards met us as we changed as discreetly as possible, roadside, in the van, just…

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DAY 50 – TUESDAY AUGUST 27

HANNIBAL LAYOVER Our morning started off right. Old dog, young dog, and “kitler” or Elsa (which is her proper name, although disputed in the Richards house)…. Tom and I are soaking up some pet love, let me tell you! The tails are wagging and the paws are kneading. Kitler is doing so much twisting flopping,…

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DAY 51 – WEDNESDAY AUGUST 28

HANNIBAL TO LOUISIANA We ran out of Hannibal, Missouri on Main Street and up the bluff past Lover’s Leap – passing the Hannibal Cannibal 5K and 10K turn-around marks on the way. Rock outcroppings and beautiful vistas . . . Bluff is a misleading word. It sounds gentle but the truth is very different. These are hills…

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DAY 52 – THURSDAY AUGUST 29

LOUISIANA TO ELSBERRY We had no idea what was in store for us as we set out from Louisiana, Missouri. I mean, I’d seen the itinerary, but only really glanced at it—it was to be a full day. Boy was that an understatement. Overflowing would be more accurate!  We woke at Cindy and Greg Blaylock’s place…

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DAY 53 – FRIDAY AUGUST 30

ELSBERRY TO WINFIELD Breakfast at Rachel’s Restaurant with Terrie, Sue, and Larry. This is the first time we’ve seen grits on the menu and had to order some. They were delicious as expected (especially with a little melted butter). We probably ate too much before running, though . . . Ran south out of town.…

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DAY 54 – SATURDAY AUGUST 31

WINFIELD TO ST. CHARLES Roadkill frogs are more frequent now – step aside raccoons and possums. Rain overnight. The pavement was still wet and the skies were overcast as I ran south out of Winfield, Missouri down Missouri Highway 79. Victoria took over running in Old Monroe and we cut back to toward the River on Dalbow…

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DAY 55 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

ST. CHARLES TO ST. LOUIS St. Charles, Missouri to St. Louis is 22 miles if you take the direct route. It’s 42 miles if you follow the river. We followed the river. Today we followed two rivers – the Mississippi and Missouri at the confluence. Tom crossed the big bridge on Highway 370 and passed into the Missouri…

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DAY 56 – MONDAY SEPTEMBER 2

ST. LOUIS TO EAST ST. LOUIS What a difference a day makes. There’s a concept in human thinking called confirmation bias – you see what you expect to see. I crossed the river into East St. Louis this morning and ran down Collinsville Avenue and expectations were confirmed. This once vibrant city is now a…

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DAY 57 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3

EAST ST. LOUIS TO PRAIRIE DU ROCHER We woke, said goodbye to Edna and Reggie and hit the road. Tom set out on foot from the house after studying the map and reciting the directions aloud. I thought for sure he’d make it easily to the transition until I started driving the route myself. What…

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DAY 58 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4

PRAIRIE DU ROCHER LAYOVER This morning we headed out of town, down to the American Bottoms where the Fort de Chartres still stands. Cheryl and Susie had prepared us a lavish breakfast at the The Conner House Bed and Breakfast – we probably won’t need to eat again for days – and Tom and I both…

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DAY 59 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

PRAIRIE DU ROCHER TO STE. GENEVIEVE We’re running almost due east now, but we’ll turn south at Modoc to catch the ferry into Ste. Genevieve. There are tall rock outcroppings and steep bluff on our left, agricultural bottom land on our right. It was another amazing breakfast at The Conner House Bed and Breakfast compliments of…

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DAY 60 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6

STE. GENEVIEVE LAYOVER We slept in. Today is the halfway point. We are 60 days into a 120 day pilgrimage. We are tired. Signs of exhaustion are becoming clear. Mornings are getting slower, nights less productive, and yet, we are still making it, and every moment in between, every moment running, riding, listening, is still…

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DAY 61 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

STE. GENEVIEVE TO CHESTER The daily ritual. Preparing for our journey to the next community. Tom would run out of Ste. Genevieve and I would run into Chester. Moving, always moving. We said our goodbye’s to the comforts of the Hotel Audubon Ste. Genevieve this Saturday morning and Tom ran out from Main Street Park, heading south…

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DAY 62 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8

CHESTER TO WARE/ANNA Thunderstorm advisory and 90% chance of rain until noon. Two fronts moving through with frequent lightning strikes, but it looks like it’s tracking north . . . let’s go! It’s tracking south. We watched the weather as we gathered in the kitchen with our generous hosts, Bob and Pat Koenegstein for coffee…

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DAY 63 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9

WARE/ANNA TO CAPE GIRARDEAU We said goodbye to Lyle and Tammy Woodrum at the Davie School Inn and drove back to Ware IL to continue our journey along The Great River Road. It’s Monday morning, traffic is heavy (including trucks) and there’s no shoulder—we are “in the lane” on Illinois Highway 3. On the bright side, we’re seeing…

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DAY 64 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10

CAPE GIRARDEAU TO THEBES It was a hot day on the Relay today, but thankfully we had Zack and Jenny to commiserate and share the burden with. Out through the bottoms ran Tom and Zack, encountering the first signs of crawfish roadkill that we’ve come upon so far. At about 5 miles in, Tom was…

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DAY 65 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

THEBES TO CAIRO We woke in Cape Girardeau and made our way down to the old courthouse at Thebes to begin our run and ride to Cairo, Illinois. Our route took us down Illinois Highway 3 to the interchange at I-57. Tom and I split up the last 10K on foot, landing us at Fort Defiance—the confluence…

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DAY 66 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12

CAIRO TO WICKLIFFE

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DAY 67 – FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 13

WICKLIFFE TO COLUMBUS We woke up early but not as early as a few kids we heard outside our trailer, already up riding bikes through the park, running around playing in the cool morning air. The air wasn’t cool for long, but we tried to take advantage as best we could, so we launched back…

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DAY 68 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

COLUMBUS TO HICKMAN Another morning in Columbus-Belmont State Park. The kids are still up before us riding bikes, saying hi to me as I get set on my own. Today we decided to follow a route suggested by Greg and Norma that had us in the bottomland. It was different than what we had planned, but…

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DAY 69 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

HICKMAN TO TIPTONVILLE We started our day in front of the Kentucky Nut Corporation (the nut house). I ran down through old town Hickman and out of town past the ferry landing. Things are quiet on a Sunday morning. Everyone waves to me as I pass. We’re in the South now . . . We’re running through…

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Day 70 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

TIPTONVILLE TO RIDGELY They’re wearing sweatshirts back in Minnesota, but here in Tennessee we’re dealing with a heat index that’s topping 100 degrees. The run to Ridgely, Tennessee was along the Mississippi River floodplain – pancake flat and flanked by agricultural fields. Fewer fields of soybeans and corn now. More and more fields of cotton. Victoria ran…

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DAY 71 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

RIDGELY TO RIPLEY As we ran south toward Ripley, Tennessee, we transitioned from Mississippi River bottom land into rolling hills. The agricultural fields became interspersed with thick forests and tall trees. The intermittent periods of shade were welcome as the temperature climbed into the 90s. Hotter than average here, but maybe this is the new normal…

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DAY 72 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

RIPLEY TO FORT PILLOW HISTORIC STATE PARK We launched from the Lauderdale County, Tennessee courthouse in the morning. Mayor Gaines passed by and waved as we went through our morning routine – hydrating, starting up our electronics, and confirming exchange points. As the Mayor went into work, Robbie, Susan and her husband Tracy gathered to see us…

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DAY 73 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

FORT PILLOW TO COVINGTON Today we journeyed from our campground in Fort Pillow State Historic Park (pop. 3 campers) to Covington (pop. 9,000). We woke to birdsong under tall trees, passed through rolling hills, saw vast agricultural fields . . . and raced 18-wheelers on southbound US 51. We’re closer to Memphis, Tennessee and feeling the influence that a…

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DAY 74 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

COVINGTON TO RANDOLPH The road from Covington, Tennessee to Randolph, Tennessee was populated with dogs, barking and chasing us as we passed. They probably just wanted to say hello, but we couldn’t be sure so we picked up the pace to stay out of reach. Our destination on this warm Friday in September was Chickasaw Bluff Number 2 at…

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DAY 75 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

RANDOLPH TO MEMPHIS We woke up early in Munford, Tennessee at the Go Getaway Bed and Breakfast. I could smell the spinach quiche that Chris was preparing for breakfast, and both Tom and I were eager to get downstairs and try the CBD coffee that Chris had touted last night before we tucked in. Breakfast was slated for…

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DAY 76 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

MEMPHIS TO WEST MEMPHIS We started our day in Memphis, Tennessee just south of the Great Pyramid. Is this Egypt? No, it’s Tennessee and this Memphis Pyramid houses a Bass Pro Shops superstore… Tom started out on the riverfront, running along the the east side of the Mississippi, heading downstream toward the Harahan Bridge. It’s Sunday morning…

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DAY 77 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

WEST MEMPHIS LAYOVER It was a soggy start to our second day in West Memphis, Arkansas. Rain moved in early and didn’t let up until afternoon. Thankfully, this was a scheduled rest day we didn’t need to be out running in the rain. Our good luck continues! The schedule was light and we took time in…

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DAY 78 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

WEST MEMPHIS TO ANTHONYVILLE We gathered up our things and checked out of the Holiday Inn Express, accommodations generously provided by The City of West Memphis. Our run today started at the Skippy’s gas station where I left off on Sunday. Tom took off on foot, planning to run until the sidewalk ran out on Broadway…

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DAY 79 – WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 25

ANTHONYVILLE TO HUGHES/HORSESHOE LAKE I have to take a moment to journey back to last night, as we left out the latter part of our evening following the visit with Mr. Solon. Emily Scarbrough From the West Memphis Chamber of Commerce had made arrangements for us to stay just downriver at the Snowden House on Horseshoe Lake. We were…

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DAY 80 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

HUGHES TO MARIANNA Before I left Chicago for Minnesota I had a cat. A petite black cat named Henry, after my grandfather. This morning, a Henry lookalike darted in the front door at the guest house of Sam and Carol Dillahunty. Tom had left the door ajar while going out to get coffee from the…

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DAY 81 – FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 27

MARIANNA TO HELENA-WEST HELENA We arrived for breakfast right at 7:00 AM at the Sweet Temptation restaurant. Nancy and Pat joined us there for some final conversation. Tom fueled up for the run with a bowl full of grits and headed out of town south on Alabama Street, safely escorted by Mayor Jimmy Williams and…

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DAY 82 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

HELENA-WEST HELENA LAYOVER I woke up Saturday morning to the smell of coffee, but as I creeped downstairs in Shannon and Todd’s “project house” I must have missed my opportunity. Todd had to be out the door by 7am for Saturday school at the KIPP Elementary school he runs, and the coffee pot was washed…

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DAY 83 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29

HELENA-WEST HELENA TO CLARKSDALE We said goodbye to Cathy and spent some time at the Elaine Massacre Memorial. It is beautifully done and the community is looking forward to the event at 2:00 PM. We considered coming back to Helena, Arkansas to be part of the proceedings, but we had some miles to cover and a full day…

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DAY 84 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

CLARKSDALE TO DEESON The day started with Bill’s voice bellowing through the doors and walls asking if we were up, around 7:12am. “Yeash,” I screeched back at him with toothpaste in my mouth. “Come see me at the office on your way out of town,” he said. Mental note and plan made, later to be…

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DAY 85 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1

DEESON TO ROSEDALE Another hot day in the Mississippi Delta. This 90-degree heat feels especially hot when it’s October 1st and we’re thinking about cool autumn mornings in Minnesota and the approaching cold winter. We should be wearing long-sleeve shirts by now . . . I launched out of Deeson, Mississippi toward Rosedale, Mississippi down Mississippi Highway 1. Andrew…

DAY 86 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2

ROSEDALE TO SCOTT Scott, Mississippi is an unincorporated community along Mississippi Highway 1. It sits right on Lake Bolivar—an ancient remnant of the Mississippi River created centuries ago by a cutoff at Bolivar Bend. Today Scott is a small community with a handful of homes and a vast expanse of agricultural land all around. We didn’t…

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DAY 87 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3

ROSEDALE TO SCOTT TO GREENVILLE We got up early and took our breakfast to go. Today was a long day on the road and we had a group waiting for us in Greenville, Mississippi. James at the front desk wished us well and congratulated us on our recent marriage. He had learned about it yesterday evening…

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DAY 88 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4

GREENVILLE LAYOVER We started the day at the Mayor’s office for a brief conversation before launching into our day. As usual, Kyla was there to keep us on track and deliver us to the library for our first scheduled interactions. We started in with the Mayor, asking how he became interested in civic action after…

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DAY 89 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5

GREENVILLE TO EUDORA We had some time in the morning to pull out our laptops and write up notes—fueled by coffee from the nearby Double Quick. We hoped to catch up completely but it takes time to process the experiences of a community, especially one as full and engaging as Greenville, Mississippi. We took our homework…

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DAY 90 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6

EUDORA TO LAKE PROVIDENCE We woke at Will and Terri’s place on Grand Lake and were treated to a delicious breakfast of cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage thanks to Will’s handiwork in the kitchen. While Terri went out to teach Sunday School, we got a bit of work done, trying to catch up on…

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DAY 91 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 7

LAKE PROVIDENCE TO TALLULAH TO MOUND I woke up early and let Tom sleep in. Linda fixed me a nice breakfast—almost just like home: an egg over easy, toast, half an apple, bacon… and the additional Menonite sausage that I had to try as well as fresh squeezed orange juice I couldn’t turn down. She…

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DAY 92 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 8

MOUND TO VICKSBURG Since yesterday was our first sub-90 degree day, I suppose I didn’t hydrate quite as much as usual. The barometric pressure shift likely also contributed to my first impenetrable migraine that started overnight and held fast into the morning and daylight hours. This time Tom let me stay in bed a little…

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DAY 93 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9

VICKSBURG TO PORT GIBSON The roads between Vicksburg, Mississippi and Port Gibson, Mississippi aren’t great for running or cycling. The Blues Highway (US 61) is a 4-lane divided speedway with narrow lanes, high volumes of truck traffic and no shoulders. The secondary roads made an arc out to the east—not the most direct route but safer than US 61.…

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DAY 94 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10

PORT GIBSON TO CHURCH HILL Breakfast at Collina Plantation Inn was set for 7:30am, so we couldn’t linger about. Scott brought out the coffee first, then a small bowl of fruit. Finally the main course of a banana rum French toast (I think!), with bacon—of course‚ and more fruit as garnish. Needless to say it was decadent…

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DAY 95 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11

CHURCH HILL TO NATCHEZ We woke up to a warm welcome into the Bates house by Suzie and Lady the dogs. George prepared breakfast and shared stories while he cooked. Linda filled in the gaps. They make a good team. We packed up the van, and Tom set out from the driveway toward Bates Road…

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DAY 96 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12

NATCHEZ LAYOVER We started our second day in Natchez with a small breakfast at Natchez Coffee Company. After running into Jen there, we met up with her again over at the First Presbyterian Church of Natchez for a workshop with some local kids. Competing with the beautiful day, landed us few participants, but Amelie, Anna, and Ruth were…

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DAY 97 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13

NATCHEZ TO VIDALIA Tom and I got some work done in the morning before an 11:30 AM run over the bridge. I ran out from the bandstand and met up with a police escort at the visitor’s center. Over the bridge to Vidalia, Louisiana we went, cheered on by Natchezians along the way—including Stratton Hall yelling GEAUX…

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DAY 98 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 14

VIDALIA TO BLACKHAWK We woke up in Vidalia, Louisiana and got some work done on our laptops. The weather is cooler now and rain is still in the forecast for the next few days. We covered the mileage to Blackhawk yesterday afternoon. Blackhawk is just a point on the map, with no accommodations, but the Sydney A.…

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DAY 99 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15

BLACKHAWK TO MORGANZA We started our run at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and got immediately on top of the levee. The rain was holding off this morning, making for a refreshing run toward our landing spot at Old River Landing near Batchelor, Louisiana. Less refreshing was the terrain—thickly paved with large, loose rock, the levee path was a…

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DAY 100 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16

MORGANZA TO NEW ROADS We woke up not so bright but very early to a pouring rain in Morganza, Louisiana. After a quick cup of coffee at the Rivet house, we were off to breakfast at the Village One Stop. It started out as a small gathering with Lyle, Bae and Carla soon turned into a…

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DAY 101 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17

NEW ROADS TO ST. FRANCISVILLE Community Coffee “especial” helped us open our eyelids after the late—and somewhat raucous—night before with Aimee and the Ewing brothers in New Roads, Louisiana. We walked over to breakfast at the Country Café, literally walking right into George as we opened the door to the establishment. He joined us at the table…

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DAY 102 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18

ST. FRANCISVILLE TO BATON ROUGE (RED STICK) It was an overcast and misty morning with rain threatening but never really materializing. We came down US Highway 61 the whole way. There was heavy traffic with fast-moving vehicles. Technically we landed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but our specific point of entry was Southern University and A&M College –…

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DAY 103 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19

BATON ROUGE: SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY TO LSU We started our morning back at Southern University by the Red Stick Monument, and Tom ran out of campus heading south. It’s Saturday and things are quiet on the campus—the stadium empty with Southern’s football team at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas this weekend for a big conference game.…

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DAY 104 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20

BATON ROUGE LAYOVER We had a 10:30 AM meeting at The Water Institute of the Gulf. It was a beautiful day, 80 degrees and sunny, so Tom and I walked along the levee path to get there. We were having a special event on the dock that day to thank everyone who’s been involved and…

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DAY 105 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 21

BATON ROUGE TO ST. GABRIEL The rain came earlier than expected. We thought we might be able to get an early start and stay dry, but it wasn’t in the cards. Tom took off down the levee from LSU—already soaked just by walking from the van to the top of the levee. The view of…

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DAY 106 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22

ST. GABRIEL TO CONVENT/LUTCHER (ST. JAMES PARISH) We left St. Gabriel, Louisiana on bike. It’s forty miles to Convent, Louisiana and it’s all along the River Road which follows the levee downriver. Normally we like to leave a town and enter a town on foot, but today we needed to cover some miles and there’s not really a “town”…

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DAY 107 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23

CONVENT TO RESERVE (ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH) We arrived in Reserve at Our Lady of Grace Church, a historic Catholic Church Sanctuary now used as to house Historic Riverlands, a nondenominational Church which also offers tours focused on the Church’s history in African American life in Southern Louisiana as well as tours on the “Soul…

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DAY 108 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24

RESERVE TO NORCO (ST. CHARLES PARISH) We ran down the river from Reserve, Louisiana to Norco, Louisiana, running mostly east along this stretch of river. We thought the levee trail would be paved the whole way to New Orleans from here, but there was still a good bit of gravel to navigate. As we approached the Bonnet Carré Spillway,…

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DAY 109 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25

NORCO TO KENNER It was a stormy day. We started our run at the Corps of Engineers station at the Bonnet Carré Spillway. It was dark when we started and seemed to keep getting darker during Tom’s run. I stopped for a bathroom break as I drove ahead and found that the power was out at…

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DAY 110 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26

KENNER LAYOVER We spent the night in the Emergency Operations Center bunk house. This involved trying to fit two people on one bottom twin bunk for several hours before resorting to splitting up between two bunks. This also involved vision-impaired trips to the lobby bathroom in the dark, with badge key to enter and exit…

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DAY 111 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27

KENNER TO NEW ORLEANS (AUDUBON) We had to drive around the highway to get to the Seventh Ward. It seemed to cut right through a neighborhood, abruptly disconnecting the landscape. We parked along the street and walked to the second story entrance of Angela Chalk’s home. The door was slightly ajar, but we knocked. A…

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DAY 112 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 28

NEW ORLEANS LAYOVER We started our day at New Harmony High School, part of the charter school system in New Orleans, Louisiana. Unlike some of the other charters, New Harmony isn’t a franchise with a strict, rules-based, college-aimed focus. This school is rooted in its surroundings, approaching interactions with students, curriculum itself and the entire focus…

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DAY 113 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29

NEW ORLEANS TO VIOLET Tom ran from Audubon Park across New Orleans, Louisiana on Tchoupitoulas Street. It was very rainy in the early morning hours, but lightened up for our run. The route took him past the New Orleans Port and through downtown and the French Quarter then into Crescent Park and out of town toward Violet. We landed there on…

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DAY 114 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30

VIOLET TO BELLE CHASSE We ran from the Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation at Docville Farm in the rain. Another ferry ride at Scarsdale, Louisiana—not our first nor our last—bringing us over to Belle Chasse, Louisiana. We marked our landing spot there at the docks and drove on to the Government Complex nestled deep within the town. Stepping out of…

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DAY 115 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31

BELLE CHASSE TO CARLISLE It was a cold morning. Not quite 50 degrees even, and I am in shorts. I started my run on top of the levee at the Belle Chasse Ferry Landing on the Scarsdale side. Maybe a mile in, though, I was stripping off my quarter zip and going sleeveless. The cool…

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DAY 116 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

CARLISLE TO POINTE A LA HACHE (JESUIT BEND DETOUR) We started the day in Belle Chasse, Louisiana one last time and took the ferry back over to the East Bank. It was a cold morning with temperatures in the 40s and a wind from the north. “Mammal hands” were the day’s fashion statement—socks pulled over the hands…

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DAY 116 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

CARLISLE TO POINTE A LA HACHE (MADERE MANOR) We did our best to finish the 44 oz. frozen daiquiris on the drive between Belle Chasse, Louisiana and Jesuit Bend, Louisiana. Later this will seem like a bad idea, but at this moment, it seemed more polite than to walk into James and Alora’s house holding Styrofoam cup containing…

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DAY 117 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2

West Pointe a la Hache to Homeplace (Port Sulphur Detour) Cooler temps are hanging around along with a steady breeze. Today we ran the levee almost the entire way, running down the west side of the river from the ferry landing at West Pointe a la Hache, Louisiana and landing just south of Port Sulphur, Louisiana at the Homeplace…

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DAY 117 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2

West Pointe a la Hache to Homeplace (Over the Bridge) We came at Empire, Louisiana from the back side, driving from Patty’s Place B&B in Buras, Louisiana up Highway 11 and taking Rose Marie Drive through the shipyard right to Delta Marina. In the bait shop we asked for Mitch Jurisich, and the “Oyster King” as Albertine had called him came down…

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DAY 118 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3

HOMEPLACE TO BURAS We ran from the Homeplace watertower to Fort Jackson, Louisiana. It was a breezy day again, but we soaked up the blue sky and sun. Knowing we’d be out on a boat all afternoon, we rode up Hwy 11 to Lucky Ryan Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine for a Bahn Mi before heading back to…

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DAY 119 – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4

BURAS TO BOOTHVILLE/VENICE This is my last entry to write. Day 119 was the second to last day of our journey, but I was much more prompt in posting remarks on Day 120 back in November. I promise to refresh everyone’s memories after this goes up as well, just for closure. I promise the lag…

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DAY 120 – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5

We made it to the “end” — the “end of the world” some people say down here. First on foot to the last bit of land, the southernmost point of Louisiana, running our last several miles together over levee then road, accompanied by a heard of cattle the last quarter of a mile. Then we…

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DAY 120 (RE-POST).

DAY 120 (RE-POST). Harking back to November 5th, a relatively warm and sunny day at the Mouth of the Mississippi River with some of our newest and now nearest and dearest friends. Homeplace for so many of the people we met, up and down-river is the literal place they live—they have chosen to return, they…

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