North we go? Into some snow

It’s hard not to think about the contrast of my current travels compared to where I’d be now if there hadn’t been the engine troubles and I was still sailing.  Actually this was to be the estimated final day of motoring down the ICW and we would be likely heading out into the Atlantic to sail.  It’s 72 right now in Fort Lauderdale at 4:00 am December 9th.  I’m on a Greyhound bus yet again this time bound for Asheville, North Carolina.  Next stop Atlanta, Georgia and it’s 32 degrees as we passed Montgomery, Alabama.  The bus driver just told us there’s 3 to 4 inches of snow in Atlanta but he’d do his best to get there on time.  We were late leaving Mobile and Montgomery... I will switch buses 2 more times, once in Atlanta and again in Greenville, finally arriving in Asheville at 3:45 pm.  

Hopefully the sun will be out and melt the snow so Arlo can come pick me up.  I’m sure there’s more snow up in the mountains near Bryson City where Arlo and Jan live.  It will be fun to spend some time with them talking sailboats.  

Arlo was my best friend from high school who I knew as Arnie.  After graduation, he’d become a carpenter out in South Dakota and I’d become a block layer for my dad’s business.  He would talk a friend into helping drive and drive the 11 or 12 hours from Aberdeen to my cabin on many many weekends.  He helped build my cabin on Lake Clara, inland above Lutsen.  

It was Arnie...later Arlo who instigated that we get into Whitewater Paddling a few years after graduating high school.  One time, he brought a newly purchased whitewater kayak along when he came to help work on my cabin.  Soon he moved back to the Minneapolis area from Aberdeen, South Dakota and we both moved into my parents basement and worked for my dad’s masonry business.  We got very into whitewater paddling, including building our own crude fiberglass whitewater boats in my parents basement and eventually in the garage..later we started buying boats.  Early on we signed up for a 5 day instructional class at the Nantahala Outdoor Center...NOC.  We were total beginners compared to the other students but we’d both taught ourselves to roll so we stood out.  None of the other more experienced students had yet learned to roll.  The learning advances much faster when you’re not dealing with a swim every time you try something and capsize.   We really got into it.  We both attended our 5 year reunion and were possessed with this new found passion we’d discovered and tried to convince others to get into it.  Several times we would leave right from work on a Friday and drive 20 hours to West Virginia.  Getting there Saturday morning, we’d paddle, sleep, paddle again Sunday morning then drive home for work on Monday.  We had joined the Cascader’s Canoe and Kayak Club in the cities and met a couple other paddlers.  Arlo and I joined up with John and his friend...Brad I think?..on that first return trip to do some paddling in the SE .. around the NOC area.  Shortly after that trip Arnie went down to work at the NOC and was very involved during the booming construction years at the Center.  It wasn’t long before the NOC staff decided his name was Arlo.   I likely would have also gone down had I not owned my cabin on Lake Clara.  Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, John and I became great paddling friends, including C2 partners and made annual paddling trips to the NOC area each late March for a 3 weekend stretch that included a series of 3 whitewater slalom races called The Southern Cup.  We did that about 9 years.  

Once I was no longer making those annual trips, I almost lost contact with Arlo.. just the occasional call every few years.  During one of these calls I learned he had married a sailor woman and was building a sailing trimaran..  It was great to reconnect with Arlo and meet Jan for the first time at the end of my 3rd and definitely favorite volunteer crewing voyage on Asperida.  That was in 2015.  Having helped sail Asperida to Rio Dulce I decided to make a stop in Atlanta and visit Arlo and Jan about a week before heading home.  He gave me a tour of all the changes at the NOC he’d been involved with.  We also looked at the site of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics whitewater slalom events which were held on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.  A huge project and expense of the usual altered river bed, artificial rock, dam controlled flows and areas for judges, spectators and athletes.  I guess it isn’t even used anymore ?  

Anyway it will be great and I’m hanging out quite a while and then riding along with them to Michigan.  I’ll be dropped off at the Bay City Airport on Christmas Eve and flying to Thailand to spend the bulk of the winter 

Did you hear Trump was in Pensacola, Florida?  I was there a couple days looking at the sailboat for sale and deciding where to travel with my volunteer crewing being cancelled.  I checked out of my room at noon and with my bus ride not leaving until 10:45 pm I hung out there as the bus station is not as comfy as the lobby.  Then the front desk person told me Trump’s motorcade would be driving right past the hotel.  There is a fairly major undivided, 4 lane highway out front.  As it became dark, a cop came to close off use of the entry/exit of hotel on that street.  You could see flashing lights up and down the highway, closing traffic at each intersection.  It was not a parade it was securing the corridor.  Much of the hotel staff and some guests were giddy at the thought of glimpsing the motorcade as it sped by.  It was odd to see such adoration of Trump?  There were also quite a few not so adoring... I sat in the lobby watching the contrast.  Jokes in Spanish were followed by laughter.  I saw later at the bus station Trump had come to rally for the former Judge and Senatorial candidate, Roy Moore 🤮   Sorry no photos of the motorcade but I heard he was in a black stretch limo SUV style with big American flags on the quadrants.  They talked about that SUV a lot at the hotel....just bizarre.

Well... I’ve made it through another night with no sleep.  It’s 6:10 am now and it’s getting light enough to see a bit of snow.. less than an inch I’d say.  I might even be snowing a little?  Yep, definitely snowing. Looks more like a couple inches now..