Liz & Frank’s Home

Lake Oahe, Bismarck, North Dakota

July 13 2023

Dear Family & Friends:

On July 8, Mike portaged me around Garrison Dam to the River. On July 8 & 9, I had good downstream floats in a strong current and arrived in Bismarck, 76.5 miles away. On July 9, the River reinforced a valuable lesson I had already learned about canoe safety: at the end of the day, always pull your canoe completely out of the water and secure it with a stake to terra firma. My daughter, Amy preached this lesson to me every day. On the evening of July 9, I pulled my canoe out of the water on an island sandbar. But, I didn’t see the need to use the stake I had sitting in the stern of the canoe. The next morning, my canoe was sitting in the water! If there had been a stronger current, it would have been long gone downstream. Sorry Amy, that won’t happen again.

St. Louis Bill and Annie were two days ahead of me. They met River Angels, Ryan and Marge Rayda, on an island near the Rayda home in Mandan, North Dakota. They told Marge and Ryan about me and Marge reached out to me, offering their guest house as a rest stop on the River. I gladly accepted this generous offer and stopped at their house on July 10. They have a beautiful home on the River with swings mounted on trees near the River. Their daughter, Harriott, and I traded trick moves on the swings, while daughter, Isabel, practiced on her trombone. She is part of the school band. As an added bonus, Ryan brews his own beer in their garage, so we had homemade liquid refreshment. We all drove to Bismarck in the evening for a fabulous Mexican dinner. It rained all day on July 11, so, with help from Marge, I used that day as an opportunity to resupply in Bismarck. 

I was back on the River on the morning of July 12, bound for Liz Loos & Frank Rohwer’s home in Bismarck. I had a very difficult time getting through the sandbars and mud flats one mile north of their home. Three times I had to get out of my canoe in the middle of Lake Oahe to wrench my canoe free from the grip of the sandbars and mud flats. Sharon and I know Liz, Frank and their 16-year old son, Gus. They once lived in Egeland, North Dakota where Sharon grew up. Frank is involved in water fowl preservation and hunting. Liz is a real estate agent.Their house is near the Lake. Liz & Frank were attending to business in Canada, so Gus greeted me at their dock and helped me unload my canoe. Liz & Frank arrived in the evening and we all enjoyed a steak dinner. Today, I borrowed Liz’s car and drove to a UPS  store to send some items home. We had a nice bbq dinner of bratwurst and corn at a large, beautiful green area overlooking the Lake.

I have now paddled 1,016 miles on the Missouri River. Tomorrow, I resume my journey on Lake Oahe. This will be the most difficult and dangerous part of my trip because of the size off the Lake, the turbulent nature of the water, the weather and the persistent headwinds. Lake Oahe is 235 miles long and has 2,250 miles of shoreline. Lake Oahe is the longest lake on the Missouri River. As David Miller states in his book, “The Complete Paddler,” “this lake will rest your skills, conditioning, judgment, and patience like no other body of water I have experienced.” The typical time to complete the journey is 17-22 days.

Safely secure?


The Rayda home

The guest house



Marge & Harriett

Ryan’s brewery

Departing the Rayda house

My canoe at the Liz & Frank dock on Lake Oahe


Liz & Frank’s house

Gus, Liz, Frank & Spat

Gus & his girlfriend, Selah

Bratwurst & corn cookout

Left to Right: Carol Jean (family friend), Liz, Frank & Selah