Palm Desert, CA

August 25, 2023

Dear Family & Friends:

August 19. This was a great day on Francis Case Lake. I enjoyed calm waters or tailwinds all day. For the last 5 miles, the tailwinds and waves created 2 to 3 foot swells, and I rode the waves all the way to our campsite without having to paddle very hard. We made 30 miles, which is great for a lake with no current. When Steve and I started on Francis Case Lake, we had 107 miles to reach Fort Randall Dam. We now have just 57 miles.

August 20. The day started well, but ended badly. We faced strong headwinds and large swells but still made it 20 miles to Dock 44 Marina. About 5 miles from Dock 44 Marina, Steve’s seat in his canoe broke. He managed to paddle to the Marina, but repairs were needed. Those repairs will probably have to be made when he reaches Fort Randall Dam at the end of Francis Case Lake. The Dam is about 40 river miles (2-3 days) away.

At dinner, I received a call from my neighbor at our condominium in Palm Desert, California telling me that our condo suffered severe water damage as a result of Tropical Storm Hillary. I will need to spend at least another day at Dock 44 to deal with this issue and coordinate activities to remove the water and arrange repairs. Most likely, Steve will leave tomorrow to reach the Dam and repair the seat in his canoe. I’ll stay here as long as necessary. Hopefully, I won’t need to return home.

August 21. Zero day. I spent all day dealing with condo. Steve left in the morning. He only made it 10 miles to Platte Creek Recreation Area because of waves and headwinds.

August 22. Yesterday, I took a zero day to deal with Tropical Storm Hillary’s damage to our condo in Palm Desert. I spent all day at the Dock 44 Marina trying to arrange services to remove the water from our condo and begin the remediation and restoration of our beloved second home. I will need to take a second zero day today because the restoration companies are overwhelmed with calls for service. The problem is compounded by the fact many of the major highways and streets are closed because of flooding. I hope to engage a restoration company today and begin the water extraction and remediation process. If this happens, I’ll be back on Lake Francis Case tomorrow.

Dock 44 Marina is closed on Monday through Wednesday so I am here by myself. It’s like a ghost town Fortunately, my cabin is air-conditioned.

Here is some much-needed good news. River Angels Roger Huizenga & Cheryl Pruett picked Steve up at his Platte Creek Campsite and took him out for dinner. Roger also helped Steve fix the seat in his canoe. They offered to pick me up at Dock 44 and take me into town. Roger and Cheryl drove me to the town of Platte where I had a great breakfast and picked up some supplies.

Steve started paddling from Platte Creek to North Wheeler Recreation Area, just 15 miles from Fort Randall Dam. He only made it a short distance before he had to return to Platte Creek because of more strong headwinds and waves. So, Roger picked Steve up at Platte Creek and we all rested at Cheryl and Roger’s beautiful home, just outside Platte.

Roger retired after spending 30 years in the Air Force.  Thank you Roger for your service to our great country. Cheryl grew up in Devils Lake, North Dakota where my wife, Sharon, was born. Cheryl knows many of Sharon’s Aunts, Uncles and family members who live, or once lived, in North Dakota. Roger and Cheryl are wonderful River Angels.

August 23. I’m returning home today to deal with the damage to our condo. I’ll return to the Missouri River and finish when things at the condo are stabilized. When I return, I will finish on Francis Case Lake in just 2-3 days. That will leave only one more Lake to cross-Lewis & Clark Lake-which I can cross in one day. After that, I’ll be back on the Missouri River with a good current all the way to the end of the Missouri River in St. Louis.

I’m really going to miss my paddlemate, Steve. We have the same paddling style-slow, but steady. We also have similar personalities and family-first values. Good luck my dear friend. I’ll see you soon.

Bill, Cheryl & Steve

Bill, Cheryl & Steve

Steve, Roger, Cheryl & Bill