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More river thoughts
Random Thoughts, July 27
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - Again this week my thoughts were drifting, stopping on long distance canoe paddling. However, this time the river thoughts in question flow in the Mississippi River rather than our Wisconsin River.

Prompting my river thoughts was the arrival of th publication ‘Our Mississippi,’ published by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is filled with information regarding what the Corps is doing as it manages the big river. Plus, it carries personal stories about people who use and enjoy the long river. The current issue includes a story about Dale “Greybeard” Sanders, 87 years old. He has reclaimed the record for being the oldest person to paddle a canoe down the Mississippi alone, from top to bottom. He made the 2,340 miles in 87 days last fall.

When asked about what it took to make the trip  he is quoted as saying, “Paddling the Mississippi is hard. It’s muggy, there are insects, there is a lot of misery. One has to be dedicated.” And he also noted there were a lot of people who helped, giving him a ride to shop for supplies or letting him camp in their back yards, etc.

Sanders once held the record for being the oldest person to hike the Appalachian Trail, but that record has now been broken. He says when he turns 90 he is going to try to get the record back.

Also, in the Corps of Engineers publication is a story noting a new speed record for paddling the length of the Mississippi. Last May a four-man crew made the trip in 16 days, 20 hours and 16 minutes.

Closer to home

There is now an abundance of big sandbars in the Wisconsin River because of the below average amount of rainfall that has fallen in much of the valley. A property owner along the river called my attention to a substantial number of large snapping turtles that seem to be calling a nearby big sandbar home. He is wondering if the turtles that hatched out in his front yard several years ago are among the current sandbar residents.

Among the joys of living in a small community like Muscoda is seeing various wild critters that live among us. On a recent evening car cruise Vi and I watched a whitetail doe and fawn as they walked through a village yard, seemingly unconcerned about us driving nearby.

Larry Anderson recently mentioned that a fox in his neighborhood has been a bit hard on his black squirrel population. He also noted folks in other parts of the community have been seeing fox.

It was several years ago when I looked out our front room window late one night and watched an otter lope along Nebraska Avenue, heading east.

Also, going back a few years, a deer broke a window and got into the Riverdale High School cafeteria. She was found the next morning, hiding in a closet.

Keep watching. You may spot a bear like the one that walked through Muscoda’s Riverside Park a couple of years or so ago.