July 3:      Itís so nice to be on a river again!  The run to the Yellowstone 
                   River convergence was a pure joy compared to the lakes.  The
                   current is not quite as strong as below the dams, the river
                   winds through mostly farmland - wheat, corn, sugar beets,
                   safflower plants, and clover - and the only problems are the
                   occasional sandbars.  I was so inspired, I put in 10 hours of
                   paddling and more than 12 hours on the river.  Iím campes at
                   the convergence, a nice site with a great view of the
                   Yellowstone and Missouri, and lots of pelicans.  Iíll look for
                   Doug Leapleyís note (see entry just before Omaha) tomorrow.

July 4:       A monster storm blew through last night, with winds strong
                   enough to blow my tent almost flat to the ground.  I realized
                   then that the tent was designed to do that in high winds, so
                   long as the tent stakes hold, which thankfully they did.  I
                   couldnít find any sign of Dougís note this morning, so I
                   pushed on past Ft. Union and into Montana - a new state and
                   a new time zone!  The water is much muddier now, probably
                   because of the storms that have been hitting this region, and
                   I hit a lot more sandbars today.  On the other hand, with all
                   the debris being washed down itís easy to locate where the
                   main channel is.  I stopped earlier today because more severe
                   weather was in the forecast and the skies were clouding up.

July 5:       A beautiful day, with no wind.  The storms last night missed
                   me, but more are predicted for tonight.  I seem to be stuck in
                   the same weather pattern: clear and warm days, but the
                   constant threat of violent storms at night.  My shoulder
                   started feeling sore again this afternoon, which now gives me
                   something else to worry about.

July 6:       I made good time again today, although I had some anxious
                   moments this afternoon when the wind picked up.  It was the
                   same kind of tailwind that almost did me in on Lake Oahe,
                   and even though Iím on the river it still made me nervous. 
                   The river generally isnít as wide here as below the dams, but
                   there are spots where it sprawls out between islands and
                   sandbars.  In the wind, I find these spots tricky, both because
                   of the difficulty of identifying the right channel, and the added
                   danger of being exposed to the wind in open water.  Still, it
                   beats the lakes.  My shoulder continues to act up, not as
                   badly as before Bismarck, but Iím concerned about it getting
                   worse.  I think the wear and tear of this trek is starting to get
                   to me.

July 7:       Three months on the river, and Iíve gone almost 1,700 miles. 
                   By the time I get to Ft. Peck Iíll be about halfway to the
                   Pacific Ocean.  The thunderstorms predicted for last night
                   missed me, and I had a beautiful day on the river, which was
                   only slightly marred by my preoccupation with my shoulder.  I
                   think this is one of my personality traits: thereís always
                   something I can find to keep me from fully enjoying the
                   moment.  It must be my Puritan heritage.  If I have Puritan
                   heritage.

July 8:       Another calm, clear, and relatively relaxing day.  Iím moving
                   through this section of the river fairly quickly, averaging
                   almost 25 miles per day.  For the most part itís comparatively
                   easy paddling compared to the river below the dams.  The
                   sandbars are an annoyance, and occasionally itís hard to tell
                   which channel to take around them, but when the wind is
                   down (as it has been for most of this section) there are minor
                   problems.  Iím beginning to wonder if the wind god is saving
                   it all for Ft. Peck Lake, my last major lake to cross.

July 9:       I stopped a bit earlier today at a nice protected campsite just
                   below Oswego, MT.  Weather was cooler, breezier, and much
                   more overcast with some rain and the threat of more tonight. 
                   If the Dakotas were characterized by consistently strong
                   winds, Montana so far has been characterized by the severe
                   thunderstorms (or at least the threat of them).  Virtually
                   every night since I left Williston the weather channel has
                   issued severe weather warnings for my area.  Luckily, Iíve
                   dodged the worst of it.  Hail clobbered the area just south of
                   me a few nights ago, and Wolf Point, where I camped last
                   night is getting hit with 3 inches of rain tonight.  Every night
                   thereís an amazing light show and the constant rumpling of
                   thunder.




                    Click here for days 94 - 101 of Richard's journal