May 20: A tailwind today, and I pushed hard to make 24 miles, in
                  hopes of making Sioux City by Tuesday.  I saw countless 
                  recreational boatsout today, the first time I've seen such
                  activity.  My sense is that there is relatively little 
                  recreational use of the river below Omaha.  The first real
                  marina I passed was at Bellevue, a few miles above the 
                  Platte River, and I've seen several since.
                  A storm is passing through now.  I'm in my tent in the 
                  middle of a down pour, but I'm comfortably dry.  I was 
                  hoping to build a campfire tonight to dry out my shoes 
                  and socks, which are still wet from my swim yesterday.  
                  That will have to wait until tomorrow.

   May 21: The current is definitely much stronger here.  I made 20 
                  miles, but it took a good deal of effort and 8 full hours of 
                  work.  My difficulties with the current were aggravated by
                  a countless string of dikes, often no more than 100 yards 
                  apart.  Not only is the current stronger as I go around the 
                  ends of them, but the eddies I encounter as I approach them
                  are much nastier.  I did meet lots of friendly people today,
                  including a threesome of fishermen who had seen me below
                  Omaha.  They cruised alongside of me as I paddled, and we 
                  chatted - a nice diversion for me - and when I was setting up
                  camp they stopped by with two other boats.  We shared 
                  some beer and conversation before they took off 
                  downstream.  They took some pictures which they promised
                  to send, and I hope they include their names so I can 
                  properly thank them here.

                       A beautiful view from the boat.

   May 22: Very difficult going.  The last 2 days I've had to push it to
                  make my quota of 20 miles.  Midway through the day today I
                  finally lost my patience and began shouting obscenities at
                  the top of my lungs at the insufferable number of dikes and
                  the people who built them.  I'd like to dynamite every dike 
                  between here and Omaha.  I now have a list of the most 
                  aggravating aspects of this expedition.  The first is AT&T and
                  my cell phone, both of which are useless.  As soon as I get to
                  the Pacific, I plan to hurl the phone out to sea as far as I can.
                  The second is Citizen's Trust bank in Cambridge, who claim 
                  to be "not your ordinary bank".  Not ordinary unless you 
                  expect your bank to gouge the consumer and be incapable of
                  providing customer service.  And the third are these dikes,
                  which I swear are placed in such abundance on this stretch 
                  of the river by the Corps of Engineers because they're 
                  prohibited to build any above Sioux City.

   May 23: Another strenuous day, barely managing 2.5 mph.  This may
                  be the only stretch of the river where I face as difficult a task
                  as Lewis and Clark.  I'm only making as much progress as
                  they did.  In their journals they calculated the current above
                  the Platte at 3 - 3 1/2 mph.  Now it's more than twice that.
                  The landscape I've passed by in the last two days has been
                  most appealing: wooded hills on the Nebraska side, flat 
                  farmland on the Iowa side, and lots of wildlife.  Today I 
                  passed by steep banks that were pock-marked with the 
                  nests of either black terns or swifts, all of whom were darting
                  about over the water.  Later today I passed what has to be
                  the ugliest section of the river - a mini-industrial complex
                  with a huge power plant that belched yellow smoke near
                  Salix, Iowa.  It was a scene I would have expected in Kansas
                  City (or Pittsburgh), but not out in the middle of nowhere.

                                   A thing of beauty...

   May 24: It took me 3 3/4 hours to go the final 7 1/2 miles to Sioux
                  City, the hardest paddling I've done since day 1 when I had
                  to cross the Mississippi.  I could only make 2 mph, and that
                  was with no headwind.  Nuke the dikes!

   May 25: In Sioux City.  I was interviewed by the Sioux City Journal
                  yesterday afternoon, and the article appeared in today's
                  paper - front page news  with a big color photo!  At 
                  breakfast this morning people treated me like a celebrity.  I
                  guess I just had my 15 minutes of fame.
                  I discovered a crack in the blade of my #1 paddle, and
                  frantically called The Wilderness House for a replacement.
                  They worked with the folks at Werner in Washington, and I
                  can pick up my new paddle in Yankton.  Way to go
                  Wilderness House!  I had a thoroughly enjoyable stay in
                  Sioux City, and was impressed with the city's development
                  of the riverfront area as parkland, something I'm noticing
                  more and more as I get further upstream.

   May 26: Back on the river for my last day of dikes and channeling.  It
                  was a cold, rainy, miserable day, but I had a tailwind and
                  wanted to take advantage of it.  On the way out of Sioux City,
                  several people honked or waved to me.  I think the 
                  newspaper article has made me locally famous.  I've camped
                  at Ponca State Park tonight, about 2 miles upstream from the
                  last dike.  I got soaked today, but inside my tent things are
                  dry and cozy, even though it's still raining.  I'm out of Iowa,
                  and into South Dakota, with Nebraska still on my left.

                    Click here for days 50-56 of Richard's journal