May 27 I pulled in early today, tired, wet, cold, and frustrated.  
                  Strong headwinds hampered my progress, and I kept 
                  finding unexpected signs of Corps work, stretches of 
                  mini-dikes spaced 25 yards apart and many reinforced
                  banks.  I figure that the Corps, being engineers, just can't
                  keep from fiddling with things.  The river here is not quite in
                  its natural state.  There are some dikes, and the current is 
                  just as strong as below.  Still, it does have a strikingly
                  different appearance.  For one thing, it is much wider here,
                  fully a mile in many places.  And the channel has a mind of
                  its own, often following the inside curve of bends.  Today the
                  current seemed to stay exclusively on the Nebraska side,
                  where I've been paddling, regardless of the bends.  I kept
                  looking longingly at the South Dakota side, but the river is
                  too wide to cross without wasting a lot of time.  There are
                  also extensive sandbars along this stretch which I'm finding
                  tricky to read.  After 750 miles, I'm going to have to relearn
                  the river.  I met some more people today who had seen the
                  Sioux City article.  This is almost like running the Boston 
                  marathon with all these people cheering me on.  I also
                  encountered three men in a boat (sounds like a movie title),
                  real jerks who came within 10 yards of me and almost 
                  capsized me with their wake.  When I'd recovered my
                  balance, I gave them the traditional single-finger salute,
                  only to hear four shotgun blasts from their boat in reply.
                  When I neared the place where they had fired, I saw two
                  dead swallows floating in the river, victims of the callous
                  thoughtlessness of three idiots.

May 28  A very relaxing day, to the extent that's possible when 
                  you're paddling for more than 8 hours.  The weather was
                  clear and warm, with a light southerly breeze at my back.  
                  Lots of people were out on the river or setting up cook-outs
                  on the banks.  Many recognized me from the article, and 
                  some even invited me to stop and join them.  I wish I could
                  take the time to stop and chat more with the people I see, 
                  but I'm a few days behind schedule, and feel the urge to 
                  push on and make up for lost time.  Besides, if I pulled in for
                  a meal, I'd probably eat everything on the table leaving 
                  nothing for my hosts.

   May 29   I made it to the first dam today, Gavin's Point Dam, just 
                  above Yankton, S.D.  Helped by a 20 mph south wind, I
                  zipped along.  I saw lots of people again today, especially
                  between Yankton and the dam, an area of heavy 
                  recreational use.  In this same stretch I also saw an 
                  unusually large turtle population, hundreds of them 
                  swimming along the shoreline with their necks extended like 
                  little Loch Ness monsters.  My first portage was an 
                  adventure.  For the first part, I crossed from the river about
                  a mile below the dam into a lake which would take me closer
                  to the marina and resort above the dam where my paddle 
                  has been sent.  That was easy, and several folks helped me
                  carry my gear across the street.  After a paddle of 1 1/2 
                  miles across the lake - without a current, I was smoking! - I
                  had a much harder stretch across a field, across two roads,
                  up a steep embankment, and down the other side to Lewis 
                  and Clark Lake.  The whole portage took me 2 1/2 hours.  
                  After I packed away my gear at the marina, I met another
                  generous Sioux City resident, Jay Hesse, who insisted on
                  treating me to my accommodations and dinner.  It doesn't
                  get any better than this!

May 30-31  After a relaxing day at the Lewis and Clark marina in 
                  Yankton, I took off late this morning for my first day on a
                  lake.  What a treat!  No current, a light tailwind, and a 
                  thoroughly enjoyable cruise up the lake.  The lake reminds
                  me of the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, long and 
                  narrow, flanked by rolling hills and cliffs.  I saw several more
                  pelicans today, and hundreds of swallows who have built
                  clusters of mud nests in the cliffs.  
                  When I got to the headwaters of the lake, things started to
                  go awry.  The river current returned, I got hung up on a
                  sandbar, and at Springfield the river became a maze of
                  channels and sandbars.  I followed what appeared to be the
                  main channel, but three miles beyond Springfield I 
                  discovered it was a dead end.  I considered exploring to find
                  the channel, but it was getting late, and I was in the middle 
                  of a huge swamp with no visible campsites, so I returned to
                  Springfield to set up camp.  With an earlier start, and no 
                  wrong turn, I could have made almost 30 miles today.

    June 1 The weather turned nasty today - cold and windy.  I talked 
                  to some fishermen last night and learned how to follow the
                  channel - it's marked with ribbons - and set out in a bad 
                  mood because the wind had already made boiling water 
                  for my oatmeal and coffee difficult.  The wind picked up 
                  during the morning, and at noon a thunderstorm erupted.
                  I pulled in for cover, but when I started out again, the wind
                  and current were too much.  I managed to cross the river to
                  a boat ramp at Niobrara, where I set up camp.  I made only
                  11 miles in 5 hours today, through a vast area or reeds, 
                  sandbars, and false channels.  The sun came out this 
                  afternoon, and with the strong winds I managed to dry my 
                  socks and shoes for the first time since Yankton.

    June 2 Well rested after yesterday's ordeal, I got an early start.
                  The wind was still against me, but considerably diminished,
                  and once I got out of the Niobrara area the current seemed
                  to let up a bit as well  The stretch from Verdel, Nebraska to
                  my campsite in an area called Sunshine Bottom (sounds like
                  a nudist camp) was the most pleasant I've been on so far.  
                  The river has collected itself into clearly defined boundaries.
                  On my right, South Dakota has tree-lined banks behind which
                  are rolling hills that serve as rangeland for herds of cattle.
                  On my left, Nebraska has a series of steep shale bluffs and
                  cliffs, home to more swallows.  The water since Niobrara is 
                  noticeably clearer - I can see about 4 or 5 feet deep, as 
                  opposed to 4 or 5 inches downstream.  The landscape now
                  has a definite northern plains look to it: tree-lined banks, 
                  behind which lie rolling hills of grassland and scrub pines - 
                  mostly ranchland for herds of cattle.  Contrary to the 
                  information supplied by AT&T, my cell phone is useless 
                  here - since I've left Yankton, all I get is the "no service" 
                  message when I try to call.
                  It's 9:00 and time to get some sleep, but it's still light 
                  enough to read and write without my flashlight, a sign that
                  I'm getting further north.
                    Click here for days 57-63 of Richard's journal