There is a wide, sandy riverbed at Henry, Nebraska. Depending on where a person was standing on the grassy bank to view it on May 18, all it looked like there was in the riverbed was sand.
On the north side of that riverbed, however, the North Platte River was flowing in a shallow channel a few feet wider than the Plattepus I. The best place to see this channel was standing in it.
Ron launched the Plattepus I at 2:30 p.m. Central Time, and went west. Yes – upriver – because we’d seen where the Nebraska/Wyoming border was, and by going west around a gentle curve in the river, he crossed into Wyoming, turned around, and began his cross-state downriver journey assured he wasn’t missing an inch of Nebraska.
The good news is Ron started his journey with the immediate confirmation that building the Plattepus I to float in around an inch of water was a great idea. The better news is that by the time he’d reached the bridge at Morrill, the North Platte had expanded in width and depth.
The best news? Hearing him talk about the experiences he’s having, like the joy he felt to see a large creek flow into the riverbed late Friday afternoon, and how cool it was to immediately reap the benefits of the additional water and current. A beaver slapped its tail on the water right in front of him. Deer are everywhere, and ducks and geese with their babies swim along the banks. At one point he saw a duck “swimming like crazy in the middle of the river,” and though he kept expecting it to fly away as he got closer, it didn’t. He started thinking the duck was loony and might run right into Plattepus I – and right about then Ron realized it was a decoy, tied to a branch.
He has floated right through several barbed-wire fences and is getting the hang of going around or through the many diversion dams that block the river so that water can be shunted off into canals. These do not sound like fun, and the Plattepus I has a few scuffs to show for it.
Last we saw Ron Friday night, he was camped under a bridge. There were whistling trains nearby. Daughter Sheila assured him – if he couldn’t sleep – he could always entertain himself by reading all the graffiti packed onto the underside of the bridge. Basically there was paint with splotches of concrete. In addition to the words, there was a drawing of a man smoking something that looked illegal. All in all, a full day!
Remember to view the list of bridges in the May 15 post - I'm updating the list with the time he reached them and the notations of his GPS mileage readings.