Well, with a week full of storms, cooling weather and a hefty work schedule, I managed to get out this weekend and get in almost three days of paddling. I got up Friday morning and loaded my gear and kayak, then swung by to pick up my new paddle, shipped in from the great folks at Aqua-Bound.  My choice of water was Caesar's Creek, a several thousand acre lake about an hour from Cincinnati. By 10 o'clock I made it to the boat ramp and started sorting my gear, which is a mix of things I already have and things that I recently purchased or made. So with little idea of where everything would go, I set about finding a place for everything and after a little over an hour I was just about finished taking inventory of my gear. After stuffing my water containers and camping gear into the hatches, and packing my day crate with snacks and fishing tackle, I set off on my first long paddle with this kayak.
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I paddled for several hours, going from the dam at the southern end of the lake to the first island I saw, and stopped to look around and eat lunch. The amount of rain we have had in this part of the country made finding a decent landing spot tricky, but I eventually found one. The lake has been up significantly with the rain, but the levels are dropping, just not entirely back to normal yet. The stench of rotting carp and shad was a constant nuisance on this trip as they were laying on the shores all along the lake; it seems to me that they may have dropped the water levels quickly at some point, stranding a lot of these fish in muddy pools and fallen trees.  Of course, where there are dead things, there are buzzards. Although I saw dozens of other animals, I probably saw almost a hundred buzzards over the weekend.
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Dead, half-eaten carp
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These particular buzzards reminded me of the singing vultures in the animated "Jungle Book"
After lunch I paddled up the western shores of the lake and stopped to look around on the lake's beach. Friday was about paddling, so although I fished for a few minutes, I didn't do so seriously enough to have much chance of catching anything. The day was rather cool and cloudy, so around 6 o'clock I found a spot to camp on the big island in the middle of the lake. I ate a light supper and put up my tent well before dark, all the while noticing the large deer tracks around the area. With nothing to do but wait for darkness and sleep, I made a few phone calls and listened to the radio for awhile. 
Sometime around 3 am I awoke to a buck only feet from my tent snorting and stomping. A little startled, I waited for him to catch my scent and bound off; for the next hour and a half I listened as he would slowly walk up, snort a few times and then run off, snorting as he went. Although a little unnerving at first, sitting in the dark in a flimsy tent, it became quite comical as he came back time and time again. Apparently, he was not happy with my choice of campsite!

 With the distraction and loss of sleep from the unhappy deer, I slept in 'til 8 am and woke up to a breakfast of a poptart and gatorade. Apparently, deer were not the  only critters on the island with me, because as I packed my kayak, I noticed that on the back were possum tracks. 
After packing up my tent and stuffing gear back into my kayak, I circled the island and continued along the western shore. Saturday had 10 - 15 mph winds from the south, so I had a crosswind for the first couple of hours of the day. By 10 o'clock I made it into the headwaters of the lake and was paddling with a bit of a tailwind. Just before noon I made it to the actual creek that feeds the lake and took a picture before turning around. 
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The wily opossum!
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This is Caesar's Creek, the source of the lake's name and water
While paddling out of the headwater area, I met half a dozen other kayakers and struck up a couple of conversations about my trip. They were all extremely interested and expressed interest about getting involved in the trip. Leaving the kayakers, I headed straight to the boat ramp at the campground and ate lunch. The rest of the afternoon was a marathon of paddling into the 10 - 15 headwind across the open middle bays of the lake and dodging the Memorial Day weekend boat traffic. Every time I finished crossing a large stretch of water, I would stop and eat some peanuts or craisins and drink some water or gatorade. What started as a mostly cloudy morning had turned into a mostly sunny day, with temps in the high 80s. The closer I got to the dam, the heavier the headwinds blew, but I finally reached my put-in boat ramp in sight of the dam. By 5:30, I had my gear in the car and the kayak on the rack, and was on my way to my Aunt Fran's house. With higher winds predicted for Sunday, I decided to forgo camping another night and paddling in the high winds, instead opting to hang out with my "out of town grandma", Aunt Fran, and some other friends that I haven't had time to  visit with my previous schedule of  school and work. The biggest surprise  was getting to see Mama Rita and Poppy, two of my favorite people in the world, all the way from Lima, Peru!

So after church on Sunday, catching up with old friends and eating some really good food, I woke up this morning to an amazing breakfast at my Aunt Fran's house and set off for a short day of a little more paddling and fishing. With fishing the main goal of the day, I didn't pack anything into the kayak besides my fishing tackle, deck towels, snacks and water. After talking to several more kayakers at the headwater's boat ramp, I paddled as far upstream as I could go with my large kayak and began fishing back downstream. First cast, I caught a small drum on a piece of night crawler. However, what started quickly soon became a sporadic bite, and after only catching handful of similar size drum, I decided to paddle the secondary branch of Caesar's Creek before heading back to my put-in. 
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First small drum
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Smallest drum
After paddling back to my put-in, I had a great conversation with a kayaking couple that was also taking out. They told me that with all of their kids grown and gone, they have taken up doing all sorts of interesting things, kayaking just one of them. Although new to kayaking, they told me that they are hoping to get to paddle the Everglades at some point, so of course I had to tell them about my trip. So what started as chit chat has possibly turned into me having paddling partners next winter when I'm in the Everglades! So with a satisfying end to the long weekend, I packed up and headed back to Cincinnati to get ready for work on Tuesday. Next weekend I hope to paddle Brookeville Lake across the border in Indiana, so check back after next weekend for another, probably shorter, update. If you are still reading this, after the longest blog post ever, I appreciate it. Be sure to check out the DONATING page of the website to see how you can donate to World Vision's work with clean water wells or sponsor a child here in the U.S. and around the world. Also, be sure to forward my website and blog to all your friends and family, and feel free to download the flyer on the homepage. If you are on Facebook, just click the "Like" button below this post to automatically post a link to this blog on your page. Also be sure to like the Paddle for Wells Facebook page to receive more up-to-date pictures and posts on the trip. I'm out.
Josh
 
 
I'm sitting here with Man vs. Food playing somewhere in the background; the only reason I realized what was playing is I started getting hungry. Anyway, I got my tour kayak this past Wednesday and got to take it out for a quick paddle today after church. It's quick for being a sit on top, and I couldn't be happier. I also took some time this weekend to add a couple of extras to the yak, including a crate that straddles the tank well in the rear. On this crate I've got a triple rod holder mounted and it will also hold the majority of my daily supplies while on tour. 
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My baby. I'm not sure what I'm gonna name her, so send me any ideas you have.
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This is the tank well behind the seat, with my day crate on top.
The rest of my gear, except the electronics and charts, is mostly gathered or on its way. So from here out, training is in full gear; I'm slinging concrete for 40 hours a week and kayak camping on local reservoirs/rivers on my extended weekends. My first extended training trip will be next weekend, Memorial Day weekend, so I'm hopefully looking at a solid four days of paddling and conditioning. In addition to physical training, these trips will also be used to work out any kinks in my gear and to get everything in working order. So stay tuned a week from now for another update, on what is hopefully a lot of  paddling progress.
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I got myself a big ol' floppy hat!
I would like to thank Aqua-Bound for providing my touring paddle for this project; they have graciously offered to provide a lightweight carbon paddle that will save my arms from a heavier paddle's wear and tear. For those wondering about my launch date, I don't have a date nailed down, but it will be in the next couple of weeks. Right now, I'm considering either July 11th or 18th, but nobody should hold me to that. I have several financial matters that need to be settled before I leave, so my launch date depends on getting those taken care of, which will just take a little time. So hang around for the next month and a half, follow my training trips and be sure to spread the word! Check out the donation page of the website to find out how to donate to the Team World Vision drilling projects or to sponsor a child. I'm out.

Josh
 
 
Well, I'm currently sitting in the school's library, trying to muscle through my last three days of homework and finals. As of this past Saturday, my kayak is on the way and I'm having a hard time focusing on school as this project seems to be fighting for all of my attention. As soon as the kayak gets here, I'm off and training!
I'd like to thank the congregations of Real Life Church and Trinity Christian Assembly for their enthusiastic support. These generous people are giving this project the ability to get off the ground and running. I have already received generous donations and my SPOT tracker, so a big "thank-you" to those individuals. 
I would also like to welcome Dogshark Custom Rods to the project. They have agreed to provide the project with custom fishing rods. They have some great products, check out their website at the link above!
Be sure and stay tuned for my weekend training adventures in a few weeks.
 
 
Welcome to my first post! This website and its blog are the beginning of my life after graduation, which is only a little more than a week and a half away! Following this blog will introduce you to the Great Loop water route as I kayak it and experience it for the first time. More importantly, it will introduce you to the great work of World Vision in the United States and across the globe. I have designed this project to provide entertainment, education and a way for people to get involved, all for the purpose of providing fresh water wells to the poor and remote regions of Africa, as well as raise sponsorships that provide food, shelter and education to children around the world. 
So stay tuned throughout May and June as I prepare to shove off on the Ohio River in July. Leading up to my departure, I will be periodically updating this blog with my preparations, training adventures and all the critical details that accompany a project of this magnitude. Follow me on Facebook at the project page (The Paddle for Wells Project), Twitter @paddletart or email me at paddleforwells@gmail.com.