While we packed the boats, our host quietly locked the house and left for the day. We had no bathroom when the time came. With directions to a gas station, we walked a quarter mile only to find an “out of order sign.”
The Indian behind the counter, aparently a pesophile, commented on our bare feet. “Back in my country, everyone walked around barefoot. When it got too hot, they sprayed the streets with water to cool them down.” He told us the bathroom wasn’t really out of order and that we were free to use it.
Working our way up the Hudson, with no discernable current, we paddled through four locks. “Lock seven, two kayaks approaching northbound,” we announced on the radio. “ Lock seven, two kayaks approaching northbound.”
“Locks ready for you, come right in,” the lock engineer answered on the radio.
Something moved on the water ahead of us. Maybe a log pushed by the wind. It seemed alive, though, maybe a bird of some sort. When we paddled close, it dove. Three times we saw these strange fish; they swam through the waters with much of their heads above the surface.
Our chart showed a marina in a cove, but a man with a house on the water told us the marina closed years ago and that we should continue to Schoylerville.
An island in the Hudson had a marina. Erin scouted it out while I waited in my boat. She came back with a report—showers could only be found on the mainland.
Our map showed camping just past the bridge, but a sign said camping was just before the bridge, so we asked a woman on the dock how much. To pitch our tent in the RV campground above would cost “twenty dollars for each of you,” a woman called down.
“No thanks, we’ll find something else.” We already explained we were kayaking from Albany to Hudson Bay. She wasn’t impressed.
“There’s nothing else.”
We paddled past the bridge and found a park. A flag flew in the center with a blue curve between two green curves. I didn’t know what it meant.
After organizing our things some, we made friends with a couple of guys whose backyard lay up against the park. They let us use their bathroom and encouraged us to return to the RV park for a shower. “Tell them you’re friends with Isabel.”
We found the woman we spoke to earlier, and after some internal debate and complaining how everybody wanted something for nothing nowadays, she decided she could generously let us shower for three dollars.
We thanked her and set out to find a cash machine in the small upstate town. People seemed to be lolling about, not doing very much, and Erin and I decided the town had been invaded by aliens.
Whe returned with the money, and were intercepted by a couple of middle aged heavyset men.
“What are you doing here?”
“We have permission to be here.” I answered honestly.
“My wife gave you permission, and she told me all about you, how you don’t have any money.”
“We didn’t have cash, so we went to an ATM to get some,” I answered defensively.
“Where are you staying?”
“Not far.” I don’t like to tell antagonistic people where I’m camping illegally.
“And you want me to believe they don’t have showers there?”
“No they don’t, that’s why we asked to shower here.”
“You need to leave the premises,” he commanded.
We made camp in the gazebo where we ate dinner in the friendly company of a caretaker and a severely autistic gentleman counting the cars that went over the bridge.
Overnight mosquitoes plagued us. Bug spray reduced the biting, but the ear buzzing maddened us to wakefulness. Rain poured down outside of the gazebo; we huddled in its center with a poncho spread out over our sleeping bags.
I retrieved a sheet of mosquito netting from a dry bag. We tried to seal it around our sleeping bags with our weight while keeping it off our faces. The mosquitoes sufficiently hindered, we slept. Not a great night's sleep, but at least we weren't evicted.
In the morning I read on our map that the flag meant we were at an official water trail site and had inadvertently camped legally.