It’s the final countdown. We’re set to reach the Gateway Arch on Saturday 6th October. And it’s the Thursday before. In London time, when you’re wishing away the days, that’s basically the weekend. So we needed to nail quite a few miles to make sure we made it. Up at 5am, in the pitch black we packed up from the anonymous sand-coloured-rock-bar, which we never saw in the light, and cracked on. A ginger in the water. In the utterly freezing water. And we were off.
First stop was Washington. Miguel, the superb film and photography king, who had started with us all the way back in Chamberlain, was coming to capture the end of the trip. Hopefully with all of us in a bit more control of our boards, with a bit of a tan and the ginge moving through the water swimmingly (Sorry. I couldn’t help myself).
He was hitting the water with the infamous Big Muddy Mike. A legend on the river. The kind of dude you would want to stumble across if you were in trouble. He knows his stuff. And he’s an absolute hero on top of that with a passion for food as well as adventure. I think I’m in love?!
While we waited, a chick came running down from the local radio to interview us and with no sign of the others, Dave and I carried on. Finally, we saw them approaching in the distance. I say finally, because I was bored of Corn (Joking… but feel like I need to bully him as much as I can before I leave). So we pulled over at the next boat ramp. Mike lived up to his name by whipping out a knife and chopping up fresh avocados right then and there and making fresh guacamole. Miguel and Big Muddy joining us marked the end of the journey and it was fast approaching. The sun was out. It was day 56 and we had 42 miles to do. What a treat to have Mike and his canoe of goodies. So on day 56 instead of dreaming about proper food, we were made fresh bagels with cheese, turkey and salad with a side of tortilla chips. And humous and bagels for tea. All with cold juice. How luxurious.
The sun started to go. We were determined to reach St Charles to make sure we were on track. But the amazing food/ 56 days of swimming meant Dave kept throwing up as he was swimming and intense cramps started to become a permanent fixture. But he’s one hardcore adventurer.
Finally, as we passed a bridge close to our end spot, we saw a guy screaming at us. Being practically blind, I thought it was a crazy person but it was Miles from the Isle of Capri hotel in Boonville. He was the dude that thought we were rock stars and once he heard about the swim, said he would help and walked off. Miles offering to help was an understatement. He screamed at us to stop at the Ameristar under the next bridge. And after we shot past him screaming there, we pulled in at the Lewis and Clark museum and unloaded.
And guess who we found there… Dale Sanders. Oh yes. One of the top notch people in the world was back. Daves old friend who had joined us in Chamberlain wasn’t going to miss the end. What a hero.
Miles, Dale and Mike helped us out, packed us up and carted us to the Ameristar hotel on the river in St Charles. It’s utterly enormous. Think Vegas. Think of a land for giants. With so many bright lights. Ceilings for twenty people high. Miles treated us to two rooms with giant beds, beautiful bathrooms and three televisions for one room. Just in case you don’t want to miss anything when you’re in the hot tub! If anything was going to strengthen the ginger and the team for their final big day on the water, it was going to be Dale, Muddy, Miles and a giant bed. And we had all of the above.
Twitter: @DaveCorn and @Swim1000