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Monday, May 07, 2001

May 5, 2001, Cinco de Mayo Full Moon Paddle

Leader and hostess: Jane Agee.

Directions: Magnolia River in Magnolia Springs, Alabama is located south of U.S. 98 in Baldwin County. Take route 49 south from US 98. Turn right at Jesse's Restaurant and go to the public put in at Rock Street. This landing is public, but do not stay until dark. Signs indicate hours it is open. Alternatively put in at Noltie Creek landing. On 49, cross the bridge over the Magnolia River past Jesse's Restaurant and go to route 26 westbound. A boat ramp on the right is open to the public with a $3 launch fee on the honor system.

Jane Agee hosted us at her home on the Magnolia River. We had 24 boats for the paddle and a couple were tandems. Additional people showed who did not paddle but came for the social. This is great! Y'all come on out to visit even if you don't make the paddle. Visiting is part of being in our club too. Jane had cars and trailers in her front yard and boats in her back yard. We started putting boats in the water at 5 and kept going past 6. We slowly paddled down river because we had oodles of time to get out for 7:30 sunset. The river is beautiful. Fine homes line the riverbanks in town, and further downstream, the housing stops and trees come all the way to the water. Wading birds and pelicans make a good living on this river. It is still a very healthy ecosystem. It should be; the residents show great pride in their little river.

About a dozen boats stayed together and we went into Weeks Creek. Weeks Creek is little developed. It has two piers and no homes visible from the river. A couple of blue Gallinule birds with enormous yellow feet flew along the right bank looking for fish at the waters edge. Birds called from the forest, but one paddler wondered aloud, "Why we don't see any animals?" The water mirrored the green broadleafed trees in the stillness ahead of the boats. Frank Laraway was way ahead of the main group. He reported later that he saw lots of evidence of beavers feeding at the shoreline of Weeks Creek. Plenty of water plants had been uprooted and nibbled.

As we rounded a curve, I saw a family fishing in a bass boat ahead and decided not to go by them with a dozen boats. We turned around about 6:35 to backtrack to the main channel. If we used the same amount of time to go back as we used coming here, we would be in time for sunset in the main channel. We returned to the intersection of Weeks Creek and Magnolia River with the sun still above the treeline. Gene escorted a first time paddler back to Jane's place. The river was just about glassy smooth and the power boats had gone home for the night. I paddled down river to a small island. Some old pilings form a barrier to large boat traffic at one end of the island and I ducked through a 3 foot gap in the pilings to paddle in the undisturbed channel behind the island. Fritz Ingram in a Tampico followed me through and we paddled towards the end of this channel which is blocked similarly with pilings at the other end. On the rightmost piling sat a grizzled looking pelican. We paddled quietly in formation until we were about 50 feet from the pilings. Then we both rested our paddles on deck and coasted slowly right past the pelican. The pelican let us go by without getting up and flying away!

Back out in the main channel we were joined by several more paddlers coming down river. We made ourselves comfortable near Eslava Creek. Some went on into Eslava Creek and came back quickly. Eslava Creek has a gator nursery, or at least a high concentration of gators. This was a very pleasant setting to watch the sunset. We had high wispy cirrus clouds over toward the direction of sunset and a curtain of slightly thicker clouds to the left or south of sunset. Behind us a broken ceiling of rippled clouds partially covered the moon. The sun went down and we waited briefly for the clouds to uncover the moon, which they did. We paddled back under a clear sky with some alpen glow behind us and an unobscured moon ahead and to our right.

Back at Jane's, we saw two dozen Tiki torches blazing away around her dock. She had tables and chairs set up - room enough for every one. The potluck selection gave us umpteen choices and Jane had barbecued ribs and several whole roasted chickens out on the serving table. Under a live oak we had another table with mixers, wide glasses for Margaritas and a blender. Along about 10:30 we started collecting stuff to carry up to Jane's house. But the party continued as long as we had people standing up talking, sometime after 11. Her neighbors, Billie and Carrie, came over and we had a good visit. Thanks heaps, Jane.