I wake up at 4:30 and start paddling at 6. The wind has turned and I get a taste of the rare north wind, that accelerates me along wildly blinking Casinos on the Nevada side of the river (town of Laughlin) and all sorts of Trump flagged riverside mansions.
After only two hours I have already done 11 miles, so I tie my Kayak and get a coffee at “Lazy Harry’s”, a place Helen had told me about. It’s only a short break, as the wind is quite motivating and I am happy to cover some miles in this less attractive part of the Colorado River.
At mile 18 I get to Avi Casino, the last one in Nevada, before the Colorado River enters California. I had heard that there were pictures of the undamed Colorado River in a gallery, so I decide to go check them out. I tie my Kayak to a palm tree on the sandy beach and push open one of the large doors. I enter a different world. It is dark and there are all those blinking machines and slumped over smoking figures sitting in front of them frantically pressing buttons.
I realize I had never been in a casino before in my life. After I take a look at the photographs, mostly depicting Native American tribes and how they attend white peoples schools. Also, there is a children’s casino. No shit. Its all about learning early…
Then I look at the blinking lights some more and spontaneously decide to give it a try. I have never gambled before, although I have always been good at winning things. And my lucky streak continues: within ten minutes I win twelve dollars, having invested only one. So I cash it out, buy breakfast and get back into my Kayak.
At 1pm I am passing my planed campsite for the night and decide to do a double day and continue all the way to my next camp. I had made a reservation at with Rose, the super friendly host of this nice and chilled out place called Fender’s River Resort, but I have to ask them to cancel my reservation, as I am just too motivated to go on and it’s still early in the day.
I now pass one straw after the other. All of them taking water from the Colorado River to irrigate the fields to the left and right of it.
On a lazy stretch I meet Dave and Tyler. They are on a motor boat, but have turned the engine off, letting the current take over their pace. Their fishing rods are, as they say, more like an alibi to be out here. They don’t even care much about catching fish. When they offer me a beer, I feel it is perfectly fitting and so I hang out with them for a while. One hand is on my cold Mexican beer, the other one holding on to their boat. We talk about families and politics, about my journey and their retirement, all while the Colorado River is slowly carrying us downstream. Then I pass back the empty bottle and take off, probably the only time ever, I out-paddle a motorboat…
At Pirate May Marina I meet with Mona, a friend of a friend, who knows a lot about the area and especially about the nature and landscape here. She invites me for an early dinner and tells me more about the Colorado Rivers old flows, especially in the delta. I didn’t know that the river apparently used to take a different course, that had included the now problematic and environmentally very challenged Salton Sea.
When I leave the Marina, the sun is already setting. I can feel todays 40 miles in my shoulders now, and it will be challenging to find a campsite in the dark. I pass under the bridges that cross the river and try to avoid any deep breath. The air is laden with smog and the road and train tracks are so loud, I paddle as hard as I can to get away from them. I paddle close to the California shore, trying to make out sandy coves but find none. When I finally see a little patch of sand I immediately pull my Kayak up. I am really tired now. Not having seen any of the surroundings, but making out all kinds of animal noises and different shaped tracks in the sand, I decide to set up my tent. A dark barking or howling that seems to move around the coves creates a mysterious atmosphere and I wonder what animal that could be. It sounds too powerful for an owl or any other bird. It’s not the howling of coyotes either, I have heard that before. While still thinking about what it could be, I fall asleep.