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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Four: Buchanan to Arcadia

Day 4: Halfway! Who wants to go home already? Even though we didn’t need to pack up most of our camp, thanks to Jimmy, we still had to wake up early, fix and eat breakfast, and begin to pack for the day. We had veggie-filled scrambled eggs and bacon wraps. After eating, we walked into the tiny town of Buchanan. “Buck-Annan” is a cute, quaint town that is now trying to clean up and keep the James River clean. We learned lots about the history. Buchanan is where the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghany Mountains are the closest together in a place called the Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. The valley is at its narrowest point between Purgatory and Cove Mountains….So technically we spent a night and woke up in ‘Purgatory’. Speaking of Purgatory, Buchanan has 20 churches. One mayor leads a council of 6 volunteer townsfolk. Founded in 1811, this small town had a very unique and rich history. Its most famous resident, Mary Johnston, was the first #1 bestselling woman author, whose most famous novel is still on sale. Buchanan’s claim to fame for years was its very famous bone button and dress factories. We toured the town and enjoyed its smiles, the flowers on the windowsills of the cute little shops, and the music playing, inviting each of us into its mists. 
Drew and Gaetan learn about the history of Buchanan.
We also visited its water treatment plant. The funny thing is that lil’ Buchanan does not use the water purifier, but gets its water from community wells. Richmond and cities like it use the James River’s water, which has been purified by people like Joe Morris and his Mad Scientist Randy in Buchanan. Joe was so confident in his water that he was willing to drink it right before it would be let into the James. “We do this so while you paddle past and fall in, you don’t have nothing to worry about” (J. Morris). 
Sewage treatment: looks appetizing, smelled even better.
 Walking back to the camp, we enjoyed honeysuckle and raspberries. The wild fruit was deliciously juicy, and we scarfed down the fruit as we walked on the only walking bridge that crosses the James in its entirety. 

Gettin' up close and personal with an enormous representative of the order Diptera.

We had a shorter trek today; only a 6 mile paddle down the river near Arcadia. The rapids were fast and fun and the river flowed smoothly for us. We had an awesome lunch stop. We feasted on apples, peanut butter, and honey. Lena taught us how to snap apples in half with our bare hands! Some swam and hunted for fish, practiced underwater photography, or took an afternoon nap, lulled to sleep by the soothing waters of the river. After a reluctant re-launch for a final push towards our destination, we had smooth sailing. 

Kashira makes our taste buds sing!

Camp was set up efficiently, followed by a chili dinner and an amazing campfire with our newfound friends, including a visitor. Bob from the NPS met us at our camp site and is going to spend tomorrow with us. He taught us a lesson about the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the effects of all the millions of people that have an impact on it. Well, we are about to begin our nightly ‘Thorns and Roses’ and hit the hay. Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Everybody.

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