Letters Home upon first coming West

bro John; Blythe to river's end


Sun. 1/17/70
Yuma, Ariz.

Dear Folks,

Fri. evening John & I finally reached Yuma. The river, after the last two dams 17 miles upstream is very small. Water is taken out for drinking & irregation leaving mainly sand. Many times in the last 17 miles we had to get out of the kayak & pull it over sand bars. The water is also much warmer. We are now laying next to the river after a much needed bath & shampoo. Yesterday was spent in packing up the kayak & shipping it back to Milw[aukee] and in washing our clothes.

After meeting John1 in Blyth on the 9th we set out together down river on the last 90 mile stretch of river to Yuma, which included two dams. The second night out, the 11th, it rained. Not hard but eough to wet down the desert causing many tiny flowers to bloom where there had been only bare sand & rock.

The next day we found a derelect single kayak wedged in among some trees. We took it in tow until we got to a landing. There we emptied it, cleaned it a bit and tried it out. It worked very well. I shipped a little water on a fast turn as it has no combing and tips a lot easier then the Klepper. So now we had two kayaks. We traded places each day until we got to Imperial Dam where we left it not wanting to portage it.

The last part of the trip had more birds in it then any part previously. Loons, Grebes, Coots, ducks, a Bald Eagle, an unidentified hawk, geese, lg. blue-grey cranes, pure white cranes, owls, and many small birds.

We have spent our time here in cleaning, patching, sewing, replenishing supplies. In generally getting ready for the next stages of our trips, John to San Francisco and I through southern Ariz. and into Mexico.

I shipped the kayak to Stowell [Ave in Milwaukee] by bus on Sat. It's in the same four bundles as it was when it came out here. In the framebag, wrapped in a pair of fish net long drawers are two rolls of film, one color 20exp, the other BW-12. In the hull bag is a blue denin bag of rocks. Dad can have the little round ones for his tumbler. I want the big ones if no one else does. For Mother there is a mask carved in Mexico. It's not silver, but maybe I'll find one in Mexico. Also there's a bunch of maps and books. The maps show my route w/ all my camps. Dad can have the rock books if he wants. They're too heavy for me.

Enclosed in this letter is another Journal Extact that I stated on the 7th but the weather, which was freezing and John's arrival caused a slight delay in finishing it. Also I enclose $450. The $50 is for my fund, develop my pictures with it. The $400 I send for when I decide ona forwarding address_ Temporarally I be without an address_

I hope Sally has had her baby by now & is well.2 As I hope everyone is well there in Milw. Here both of us are well

   & send our love.


  1. In a post card postmarked the 9th John writes:
    "I got to Blythe in 2 days, then met Peter. He's real bushy & red. Peter says it's cold. I say it's hot.
    "I'll send a letter someday.   JWW"

  2. Today I would have had a cell phone and a credit card and all the uncertainty of family conditions and all the monetary finangling would be moot. But then we would not have these letters from the past. return

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edited by Peter J Wait, 9/13/00