If you look closely at the first bridge, you can see hundreds of people. As we paddled beneath, they were cheering and drumming, joining in our chants. We could see horses ridden by native men; the Dakota Unity Riders had come to support us, to spread their messages of peace and healing. One group unfurled a huge banner that showed two lines of purple against a white background: the symbol of the two row wampum belt.
That kind of energy greeted us all along the river — in little towns, in yacht clubs, in parks. Whenever we landed, we'd be greeted by friendly people cheering us on, helping to pull in the boats, and offering us food and water. Somehow this journey seemed to bring out the best in people all along the river, who came forward to support us in all kinds of ways. In one town, a woman I'd known for less than a minute took me to her house so that I could have a shower.
In another small town, a couple offered to let us camp in their backyard. All of us. That meant more than 100 tents, a line of porta-potties, trucks carrying gear and food, all of us paddlers, and our amazing ground crew that included small children and at least one little dog. When the man who lived there woke up in the morning and walked out on his back deck, he saw that an entire village had sprung up over night – a couple hundred people, drinking coffee and eating breakfast and shaking out wet tents to dry. He said to us, graciously, "Come back any time."