WOW. WOW. WOW!!!
Paul here, and very much on dry land as promised!
There's no way to accurately describe the feeling of stepping out of Liv on Sunday afternoon and having all of the things I'd been dreaming about for the last 88 days handed to me in an instant. It will be impossible to do justice to the experience, but I'll try my best over the next several days, and we'll have lots of pictures and video of the arrival festivities up here for you. I've been swamped with press interviews and welcome activities, and I'm just starting to feel more comfortable on land and getting my schedule sorted out. For a quick glimpse of my schedule, today started with radio interviews with stations in Detroit and Miami/West Palm beach between 8 A.M. and 8:30. Then a break before Fox News (TV) at 11:30 and CNN at 12:30. Incredible! Such great exposure for Row for Hope and the cause!
The welcome I've received here in Antigua has been completely overwhelming, beginning the moment I reached the mouth of English Harbour. After not having seen another human for 87 days, I found myself in the middle of a swarm of dingys loaded with photographers and well-wishers. I could hear the cheers of a crowd on the point marking the entrance to the harbor. The Search and Rescue boat had come out and was spraying a fire-hose rainbow to welcome me to Antigua. A restaurant on the water just inside the harbor off of my starboard side was lined with at least 50 people, all standing and applauding as I rowed by, with "We Are the Champions" blasting in the background. The occupants of the dozens of boats anchored in the harbor were on deck and congratulating me as I rowed by. Then I looked over my right shoulder and saw the crowd at the dock. It was HUGE! I had envisioned being greeted by my friends and family as I got off the boat, but it looked like the whole island had turned out to welcome me. I remember thinking "I didn't think there were this many people on earth!", and yet all were there to see me set foot on dry land.
It's getting late and I have an early interview tomorrow also, so I'll have to write about what it was like to take my first very wobbly steps and how I've spent the last couple of days -- think juicy hamburgers, pizza, steak, ice cream (even for breakfast), wonderful friends and family, constant congratulations from strangers as I walk around town, and incredible hospitality from the Antiguan people.
Thanks so much for all of your support -- sounds like we have a lot of celebrating to do together when I get back to the States, and don't forget that the fundraising push continues as we continue to promote the Row for Hope cause!
P.S. We're working on getting some video up so stay tuned. I was recording a shot of myself rowing into the harbor from the boat. Should be a really cool perspective, and I'll get it up on YouTube as soon as I can. There's also a good video from land and the mob scene when I stepped off of the boat.
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A Challenge to the Rowing Community
Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!
Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.
So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.
Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.