March 22, 2017 (Wednesday)

March 22, 2017 (Wednesday)
Weather conditions:
High – 51
Low – 36
Skies: Partly Cloudy 0% rain
Winds : ENE 16 mph

Miles traveled: 28
Total miles: 38
Where we are: Beaver Island, across from the Merimac River Confluence MM 161 (LBD)

My river view this morning:

After a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, granola, and sour bread, I took a look downstream and realized that this morning’s view will not include towboats. This is because the river is channeled around the Chain of Rocks as it heads into the commercial district surrounding St. Louis. There will be no tow and barge sightings in this stretch since they are routed through the locks of this bypassing canal. On the other bank, a narrow strip of wooded ground separates the natural wilderness. From the man-made waterway. A break on the tree reveals a portion of the last locks on the Mississippi, Lock # 27. Smoke rises above the trees, joining the rising rating plane tails in the sky. To my right, empty barges float on RBD just before a left-hand bend leading the way to St. Louis awaiting their cargo and tow to push them downstream. Just beyond, the beginnings of the city skyline, the previous home of the St. Louis Rams, The Edward Jones Dome, society begins.

A few feet away on the beach, Driftwood is finishing one of his daily paintings. He finds inspiration on the river as he captures the light dancing off the water. He arises 4:30 a.m., begins painting at first light, and continues until it is time to pack up– barely taking time to eat, even if it means eating his breakfast cold.

Having taken this time to enjoy a scene not seen from the road, I will begin to prepare for the cold, windy, but sunny day that awaits us.

Hundreds of pounds of gear will soon weigh down Grasshopper and her older brother, Junebug I. Thirteen passengers will provide the boats power with each pull of their blades carrying us to the Gateway Arch for a World Water Day celebration.

My river at 7:30 p.m.:

After a day of publicity and paddling, I sit warming myself by the fire on Beaver Island (The island gets its name honestly.) listening to blues music playing in the background.

Upstream across the river, red lights flash from the towers of a power plant warning low flying crafts to stay clear. The lighting on the building resembles a boat.

A tow and barges approaches as a ghost from downstream and passes in front of us with a small rumbling.

Here is a recap of our day…

The World Water Day celebration was well attended by the local media. The sun shone on us all, the mayor from East St. Louis spoke about the communities partnering all along the Mississippi, followed by comments from Driftwood (John Ruskey), Andy, and River. Members of the Celebration Expedition poured water they brought from their portion of their world, from as far as the Thames River, into the river to represent that the water connects us all. After the ceremony, we enjoyed a variety of sandwiches from Sandwich Kinz. Oh yeah, Alicia, a team member who left yesterday, came to visit us.

Before we launched Grasshopper and Junebug I, Tanner gathered all his gear. His empty spot was filled with Mike’s son Ben. I will miss Tanner’s helping spirit and love of life. I didn’t realize I would have to say so many good byes on this trip.

Random tidbits…

• Went through St. Louis commerce–not nearly as busy as what we have encountered in other large cities.
• Best invention ever – relief zipper.
• Driftwood led the sing “Hole in the Bottom of the Mississippi River” from the stern of Grasshopper.
• Snack – a pineapple sliced on a dry bag.
• River caught his foot on the canoe as he was getting out and ended up in the River. He blamed Driftwood because he always says River needs to take more baths.
• Enough sun to charge Sherpa.
• John took a bath and put up a clothesline to dry some things.
• Dinner – chili and salad
• Mike did a reading from the book of Mark Twain – “Life on the Mississippi River”- My Incognito Nearly Exploded.

We have started identifying gear that is worn and will need to be replaced before our next trip. For example, replace a dry bag coming apart because of a lesser design. John would like to add a balaclava to the gear list because his head gets cold–even will all that hair. Speaking of our next trip. We asked Janet Moreland, who has paddled the entire Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, if we should paddle the Upper Mississippi or experience the wild beauty of the entire Missouri. After this trip, if we complete the Upper Mississippi, we will have traveled the entire Mississippi. She said–Mississippi.

Stayed tuned…