Friday, May 22, 2015
High – 77
Low – 55
Today we slept in till 6:00 because it was 47 (cold) and we didn’t have any wind or heat to beat. Soon after the alarm went off we heard two wild turkeys in the distance, whose gobbles grew closer and closer. John opened the tent zipper very slowly, hoping to see them. His efforts paid off – the turkeys were 30 yards away on the beach. What a great way to start the day!
We enjoyed a leisurely morning with a cup of coffee before breakfast. Even with the relaxation, we were on the river by 9:30. With the increase in current we are enjoying on the Mississippi, we were able to cover 31 miles! That is a record for us.
The beginning of the paddle was fairly uneventful. John entertained us by reciting various quotes from one of his all time favorite movies – “The Jerk”.
We were ready to call it a day and find place to camp. We commented we hadn’t seen very many towboats. No sooner had we made the comment, we rounded a bend and met a tow followed by several others – five barges in a five-mile stretch of river with s-curves and dikes on both sides of the river. An exciting (tiring) way to end the day.
Once all the boat traffic ceased, we started looking for a place to stay the night. We came to Madrid Island in hopes there would be a place here. Much to our disappointment, the banks were stoney and steep. Until….. we approached the foot of the island. I said, ” What about there?” The foot of the island didn’t look like it was part of the same island we just passed. The bank was a gently sloping sand beach with beautiful trees and a several flat areas – perfect for a tent. John called me his hero!
Just as we were starting our dinner of burritos, Spanish rice , and pumpkin pie bark, Jerry Whitehead pulled up
In his fishing boat. “Do you need anything from town (New Madrid)? I can get it for you or take you in my boat.” We said we really didn’t need anything. John climbed on his boat and talked for a few minutes about the river. Jerry pointed out a camping spot a quarter of a mile downriver he had fixed up for river travelers. It sounded similar to the place we stayed at in Wabash, Indiana, which even had picnic tables. Jerry plans to place a sign next to the river – “Welcome to New Madrid. Camping available”. How encouraging to meet people who truly love the river. He obviously knew the river well and lamented about when this had been “a real river”. Jerry noted with a wave of his hand that this entire shoreline area had once been all swamp until the Corp (Army Corp of Engineers) began controlling the flow. Regardless, it was obvious that he loves his river and spends a lot of time on it.
Tomorrow will probably be an early start. We may try to go 37 miles to Caruthersville, Missouri. Our next food packages is waiting at the post office there, and we want to beat the storms in the forecast. Wow – 31 miles!
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