By far one of the highlights of this trip was meeting so many genuinely nice people. It seems like our lifestyles keep us on the interstates while real America is happening on the periphery. Nearly every town that I stopped in to get gas or supplies had people willing to stop and give me a lift. Once I gave them my spiel, most were enraptured. I think a trip like this can invite the imagination to run wild. I probably recounted my story a hundred times throughout this trip. Each time I repeated it, I was convinced this was a good thing to do. Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya,……. I absolutely fell in love with the 95 yo shopkeeper who gave me directions in New Cumberland, WV. I told her my story as I bought a soda. She told me to wait a minute as she shuffled around the counter and gave me a huge hug. I could have gone home right then and there and been a happy man! My neighbors across the street were also early converts. Although I think they were fascinated by the thought of a slow moving trainwreck happening-all the while encouraging me to go forward! I say that in jest as Lee helped me with this website and any other things that I needed. Sometimes a good laugh will take you a long way! I stopped at a marina in West Point, KY and rented a slip from Joe and Pam while Leanne visited for the weekend. Salt of the earth people. There are many others whose names I forget but whose encouragement I treasure. Truly the best part of the trip.
It’s been about a week since I’ve been off the river and it has given me time to think about what I did. There were some great parts to the trip and there were some not so great parts to it. Mix them both together in the right amounts and something bigger than the individual components happens. I had a great trip so I guess the proportions were just about right! This will be my last post and I hope to pass on some of my observations that I gathered along the way.
I have gone through two days of very scary moments on the Mississippi which is enough. I have been warned of the lower Miss. R. from many ‘insiders’ who know the river. The MR has been modified a bit to aid barges and it is no recreational river. I ran into more than a few sand bars, and found that their isn’t alot of room for the barges and anything else, even small boats. A couple of people have suggested the Tombigbee R. going south to Mobile, Alabama as a better route as there isn’t the barge traffic. For anybody else considering this type of trip, I would concur wholeheartedly.
Made it through my last lock without much fanfare. I actually went around it as the lock was open. I stopped there to ask about the river going down to the Miss. and ended up talking to a Marine from the Vietnam era. I was a Navy corpsman so Jake and I had an instant bond. He gave me heaps of information and more that a few warnings! I guess the Miss. R. going south is no picnic. I will keep going with my eyes open and I’m sure things will be fine. I am camped about 8 miles from the Miss. R. so tomorrow will be an important decision making day-left, right , no left, no right….. I might end up in Albuquerque at this rate!
Lot’s of hurry up and wait today. After another bone chilling night, I got on the river a bit late. It didn’t really matter because of the long wait on the second lock today. On the first lock of the day, I made a boneheaded move. Every lock to this point has had two locks. The big barges always take the riverside lock because they are usually bigger. The landside locks take the small rec boats. I approach the first lock today and could have sworn that the lockmaster said to come on through landside. The doors were open and everything. How lucky could I be just cruising right in with no wait? Then I hear the crackle over the radio that I am in the wrong lock and there was a barge headed my way-uh oh! So I reverse course and go over to the riverside lock and get locked through. I felt rather sheepish as I was hearing what I wanted to hear and not what was said. I guess Leanne is right about that!
Woke up to three blue herons that were not happy I was in their little estuary! The sides of my canopy were down so I looked like a big box to them. They kept swooping down near me and landing mere feet away. These are the same birds that fly away when I come within a couple hundred yards of them. I could only surmise that they didn’t want to share their space with me. I could see them under the walls without them knowing that I was there. I tried to get my camera out of the waterproof! container but they must have put two and two together and flew off. It was cool to see them so closely. One had a beard just like a turkey only not so thick. The hairs/feathers were sticking out so I thought he was trying to look tough!
Had a great day of traveling. The weather is turning a bit and I am seeing my breath as I type this. Now you could say that I should just brush my teeth but it is a little nippy out! You can bet I will roll myself up like a Filiberto’s burrito tonight.
Very few towns today but the wildlife was great. Lots of eagles and pelicans. This would be a great trip for a bird watcher. There were alot of turtles out yesterday sunning themselves on logs-pretty neat!
Talk about dead in the water! I only made it about 10 miles today before I was forced to stop because of winds and chop. I was taking on more water than what it was worth as I was constantly bailing water. I got to Henderson, KY and stopped at a riverfront park and decided to eat lunch in town and gas up. Not much else to do! It is a super nice day but too windy.
Another noneventful day. I stopped for a bit in a town to set up the generator to recharge all my batteries. There was a barge set up in the middle of the river with a tower on it. I thought this was a little weird. There is a nuclear power plant about two miles from it down river. Then a Coast Guard looking boat comes over to me as I am loading all my stuff and asks if I needed any help. I thought, ‘Yeah, can we trade boats?’ But I declined and I told him what I was up to. I think he might have been some sort of security for the power plant. He then went to the barge platform and I headed down river. As it turns out, I was shooting for a creek that runs into the Ohio for the night and that creek is right across the river from the power plant. I half way suspect that I might get a visit tonight. I hope not. I don’t know what the rules are for camping on the river by a power plant but I might get a lesson tonight.