Day 33-Done for now!

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.

I think I started this trip about one month too late.  While the weather hasn’t been terrible, I think I would rather have it be a bit warmer rather than have the 30ish degree nights.  However, it will warm up the farther south I would have gotten.  The water temperatures seem to be chilly but not terribly cold yet.  I was in the drink this AM and it was cold but not frigid.  But when you get out of the water, the air temperature on wet skin gets very cold!  George Costanza was right-it’s shrinkage!  I still have one night on the boat before my brother gets here and it is supposed to get down to 35.  I am completely happy with the way the canoe has held up with what I have done.  I would have expected it to fold in half after yesterday and today.  I realized that at this rate, I was going to run out of time before I had to get back home.  Rather than only make it to somewhere in the boonies of Arkansas, I have a brother that lives in Missouri who is going to pick me up here in New Madrid, Mo.  It will be alot more convenient for him this way rather than trying to track me down  in the boondocks.  As it stands, I have travelled the entire Ohio and around 50+ of the MR.  I found the Ohio to have plenty of workable water to maneuver around and the water was not too choppy most of the time.  The MR is the exact opposite.  I felt the most unsafe knowing that I could not get out of the way of the barges with the motor that I had.  I was constantly on edge the minute I got on the MR and that was verified several times.  I have probably bailed close to 500 gallons of water out of the boat the past two days.  That means if I am on the river, I am probably bailing water.  That got to be very tedious!  But the only other alternative is to take along a battery and bilge pump thus adding on weight.

If I were to do this again, I would go to extremes to make the front of the canoe watertight.  My deck/cover worked very well but water still got in.  I saw the nose of the canoe go into the water about a foot and a half yesterday while the propeller was out of the water.  I knew that wasn’t ideal but we got through it.  I have learned a bit about weight distribution throughout this trip.  I also learned a whole lot about having everything tied down even when things seemed sedate!

I will add more to this after I get back into civilization.  I’m still digesting this whole thing right now!



29 thoughts on “Day 33-Done for now!

  1. I always appreciate wisdom and I think you have it if I understand your decision. Look at what you accomplished, not on what you hoped to.

    • I’m completely satisfied with what I’ve done. Doing a trip for the the adventure and pleasure does not have to include life threatening situations and I am not a cat. The river is so far down on volume that the channels are very narrow and out of the channels are full of sand bars. I was shown today how far down it was compared to ‘normal’ and it was impressive. Not enough room to play in with the big boys. I was told by Jake, the marine lock master, that it takes a mile and a half to bring a barge to a stop. That’s impresively far! I’ve never had a hankering to see the bottom side of a barge!

      • I enjoyed talking to you this afternoon while you were waiting on your brother.
        Sissy (my little dog) and I wish you all the best.

  2. Glad you are ok. We are sure even the barge operators are uncomfortable on the river right now. Hey…Great Idea…maybe you could get going again right after the spring melt and ride the surge.

  3. Ur trip may not have ended the way u planned but I bet u didn’t plan on all the people u inspired along the way either. U left ur mark on everyone u passed. I remember looking out & thinking u were perhaps a traveling vender at first. It made me smile. We still have people talk about u & ur boat. We r so thankful that u chose u little piece of the river to include in ur journey!!! :D

    • Thanks! The purpose of the trip for me was to meet people like you and Joe and Frank. The river was just the mode. It was a blast doing it!

  4. I’ve been following your blog since I saw you one the Ohio over a week ago. It was interesting to read your progress as you went along. It was similar to watching a reality show, but in a written form. I applaud you on your journey. You made great progress. I have personally never been on the Mississippi River and am only familiar with the Ohio. I guess one somewhat takes for granted that some bodies of water are the same in nature. I would have assumed myself that the Mississippi would have been very similar to the Ohio. Congrats on making it over a month traveling the rivers. I enjoyed following your blog. Congratulations.

    • Thanks Kris. I am one of those that assumed that the MR would be similar to the Ohio. But the barge traffic and current water conditions make a huge difference-too much for my humble little craft! The 1100 miles I did make did feel like a slow moving viewing of a big part of our country. It was pretty cool. Thanks for following!

  5. I didn’t see you on the river but your eye’s & writing was the joy of my nite ,, I’m related to the Field Of Dreams & they were impressed w/ your courage, & yes temp didn’t help, good luck & god bless as Red Skelton would say let me know your outcome ,maybe next time contact people or churches for a place to rest in a warm place good luck

    • Thanks. I expected a few cold nights and I didn’t mind those so much as the weather would be warming up at nights even as I write. If we could just put a little more water in the MR. I bet the Field of Dreams is well on their way to Lake Ponchartrain-that is the way to travel!

  6. hmm, sounds like my favorite philosopher at work here. ‘dirty harry’ said every man has to know his boat’s (sic) limitations. you have identified them and acted accordingly.
    i wonder if you could do the MR portion towing the boat with a jet ski? in the spring?

    dancin’ dan

    • There were parts where it felt like I was on marbles and had zero control of the boat due to the currents. I was talking to a crew working with a 32′ heavy duty work boat(they were underwater welders) and they said that they felt the same insecure feeling out there this year. I guess the low volume is letting the bottom of the river have more of an effect on top of the water. And these guys had dual 150cc yamaha outboards! I don’t think my mighty 5 hp would have much say in things!

  7. So it’s done
    The journey that is
    For this year at least
    You fought the good fight
    You dodged the barges
    Now its time for a little peace

    And maybe in winter
    You’ll get an idea
    If I made this bigger
    And covered it there
    Another dream will grow
    You’ll have to give it a go
    Another bend in a river
    You can see yourself

    Well done Sam

    • Mark, now that’s impressive. I hope you don’t mind if I steal it. You are very correct though with the thought that another dream will grow. I have had a blast doing this and it only begets more ideas and dreams to think about! Thanks for following along. I have enjoyed your prose along the way!

  8. I have been following your progress since my husband and my friend met you at a park in Augusta, Ky. It was the day of the extremely choppy water. We were going to take a pontoon boat ride, but the water was too rough, so we went to eat at Parkview Inn instead. You have had some interesting stories and I enjoyed them.

    • Thanks! I remember that day and the water. Maybe I should have gone to dinner with you guys! Thanks for following along. I’ve met with many good folks along the way which made this trip alot of fun. Seeing this much of the country at 5 mph is great. I will do something like this again-maybe not with a canoe next time but probably with a bicycle.

  9. Heroic journey Sam! It appears you have fulfilled your dream and conquered your fears (even those you hadn’t anticipated). Such is life. Congrats! Matt’s words of wisdom are, “haze grey and under way.” It may take a few weeks, but a celebration is in order when you lose your sea legs. In the mean time, get started on the bathroom shower!

    • My brother made me take two showers after we got to the hotel! Maybe he was trying to tell me something! A good nights sleep on a mattress can do wonders! Now it’s time to make it back to Ohio-not by the river though!

  10. A great time reading all the comments from your command post Sam. Truly good people of the Ohio! Mom

  11. Well Done, Sam!
    After you get all the gear put away, I’m sure will have a few things for the honey-do-list, since you got back home earlier than planned!

    Miss. River portion next year, in the spring?

    • I’m done with this particular endeavor. The MR is way too low to be safe for me and the river trip was such a big undertaking that I am done with this experience. Time to move on to something else! In the meantime, honey and honey do’s are the priority.

  12. Hi buddy. I can’t to hear from ya when you get back and are settled. Reading about your adventure has been really awesome. I hope we can have an exploit like this someday, it will probably include the Tour De France, but with out any doping. I’m glad your well, and safe.

  13. I haven’t had a chance to check your web site for a couple of weeks since my schedule didn’t put me in the vacinity of my work computer. I’m glad to hear you’re ok. This was a bad year for your trip. I think last year with the very high water would have been worse, though. Maybe a continuation on theTombigbee in the late spring would cap the trip. I wasn’t horribly worried about you because you were so well equipped but there was some concern. As you said, the Lower MR isn’t for pleasure craft. Still, 1000 miles in a canoe is pretty impressive. Congrats!

    • I didn’t even know about the Tombigbee going down to Mobile before the trip. Once I started, that’s the only river I heard about from other boaters! By then, I was already set on my route and my ignorance kept me from changing course. C’est la vie! I still had a great time!

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