When I got here it was clear that accommodating canoeists isn't a high priority for this town. There is a boat ramp and ample parking with a bathroom but no place to camp. I was expecting a few places from my reading on the MO Parks and Game website. I eventually set up my tent on a spot by the river that used to have dock anchored to it. I'm basically at the river front park and lots of people pass by walking and exercising. One couple walking their dog stopped to talk as I was setting up my tent. He's a carpenter (not much work these days) and also a canoeist/kayaker. He actually owns the same model of tent as I do and we spent some time talking about my trip and some of the trips he's done (down the Colorado in a kayak and being tossed out 3-4 times, "do you run a trail line off your stern in case you dump and have to recover the boat?"). He also informed me that where I set up camp was fine and was used by most paddlers that stop in New Haven.
After I set up camp I pulled out the camp chair and sat and watched the river. Eventually, I fell asleep and took a nice little nap. I was awakened by a couple showing their brother from Boston the riverfront. I'm now part of a tourist's vacation photos. He was quite intrigued by my boat and the trip I'm doing. I pointed them to my website so maybe they'll see themselves in print!
I have two nights of camping and three days of paddling left. Since my ride won't pick me up in St. Louis until Thursday there's no rush to get to the end of the trip. My next three days are all 25 miles or so which will allow me to take it easy getting up in the morning and paddling. By noon tomorrow I will have officially paddled 500 miles. That's a pretty good number but one I had hoped would be higher this summer. Oh well, such is life.
A few people stopped to chat this afternoon including a fireman from the town over from here. He told me that he was briefed this morning that the river will rise again starting sometime next week. It had gone up about 3 feet when I was at Cooper's Landing and floating down to Jefferson City. This morning it had dropped about 6 inches to a foot and was still going down this afternoon. If he's correct, they are expecting peak waters rivaling last year's and maybe as bad as the 1993 floods. It's the weekend and the stream gauge information hasn't been updated on the USGS website but if he's right then I'm doubly smart for having made the decision to stop at St. Louis.
I did walk around New Haven today. A very picturesque midwestern river town. There's a nice educational display here about John Colter, one of the guides on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Turns out he married and lived near here after his life as a guide and mountain man. I'm getting educated as I float along! I really should have stopped at Hermann at lunch, it looked like a cool place but their landing looked hairy and I was in the mood to keep paddling since I was making such good time, at least that's before the gale force winds began!
There's not much else to report. I'm savoring the quiet times on the river where I stop and just float with the current and look at the world. So much of the satisfaction of doing this trip is about those moments and not about the daily mileage tally or destination. I sure wish I could bottle those times and take them home with me but for now I'm happy with a soul that's been wrapped in nature for over two weeks.
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