Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today was a very good and productive day

Collin Fletcher wrote the Backpacker's Companion back in the 1970s. He once said that every time he left on a trip he got what he called the Fletcherisms. The blues from what you will be missing, what you don't know what's to come, and the transition between. He said it always surprised him when it happened and should have been of a different mindset. Well, I get the Fletchers every time I leave on a trip too, this is just the first time I've blogged about the experience. The good thing is by day three things are looking up and you move into a new groove and I got mine today.

I woke to blasting trains at 4:17 a.m. and then dozed for 30 minutes the rest of the night, just the exact time a train took to reach my location. I did get up for good at 6:30 a.m. I checked email (this still amazes me) and posted a notice to the MR360 website, a site dedicated to racing the Missouri River from KC to St. Looo-eee. I got a tip that if anyone could give me a solid answer about the likelihood of continuing on from St. Louis up the Mississippi that group could. I haven't checked the message board yet but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I ate and packed as fast as I could but it was still 9:00 a.m. by the time I departed from Nodaway Island landing. That was a barren site if there ever was one. The one good part was a nearly abandoned vacation home next door that I borrowed their pier and water supply to sit and watch the river and replenish my stock. The stretch of river down to St. Joseph, MO was very pretty. About fifteen minutes into the day I saw a strange site, two deer swimming across the river. The current was pretty strong but they made it easily. I knew deer did such crossings but it was my first eyewitness account. About 500 years down the river I came across two more deer that had done the same but they had come ashore at a site with 6 foot banks and they were exhausted from trying to climb over the edge.

It was a quick trip down to St. Joe, my first major river town. It is clear that the city turned its back on the river at some point as nothing is happening along the shores except dredging and heavy industry. I was hoping for something more appealing but I guess that's life. I did stop for lunch at Jenteel Brees, a Lewis and Clark site for lunch. There were two college aged chaps there staring at me as I was trying to find a good foothold in the big muck at the landing. It was like they had never seen anyone in a canoe. It became clear that I had interrupted a black market deal in action. The had arrived in separate cars and had the trunk open and where speaking in hushed tones. Needless to say, I ate quickly and headed back on the river.

The water below St. Jo got very bellicose and lazy and I didn't make very good time down to Atchinson, Kansas, my goal for the day. When I arrived in Atchinson it was clear the city had turned its attention back to the river. They have a beautiful new river park but the downside is no place to camp. The river rats in Rulo had told me Atchinson was a boater friendly town but that's evidently changed. I stopped in a bar and grill just up from the landing and asked about camping. Of course, I asked the wrong person, a gal that didn't know what canoeing or camping was about. She did call the City Clerk for me (she looked up the number on one of those plastic covers on the small phone book, ah I remember small town life!) and was told no camping in town, send him down river. Great, I could either get thrown in the clink for loitering or I could paddle another three hours with no hope of finding a camping site.

My only hope was a park on the map two miles downstream. After I had paddled three miles it was clear it didn't exist or had no river access. I was in a foul mood when the most beautiful of camping sites appeared. It's a fishing camp that hasn't seen use this season, and yes I'm a squatter, but it's my home for the evening. I'll be out of here in the morning and no one should be the wiser.

This site has me thinking about the energy I've seen expended to live on the river. I've passed house after house and many mobile homes that were destroyed by flooding, most likely in the last few years. There is so much debris in the river it's hard to believe. I actually saw a block of styrofoam today with seedlings growing out of it. I don't know where the foam is coming from but I've come across probably 100 of them, some blocks as long as 4 feet. I guess it will float to New Orleans and then out to the ocean to join the Texas size plastic zone in the Pacific Ocean.

Oh well, not much else to report. I'm a day ahead and I expect to be able to meet the Vacca's tomorrow evening. I hope they get my messages that I'm ahead of schedule.


Sent from Jerry Bricker's iPad. Oooooh!


  1. I just recently learned (sorry about that) about the Texas size plastic zone in the Pacific that you referred to. Watched some movie on PBS called "Bag It: The Movie". Really eye opening about plastics and what we're allowing it to do to our environment.

    Were you able to snap a pic of the seedlings growing out of the styrofoam. Great PSA picture about cleaning up our dear planet in my opinion.

    Keep up the great work. Here's hoping you find more generous citizens on your trip!

  2. I hope that bathtub ring on the canoe will wash off. Great picture of the deer crossing. Big rainstorm tonight in Lincoln, hopefully will stay North of you.