portfolio > gone on the river

day 26
day 26
June 24, 2022

Day 26, June 24.
Measurements: turbidity at Read's Landing: >61cm. (!) Miles today: 27.

It's incredible that the Mississippi has gone from being cloudy, turbid, opaque, tan, to being too clear to measure again, and dark. No wonder Pepin is filling in: no sediment seems to leave it at all.

Today was another just utter grind. Woke at 8am even though I'd gone to sleep at around 10. Ate leftovers, again: a veggie brat and some of that wonderful bread from Stockholm, with a bit of olive oil on it.

The first town downstream was Wabasha, MN. It's an odd little town, in large part because there's a large bridge that cuts through the downtown, about two stories up in the air, looming over the town below. I tried to find a place with wi-fi, and failed, but did get a pretty good cold press.

Then I just worked like hell all day long. The Mississippi not only does not flow here, it seems she's forgotten what "flow" might even mean. I had a stiff wind in my face most of the day. At times it felt like I was measuring my progress in inches.

A particularly unpleasant stretch featured a bunch of Army Corps... stuff. Barges anchored in the river, a string of barges along the right bank, a huge partially-submerged tube, with huge orange buoys holding it up near the surface. A boat that looked like a cross between an old fashioned steamboat and a factory that manufactures Terminators. I believe this was a dredging operation.

I passed the picturesque little town of Minneiska on the MN side. One fun thing I saw: an Amtrak train on the right bank, retracing the trip my friend Dave just took.

Today I locked through Dam #4 and Dam #5. At Dam #5, the guy dispatched to throw me the rope (that you should never, ever tie to the boat, because it will dump you into the river) told me a horrifying story about the last canoeist who came through their lock, who flipped his boat next to the lock on the upstream side. I was pretty freaked out. He was clearly telling it for laughs. I guess he kept this guy's canoe cushion as like a kneepad?

After Lock #5, it was pretty late. After 8pm. I canoed past something the map calls Bass Camp, which is a collection of hundreds of RVs. At least one was flying a Trump flag, with an additional "Trump Won 2020" flag. Yikes!

A few of these people wanted to chat from the shore as I passed, or from floating pontoon docks. This is not unusual. These conversations have taken on a sort of rote quality for me at this point.

Them: "where you headed?"
Me: "the Gulf of Mexico."
Them: [some version of "wow," and then...] "where you from?"
Me: Well, I live in the Twin Cities, but I put in at Itasca.
Them: [a different 'wow' sound, and then...] "Well, have a safe trip!"

I stayed on something labeled Island #55. It was fabulous. A big, actually flat sandy spot. Old turtle eggs, and a part of a turtle shell. Tracks from snakes, birds, possibly baby turtles making their way to the water? I made lentil soup and ate it with that lovely bread from Stockholm. Folks were out on the water shining lights around all night, and I went to bed way too late.