portfolio > gone on the river

day 37
day 37
July 05, 2022

Day 37, July 5.
Measurements: turbidity just down from Wasipinicon River: 34cm.

The first thing I noticed when I woke up this morning is that it was hot. Even at 7am, it was uncomfortable. I got up and out of that forgettable almost-campsite relatively quickly, and was on the water by 9am.

It wasn't just hot, it was humid. And after the sun burned through the morning haze, most of the rest of the day was entirely shadeless. I also faced a slight headwind from the south.

I paddled down something called Steamboat Slough to a place where Princeton, IA, faces Cordova, IL, across the river. I got out at Princeton and walked to a Casey's for a soda. (Why do I do this? I've realized it's partly to stretch my legs, partly for the combination of sugar, salt, and caffeine, and partly for the luxury of something cold.)

I received and made a few phone calls in Princeton. I was called by the 911 system in Dubuque, which had been called by the Coast Guard about my emergency beacon, which had gone off on its own. I sorted that out with them, and then called the beacon people to figure out how to reset the thing.

I also called Living Lands and Waters, a nonprofit in the Quad Cities. Here's the story about that.

When I went through Hastings, MN, just before I met Karlee's mom, a guy called to me from the shore and asked me where I was headed. He was more enthusiastic than usual when I said "the Gulf," and said I needed to look up Living Lands and Waters when I went through the Quad Cities, and they'd put me up. He also a bit later encouraged a boat full of people to clap for me as they passed, and I gave them a little wave and bow.

So I figured, what could it hurt? I reached out. A nice woman called me back (she's from Wisconsin). She confirmed that they wanted to put me up, and offered to pay for a hotel room for me. I was overwhelmed. Really? Yes, really. She put me in touch with a guy named Dave, who made the arrangements. I still can hardly believe it.

I pushed on downriver, passing more cities that look across the river at each other, Le Claire, IA, and Rapids City, IL. I made it to Lock and Dam 14 in the early afternoon.

I noticed that they have an unusual thing: a smaller "auxiliary" lock, which both seemed less intimidating and was in a lee-shaded inlet. I was intrigued, and tried to call them to see if it was open, and if they'd recommend I go that route.

Their phone was disconnected. The phone for this huge public work, operated by the federal government, did not work. I made a choice - the wrong one - and gave the auxiliary lock a chance. It was about a mile down from the decision point, on the right side of a largish island. I reached it (going past a bunch of barges with weird storage-looking stuff on them) and found no way to communicate with the lock personnel. No pull cord, nothing. No fucking phone, either.

I finally just pulled up to a spot I wasn't supposed to, got out, found a person to ask. He told me that the auxiliary lock is only open on weekends and Memorial Day and Labor Day. This was clear and useful information that could, say, have been on their fucking website.

I paddled back up to the tip of the island, then back down to the lock again. The distance between these two locks as the crow flies was maybe a hundred yards. All told, this misadventure made me go at least three miles out of my way.

And then when I pulled the cord at the 'normal' lock, no one responded, and it took them a half hour to open up. It's weird that the lock that is literally co-located with the Army Corps Mississippi River Project Office is, from my experience, the worst run of them all, so far.

After the lock, I had to fight my way across the river. The place that these kind folks had found for me to stay was on the left bank, in Moline. It's so funny, remembering when my problem with the banks of the Mississippi is that my fourteen foot canoe could get stuck between the banks, when now there is a half mile of choppy water to cross when I need to go to the other side.

The wind came up. Against me. My hat was irritating me very much by constantly flipping up, meaning that it wasn't doing anything useful at all. I fought my way past Campbell's Island, and eentually down to the East Moline public ramp.

From there, there is a beautiful bike trail down all the way into Moline. Separated, mostly right along the river, very flat. Gosh, it was great. that's where I took this picture.

I biked to the hotel and was met by a welcome, if shocking, wave of air conditioned cold. I drank many glasses of water as I brought my things up to the room these folks have so kindly provided for me. A woman in the lobby informed me that it was 99 degrees outside.

And then I walked to a brewery - Bent River, in Moline - and got a few beers and a veggie burger. This is quickly becoming my standard meal on this trip, which feels kind of weird, but hey, America!

One of tonight's beers is called "Cam's Vacay," which I found entertaining.

I'm going to walk back to the free-to-me hotel now, and sleep so hard.