portfolio > gone on the river

day 39
day 39
July 07, 2022

Day 39, July 8
Measurements: turbidity across from Buffalo, IA: 53.5cm.

I woke at around 7am on my island just south of the Quad Cities, across from a little town called Buffalo, IA, which has a large campground right on the water - "campground" meaning "collection of RVs." The flattest area I could find last night was quite near a pile of channel marker buoys (about half the red kind with a triangular top that marks the left edge of the channel, and about half the green kind with the flat top that marks the right side) and a navigation light.

I remembered soon after waking that the WQAD folks had told me the story would be out this morning. So with some trepidation (it's weird to watch a TV story about yourself!) I watched it, and thought it was pretty fun. I posted some updates while I ate breakfast, which was a bagel I took from the hotel breakfast yesterday, with peanut butter, and my ubiquitous thermos of Earl Grey.

The weather had changed significantly. It was not too hot, maybe in the low 80s, but so humid that there was still mist on the water for much of the morning. Today's picture is of that mist or fog on the water. The wind was very still, which I appreciated, and there were pockets where I got a good solid push from the current.

The large bluffs have basically gone away since about Clinton. There are still rises, well back from the river's edge, but they're more gradual. The dam pools have also gotten much smaller, no longer the huge dramatic lakes I have come to loathe and worry about. I paddled into Lock 16, and locked through completely uneventfully. The guy who handed me a line asked if I was the dude who was on TV, paddling and peddling the river. I admitted I was, and we had a nice chat about the trip.

After the dam is Muscatine, IA, on the right bank. I had to cross the river, but it was a pretty good time to do so, with the wind still calm.

I walked up into Muscatine, had a beer and a passable veggie wrap at a place called Missippi, which is a bar that sort of tries to look like a brewery, though it isn't. I walked up to the Kum and Go (what a name for a gas station) to get new headphones and sunscreen. I have never gone through so much sunscreen in my life.

I walked to a brewery called Contrary Brewing and bought a four-pack, then back to the boat. On the way, I asked a guy who was fishing from the top of the levee for a little fishing line, to help affix my phone case to a bit of rope again - my last version of that broke the other day, and I feel much more comfortable having the phone connected securely to my life jacket.

Muscatine is a fascinating little town. They are clearly very proud of their history making pearl buttons from clam shells they picked out of the Mississippi. They have a pearl button museum. They call themselves Pearl City, and claim to be the pearl button capitol of the world. They have a statue on the levee, at the water's edge, of a huge man with long clam fishing tools. A number of the old buildings in town appear to have been button factories. I even saw a pile of rusty machines that I then recognized from one of the historic pictures they have up: it was a pile of old button punches.

Back out on the river, I passed another Industry Row, with a Cargill facility, an ADM facility, a power plant.

A headwind started to come up at around 6:30, and at around the same time I noticed a truly beautiful beach. High, level, with a large down tree for me to tie the boat to. I camped there, made a fire, and cooked some curried rice with chickpeas. It was very good.

As a way to not sleep covered in sand again, I took a little dip right before getting into the tent. It felt pretty good. The water is very warm, at least compared to what I'm used to.

Tomorrow: just looking to put some miles behind me.