portfolio > gone on the river

day 40
day 40
July 08, 2022

Day 40, July 8
Measurements: turbidity just below Bass Island, near mile 448: 34.5cm. Nitrate after confluence with Iowa River: over 2ppm, less than 5ppm.

I woke on the beautiful beach at Bass Island and took some time getting out on the water, making myself a nice breakfast of grits, vegan jerky, and my standard cup of sweet tea, made last night.

It was cloudy and still in the morning, somewhat foggy again but nothing like yesterday. It was clearly threatening to rain most of the morning, and the weather channel had made me think some rain was likely.

It started to rain on me just before I reached Lock #17, lightly at first. The lock was fine, and only dropped about a foot - I'm used to a drop of something like six feet. After the lock I stuck close to the left shore as the rain picked up in intensity, and the boat started to slowly fill with water. I put in at the little town of New Boston, IL, just across the river from the confluence with the Iowa River.

I was totally soaked, but it's been warm enough that I didn't really care very much. I took everything out of the boat, packed it on shore, emptied the water from the boat, positioned it over the Duluth pack (again, the most rain-sensitive part of my rig) and walked up the bluff into town.

Up in town I found Rocky's Bar and Grill, populated by the bartender and two older patrons. It was around 3pm. I asked what they had on tap, and the bartender laughed and said "water." I ordered some of that, a beer in a can, and some tater tots, and wrote my updates for the day before, slowly freezing in the air conditioning.

When I was finished, the rain had stopped. I walked back down to the boat and loaded it back up again. The wind picked up a bit, coming - unusually - from the east. At the boat landing, there are two wooden statues, one of Chief Blackhawk (who was part of a conference that took place near the spot) and one of Abraham Lincoln (who surveyed and platted the town of New Boston).

I got back out on the water, and between having a bit of a push from the wind (or at least not fighting it) and having one of the best currents since the Twin Cities, I made good progress. I passed the larger town of Keithsburg, IL, and passed on a very nice looking beach at Willow Bar Island.

That was the last nice campsite I saw for the next hour or so, as I continued to look in a rising tailwind. I should note that the boat, as a result of the changes I made in the Quad Cities, is much more trimmable, much better able to respond in a tailwind.

After passing on a number of pretty awful-looking spots, I was rewarded by finding a lovely spot on Jacoby Island: a large sandy beach, a flat spot way up off the water, at least twenty feet up a slope.

I set up camp and dried some things out (sleeping bag and mat, shirt and flat cap, etc.) and started working on dinner. At New Boston I'd decided to have black beans for dinner, and put way more than I wanted to in the pressure cooker to soak. I started cooking, and it took a long time, at least in part because there were so many beans.

It's an interesting thing, to try to cook 'real' food on a camp stove. There's really no "low" setting on those stoves. And this stove doesn't want to be stopped and started - it's finicky that way. So I juggle things: get the pressure cooker pressurized, then start cooking a tortilla (which I handmade out of masa), then re-pressurize the beans, then quickly cook the aromatics a bit, etc.

I ate in the dark, wearing my head lamp. There were way, way too many beans to eat, but it was delicious.

I hit the sack at ten, basically exhausted. Tomorrow: Burlington, I think, and further.