portfolio > gone on the river

day 41
day 41
July 09, 2022

Day 41, July 9
Measurements: turbidity just downstream of Jacoby Island: 16.5cm. Miles today: 21.

I woke pretty early on Jacoby Island, before 7. I'd decided the night before to eat leftover black beans for breakfast, with crackers. It was surprisingly good, and I didn't even finish them.

The first town I encountered has a fascinating name: Oquawka, IL. I talked with Sam a bit before reaching it, and she informed me that there's a grave for an elephant named Norma Jean in one of the town parks, because Norma Jean was struck by lightning and killed on that spot in the '70s, and they just buried her right there. I put in and walked up into town, getting a pretty good iced coffee at the Muddy Cup, then checking out Norma Jean's memorial. It's certainly something.

I continued down to Lock 18, but found that a tow with a number of barges was in line to lock through before me. I knew from past experience that this could take awhile, so I went to check out the spillway, to see if I could easily portage across it, as I had at Clinton.

Turns out not really. Where the dam at Clinton had a nice beach right at the spillway, this one was deep water next to a concrete wall. I had to go quite a ways down the spillway (away from the lock) to find a suitable place to park the boat while I unloaded, and then had to carry everything a long way - maybe fifty yards? - to where I could put into a little backwater that led to the river. Plus, the wind was kicking up enough water onto the spillway to turn the surface into slippery mud. The whole ordeal wasn't fun at all, and took a heck of a long time. But at least I was spared going through the lock with a tailwind.

After a few more hours of paddling, I made it to Burlington, IA. They have an interesting suspension bridge. They are also unfortunately in the process of reconstructing their second boat landing, which was the one I was trying to use. I ended up tying off to a rock and having to scramble up the rip-rap slope, and managed to fall and scrape my elbow in the process.

I walked up to a place called the Valley Monster Pub, which was a wonderful old-school bar, dimly lit with lots of wood and knicknacks. I wrote out yesterday's updates and had a pretty good conversation with the bartenders. Then it was back out on the river.

I only made it a few more miles, to another of the tall beaches that seem to have been built out of dredge material. This one had a whole colony of swallows living in holes in the sandy cliff face, and it was late enough in the evening that they were out foraging, a darting swarm of fast little birds. I even saw one pick an insect out of the air right in front of me.

I decided to stay there. It's called Willow Bar.

For dinner, I made two more of my homemade (campmade?) tortillas, and ate them with the rest of the beans. They're nothing like a normal tortilla, but I actually like them a lot.

Tomorrow a stretch goal will be to reach Keokuk, IA.