Day 44, July 12
Measurements: turbidity 26cm at Canton, MO. Miles today: 27.
I woke early in the campsite in Canton, Missouri. It's not really possible for me to continue sleeping for long after dawn these days, because the sun is quite hot even early in the morning. I got everything together and got out on the water before 9.
I paddled down past the confluence with the Wyaconda River and the small town of La Grange, making good time with a welcome assist from the current and basically no wind at all. I had several more fish-jumping experiences, including one that damn near jumped into the boat with me, right in front of me. Again, it was at least three feet long, but I think larger than that. These fish are huge.
I should also note that I have been working on changing my paddling style, thanks to a comment from a friend and former Ward 2 constituent, Greg Klave. He posted a comment on one of my Facebook posts detailing a more ergonomic, more core-activating way to paddle. I've been trying to engage my core as much as possible, but felt like there was something missing - and there definitely was. The basics of this new stroke are as follows: I hold my lower hand basically still and use it as a fulcrum, and use my upper hand to sort of "punch" forward. It really works, I can feel it much more in my chest and abs, and less in my arms, hands, and shoulders. Thanks, Greg!
I put in at Quincy, IL, to talk to a reporter from one of their local TV stations. Today's picture is of two bridges that cross right at Quincy. The reporter was very friendly, and we had a good conversation. He's originally from Louisiana, Missouri, a town I'll reach in a few days. I converted everything to road mode, in part so he could film the process, and when we were finished I rode to the base of the large hill that leads to downtown Quincy.
It's a pretty cute town, and seems to be doing rather well. I spent a fair amount of time there, from around 1pm when I met the reporter to around 6pm when I got on the water below lock and dam 21. In that time I biked to a lot of different locations: a dispensary to get CBD gummies, a coffee shop called Calftown Coffee, and eventually a place called the Patio, a rather fancy restaurant that's been there for sixty-plus years. I was drawn by the impossible burger on the menu, which unfortunately they didn't have anymore, but got some good rice and veggies. The server was quite friendly, and we chatted at length about the river. She knows someone who works on a tow, which was fascinating to hear about. I now know that if I hear five bursts of a towboat's horn, that means someone on the river (someone femme presenting, to be clear) is flashing them.
After dinner, I biked down to a boat landing right below the dam. I unfortunately had to bike down a small stretch of highway 57, which was not at all comfortable. Weirdly, even though it was a four lane road, folks weren't changing lanes to give me space. I got much more space from drivers on two-lane roads in rural Wisconsin and Minnesota than this four-lane Illinois road. The route from the highway to the river was also pretty strange, very industrial - I went past an ADM-type facility, a pipeline of some kind, a construction company, a single house with signs for a home bait-selling business, the lock and dam, and the Quincy water treatment plant. These are the kinds of land uses that crowd the river, near (and very often just downstream) of our cities and towns. All the stuff people don't much want to look at or smell.
Back on the water at around 6, I again made good progress. Still almost no wind, and a pretty strong post-dam current. I saw a lot of wildlife, including hawks, herons, and a turtle in the water who swam down into the murk as I floated by. And more jumping and flumping fish, usually in groups of three or four.
I passed the confluences of the Roman-sounding Fabius River, and just a bit later the North and South Rivers. That's really what they're called. And then a bunch of Industry, including a power plant and something labeled on my map as a "cyanamid" plant.
After all of the Industry, I passed quite a few homees, I think probably cabins, what in Minnesota we'd call "lake homes," along the right bank. They were all on tall pylons, most at least one, if not two stories above the level of the ground, and maybe forty feet above the level of the river at this moment.
I reached Whitney Island, which is actually two different islands, cut by a narrow channel, and started looking for a place to stay for the night. It was maybe a half hour before sunset. Unfortunately, there were no good sites at all. I ended up on a small mostly flat space, one of very few I'd seen, on the second Whitney Island. The bank was not the nice sand I've gotten used to, but silt - which means mud. When I stepped out of the boat I sank into the mud to my mid-calf, and spent the rest of the night with my lower legs covered in drying mud. It's a funny catch-22: you can't get close enough to the water to wash the mud off without sinking right back into that same mud. There's just no getting clean.
The moon rose, and it's nearly full. It was absolutely stunning, but of course did not photograph at all well. I talked to Sam for awhile and ate some vegan jerky from that place in Rock Island (Buffalo Dill flavor - very good), and made myself a "camping cocktai" of Emergen-C and vodka, which was also surprisingly great.
The birds were very, very loud, all night long. I heard birdcalls that are completely unfamiliar, including one very loud set of calls that sounded almost like an old-fashioned typewriter, loud and static-like, in an unpredictable rhythm.
Tomorrow I'm going to see Hannibal, MO, and I think I'll stop in and see about this Mark Twain fellow.