portfolio > gone on the river

Day 45, July 12
Measurements: turbidity at Whitney Island 33cm. Miles today: 22.

I woke near sunrise again, for the same reason as yesterday: the sun was already uncomfortably hot. If I'm going to avoid this, I will need to camp on the left (east) bank. For the moment I'm trying to think of it as a natural alarm clock.

I ate a Clif bar (first of the trip, I think) for breakfast, washed down by Emergen-C. No tea this morning. I got out on the water before nine, took my sample and measurement, and started off.

I reached Hannibal, Missouri, a little after ten. On the way to the marina, I passed by a replica paddlewheel steamboat, the American Countess. That's today's picture. I also passed by a much smaller similar steamboat cosplay named, of course, the Mark Twain. A guy was cleaning the outside of the windows of this vessel as I passed, and called out to see if I wanted any mayflies. I laughed and said no thanks, I'd already had my share. He said "you know river people, we'll always share whatever we've got."

Sam Clemens is everywhere in Hannibal. They have quotes of his on little signs on their streetlights. Various diners and bars are named for him, or his characters. There's a Mark Twain museum, separate from the museum in his childhood home. I stopped outside and took pictures, but didn't pay for the full experience. I also bought the first 'touristy' thing from the whole trip so far, a Mark Twain t-shirt.

Instead, I went to a thriving little coffee shop and got a cold press, then a passable hummus wrap, and wrote updates for yesterday. I then walked around town a bit, noting that Hannibal was also the birthplace of "unsinkable" Molly Brown, from the Titanic.

I got back out on the water a little before 1pm, and it was hot. No appreciable wind, which is great, but also not a cloud in the sky. The air temperature was in the 90s, but it felt a lot hotter with the sun blazing down on me. I drank a full Nalgene by the time I reached Lock and Dam 22 around 3pm.

They had a tow in the lock, so I had to wait. I pulled into a shady spot near the dam, frankly thankful for the break from physical effort and the sun. But my gratitude wore thin as I waited there more than an hour. Another tow queued up behind me, and I was worried the lock would put them through first, but they let me go next - at around 4:30. As usual, the water at the bottom of the lock was chaotic and turbulent. No part of the locks is any fun, I have to say.

After the lock, I tried to make some progress, and succeeded in putting a few miles behind me. At around 6:30, I saw a very nice looking beach, and I was tired, felt beat up by exertion and sun, and didn't want to repeat yesterday's experience of scrounging for a bad site as the sun set, so I stopped. I slowly did all my chores - putting the tent up, cooking dinner (elbow pasta with pesto, sundried tomatoes, greens, mushrooms, and fresh garlic and onion - very tasty), etc.

I've seen a lot of interesting insect activity, including a bee or wasp that was clearly digging in the sand, a lot of dragonflies, some horseflies (which periodically take a bite out of my ankles in the boat), and fireflies after dark. I'm hearing the typewriter birds again tonight. I also saw a few bats. The fish continue to flump and jump when I'm close to shore, and a few times I've gotten to see them before they react, when the light is right.

I've also seen more barges today than any other so far. It seems like something is going on at that lock, like there's a traffic jam.

Tomorrow I'll get to see Louisiana, Missouri, and I hope to put quite a few miles behind me - more than I have been doing per day. Today is about the halfway point of the trip, in terms of time. I've said it's going to take something like ninety days, and this is day 45. I did the math and I've only gone something like 41% of the distance to the gulf. Now, I'm expecting much more consistent help from the current, and no dithering around at locks for hours. But still - I need to go further each day.