Day 52, July 20
Measurements: Turbidity at mile 140 (where I camped last night) 27cm. Miles today: 44!
I woke early, ate a piece of leftover pizza for breakfast, washed down with Tang (which is surprisingly okay!), and got out by around 8:30am.
The current is still very strong, but today I'm not fighting a headwind, so I moved quickly. The biggest complication is the number of barges, which seem to be almost as regular as city buses.
I reached Ste Genevieve at around noon, meaning that I'd gone about 18 miles in about three and a half hours. Fast! I made a somewhat questionable decision to pull into their "marina," which is down a little creek-like channel and is actually just a large muddy area. It's also quite far from town, and the hike to town in the heat of the noonday sun was not much fun. I was questioning my decision to continue into town when I got a serendipitous email from my friend Kevin, who strongly encouraged me to check out... Ste Genevieve! So I continued.
It was worth it. The town has several well-preserved French Colonial era buildings right in downtown, like from the mid-eighteenth century. Like the 1750s. It was fascinating. I paid five bucks to check out their history museum, which was fun and informative. One of many things I learned is that they actually moved the town three miles inland after a particularly bad flood in 1755. I also got a cold brew coffee, a soda, and a really good iced tea. I saved all of the ice from these beverages in my thermos, and addded water to them. In all, I probably spent around two and a half hours in Ste Genevieve, and getting to and from.
As I pulled out onto the Mississippi from the channel, a barge passed by, and I was floored by how fast it was going, with the speed of the current. Soon I was part of that same flow, moving almost that fast, dodging many more barges.
I saw the confluence with the Kaskaskia river on the Illinois side, which doesn't look like much because there's a lock and dam very near the mouth.
In the late afternoon, I went past the little city of Chester, which seems to have a prison right on the north side of town. I dodged several more barges, past a very cool looking island with a massive flat beach called Rockwood. I kept going, trying to put down as many miles as possible.
I also tried calling Sam on the phone, and was rerouted to Credo, my mobile carrier. For the next hour, I waited on hold, hoping in vain to talk to a real human being. I had no internet, no texting capacity, no phone. I felt truly cut off, for the first time on the trip so far. It was not a good feeling. I wondered if Sam might be worrying. Frankly, I was pretty livid.
I set up at about dusk, on a pretty shitty, muddy, not at all flat island called Jones Towhead. Feeling angry and low. Ate the last of the pizza (truly the gift that kept on giving) with beers for dinner, and that was enough. As I ate, the sun finished setting behind the trees on the side of the island away from the river, so I couldn't really see it. But I could see the way it lit up one of the major clouds I'd been seeing all afternoon/evening. That's today's photo. After it was completely dark, I could see the lightning in that cloud, and thanked my good fortune that it was raining on someone else, not me.
And then my phone buzzed! It was a text from Sam. I immediately called her, and it worked. I was so relieved I struggled not to cry. We had a nice long chat, and I went to sleep rather late, for me these days, at like 11pm.