When we started planning this trip, lots of people had one of two reactions. One was to say something about Deliverance. The second, less common response was to say something like “Yikes, you’re going to be going through the South.”
As accessible towns on the river can be scarce in the Delta, we decided to page through the Lower River maps to get a better sense of what towns are close to the water. It was December when we did this. 12-12-12, specifically. Hurricane Sandy had just happened and we had the 12 12 12 concert for Sandy relief streaming live in the background. I flipped the map over to chart 35, which shows the town of Rosedale. “Rosedale!” Dave said, “That’s where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil!”
That second, I mean that second, Eric Clapton played the opening riff to his version of Crossroad Blues onstage at Madison Square. I’m not particularly superstitious, but I think I had to put the maps down for a few minutes. I’m still not sure what to take away from the whole thing, but we decided we had to get to the Crossroads.
According to some people we’ve talked to, the main thing that stops people from canoeing the river is fear. Fear of quitting a job, fear of losing income, fear of the river. What I haven’t heard anyone talk about is fear while you’re doing it.
Hey remember that elbow injury? I wish the reason I stopped mentioning it on the blog was because it went away. That’s not the case. I stopped mentioning it because it hadn’t gotten better, and that’s a downer. So my elbow is still messed up. I know. I know, I know. Yes, I’m taking care of it as best I can. I pretty much just sit there while Dave paddles. And I agonize about it plenty, too, I promise.
On a canoe trip you expect to, you know, paddle, and I haven’t been. Which has been a pretty big disappointment, to be totally honest, even though I’m trying to stay upbeat about it. So I talked Dave into taking 6 days off in St Louis. The hope is that the days off, plus river guide Mike Clark giving us pointers on paddling technique, will help get me back on track building my arm back up again. Maybe you’re wondering why we took a week off in St Louis instead of in Davenport when we could have waited out the flooding. So am I! Who knows!
Enough about that! We stayed at Dave’s friend
Jason’s Fitz’s apartment for the week. They have two kittens!
We decided to make a 170 mile portage from the Quad Cities to Hannibal, MO. It was a really hard decision. We could have paid for a hotel for a week waiting and hoping for the marginally improved conditions NOAA claimed are coming. And we could have just pressed onward, portaging up and down rock levees around closed locks and trying to find dry land in flooded woods to sleep on. Instead, since we have awesome friends who were free the last two days, we skipped part of the river.
Last thursday we saw the forecast for seven days of thunderstorms and thought, “Oh, that couldn’t possibly happen.” Well, it has. We weathered a severe storm Friday morning, heavy rain saturday morning and then an 8 hour thunderstorm over Saturday night.
We’ve been on the road for two days after taking two days off in Minneapolis. In a lot of ways this feels like we started a new trip. Just like three weeks ago all of our gear was all over Dave’s parent’s house and garage, we were well-stocked with provisions in the form of homemade desserts, and we took off to a lot of fanfare. The river is completely different now and while before it felt like we were going home to Minneapolis, now we’re going farther and farther away. It was weird and sort of sad to watch St. Paul get smaller and smaller behind us.
To know when we pass through Minneapolis watch our twitter, @riversideblog.
UPDATE: We’re in Minneapolis. Here is a series of pictures from the lower St. Anthony lock.
First lock completed.
I meant to post on the blog this morning but it was raining too hard to get my phone out. To NOAA, a “40% chance of rain” apparently means it will downpour for 3 hours. It has rained a lot on this trip. A lot. Let’s not speak any more of it.
The most notable thing about the river at this point is the portages. The companies orm cities or counties that own the dams on the river, like the Little Falls dam here, are required by law to provide a canoe portage around them.
Some groups take this responsibility more seriously than others.
I have a confession to make. I have done hardly any padding since four days ago when we went through Grand Rapids. The pain in my elbow Lake Winnie gave me was more persistent than we hoped it would be. An incredibly nice acquaintance who happens to be a physical therapist was kind enough to discuss it on the phone with me. It’s not a very painful overuse injury, but it’s knocked me nearly completely out of commission for the past four days, or 1/3 of our entire trip so far.