Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mississippi River Day 99 (Mile #586, 1741.5 miles)

It was really cold again this morning, but I was hoping it would warm up. It did a bit eventually, but still pretty cool all day. I was alternating having my rain jacket on and off all day, depending on how the wind was blowing. I had no real plan or goals for today, but I was in the zone, so I kept going all day. I'm hoping to get further south faster to get into some warmer weather. Today was a pleasant day overall, just cooler than I would have liked.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mississippi River Day 98 (Mile #635, 1692.5 miles)

Today was overcast in the morning, so I went into town to hit the library. After the past two days my kindle needed charging, and I wanted to use the internet. Unfortunately the internet wasn't working, so I couldn't update my journal. Apparently it hadn't been working yesterday either, so I'm glad I didn't venture out into the rain yesterday.

By around noon it cleared up outside, so I pushed off and made a good rest of the day out of it. It was nice just to get somewhere, instead of staying in my hammock all day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mississippi River Day 97 (Helena, AR, 1664.5 miles)

Today was really rainy again, so much that I didn't even want to go into town to stay in the library all day, so instead I stayed in my hammock and read.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mississippi River Day 94 (Helena, AR, 1664.5 miles)

Another windy day. The morning was nice, but the wind picked up as the day went on. I kept going because I knew the town of Helena was close, so I got nearby and then stopped and went into town. I was pushing to get into the library before the weekend, but I found out that the library was closed for Thanksgiving Thursday through Sunday. Pretty much everything else in town was closed as well, but I had to get water jugs to replace the ones that floated away. I ended up going to three different gas stations hoping for gallon jugs of water, but the best I could do was a 2 liter of soda and a bunch off half liter water bottles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mississippi River Day 93 (Mile #689, 1638.5 miles)

I woke up to another hazy day, but it wasn't too bad, so I set out. Downtown Memphis passed by pretty quickly, and I realized that I had camped just a mile or two upstream from downtown. After those few miles I could have camped anywhere I wanted. Unlike St. Louis, which had a massive amount of barge traffic, Memphis was almost deserted. It looked like they kept all of the parked barges off in a side channel, so the main river was just like any other section of the river. It was a welcomed surprise, since I was anticipating having to dodge barges all day long.

In the afternoon the sun came out and warmed things up a little bit, making a pleasant day. I passed by a hunter on the shore, and he shouted a Happy Thanksgiving to me. I hadn't even realized it, so I was a bit surprised. Today was also my longest day so far, a full half century, plus a bit to find a campsite. It wasn't even bad at all, and I finished during daylight. There has also been an increased amount of small boat traffic in the past few days, so I guess its warm enough for people to still have boats out here.

My poison ivy is starting to heal, it did turn out to be full blown poison ivy rash in a few places, but the itch is going away by now.

And the best part of today was that I'm out of Tennessee now, and into Mississippi, at least on the left shore.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mississippi River Day 92 (Mile #740, 1587.5 miles)

It was another day of almost rain all day long, but it held off all day. The current is moving along at about 2 mph, which really helps out. I would have gone further, but I ended just upstream from Memphis, since I wasn't sure about camping anywhere near the city. I was also getting pretty cold by that point, so its just as well I stopped and warmed up a bit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mississippi River Day 91 (Mile #778, 1549.5 miles)

I woke up to more rain, and a lot of wind. When I went to my canoe to get breakfast I found it was entirely underwater. Luckily I had taken the tupperware tubs out, and put them higher on the shore, since they have most of my gear in them. I found its really hard to pull a canoe full of water up onto shore. Some of my gear that was loose in the canoe washed away, including my 2 life jackets, 2 paddles, all but 1 of my water jugs, and a small towel I used for cleaning the boat. Luckily I found the life jackets and paddles washed ashore, but upstream of my boat. That just shows how strong the wind was.

After recovering my gear and waiting for the rain and wind to stop I pushed out, and managed to get a few miles in before the rain set in again. It seems like there is an upside to this though, with all the rain and rising water levels, the current has picked up again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mississippi River Day 90 (Mile #788, 1539.5 miles)

More rain, off and on all morning. I had to pull my canoe up a bit further so it didn't float away as the river rose. When the rain stopped in the afternoon the fog set in, so it wasn't really safe for me to be on the river with the tugs. Some of them were even using their fog horns, which were pretty loud up close.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mississippi River Day 89 (Mile #788, 1539.5 miles)

It rained all last night, pretty hard, and this morning it looked like it was about to rain, but I decided to go for it anyway, even if I just got a few miles down the river. It rained all last night, and the entire shore was really muddy, and I had built up some nice mud stilts just walking from camp to the canoe.

I almost stopped twice, when it did start misting a little bit, but managed to keep going and put in a full day, even against a slight headwind.

After I had camp set up and a fire going a hunter stopped by, telling me he had smelled the smoke and was wondering what was going on. He seemed pretty impressed by what I was doing, which was nice.

The main thing I noticed today was the amount of debris in the water. The rain all last night raised the water level a bit, and more stuff is floating away now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mississippi River Day 88 (Mile #822, 1505 miles)

Today was sunny, but again a strong headwind. I decided to take the day off and enjoy myself on the side of the river. I have to remind myself that I am doing this trip to enjoy it, not just to get to the gulf. I have no real deadlines, just times that I would like to finish by. I decided I'd rather take a day off and not fight the wind again, and head out on a day when I could enjoy the river more. Overall it was a very relaxing day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mississippi River Day 87 (Mile #822, 1505 miles)

It was colder last night, mainly due to the wind.

After a couple of miles in I decided to stop since it was so windy that I was passed by a log floating downstream. It had a smaller surface area above water for the wind to blow on. Luckily where I stopped was by a barge loading area, and there was a faucet, so I was able to fill all my water jugs. I then read for a while, until the wind died down a bit.

Once the wind died out I got back on the river, but stopped early for the night, which was a nice change. Sometimes its nice to control your mileage instead of the wind determining it, even if it just means stopping early for the night. After sunset the wind died out and it was a nice still night.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mississippi River Day 86 (Mile #836, 1491.7 miles)

Today started off really bad. After I broke camp I was coming down a hill a little ways to the boat, which I saw was tied up but still adrift. I also saw a barge passing by. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill the wake from the barge had completely swamped my boat, with really cold water.

After that the day did get better, with a slight tailwind for most of the day. I stopped in town at 15 miles to hit the library of Caruthersville. Towns are getting farther apart, and libraries are harder to get to, so updates are going to be less frequent. While in town I also stocked up, since the grocery was right next to the library, and I figured I could load up on supplies a bit.

On the way back to the boat ramp a guy stopped and asked me for directions to the casino. Since I had seen the casino boat just downstream I was actually able to give him directions, even though I told him I wasn't from around there. He asked me what I was doing, etc. He then concluded "That ****'s dangerous" and drove off.

I found a nice sandy campsite for the night, and enjoyed a clear night of stars. The really bad part of the day is that I think I'm coming down with a couple patches of poison ivy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mississippi River Day 85 (Mile #861, 1466.5 miles)

I waited until around 11:00 for the rain to stop, then I took off, bidding good riddance to the town of New Madrid. Waiting 3 days is too long.

It was another windy day, but at least it was a tailwind this time, which prompted the extra miles for the day. It was very cold, enough that my hands were numb after just bailing out the boat again, but I bundled up and kept going. It was nice to be moving again.

Towards the afternoon the sun peaked out, which was nice mentally, even though it didn't really warm anything up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mississippi River Day 84 (New Madrid, 1438.5 miles)

It rained all day today. It did stop for a bit around noon, which I took as an opportunity to bail out the boat, which was very full. Just as I finished that, the rain kicked back in again. Back to the hammock.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mississippi River Day 83 (New Madrid, 1438.5 miles)

Another wind advisory day.

The wind ended up stopping around 7:30pm, when it almost seemed weird to not hear the wind howling. About 1/2 hour later the rain kicked in, and didn't stop at all.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mississippi River Day 82 (New Madrid, 1438.5 miles)

I slept in today, not even bothering to see if it was windy. When I woke up it was blowing up a storm, and would have been a headwind if I had tried to get anywhere. Instead I wandered around town, especially the grocery store, which turned out to be a long walk.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mississippi River Day 81 (New Madrid, 1438.5 miles)

Today was another windy day. I almost stopped after getting blown back from going around the first wingdam I went around. Instead, I fought a few more miles, since I knew a big horseshoe shaped bend was coming up in the river, so the wind would be at my back for a bit.
The bend ended up having a nice strong current to carry me around, and then the current and the wind ended up pushing me along. At one point I was going 6 mph, which was quite nice.

After the current died out, and I turned a bit so the wind was ahead of me again, I ended up fighting the last 1/2 mile to get near town. I stopped just outside of town so I could camp there.

In town I found out that there was a wind advisory for tomorrow, recommending that boaters stay off the water. I guess I'm stuck in town for another day.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mississippi River Day 80 (Mile #907, 1420.5 miles)

Today started off extremely calm. I noticed a thick layer of ice in some of the spots where puddles collect in my canoe. Definitely colder. However, by 11 it was windy again, so much that I had to stop. I decided to try something new. I had two ropes tied to either end of the canoe, and tried pulling it along the shore. This worked pretty well, until I hit a patch of thick mud, where I was sinking in to my knees. Not fun, especially as it was getting colder near evening. I ended up crawling out of the mud on my hands and knees, so I had more surface area, and then let the canoe float on the wind back a bit upstream to somewhere that I could camp. I made a nice big fire so I could wash off the mud from my shoes and pants, and then dry out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mississippi River Day 79 (Mile #919, 1408.5 miles)

Today was another windy day, but I had to go somewhere, I was sick of waiting, and it wasn't a very nice spot to camp anyway. So instead, I exercised a bit of stubbornness, and spent the entire day swearing at the wind. Not a fun day. Also, I stopped in to town for a bit, and noticed frost collected in some of the shadowy spots, so its getting pretty cold.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mississippi River Day 78 (Mile #940, 1387.5 miles)

Today the winds were even worse. It also rained last night, pretty hard. The worst part about the rain was that the wind blew it right up underneath my tarp, so I ended up getting pretty wet. Even with the rain though, the water level still dropped, since my canoe was further up from the water than last night.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mississippi River Day 77 (Mile #940, 1387.5 miles)

I woke up early today hoping to catch the other two still sleeping, at least figuratively. Unfortunately the wind didn't agree with me. I ended up stopping just a mile past where I started, and ducked behind an empty barge to wait out the wind again. About halfway through the day another barge pulled up and started tying off to the empty one. One of the bargemen asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was waiting out the wind. He proceeded to tell me I had to move, since it was too dangerous to be that close to a moving barge. And this was while I was all the way on the shore, where there is no way the barge could have even gotten close to me. He then further showed his ignorance by radioing the captain that there was a kayaker near the shore. My canoe in no way looks like a kayak. Oh well. I did end up doing a few more miles, just to get away from some of the barges, but it was a discouraging day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mississippi River Day 76 (Mile #943, 1384.5 miles)

Today was my longest day yet, hoping to catch up to the other two guys. 
It was a nice night last night, warm and peaceful, so I was ready for a very full day.

There was a bit of a headwind all day, but the current helped out again.
at milemarker 18 I found a fresh campfire, so I knew they had camped there for the night. That means that they are getting farther ahead, which I thought was likely. It also prompted the longer day today.

I hit the Ohio river in the afternoon, where the current seemed to die out. That also means goodbye to Illinois and on to Kentucky.

I ended up going a bit past dark, just trying to get in extra miles, but I'm not sure how far ahead of me the other two are.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mississippi River Day 75 (Mile #30, 1323 miles)

My host gave me a ride to the river in the morning, and offered that I could stay a second night if it was too windy to get anywhere. Once I saw the river I debated taking him up on the offer, but I wanted to try to catch back up with the other canoers.

I ended up fighting my way to the opposite side of the river, where the wind died down a bit, but it was still incredibly wavy. There were a few times I had to navigate around wing dams, and got blown back upstream, which can be really annoying. I ended up portaging over a few of them, just because it was easier to stay in the sheltered portion of the river.

I took a break at a bend in the river, hoping for the wind to die down a bit, and it did eventually, but the going was still slow. No sign of the other canoers, but I'm hoping they took the day off, or at least went slow as well.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mississippi River Day 74 (Cape Girardeau, MO, 1301.5 miles)

We woke up this morning to a heavy fog, so we waited it out until around 10:30, still sitting around the fire talking. Zach offered me a different paddle, apparently the one I have been using is too small for me, and he had 2 extras. It seems to be working better, so I guess that's good. We had a bit of a headwind all day, but it wasn't too bad, especially with the current pulling us along.

I stopped in Cape Girardeau, since I had set up a couchsurfing hosting there, while they continued on to Commerce, another 13 miles or so. Hopefully I'll catch back up to them, but I'm not sure, they are both going faster than I would like to so I'm not sure if I will or not.

I ended up chaining the boat up to an old mooring post under a bridge, and walked to my host's house He was very nice, a graduate assistant at the local college. Besides the standard shower and laundry, he also took me to the weekly poker night. Its strange how nice a normal thing like that can be, when you have been traveling for so long.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mississippi River Day 73 (Grand Tower, IL, 1280.3 miles)

I wanted to get in a few extra miles today, given that I didn't go anywhere yesterday. About halfway through the day a sailboat passed me, then cut its motor. It was a couple was heading down the Mississippi, and then on to wherever else they could get to. They were quite nice, and its nice to talk to other people doing similar trips.

I stopped in to Grand Tower, but the library was closed, and didn't have wireless. I ended up wandering around town to find an open wifi spot, and did eventually find a weak signal, probably after scaring half of the neighborhood watch people.

I left town in the afternoon, and when I turned around there were two other canoers behind me a ways. I decided to wait for them to catch up. Turns out that Davy had spent the day in Chester as well, and then also met Zach, another canoer doing the whole river. We ended up camping together and spent a long time talking to each other, and burned an entire huge pile of driftwood.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mississippi River Day 72 (Chester, Il, 1244 miles)

Today was a rainy day. I crossed the river to get into town, and spent the day in library. It wasn't to bad until I had to go back across the river to get to where I had left my camp setup. By that point it was raining sideways, and I had to paddle against the wind and the current just to get back to camp. I ended up beaching my canoe about a 1/4 mile downstream of camp and running the last bit to try to stay dryer. It didn't really work, but I was done with the river by that point.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mississippi River Day 71 (Chester, Il, 1244 miles)

Today started off calm, but the wind built up as the day went on.

There were a few bigger barges today. South of St. Louis they don't need to pass through locks, so they are able to push bigger loads.

I took a few wind breaks today. One especially since the wind was blowing strong around a turn, and a barge was coming. The wind would have pushed me into the oncoming barge, so I decided to wait until it passed.

On the next wind break another canoe-er came up from behind me. It turns out that he is traveling all the way as well. Davey is from Yonkers, NY. This is his second trip down the river, and had a few interesting stories to tell. Not sure if I'll end up seeing him again or not.

Just before dusk I was approaching town, and a fish decided to jump right into my boat. It scared me pretty good, and ended up flopping around and getting my canoe all fish-smelly before I could flip it back out. It was probably about 2 feet long, not sure what kind. It left some scales in the bottom of my boat, where it rubbed against some of the stuff I had there. Smelly.

I got to Chester late, just at dusk, and ended up getting lost and wandering around town at night. This town has a major thing for Popeye.

I left town without really accomplishing anything, but it was still interesting

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mississippi River Day 70 (Lee Island, 1217 miles)

Today was a very windy day. If it wasn't for the current I would have just sat out this one. Even as it was, I got off the river quite a few times today to wait out the strong wind.

The really annoying part is that the river is so low that the wingdams are high above the water level. They stick out into the river, so I can't hug the shoreline to get out of the wind.

A few barges passed my today, but nothing major. Most of the traffic has been at night. I'm not sure if that is done on purpose when going through the city or nor.