This week also brought some excitement: crossing into Missouri brought with it different vegetation, more poisonous snakes, and new accents. Surprisingly, we also made our first ever TV appearance, just not in a way that we would have expected...
- Started in Muscatine, IA, Ended in Hannibal, MO
- Miles: 174
- Average: 25
- Points of Interest: Clinton (IA), Quincy (IL), Hannibal (MO)
Our New Normal Life
While passing through a lock the next day, the lock operator asked us, "Hey, have you guys seen a tiny boat with a pirate flag in the back?" Our faces lit up as we responded with, "Yeah! That's Carl!" Surprised, the lock operator told us about how Carl was arrested by the FBI earlier that morning for allegedly kidnaping the woman who we saw in the boat. Having had a fairly long interaction with him, the local TV station interviewed us about the experience and we ended up being the top story of the night. To this day, we don't know what had really happened between Carl and the woman who was with him.
Hungry for signs of accomplishment, the crossing of state lines became important events for us. While these crossings were generally arbitrary and changed nothing on the river, Missouri seemed to bring warmer weather, different vegetation, and new accents. As if welcoming us into the state, we also had a few Asian carp nearly jump into our boat upon our arrival.
We ended the week just outside of Louisiana, Missouri, a bit disappointed in the few miles we had canoed during this stretch. We faced 10+ mph winds almost everyday and had nearly capsized for the second time. At this point in our trip however, these struggles became the norm. We continued to keep our heads up. We fell in love with mornings on the river. We felt at home in our tent. And next week, we would be in St. Louis.
Notes from Week 5:
You'd be surprised how winds over 10mph can ruin a day. We suggest getting up about two hours before sunrise to make good breakfast and get on the river at an early time. Mornings on the river were the best parts of the trip and a prime time to get some miles under your belt before Mother Nature throws some wind at you.
However, on some days you may wake up at 5:30am to the sight of walls of fog on the river. Our advice: use your common sense and be careful. While you may generally be able to canoe in a light fog, canoeing in some heavy fogs will result in a crash on an unseen wing dam. The best way to avoid this is by not getting on the river in the first place. We had several days where we waited three hours or more for fog to clear; it's just another challenge that river occasionally throws your way.
Find something to look forward to.
We had been looking forward to Hannibal for a few weeks now, and we also knew that we were only a few days outside of St. Louis. Having these goals in mind really helped us keep our spirits high and our heads up. We also noticed a change in vegetation and people's dialects, which made us feel like we truly were making progress.
Give the lock and dams a call
When we were about a 20-minute paddle from each lock and dam, we would call the lock operator using the phone numbers listed in the Army Corps of Engineers map books. The lock operator would tell us if there was a barge approaching or if we were all clear. If a barge was approaching, we would pull over and take break or make lunch. If the lock was free, the lock operator would begin preparing the lock for our arrival. Because barges can take two or more hours to pass through the locks, making these phone calls allowed us to be much more efficient with our time.
Planning is important
At this point in the river, river towns become a little more scarce. This may require more planning so you don't find yourself without food and water in the middle of nowhere.