Cape Giradeau turned out to be quite the adventure. We arrived on Thursday morning around 11am. Using Google Maps and our chart book we found a small slough off the main river to hide the boat. From the main river we spotted the slough through the binoculars and headed towards it. As soon as we made the initial turn into the slough we were greeted by a pedestrian bridge. Being that it wasn’t on the channel there was no information about the height of this bridge; our mast is 15 feet tall and the bridge looked to be about that. Very carefully we approached the bridge, me standing on the foredeck looking up and Kyle ready on the oars to reverse us. I gave Kyle the OK to continue and he slowly glided us under the bridge that couldn’t be but 16.5 feet. Once on the other side of the bridge we found a shoreline with some trees that we could tie Solvi to. But when I went to step on the shoreline my foot immediately sank a couple inches…into mud. But this mud was like plaster and made it hard to pull my feet out. Being that we didn’t have anywhere else to put the boat and really were in a secure hidden spot, we decided to deal with the mud. Half way through the process of tying up Solvi and getting our backpacks we truly realized the uniqueness of the mud. It was so sticky, thick, and deep that the second anything came in contact with it, it quickly enveloped whatever it touched. Two days later I still can not get the mud all the way off my shoes. Anyway, after the ridiculously muddy task of securing Solvi to shore we climbed up the hill with our backpacks to head towards the grocery store. At the top of the hill, while shuffling our feet in the grass to attempt to remove the mud, we met Chuck who seemed to really like our boat and adventure. After chatting a while he offered to drive us the two miles to the grocery store so we would only have to walk one direction. We drove to the store in his work truck chatting all the while about our trip, the town, and the river. As we arrived at the grocery store I asked Kyle for his wallet so I could give Chuck one of our cards…Kyle didn’t have the wallet and neither did I, which means we couldn’t go shopping. Chuck overheard us and laughed and told us to get back in the truck. He then drove us back to the boat to retrieve the wallet before driving us back to the store. He was a really good sport; while Kyle went down to the mud to retrieve the wallet from the boat he said to me, “When he gets back ask him if he has the wallet.” We laughed and when Kyle came back up the hill, stomping his feet to get the paste off, I did as Chuck said and gave Kyle a hard time. Everyone got a kick out of it and we continued to the grocery store…again. What an extremely nice guy- Thank you Chuck, the wallet will not be forgotten again!
Once at the store we began the venture of grabbing items and checking them off the list; we were running low on food so I had quite a long one. And knowing that every item put in the cart has to then be carried on our backs for two miles doesn’t making shopping very fun. After checking out we carefully loaded our packs and headed towards Solvi. Along the way we had to stop at the Post Office and find ice. Unfortunately we planned the route poorly and ended up backtracking a half mile. Our packs were probably about 40lbs. each, on top of that Kyle was carrying a 20lb. bag of ice and I was carrying an awkward sized box that was quite heavy. We sighed as we walked the two miles back to the boat, most of which was uphill. Once we finally made it back to Solvi it was time to climb through the mud to unload everything onto the boat. We couldn’t relax yet because we then had to find a spot to fill our water jugs. We carry 38oz of water which I don’t know how much it weighs, but I do know it is heavy! We wandered along side some railroad tracks until we saw a warehouse. It was a counter making shop. The man was very nice and let us use his utility sink to fill up our jugs. Finally 4 hours later we had food, water, and ice to last at least a week. It was a tough and exhausting re-supply, but that is all part of this journey. Plus I appreciate the food and water so much more because of how hard we had to work to get it. I hope that months from now when I find myself turning a nozzle and water pours out or when I’m driving away from the grocery store, that I remember this situation. Because simple things like instant drinking water and driving to the store are easily taken advantage of, when in reality they are things to be grateful for.
A month ago when our article came out in the Star Tribue, a man named Dan contacted us about getting together for dinner when we came through Cape Giradeau, MO. I remember at the time we were still in Wisconsin and the thought of being in Missouri seemed so far way- foreign. We got in touch with Dan and made plans to meet for dinner on Thursday evening. After the re-supply adventure Kyle and I headed to Main St. to find some wifi and electricity. We spent an hour or so fiddling online before meeting up with Dan. He brought along two of his good friends, a couple who have both retired from teaching and are equestrians. We all met up and walked to a Cajun Restaurant where we had wonderful food and even better conversation. In fact, we arrived around 6:30pm and closed the restaurant, not leaving until after 10pm. Even though Kyle and I had never met these people before and only briefly communicated via e-mail, they became fast friends. Being that they were all fellow adventurers we had so much to talk about and stories to share. It really was a great treat, having a sit down dinner with kind people, something I miss about being around family. So thank you guys so incredibly much- not only for dinner and the gift of breakfast, but for the company.
The following morning we awoke to gray skies and rain clouds on the horizon. We decided to at least head south a little to see if it would clear up, but it didn’t. The rain was light but consistent, it was cold, and overall a bit gloomy. Neither of us were enjoying ourselves in the rain, so made the choice to stop just 7 miles later. Thankfully we made the decision early on to have no schedule or rush, because I was so much happier when we stopped. We found a sandy area in some trees and pulled up. Quickly setting up camp to seek refuge from the rain, we spent our afternoon napping, reading, writing, and lounging in the tent. At one point I was sitting wrapped up in my sleeping bag liner, book in hand, raindrops landing loudly on the rain fly, and just felt so utterly cozy.
The rain stopped for a while and for a good 45 minutes the sun tore through the clouds and blessed us with her presence. We took the opportunity to go explore the floatsom and driftwood covered shore line. Along the way Kyle came across a golf ball among the driftwood and random garbage scattered on the tip of the island. He then found a flat piece of wood and laid it carefully on the sand. Next he found a piece of driftwood that was shaped more like a hockey stick, but passed as a golf club. After placing the golf ball on the wood he licked his finger and held it up to the wind as though it was a winning shot he was about to take. The moment that really sticks out in my mind is when he turned his head to look out over the water and yelled “Fore!” really loudly to an invisible audience; as the words left his lips the sun emitted a ray directly on his face. At that moment while giggling at Kyle and admiring his light heartedness I thought to myself, “I sure am blessed and this journey sure is a good one.”
We awoke this morning again to gray skies. Since neither of us were feeling real motivated it was a slow morning. Coffee always helps though and after brewing two steaming cups over the fire we got underway. There was not a lot of wind so we rowed the 32 miles, but because the current is so fast there really is no need for us both to row. Alone, not trying very hard, I can comfortably row at 6.5 knots. Kyle can do the same, probably closer to 7. Therefore we took one hour shifts. This really helped to break up the day and not make it seem quite as arduous. Just after eating lunch we arrived at our first “horse shoe.” This is where the river does an 180 degree turn and you basically go the wrong direction for a little. At the same time, a north bound tug and barge were coming around the bend. Not wanting to deal with their wake or getting in their way, we pulled off on an awesome sandy beach for a while. We played frisbee, jumped and slid in the mud, and explored the island. When the river was clear we continued on the 8 miles to where we planned to camp.
Last night we found an interesting beach to camp on. We pulled up on a sandy spot and before pulling Solvi up on her rollers or setting up camp, we went to explore the strange island. Our chart book called it island 14, and island 14 was completely covered in driftwood, sticks, and sharp stumps that were only an inch in diameter and about an inch sticking out of the sand. Being careful to avoid the potential puncture wounds from the tiny stumps, we ventured along the shore. Amidst the thousands of pieces of floatsom and driftwood here is what we found: 3 soccer balls, 1 plastic golf ball, a dozen cooler lids, at least 50 plastic bottles, 4 different shoes, a play dough dispenser, 3 milk crates, what looked like the back of a T.V., a couple 50 gallon plastic barrels, and a plethora of random pieces of styrofoam and plastic. Kyle found two tall sticks and using chunks of wood and rope he created stilts, which he successfully took 2 steps on. I, on the other hand, took a total of 0 steps before falling off 🙂 We cooked rice and beans over the fire and watched the sky break out into an array of pastel colors as the sun went behind the clouds.
4 thoughts on “Cape Giradeau, Gray Skies, and Exploring Driftwood ”
Howdy. I’ve been enjoying your posts … I’m the guy who went down the Mississippi from Minneapolis starting in November, 1975, with six other folks (two of them kids) in a home-built 38-foot trimaran named the Whynot. Our trip was, of course, incredibly different from yours, but some of the joys were very much the same. We hit Cape Girardeau Dec. 17. Man, it was cold …. Alas, we couldn’t pull off in a convenient slough. It was only our second day on the lower Mississippi, where the barge trains weren’t limited by the size of the locks. When we saw our first 38-barge train, we were terrified; looked like it filled the whole river. After we passed it, with of course hundreds of yards to spare, the captain radioed us and asked, “Did l’ill ole me scare y’all?” Oh, yes. Can’t figure out how to drop a photo into this comment, or I’d give you a photo of the Whynot.
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Oh we could only imagine how cold it would be in December! We’d love to see a picture of Whynot, our email is email@example.com if you want to send some over! We love hearing your stories because while yes it’s a different journey a lot of it is similar. Thanks for sharing!
Love following along. What are the temperatures now for you? Minnesota is moving into the cool fall days with possible frost tonight. Glad you are further south!
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Thanks for the comment! The temperatures are still warm during the days- 70s and some low 80s. Definitely getting chilly at night, but we are both really enjoying the cooler weather and looking forward to it. It’ll be a nice change of environment