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Mississippi 2011

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S: Mississippi: A daily look into life on the river June 2011

BC: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

FC: Mississippi A daily look into life on the river | June 2011

1: Written by: Will Dehogues Joined in travels by: Lincoln Schrock Nathan Stoddard Vince Rhodes Aaron Erb

2: Boat the Mississippi River (The Whole Thing) June 1 This will begin my blog about my travels on the mighty Mississippi River, along with my comrades Lincoln, Stod, and Aaron. Our intentions are to travel the entirety of the river, from Minneapolis Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Our two biggest assets are our 24 foot pontoon boat and our ignorance. With a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck we plan to make it to the Gulf sometime in July. | After a long drive to Minneapolis we stopped at a marina and put the boat in the water. After many thank yous to Lukas and Marshall we set sail. It was already late so we only traveled a mile. We found a nice spot and tied to some trees. Stod prepared us a wonderful supper of ramen noodles. During our supper, we kept getting blinded by an enormous spotlight. All at once we realized two barges were passing by, the light was from the tug boat behind them. It was a terrifying experience. This morning we left around 6 o'clock. We worked our way through the city. It was rather chilly, but otherwise a beautiful morning. We hit some slightly choppy waters and received a healthy load of water on our front porch. | First Night June 5

3: Locks and Barges June 6 We have made it through 7 locks already. They are really easy, and we only drop a few feet each time. We are making really good time. Yesterday we went almost a hundred miles and today we’re pushing just as hard. We take advantage of our nice days. Last night it stormed a little. I’m glad it was at night everything stayed dry too. This morning I ran the boat for 3 hours while everyone slept. The futon is the best. We met a few barges but no water made it on board. We watched some barges dig up sand right out of the river,it was really cool. We showered again today in the river, it’s chilly. It’s scary because you never know what you’re going to hit when you jump. Also the water looks like pickle juice. | Easy Floatin' June 7 | We're wrapping up our second full day, and it was a good one. We put on another 100 miles. Our GPS says we're averaging 8 MPH. Oh, we're also back in Iowa! How pleasant! We're planning to be in Muscatine Wednesday. Our most recent lock is number 9, it only dropped us 3 inches. We went through several locks today and each time we didn't have to wait at all. It's sweet radioing it in. Right now we're in Prairie du Chien walking to get gas. It's a mile away. | Thanks to everyone who posted a comment. It's nice to see all the support and all the prayers. I will try to do a better job at posting our precise whereabouts. That'll be the best I can do though. As for Huck Fin, I'm currently reading the book. Just a little over halfway, I'll have to post some pictures tomorrow. Overall, all is well. No death, just a wonderful ride through some beautiful, buggy country.

4: Head Wind June 8 | We left at the break of dawn this morning. We had to spray gas in the carb to get the motor started. It was a tad worrisome, but it's just fine now. The water was calm to begin with and we got almost 6 MPG on our first tank, but around 10 the wind picked up and the water got pretty choppy. Pretty soon we were just creeping along at 6 MPH and getting rocked around by the waves. Water was on the porch and it creeped into our living room. We stopped in Dubuque and got some burgers. We even bowled a game, Aaron won. After that the water got calmer, we're doing 8 MPH again. We've talked to a lot of people on the river today, they always ask us where we're headed. Everyone thinks it's a cool thing to do. We even met a guy on a canoe doing it. Everyone always knows someone who's done the whole river. No problems It's always cool meeting barges, they're so enormous. There are always trains along side the river, it's cool when they meet a barge. There are some huge houses along the river. We really like the ones perched on hills overlooking the river. They're so nice and ridiculously expensive. We are still planning on Muscatine tomorrow around 5 or 6. Anyone is welcome to come and check out the covered wagon. And again, thanks for the comments, I love seeing the different people following us. Also, I can't find the Huck Finn book I hope it's not in the river.

5: Well, we spent the night in Clinton, Iowa Tuesday. Lincoln conveniently parked the boat with a tree branch right in our living room. When we woke up we still had a pretty bad headwind. We stopped at a marina and had a very cute girl pump some gas, but the best part wasn't her, we paid only 3.35 a gallon! What a steal! We kind of slept-in so we were going to have to fly to get to Muscatine. Unfortunately there was that dastardly headwind slowing us down We battled the wind and the waves and finally decided Davenport was good enough. Around 5:30, our parents and friends started to arrive. Pretty soon, Lola was the star of a party consisting of moms, dads, siblings, friends and even grandparents. It was really fun to show everyone the boat, answering questions and telling stories. We got a fresh supply of food, including steaks, burgers, brats, chips, peanut M&M’s (thanks Gramps) and a fresh batch of tea leaves. Around dark everyone started to leave. Our friends stayed a little later, but word was spreading that there was a lot of storming going on, and heading our way. So we said our goodbyes and hugged each other. I must say thanks to Jarron for graciously leaving his Dr. Pepper. My brother Alex drove all the way here to bring me his phone so I can continue to blog. He traded me his smart phone for my dumb phone You all have him to thank for this blog. It was a pretty good night, but we lost our friend Aaron. No, he didn't die, but in a horrifying change of events, he must go home. His presence was immediately missed. And the crew's morale is pretty low. When we were the only ones left, we ate our supper (thanks Schrocks) and prepared for the coming storm. | More Wind, Slow Day June 9

6: Last night was pretty miserable We got to sleep around 11 o'clock listening to sirens and watching lighting. Around 4 o'clock the wind found us, and it hit hard. I woke up to the sides of our canopy whipping around wildly. Lincoln quickly went to port side and held the corner together while Stod held the other end. In the meantime, I walked around frantically trying to hide our belongings from the rain. We stood around shivering for 20 minutes waiting for the wind to die. Stod says there was a guy loading his boat at the same time. Finally, the wind slowed down and we slept again at 5 or so. This was easily the worst part of the trip so far, but we're still alive. | Hurricane June 9 | Steak in the rain June 9

7: Yesterday, we started pretty slow, leaving Davenport around 11. The hurricane made us pretty weary, but the day cleared up and we even had a tailwind for a while. It rained a little through the day so we would stop on small islands and hang out. We grilled some steaks and listened to classic rock. We traveled for some more hours and eventually the wind picked up so we called it a night around 8. The town we found was small and trashy on the Illinois border, New Boston. There was one gas station in town and we found some glass bottles of Mt. Dew and Pepsi. Back on the boat, Stodd made some ravioli and we went to bed. During the night it stormed a little bit. I woke up to Lincoln and Stod hanging up the sides. It was a cold night and we finally got up at 8. Stod and Lincoln tried to sleep in, but I found a town and we walked to Casey’s for gas and donuts. I carried the donuts while the other two hauled 12 gallons of gas each (I’m just a little guy). We just made it through lock 18 and Stod’s grilling burgers. We have our sights set for Keokuk today. 46 more miles. Hopefully the rain will hold off for the day. It's smooth sailing right now. We hit 400 miles yesterday, only 1200 more! | More Rain June 10 | Iowa Weather June 11 | Lola traveled around 50 miles so far today. We just left Ft. Madison, the radar showed rain so we got some food and played catch. It ended up not raining, so we wasted about 2 hours. We're still going to push for Keokuk tonight so we can get to St. Louis Sunday or Monday. Today can't decide if it's hot, cold, windy, or rainy; we even had the ‘ol sunny and raining thing.

8: We made it to the lock just at dark. On the radio, they told us they’d fill it with water and we’d be on our way. Usually it’s only a foot different on either side but when we got in it was much bigger. We talked to an engineer and he said the lock was 1200 feet long and barges didn’t have to split-up during lockages. We hitched up and prepared for our drop. 35 feet later we were done. It was an incredible feeling to be down so far. We got our fair share of pictures and departed just as the rain started. | Keokuk Lock June 11 | We got an early start today and made it to Hannibal. We almost hit a buoy today during swim time. The engine was shut off and we were coasting down the empty channel. Stod looked up and pointed at the buoy, Lincoln quickly started up the motor and punched it. It was a very close save. Now we're with Brian and we're going to play a board game now. Better go. | Hannibal, MO June 11

9: Brian rode his motorcycle to Hannibal just to play this game. | Down Time June 11 | So after Brian got here, his uncle Jonas and family showed up on their boat. Shortly after, Lee and Pam arrived on their motorcycle. They brought us KFC, and Jonas grilled up some beef. It's nice to have all the company. | Lots of Friends June 12

10: After spending the evening with us, Brian really wanted to spend the night. Luckily, his dad agreed to go home and take care of his chores. What a guy. We walked into Hannibal a little ways and got some ice at a gas station. On the way back, a chick in a Jeep yelled hello at us. Lincoln immediately asked for a ride and she promptly did a U-turn. So all 4 of us piled into the small Jeep and we told the ladies what we’re doing and where our boat is. When we got to our boats, Jonas and Pam had a pretty good laugh at us. Eventually we left again, and the ladies drove us to some sights in town. We ended up going to one of their houses and watched a movie, it was a pretty good time. When we got back to the boat it was pretty late and Jonas was up. He told us nothing good happens after 10 o’clock. This morning we said our good byes to Pam, Jonas and Brian. They will be the last people to see us alive, now that we’re so far south | Brian stays the night june 12 | So far today we have put on 75 miles and now we're stuck. There is a 2 hour wait for Lock 25 and we have some bad news from the coast guard. I called Lock 27 (in St. Louis) and asked if we could go through tonight or tomorrow and they said neither Apparently they aren't letting pleasure boats through the Port of St. Louis without going through the Coast Guard because of high water. So I called the Coast Guard and answered a lot of questions about our boat, the motors, our knowledge of the area, our skill as seamen, our travel intentions and some other stuff. I got a call back a little while later and I guess our answers weren't up to snuff. The water level is projected to drop enough to lift the ban by the 16th. So we might take our time to get there and wait it out, or we'll try to get a marina to pull us out and drive us 5 miles. Crew morale is low again. | Slight Delay June 12

11: Well we were out hunting some hopping fish, mainly trying to get them on video. These fish hop up in shallow water when our boat draws near, it’s really cool. Anyway, so we were searching for them when one got a little too excited and found us. He hopped right behind Lincoln, and scared the crap out of him. We were so happy he was on the boat After some pictures and some poking we tossed him back in. What a catch! | Fish Catching Us June 14

12: We hitched up on an island last night and got in some solid hours asleep. Around noon we finally set out and got to floating, just coating down the river. It started out pretty well, but it didn’t take long for the wind to disagree with us. Around 5 o’clock Lola wouldn’t move down stream anymore, the wind just held us still. We weren’t that torn up about it, so we just found an island to explore. It was about a mile long and really sandy. We saw a raccoon, a turkey and a dead turtle. Eventually we decided to make a fire and roast some hot dogs. When we were done, we noticed the weather had cleared up, so we got back on the boat. You can look at my previous post and picture for some more entertainment Here are our coordinates if anyone would like to see our exact location. I think you can just copy it and paste it into google. N3854.783ft W09030.732ft Congrats to our faithful followers for hitting 1100 views! This almost doubles our previous daily record. Thanks everyone, and let’s keep setting records. | Drifting JUne 14 | lOLA

13: Jarron, Ainsley, David and Vince joined us in the town of Grafton, Illinois. | Even more friends June 14 | Today we woke up at 1 a.m. with the wind pounding the boat. Lincoln figured it was going to rain, (like it always does) so he convinced Stod to get up and help him while I stayed in bed. Sure enough, around 4 o'clock the rain started and didn't let up until 9, it was accompanied by plenty of thunder and lightening. Our floor got completely soaked. So at 9, we started moving through the drizzle to the nearest town, luckily it was just 3 miles away. We found a dock and went to a restaurant for brunch. Afterwards we rested and awaited our friends. Finally at 1:30 they showed up: Vince, Jarron, Ainsley and David. We spent the rest of the day in the small town shopping, eating and driving around. Ainsley even bought supper for us river rats. We ended the day playing cards with them in our living room. When they had to leave, they left us many gifts. We received some donuts and rolls from Chris Rhodes and the Crowded Closet; some pop and a new towel from Ainsley; plenty of pork burgers, brats, and sausage from Jimmy Miller; and a new hat from David. Thanks everyone. Now that they're gone I think we will try to put on a few miles and try to end up near Alton, Illinois. | Friends and Food in Grafton, ILlinois June 15

14: For another day Lola sat idle, but my mother and father did not. They drove all the way down to Alton, Illinois to see us. We went out to eat and then they took us to St. Louis to see the arch. My dad took us up the arch while mom waited below; she's not into the small spaces thing. When we were up there, we tried to imagine our little boat floating down that enormous river, it sure was a funny image. We had a really good time with them. It seems the weather is nicer the less time we're on the river. We even parked in a marina, and it was a beautiful day. We talked to a couple of guys today about moving the boat for us. Hopefully that will work out for a reasonable price, otherwise we'll have to wait for someone to come down Sunday with a trailer. Since we are staying in a marina, we have access to the pool so we can finally get legitimately clean, and swim in something that isn't colored like chocolate milk. Here's our coordinates: N3853.049 W09010.630 | St. Louis June 16 | As you all know, we are stranded just north of St. Louis in Alton, Illinois. We need to have someone take us down the river just 15 miles to get past these last locks. We tried to have someone do it locally, but that doesn't seem to be working. One company gave us a quote of $800 We are thinking that someone coming down to St. Louis for the IMS baseball game could bring our trailer. You don't need a huge pick-up, just a small SUV or something with a hitch. If you are interested in helping us, give Lincoln a call. | A proposition June 16

15: I’m writing for the faithful people who still follow us. It's been a slow week for us just sitting in the marina. We thought that they'd let us through the lock yesterday, but with all this rain, the water is only rising. So we've been hanging out in this marina for a few days. It's rather boring. We spend our time sitting in the hot tub, or walking the streets looking for something to do. It wouldn't be so bad, but they charge 40 bucks a night We finally got someone to come down on Sunday with our trailer. Once again, Ainsley and Jarron will make the trek down to see us. Many thanks to them. It's storming a lot right now, so I’m glad we're cooped up here instead of an island. Well, that's all I've got for now Nothing exciting. I’ll try to post updates every day. I’m sure sometime Monday, I’ll have something interesting to say. We can only hope | Alton Marina June 17 | Well, Jarron and Ainsley made it down with the trailer in one piece. It looks like we will try to move the boat tomorrow sometime. We're still not sure where or what time we'll be in the water. I’m not sure if we'll be near Busch Stadium. I finally finished Huck Finn. Now I know for sure who we are imitating. In other news, Lincoln's phone got soaked by the rain last night, and he will no longer be able to use it this trip. It's a deep loss. We are without a good companion. My phone will also be out of commission for tomorrow. Stod’s phone is all we've got for a while. Be prepared for more river writings! We are one night from more travels. How exciting! | The trailer made it June 19

16: For the first time in 4 days, Lola is on the move! We are moving down the Meramec river en route to the Mississippi. After countless chats with locals, we decided to put our boat in the Meramec and follow it into the Mississippi. When we get there, we will have skipped the final two locks. The Melvin Price lock (he's the Orval Yoder of rivers) and lock 27. We will also have missed where the Missouri meets the Mississippi. Hopefully this will save us some headaches and our lives The Meramec is a much more narrow river, similar to the Iowa river. It’s very scenic with many bluffs, and the water is much cleaner than the Mighty Mississippi. We should be to the junction shortly. After 4 days at the Alton Marina, we became very fond of the employees and many of the boaters. We are thankful for the kindness and hospitality there. We must also thank Jarron and Ainsley for bailing us out. It was really nice that they gave up their whole Sunday to help us. Tomorrow we are planning on a full day on the river so the blog will be much better. We are also preparing for some company Tune-in tomorrow for a huge surprise. | On the road again June 20

17: We finally made it to the river this morning. The current is a little faster and there is a lot of tree debris floating around. Our surprise is on the way and our morale is up. Good day. | The mississippi river June 20 | South of St. Louis, there are no restrictions for barges. Up north, we would only see 3 barges wide, and 5 long being pushed by a single tugboat. Already today we've seen a 10 wide by 5 long. They're pretty cool. When they are going upstream they really churn up the water leaving theses massive waves flowing behind them. We stay pretty far away so we aren't effected as much, they are quite the sight to see. I hope this picture gives you an idea. | Barges June 20

18: We have a new member of the crew: Vince. He will be with us the rest of our voyage to New Orleans. He brings many assets to the crew: lots of food, a great attitude, and the will to survive. David drove him all the way down to be part of the team. We are very pleased to have a new man aboard. We have had a good day thus far and have hit around 50 to 60 miles. We most recently stopped in Chester, Illinois to pick up Vince. It’s kind of windy, but the water isn’t too choppy. It looks like we will get close to the tip of Illinois tomorrow. I think we will save the Ohio river for Wednesday if all goes well. Views are up today! Right around 500, which doubles our count from yesterday. Thanks to all our followers for sticking out our idleness. | Surprise! June 20

19: Around 4:30 we hit the confluence of the Ohio River and the Mississippi. We couldn’t actually get to the town, but we got on land at the southern tip of Illinois. It was amazing to see the difference in color of the two rivers. Ohio’s was infinitely cleaner. We were hoping there would be a big mile marker that read 0.0, but we settled for 0.8. We have traveled 80 miles today, the current has been pretty good to us, we average 9 miles an hour and get 10 miles per gallon. That’s even with a head wind. The sky poured for a little bit, just enough to force us to put the sides up and stop for a while. It only lasted about 3 minutes I am proud to say we have officially completed the upper Mississippi. It took us just over two weeks and we plan on taking about the same time for the lower river. Thanks for following us on our adventure! | Cairo, Illinois June 21

20: We had to stop for gas today, and found the small town of New Madrid. When we got onto land, a nice older man showed up and offered us a ride. So we loaded up his car with four of our gas cans and he and his wife took us to a deli/gas station. It was only about three blocks, but it saved us a lot of sweating. Once we got back to the boat we decided to head back to the deli for a $6 buffet. They had ribs and pork chops. It was a delightful stop in a quaint town. This is also the town that is famous for the earthquake in the 1800s that caused the river to flow upstream for twenty minutes. For more information about this interesting event, just google the town; it’s rather fascinating. We hear it’s a two hour drive to Memphis, so we might be there tomorrow. The weather is pretty nice today, so we should be able to put on the miles. | New Madrid, Missouri June 22

21: Today has been a marvelous day to be on a boat. The sun has been out most of the day, and the waves have been staying down most of the time. We picked up about 40 feet of thick rope that was floating along, also a lunch cooler, and a car wheel, yesterday we found a softball. We kept everything but the wheel It was so hot today we bathed twice, usually we get in and out quickly but we didn’t mind the cool water today. It’s much less brown since we met the Ohio, and there is hardly any debris anymore. You still get the occasional floating stump or railroad tie, but they are much less frequent. We saw two brand new barges today, when we met the one, you could smell the paint on it. They aren’t too difficult to pick out on the river, they stick out amongst the other 20 rusty ones in the bunch. We got around 8 miles to the gallon on our tank today. The current is working in our favor, gas is just about free We paid $3.49, that’s a little bit nicer than the $4.75 we used to pay at marinas. We hit a new depth today on our fish finder. Way up north it was around 15-25 feet in the channel, but today we hit 100! Most of the time it’s around 60, but when the river gets narrow we get our record numbers. When it gets wide, we see sandbars sometimes, and the depth gets down to 5 or so in the middle of the river. Really, it’s anyone’s guess as to how deep the water is. We finally met another pleasure boat today, two guys and a dog out fishing and drinking. They stopped and talked to us for a little just, saying hello. Pretty nice fellas. | 100 Miles+ JUne 23 | We’ve gone over 100 miles today, it feels good to change states every day. We went from Kentucky to Tennessee today, and tomorrow we should switch to Arkansas on the west side. Our motor keeps purring like an Evinrude should. No problems, and life is good.

22: After traveling 85 miles we are arriving in Memphis. I think we are going to do some shopping to get more provisions (mac and cheese, and Coke) so we’re searching for a park to hitch up at. The day was pretty good, we slept-in till 9:30 and still put in plenty of miles. It was windy all day and the waters haven’t been very forgiving, but the sun was out for the whole day. We swam three times today, one to wake up, one because it was hot, and the last one so we could touch bottom. We were cruising along, between a sandbar and shore and the depthfinder read 3-4 feet. So we hopped out and started running along the boat, the bottom was a lumpy sand texture; now we can all say we touched the bottom of the Mississippi. We met another pleasure boat today! It was a big 40 foot cruiser heading upstream, I made sure to blow my vuvuzela for them. You don’t see much more than barges on the river, it’s kind of lonely. The river is strong enough now that the barges don’t cause too much trouble for us anymore. Well, we are in the city now so I’m going to take in the sights. There will be more writing tomorrow. Thanks for following! | Memphis, Tennessee June 24

23: We ended up having a very good time in Memphis, just walking around and seeing the city. When we got back to the marina, there was a pontoon boat cruising around with a smaller boat in tow. In the smaller boat there were two men shoveling out water and cursing like sailors in their southern tongue. Eventually, a guy swam to shore and brought down a pickup and a trailer. Lincoln was thoroughly entertained by the spectacle, he had his video camera out and took in the scene. After the guys got the boat on the trailer, they realized another one of the boats had a hole in it too. It was really quite fun to watch. We made it to sleep around 1 a.m. At 8:30, Stod and Vince went to town to get supplies and such. Lincoln and I stayed back at the boat mending our canopy, filling gas cans and cleaning up the joint. Finally at 10:30, the other two appeared and we hit the main channel. Nothing too exciting happened today. We played a lot of cards to pass the time. Stod and I are most excellent at Euchre. I did some laundry today. I got sick of stinky clothes so I filled our bucket with river water and detergent and soaked my clothes. After a couple of hours I dragged my clothes in the water as the rinse cycle and hung them under our canopy. I wouldn't quite call them clean, just much less dirty. We have had a lot of problems with bugs this past week, we started out with mosquitoes and other various biting insects. There were a few sleepless nights due to bugs and the heat. It's a catch-22, you need the blanket to keep your skin safe, but you need the breeze in order to sleep. Vince woke up with bites all over his back, the next day his hands were completely covered with little red bumps. Now there are biting flies aboard, we often arm ourselves with sandals and smack anything that moves. It's kind of fun. I think we're going to hop in the water before dark now, the sun is still out and we are sweaty. I think we we'll get an early start tomorrow to make up for the lack of traveling today. | A nice summer day June 25

24: We're cruising along nicely between Arkansas and Mississippi. We may not have the bluffs we did up north, but the river is surrounded by very beautiful beaches. Since we started at 5:15 this morning (thanks Stod), we found time to pull up to a beach this afternoon and swim. Vince built the most dazzling sandcastle and afterwards we had a catch. It was a pretty nice beach and we enjoyed swimming without the current. We finally saw a decent amount of boats on the water today. There were plenty of families enjoying the weather on the beaches. It wasn't even windy today, and I think we're already at 100 miles, starting early is the way to go. We are kind of aimlessly going down the river right now. My GPS isn't getting signal, so we're just hoping the city of Greenville, Mississippi will be right along the river so we can't miss it. We haven't filled up since Memphis, so we are starting to look for gas. We are getting around 6 miles per gallon, we got better mileage inbetween St. Louis and the Ohio river. This area must've seen plenty of flooding. The shores are badly eroded, leaving them bare up to six feet above the water. Often times, we see various buoys pinned in the trunks of trees, 20 feet inland isn't uncommon. There are also a lot of mile markers that have fallen due to high waters. To pass the time, Vince and I read books. He just finished the Hobbit and I completed the Martian Chronicles. When we aren't reading, we play lots of Euchre and listen to music. It's amazing how we are never bored, and we don't even get sick of each other. It looks like there are some water-towers on the horizon. At last, civilization! | Mississippi beaches JUne 26

25: We planned on our trip lasting 3 to 4 weeks and it looks like we're right on the money. We only have 350 miles left before we arrive in New Orleans, or “Newaluhns” as the locals call it. Last night we did arrive in Greenville with no problems, we had to travel up an inlet to get to the city and we found our home inbetween two casinos. A few blocks away we found a gas station and we made a couple of trips to get our fuel. We also found the ever-necessary hot dogs, ice, and Coke. We got to our boat around 10:30 and traveled down the inlet getting attacked by flying fish and tugboat spotlights. Eventually we came to the river and found a spot to camp around a bend. There was a slight breeze, but nevertheless, Vince and Stod got bitten up and resorted to another early start. We just finished lunch and we're en route for Vicksburg, Mississippi. We changed borders on the west from Arkansas to Louisiana today. We're making great time. When we get to New Orleans, my dad will come pick us and the boat up. Unfortunately, we have no truck We are in need of a 4-door pick-up the size of an F-150 or larger. If you have one that my dad could borrow for 3 days, it sure would help us out. | Three weeks on the river June 26 | We were just cruising along when a plane flew over us, we thought nothing of it until he circled back around. He landed down stream from us just a few hundred yards and slowly made his way towards us. Eventually he made it close to our boat and shut off the engine and got out. | Quite the Visit JUne 26 | Nonchalantly he struck up a conversation, asking us where we're headed, and how we're doing. He told us he was just cruising over and spotted our boat and wanted to chat. We feel pretty honored that he landed just for us. We made sure to get his take-off on film but the video won't upload. Here's a picture. Enjoy!

26: Way down around Vicksburg around Louisiana way, lived a Cajun lady, aboard the Mississippi Queen. These are some lyrics by the band Mountain, you can probably guess where we were Yesterday, we stopped in the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi for gas and ice. It was a small city and gas wasn't too far from the river. Unfortunately, you have to climb a small mountain to get there. We parked next to a casino and readied our four empty cans for the hike. A small black pickup pulled up and an older gentleman started to talk to us. He said that the Coast Guard often patrols the waters catching people parked illegally, he suggested that one of us should stay with the boat, while the other three went with him to the gas station. It didn't take long to accept his offer, so the other three guys got in the pickup and I sat in the boat. About 15 minutes later, they came trotting down with gas and they were so pleased they got a ride. So we loaded up the gas and hit the river. Today we stopped in Natchez, Mississippi. We had plenty of gas left, so we just found a BBQ place and got some pulled pork and corn on the cob. Natchez is a pretty small, but very nice looking town; it has all the southern charm you could ask for. Lots of big houses over-looking large, neatly kept yards and the Mighty Mississippi. Every time we stop in a town, we find a casino (they're always along the river) and try to buy some cards. We've probably gone to six casinos and they never have any for sale. But finally today, we found a river boat in Natchez that just gave us two decks. We got back to the boat and played Scum to see who would keep the cards, Vince and Stod each won a deck. We have had excellent weather the last week, we have been consistently traveling 100 miles a day. We started at mile marker 392 this morning, so it looks like we'll make it to New Orleans Wednesday. The city is 100 miles upstream from the gulf; we aren't sure how much farther south we'll go, as civilization gets more and more sparse. It has been an incredible journey and it's amazing to be so close to the end. | Mississippi Queen June 27

27: We just departed the capitol city of Louisiana. It was a pretty nice city as far as we could tell, with plenty of traffic on the river. We saw many barges and a few enormous cargo ships, we felt very out of place heading to shore amongst all the tugboats. We found a spot on some sand between a casino and an old military ship, our boat was quite the sight on the nice strip. We gathered up our four gas cans and walked them a few blocks up from the river. Premium was just $3.62 a gallon and we only get the best for Lola. We delivered the gas to our boat and found a restaurant next to the river. There was alligator on the menu and we all had to try some. It was pretty chewy, but rather delicious. After that, we got some malts and some bags of ice and retired to the boat. As we left the port, one tugboat kind of followed us around like he wanted something, so we stopped and he went away. Then another tugboat kept honking at us, like he wanted something too. We just ignored them, but now that I think of it, we probably had a flat tire. Once we got on the river we cleaned up the joint. Vince and I made rice and beans last night, and that was a disaster. We also had some weird flying beetles join us, so there were many dead bugs on the floor. It looks much nicer now. We were mighty sweaty after hauling the gas, so we made sure to swim for a good 15 minutes. Swimming isn't scary anymore since we've been doing it for three weeks now. We used to be rather skiddish about being in the water. We only have 100 miles till New Orleans, so we're taking our time. We will likely get there tomorrow morning and explore the city for the day. My dad will be on his way tomorrow to pick us up. We are so excited to see the end, what a wonderful trip it has been. | Baton Rouge, Louisiana JUne 28

28: We are only 20 miles away from the Big Easy. We finally had some cool weather to sleep in and we took andvantage of it. So we left a little bit later than we had anticipated, but now we’re almost done. The river at this point is full of barges. We are always in sight of a tugboat, towboat, or cargo ship. The shores are lined with unoccupied barges, waiting for a towboat to push them. The water is pretty choppy from all the activity and we’ve taken on water on several occasions. Our boat is so out of place amongst all these commercial vessels. When we pass a barge, often times the captain will get out of the tower and wave to us. Other times they will just honk. And three times today, a tug or tow has come over to us to check us out or take a picture. It’s nice to know they don’t hate us down here. | Just a little more June 29 | Just got passed by this little guy | Ships JUne 29

29: There are so many gigantic ships! It's amazing that there's no other pontoons around here | Big Stuff June 29 | New Orleans, la June 29 | We aren't dead. St. Paul to New Orleans with no problems. Just a great trip on a great river. Thanks for following, more tomorrow!

30: It's hard to believe our trip is over and we actually finished what we started. 1700 miles through the gut of the United States. Now we begin our road trip back to our homes. We got the boat loaded with no problems and have everything packed and strapped down. When we got to New Orleans, we found a dock right next to the French Quarter and tied Lola up and went into town. We walked around till dark, checking out the sights and all the old buildings. When we got back to the boat, we started to unwind and tell stories about the river. Around midnight, some cops showed up on a golf cart and shined their light on us. They left for a bit and we were relieved until they showed up with two more cops. Eventually they came over and got our ID’s and asked us why we thought it was okay to dock there. They explained to us that the Port of New Orleans charges thousands of dollars to have ships park there regardless of size. They said they didn't want to judge us by our vessel but suggested we find a cheaper home before the Coast Guard arrives. So we unhitched and went across the river to some trees a little bit hidden. That was the only run-in we had with the law, 1700 miles with no Coast Guard intervention, pretty good luck. This morning we woke up at 7:30 sweating. We were hidden from any breeze and were hot and frustrated. It's hard to find a place to swim in the middle of New Orleans, but we did, and tried to make it quick. We took a ferry to the main part of town and promptly found lunch. We feasted on cheese fries, burgers and Po’ Boys, they were much needed and rather delicious. The restaurant was fittingly called Huck Finn's. Afterwards we found the famous Bourbon Street and | mission accomplished July 1

31: walked around aimlessly in the heat. My dad was on his way to get us, so we took the ferry back to our side of the river where our boat was safely hidden. We took another bath and made our way down the river to a canal. The canal lead to a marina just south of Lake Pontchartrain. We followed a tugboat into a lock, dropping us around 9 feet; we made our way under a few bridges too. Eventually, the tug pulled over and we continued north. We found our marina and pulled into the fancy place. We were so happy to find a boat ramp, and we began to unload all of the stuff to prepare for the trailer. | Around 6:00 my dad arrived just as we were taking down the canopy. We cleaned up the boat, finding a safe spot for everything. It was a smooth process and we thanked our boat for lasting the whole trip. We're most impressed with our little Evinrude. I will add more in the following days, but now my phone is dying. Thanks for all the comments, we really enjoy the support from all of you.

38: St. Paul, Minnesota June 4 New Orleans, Louisiana July 1

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  • Title: Mississippi 2011
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  • Published: about 8 years ago