At long last, we are a full crew again. Dave made it back safe and sound with some great stories from the Georgia wedding. The eight of us reconvened at the Hannibal Boat Club, 50 yards upstream from the Mark Twain Riverboat. Brett Arndt saw us off. We were all happy to have a partner in our canoes. Yet another gorgeous day was ahead of us. It has been about three weeks without a drop of rain. The River has lowered a bit, but the current is still pushing us along. For a few years, there have been news stories and Youtube videos of Asian carp. You just don’t know what it’s all about until you canoe down the Mississippi. As we near the shores, the carp begin their frantic jumping. One fish, then two. Usually, no more than that. But today was a different story. The aluminum Grumman canoes served as giant lures for the invasives. The dirty backs of the 20-inch fish rise to the top of the River, then it all goes haywire. The fish leap up to three feet all around the canoes. They pound against the gunwales and flop over the bow. At this point our paddles become shields and weapons. A few fish have come charging like uncoordinated falcons at our bodies. Our grips tighten. Our paddles swing. A couple carp should have bruises at this point as we’ve punched some away from us. Some still land in the boat and flop their way back into the River after a few seconds. These things are aqua-monsters. Ugly, fat, and smelly. When we’re done screaming like school girls and the fish settle back the muddy River bed, we burst out into laughter and cursing.
Tonight, we floated onto shore with the sunset. 42 miles and feeling great. Magenta waves of clouds swirled with the grey to the west. The three-quarter moon floated higher in the sky, waiting for the darker hours. It was a pleasant end to the day. We ran through two dams today as we didn’t want to wait for the barges to spend their two hours in the lock. Our routine continued as usual at camp with a quick dinner over a fire. We’ve only been here an hour and we have sautéed veggies, lentils, and spaghetti. River life is only as difficult as you make it. Barges pass by, shining their spotlight on shore. Surely, the captains are cussing about our being faster than they are. Amanda is finishing up with tomorrow’s lunch. Dinner’s not done and we can’t wait for lunch tomorrow. We’ll pass through St. Louis in the next couple days, which means we’ll join forces with the Mighty Missouri River. It’s exciting to predict the change of pace as the arteries join. All that water from another part of the country will join with all the water we’ve been experiencing. We’ll accept it with open paddles and hopefully more miles per day.
It’s good to have Dave back.