Start: 8:45 AM - MM 495 Rapids City, IL
Finish 4:45 PM - MM 463 Fairport, IA
Time: 8:00 hours
Daily dist: 32 miles
Lock 14: 9:10-9:15
Lock 15: 11:30-Noon
Total dist: 5400+
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70’s, WNW wind 20+ (headwind)
Notes: Fought wind all day
The first ten miles of progress took nearly twice as long as yesterday while I paddled over and through two and three foot waves being pushed up from the opposing forces of downstream flowing water and upstream blowing wind. The side channels were great ways to get out of the wind. By the time I’d cleared the second lock of the day in Davenport, IA I had barely had a chance to take my hands off the paddle while I fought my way downstream. In need of a break I spotted a rough ramshackle hut on a raft nosed in to the shore below the Highway 61 bridge. Brent had suggested that I keep my eye out for this very craft (called the Riff Raft) and the half dozen college age kids that go with it.
The raft itself is well built and serves as the foundation for the shelter the group has assembled above. To get a picture of it in your mind try to picture a kids fort in the back yard assembled from whatever spare parts could be scavenged from all the construction projects in the area. Add a Minnesota boat registration number and an outboard motor and you have it. To make the picture more complete situate this ramshackle construction on the shore of one of the biggest rivers in the world and fill it up with no less than six bohemian street performers.
Over a brief conversation I learned that after building the raft and starting out from Minneapolis in late June the troop is hoping to make it to New Orleans by New Years. They are making stops at river towns all along the way to perform a play entitled “Death on the Mississippi and the Adventures of the Unseen Ghost Brigade”. They’re also doing a documentary chronicling their adventure and the state of the river and the towns along it. Having run most of the water that lies ahead of them I know they’ll have plenty to report on.
Before I left Carin invited me to sign the ceiling of the shack and I reciprocated by inviting her to add her signature to my kayak. Just as I was getting ready to leave another of the kids named Chad rode up on a bicycle and we exchanged a quick explanation of what was going on and he signed my boat as well.