ST LOUIS, MO
It’s the middle of the night and I’m writing to you from the deck of the sailboat “Adventure”. The wind has been gusting as of late – which is why I’m not further down river. Launched out Friday at approximately 4pm but was forced back to Hoppie’s Marina due to high waves – coming the wrong way. Almost swamped the canoe in the process. A fellow traveler and owner of said “Adventure”, Tug Buce, who was heading into town for the night with friends, was kind enough to offer me use of his deck for the night. First night out under the stars on this entire trip. Stars so clear. Moon appearing full. Lull of the water, for once sleeping directly over the water, a dream.
Many thanks to Darla and Lloyd, of St Louis, for joining in on the spirit of “safari” – complete with pith helmet and raccoon hat – launching me out in fine fashion via a moving serenade of “Old Man River”. I sincerely appreciate your assistance and well wishes… Am safe and sound and come the morn, will be ready to set out yet again.
Currently paddling strong – bound for the great city of St. Louis…
Finished my dinner and made my way upstairs. No ghosts to report – as of yet. Laid my foam pad and sleeping bag out on the boyhood bedroom of Sam Clemens. Period toys all around. “My, but it’s a bully taw!” A number of large and opaque marbles just up on the bed were found on site, I’m told by museum curator Henry Sweets. He reasons they could have very well belonged to young Sam as they date to the early 1800’s. Windows in the boyhood bedroom face the Mississippi River and out back to where Huck would have come calling.
More to follow…
It’s now 8:45pm. A number of the townspeople of Hannibal came to wish me well and see me off. In four short days in this town I have been fortunate enough to have made several friends. From the executive director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum to the shopkeepers of the town to the Bed & Breakfast contacts to the family of the boy who represents the town as Tom Sawyer. They all came out. I’ve had a grand time in this town. Went out two nights ago into the cemeteries up on Cardiff Hill and beyond – at midnight – just for good luck. Will have pictures to prove it! But tonight was just great. Even Mark Twain himself, portrayed by local Richard Garey, showed up to wish me well via a number of Twain quotes.
I sit at the dining room table of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home. Clemens never talked about food – but I can tell you that I had Pork tenderloin, Midwest Veggie Medley, Voss H20, Triple Choc Cake w/ Ice Cream, all courtesy of Julie at the Garth Mansion. There are period antiques all around me. I turn my head and I can see the front door of the home, directly thru the front greeting room. A door I recently closed after wishing what felt like half the town a swell good night.
It’s all very surreal. And yet it is real. Everything about this house is accurate – well, as accurate as can be. More on that later via a private tour with museum curator Henry Sweets.
For now, I’ll go get this uploaded. I need to sneak out the back and down the street to Java Jive to get WiFi.
Departed Nauvoo, Illinois last evening at around 5pm. Spent two days in Nauvoo and will be bringing you a story shortly from that fine town. Out on the Mississippi in these parts, where the river is famous for being deep, wide, and extraordinarily treacherous, the conditions couldn’t have been better with a subtle wind that helped push me right along. I hugged the Illinois coastline around the bend and crossed the river, dodging a barge. I could tell the sunset was going to be epic, which it most certainly was. The entire scene was so surreal and picturesque that I stayed out on the river well into the dark – not wanting to give up that feeling of pure exhilaration and joy. The lights of the Keokuk Yacht Club beckoned and I answered, keeping my sights on the lights of the marina until I at long last arrived. Although a private club, the friendly staff welcomed me and let me pitch my tent along the breakwater for the night. Next stop: Hannibal, Missouri, to be followed by an extended stay in the great city of St. Louis.
Arrived into Minneapolis-St. Paul Monday, Aug 11, at approximately 8pm following one month and one day on the Upper Mississippi River. Will spend a handful of days here to rest up and chronicle stories for CNN. Officially I now have 494 river miles behind me with 1970 to go. Here’s to adventure!
Just sat down for breakfast at Elk River’s Olde Main Eatery en route to Minneapolis – 29 river miles away. Started today’s journey at 6am back in Monticello. Fine town, Monticello – friendly fisherman gave me a small-mouth fish he’d just caught whilst literally taking his hat off to the adventure! Camped on the lawn of a very friendly couple with a river home next to the main park. Currently on the move again… Will make Minneapolis by tonight. Sincerely looking forward to it! All’s well here on the Great River Road! Next stop: MSP!