Who hears the rippling of rivers will not utterly despair of anything. -Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 29 thru Day 33

Across the Wide (state of) Missouri

Day 29. After coffee David and I went up the road to the hilltop behind where Little Sadie was tied off, at the edge of Sibley, MO. We were delighted to find the wonderfully restored Fort Osage, perched on the bluff overlooking the river.

We toured the fort, and learned a lot about the fort's history from the storekeeper, Mike Duane.

Fort Osage was the westernmost of several forts built along inland rivers in the early nineteenth century. This one was intended as a deterrent to the possible invasion up the river by the British, with whom we were in a struggle for possession of much of what became the western states. Also it was a busy trading post to support the large local Osage Indian tribe, to develop them as allies. When we finished the tour, Joe Phillips, another staff member at the fort, gave us a ride back to the boat in his utility vehicle, and shortly we were underway.

By early afternoon we were in Waverly, MO, where we tied off and went up the hill into town to find lunch and ice. After we ate in the grocery/deli, as we were checking out with our 40 lbs of ice, out of the blue a local fellow, Shawn Russell, offered to take us to the boat in his golf cart. Waverly was one of many spots displaying their connection to the Lewis and Clark connection, all the way along the Missouri River.

Another unfortunate display all down the river was the sunken barge. We have seen many battered barges up against the bank, left for the ages. Apparently when a barge is damaged (usually in a flood) its owner has no responsibility to remove it, so it becomes a planter, slowly filling with mud and rusting into the river.

In early evening we tied off to the bank below the city park at Glasgow, clambered up the hill and walked to town looking for a place to eat. Things close up early on a Sunday in Glasgow, however, so we had a good walk around town and went back and cooked supper on the boat. Glasgow is a pleasant little river town, with very old and interesting architecture.

Day 30. After coffee we set out on a fast run 55 miles to Cooper's Landing, an oasis on the river near Columbia, MO which is now the only place to gas up on the water between Omaha and Alton, IL on the Mississippi River. Anywhere else you are hauling gas cans up Main Street. We were starting to see more topography along the river, including the first view of limestone bluffs, a feature of many areas in Missouri.
We found a good spot to tie off at the dock at Cooper's mid-day And settled in for a two-night stay. We wanted to get into Columbia for dinner that evening, and Dale Davis volunteered to take us the 10-15 miles and bring us back. A totally nice fellow who lives in Florida half the year and at Cooper's half the year.

Day 31. This was a badly needed layover day. Cooper's is a campground, a small marina, a store, a cafe, a live entertainment venue, a gas station, a bag-ice dispensary, toilets, shower, laundry -- pretty much everything the river traveler could want.

I did some blogging, ordered a spare prop (to replace one I had misplaced) to be shipped to a shop in St. Louis, did puttering around on the boat, and planned the upcoming visit to folks in St. Louis. David got a ride with Brian, an employee at Cooper's, to Columbia and had a good afternoon of sightseeing.

Behind Little Sadie at the dock was a reconditioned 1930s gambling boat, kept here all summer by a couple of U. Of Mo. Professors. A local friend of theirs, Billy Ray Duvall, gave us a tour of it. All the interior was original brass, woodwork, etc. and the boat, with original wooden hull, had been dropped into a custom steel hull, so now was very seaworthy. A diesel engine turns the paddle-wheel, and that is its actual propulsion. I want one!

I had a nice visit with Mike Cooper, the owner, and passed on paddler David Miller's best regards to him. "Coop" was not doing well at the moment, having been bitten by, he suspected, a Brown Recluse spider the night before last. Coop runs a great operation, providing much needed services, and we appreciated the stay. His staff, including Max (a Klinkit from south of Juneau), Dale, Brian, Vanessa, Melissa and others, were interesting and fun to do business with. After a great fried catfish dinner, we visited with locals, listened to more fireworks, and turned in. Again, because of the protracted dry spell in the Midwest, we had no mosquito problem. Just heat.

Day 32. David by this time has become a seasoned Missouri river pilot, and we made a fast run the 70 miles to Hermann, MO. Along the way we passed a beach party along a sand bar near the mouth of the Osage River, where easily fifty boats were beached and lots of folks were celebrating July 4th.

We were now in a stretch of days with 100+ temperatures, so we tied up the boat at the public dock at Hermann and fled to a motel. The Harbor Haus was very adequate, convenient, and cheap. Hermann is a German settlement in an area known as the Missouri Rhineland, because it is allegedly reminiscent of the Rhine River valley. There are several wineries in the area, and we tried some local wines with dinner. They were odd but good. After dark the town celebrated Independence Day with a huge fireworks display over the river, attended by probably everyone in the county.

Day 33. In the morning we went out for coffee and enjoyed looking at the wonderful Victorian architecture around town. Again we had a calm morning on the water, so we motored downriver to Washington, MO. Like the day before, we tied off the boat at a public dock and ran for air conditioning. I noticed that Washington also has its share of lovely old buildings.

We stayed at the wonderfully restored Old Dutch Hotel. Jackie Schell, the manager, put us in touch with her sister Chris Stuckenschneider, who scheduled an interview for the next morning, for an article she planned to do in the Washington Missourian newspaper about our trip. Tomorrow would also complete the run across Missouri, and the beginning of a weekend stay in St. Louis, where I had several contacts to make.

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