John G Arrives/Spirit Hill/Michael Clark

“When I die and they lay me to rest, gonna go to the place that’s the best. When I lay me down to die, join up to the spirit in the sky”-Norman Greenbaum

What a week.

Sunday September 7th

Football Day. Not for me. I canoed. Almost a blessing given the outcome of the   Patriots-Dolphins matchup. Miami is tough place to play for my beloved Pats.  Anyway, my departure from Cooper’s Landing was delayed as a result of fog.  I certainly hope this isn’t a trend although the fog created a spectacular sight.  The fog finally lifted and I was off, another great weather day, a cloudless warm afternoon.

I was anxious to depart since I am suppose paddle about 65 miles down river on Monday to meet my great friend and 1st co-captain, John Gutierrez. We are suppose to meet in Hermann MO and stay with river angels Gary & Marsha Leabman who run a guest house (spirit hill www.spirithill.info).

I wasn’t in quite as good of spirits today since I was longing for being home and watching football with Red.  I listened to one of the games, essentially for score updates.  This was a departure for me, I generally don’t listen to the radio or music when I paddle.  It did make time go by quickly despite the disappointment. It was a tough day, in addition to missing my football watching, I missed home.  It is great being on the river today but certainly it would be nice to have a day back home from time to time.  Today was one of those days.

I made great mileage and paddled about 40 miles setting myself up for a short paddle to Hermann tomorrow.  John is going to fly in from Denver and meet me at the guest house.

John Carpenter's "The Fog"

John Carpenter’s “The Fog”

fog lifting

fog lifting

Lewis, Clark & Lynch

Lewis, Clark & Lynch

sunset at the ramp

sunset at the ramp

Monday September 8th

I awoke to favorable weather conditions, Gary called and wanted to paddle with me the final 5 miles to Hermann.  I was thrilled he wanted to join me on the river, I haven’t really paddled with anyone since Mike Comer so it was great to have “river” company.

The past couple weeks have been an interesting dynamic, I am essentially alone on the river but have company at my camping destinations.  No question, tonight was the best sleeping headquarters this side of the Price Cabin (remember Washburn ND?).  Marsha and Gary Leabman run a guest house in Hermann MO (www.spirithill.info).  The place is over the top, I felt almost out of place it was so nice.  Thank you to Gary and Marsha for putting us up for the night (and EVERYTHING else you did)

Gary gave me a tour of Hermann which is a true to its roots German town in MO wine country.  B&B’s, and nice ones, are all over the joint.  The biggest business downtown is a bratwurst store.  The town has that old time charm, lots of character.  In fact, it would be a nice couple getaway destination…if you are in too that kind of thing.  John arrived at Gary and Marsha’s later in the evening and we had a great Jumbalaya meal while formulating a canoeing plan.

Gary suggested he paddle with us tomorrow so it will be a nice crowd.  John and I will both paddle my boat (after some luggage redesign) and Gary will be in his kayak.  The plan is to canoe about 15 miles with Gary and then John and I will head to a nice camping spot about 25 miles further down river.

Living like a Hobo one night and living like a King the next.  Tonight I enjoyed the throne.

almost ready to head out..wanted to make sure I looked good. I did.

almost ready to head out..wanted to make sure I looked good. I did.

brought to you by Hermann MO

brought to you by Hermann MO

Gary paddling

Gary paddling

Wurst Haus mural

Wurst Haus mural

Ovah the yawp

Ovah the yawp

reverse angle

reverse angle

Tuesday September 9th

John and I fell short of our destination, we spent the night in Washington, MO. We paddled with Gary for about 3 hours, had lunch with him and Marsh and then set out on our own.  Everything was great until a weather system rolled in as we were approaching Washington.  We decided to scrap our original plans for a campground further downriver.

We could see multiple lightning strikes  in the distance so we decided to exit river right in Washington.  I was unable to catch a photo of the lighting-it is difficult to paddle fast and catch lightning in a photo simultaneously. John and I experienced quite a show.  It is incredible to be outside under cover and watch one of these storms pass through,  we literally could see the system head down river towards us.

The downside of the evening is that we slept under the town pavilion which is about 20 yards from a very active rail line.  It was a long night. We really need to make St. Charles tomorrow so John can pick up his rental car and possibly attend a seminar facilitated by a local paddling group.

Huck Lynch and Johnny G

Huck Lynch and Johnny G sideways

cmon John, paddle

cmon John, paddle

Marsh Gary and yours truly

Marsha Gary and yours truly

Remember the guy in MT, Steve that took my photo? His buddy sought me out, wow!!!

Remember the guy in MT, Steve that took my photo? His buddy sought me out, wow!!!

just missed the lightning  shot

just missed the lightning shot

Wednesday September 10th

It started to rain around 5:00 and didn’t let up until about 9:00. We waited out the rain and made our launch to St. Charles. We made it. Barely.

It was a different feel with a second person in the boat, normally I am in the front (bow) seat facing the back (stern).  It was an adjustment paddling from the back but John and I got it together and made 40 miles in six hours.  It was enjoyable to have someone to interact with other than the lake or my imaginary friends (no, not you Sakakawea).  I think John has a better appreciation of the Missouri River and it’s history.

Once we landed in St. Charles Gary and Marsh arrived and we all headed to Big A’s for dinner and a local river special interests meeting.  I was introduced to Michael Clark of Big Muddy Adventures (www.2muddy.com) who offered assistance with navigating through the wildly busy St. Louis port.  He offered to have John and I stay at his place and we transported The Helinda to the safety of his home.  I must say he has one of the coolest places I’ve seen, he lives close to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississipi rivers and his pad is known as “The Canoe House.” We were happy not to have to camp on a train track or in the rain.  I was also relieved that I could tap into Mike’s wealth of knowledge regarding the Mississippi River.  Canoeing through St. Louis is not for the faint of heart, Mike will paddle with me over the Chain of Rocks and then send me on my way through St. Louis.  It should be exciting.

I am also only 30 miles from completing the Missouri River, this is an accomplishment that seemed light years away and here I am about to conclude my journey on the Missouri River.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the entire Missouri, I am sure that I will reach back to many of the days I’ve enjoyed this spring/summer for the remainder of my life. Of course, I will think of all of the people that helped and played such a critical part to my success.

paddle John

paddle John!!

better, don't hit the beam

better, don’t hit the beam

Mike Clark's Junebug, The Helinda has canoe envy

Mike Clark’s Junebug, The Helinda has canoe envy

The Big Muddy has made it's mark

The Big Muddy has made it’s mark

Thursday September 11th

I decided to hold off on completing the Missouri until tomorrow.  It was a cool, raw, windy day.  I canoed from St. Charles to the 3 mile mark (3 miles until the Mississippi River), Mike picked me up and took my boat back to his house.  It was great to pick his brain about canoeing, he is truly a world class paddler and world class human.  He often guides moonlight paddles, adventures for adults and instructional paddling for kids.  Oh, and he teaches as well.

He took me to a local store to pick up goods for dinner, we discussed “River Time” and how that has changed his life. Mike is one of those guys that immediately brings personality to the room, a trait I found admirable.  For those of you in the St. Louis area, please reach out to him…he will get you on the river for a great experience.

I am still anxious about going through St. Louis and dealing with all the barges on the Mississippi.  I had expected more barges on the Missouri, the reality is I maybe saw 10-15 and they were mostly U.S. Corp barges, I was hoping to have more experience at this point. Mike compared the MO to an 8th grade class and the MS to a 300 level college course.  Thanks Mike, I feel better now.

Off to the Mississippi and St. Louis. Yo Soy Fiesta.

off on thursday, why so light? Mike has my gear.

off on thursday, why so light? Mike has my gear.

Spirit Hill is nicer

Spirit Hill is nicer

3.5 miles to go...done for the day

3.5 miles to go…done for the day

back to Mike's...will finish Missouri tomorrow!!!

back to Mike’s…will finish Missouri tomorrow!!! Note driftwood.

 

Mike, the legendary world class paddler and you know who

Mike, the legendary world class paddler and you know who

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2 Responses to John G Arrives/Spirit Hill/Michael Clark

  1. Michael Callaway says:

    Tell John hi for me and to stop being lazy and paddle more. Hopefully we can enjoy another Broncos and Pats AFC Championship in Denver again with the same result of course.

  2. Donald Zinter says:

    Keith you are having way toooooo much fun on this journey of yours, I am envious. Good luck on the muddy Mississippi and god speed you on a safe journey

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