Day 48: The return, the creativity, and the party.
Mud Lake Marina to Ice Harbor in Dubuque, IA
I woke up this morning ready to get back on the river. I bandaged my foot and headed downstairs. I could smell the bacon and there were eggs waiting for me. Andy and I were going to drive up to Mud Lake to get me back in my boat. I gathered my gear and High-5’ed the kids before taking off. We jumped in his truck and headed north. Along the way, we talked about cars, the local culture and just life. It was a good talk as we enjoyed the Iowa scenery.
We stopped by Lock and dam #11. We received a full tour. We learned about the locks and how they are operated. We saw the gearing and motors that actually ran the dams. The gear reduction was a sight to behold. It is amazing how everything was put together and how everything works. I captured a few images from the lock side but not from the dam side. It was an impressive education we were getting.
After the lock, we made it to the marina. We arrived before Carey did. I knew where my boat was and I began to load it back up. I was looking forward to getting back to the river portion of this adventure. Andy rigged up a bungy cord to my rudder so that it would always pull to the left. I would counter it with my right foot pedal. This way, I did not have to use my left foot. Carey joined us as we put the boat back into the water. It was a sight I had missed. I ran up to the marina to put some trash away and then I was off to the boat. I got in and made sure everything was locked down. The adventure was back on.
I pulled out to the river with the one footed rudder system working fine. There was more boat traffic than I have seen so far on this trip. This would be the first weekend with the river receeding and people are anxious to get their boats out on the river. The wind was out of the south and the swells and waves were coming at me most of the day. I only had about 6 miles before Lock and Dam #11. I arrived at the same time a big pleasure boat did. I had a little wait to be locked through. Once in, I realized I just missed Jon. I will see him again in Princeton. I pulled away from the lock and headed off to Dubuque. I was aiming for The National Mississippi River Museum. I moved at a decent clip as I hoped to make it before they closed. I pulled into the docks and chatted with the attendant. I asked if I could dock my boat for the night and set up camp on the marina. He had to check, but thought it would not be a problem. My boat was tied up by some other boaters while I got out onto the dock. I ended up having to pay $10 for the night, but that was well worth it. I popped my tent right on the dock and I was set.
I went over to the neighbors to say hi and socialize. They were all getting ready to head out for the night. One of them told me that they were having a yacht club party and that I should come. As they left, I sat on the docks making dinner. Everyone was gone and it was peaceful. I would say it was almost too quiet. It was one of the few points I wished I had some company on this trip. That thought only lasted a bit till I relaxed and simply smiled at where I was sitting. It was hard to beat with the sunset lightening up the marinia, a tent on the dock, and dinner being made. The dock master told me I would be fine tomorrow if I wanted to leave my boat there while I checked out the museum. It was a first for them and me for camping on a dock.
I finished dinner, changed out of my river clothes, and was off to see what the night would have to offer. I made it upstairs of the casino for the party. I saw a couple of the guys I had met earlier. They told me to get a drink. It was open bar. I didn’t have to have them tell me twice.
I chatted it up with a variety of boaters. I had some amazing intellectual conversions that gave me a new perspective. The closest way I could relate it is how the motorcycle community rallies together for all other bikers. It does not matter if you have a $100 beater or the newest bike on the market, everybody understands the love because everyone rides. There is a sense of community like that on the river. It is all about the love of the water and the outdoors. Big or small adventures, they all count. I gained a new level of appreciation for my journey and my outlook on the river.
As the party was winding down, I took my very happy self down to the casino floor. I went to a craps table and was feeling good. After watching for a few, I laid down some money and put my luck on the table. My first two hits were a bust, but the next five, I did really well. I had a lot of chips, then I busted most of them. I had fun and came out $2.00 ahead. It was all fun entertainment for someone who does not like to take gambles….at casinos. I made my way back to my tent on the dock and may have called a few friends in the course of that walk. I caught up with a very good friend in Kansas City. We chatted for an hour and a half before I called it a night. All in all, it was a great evening with good people and new and old friends.