Day 60: Muskets, more river rats, and the marina.

Day 60: Muskets, more river rats, and the marina.

Fort Madison, IA to Keokuk Marina, IA

I woke up this morning well rested again. The grand kids were waking up and ready to take on their day. They wanted to go out and shoot their bb guns. They knew how to be safe and were pretty good shots. As they started aiming for the target, I pulled out my camera to capture them. I got a few good images of them playing around. Tony and the kids were going to go run and errand on the boat. I stayed tight and made breakfast. I figured the day would be long, so I wanted to fuel up. They took off downstream before coming back up. He told me that he say two paddlers getting in just below where I stayed.  I got my paddle on and saw the paddlers he was talking about a few miles downstream. We were all nearing the train bridge at Fort Madison. They passed under it while I waited. I wanted to capture the trains that could hear coming. I passed under the ridge to get a better angle with the morning light. I ended up capturing trains coming from two different directions at the same time.

I went ahead and caught up to the other paddlers. There was one canoe with a couple from Arizona and an single guy from LaCrosse, WI. They were all paddling the river to New Orleans. I wanted to catch up with them, but I needed to go to Fort Madison. I told them I would catch up with them downstream. I pulled off and made my way over to the fort. I tied my boat up to a rock and headed in. I was greeted by a woman in full costume from the 1800’s. I told her what I was doing and wanted to see the fort. She got my information and then made a call to the local paper to see if someone would come down to interview me. She said they liked cover adventures like I was on. Shortly after talking, I was introduced to the director of Fort Madison. He was dressed the part of a 1812 soldier. He talked with me about the history of the fort and it’s impact on the area. I asked to shoot a few photos with him in the fort. He agreed and grabbed his musket. We went out in the courtyard and he fired off a few shots for me. I nailed a few of the images. They will be in the book. I was glad to have stopped there. It is the little interruptions on this adventure that truly make the journey one to remember.

I was back in the entry fort refilling my water bags and getting ready to go. Krystal Shannon arrived. She was a reporter for the Daily Democrat. She sat down and did an interview with me about my journey. We went back to the boat where she snapped a few images before I departed. I was setting to give chase to the boaters I had crossed earlier. I had clear skies and was off. I was crossing to both sides of the river as I turned the corners. I was paddling along the Illinois side when I was this boat with a diver flag flying. That caught my curiosity. “Who would be diving on the Mississippi river,” I thought. I paddled up to them. I found out is was some contractors for the Army Corp of Engineers. They were mapping the depth of the river at that point. They offered me a bottle of ice cold water. That is a luxury on an adventure like this. I kept on going until a flat bottom boat approached me. I never know what to expect when this happens. It is like a surprise waiting to happen. This surprise was that the family in the boat was from Boulder, CO. They saw my flag and wanted to come talk with me. They were nice and told me that the other paddlers would meet me at the marina before the next lock.

I made the corner where the Mormon super temple (Nauvoo Temple) was located. It is a big deal to their religion, but it just looked like an overpriced building copying some state capital buildings. More power to them. I crossed the river again and pulled up to a dock of some homeowners. I tied up and headed up to ask for permission to make some food there. Kathleen, “with a K”, and her son greeted me. They invited me in and asked if there was anything I needed. They offered a yard to crash on a shower in the morning. I appreciated it, but I was off to the marina. I met her uncle, Dennis, while I was making food. Kathleen and her son actually brought out a cooler full of treats and told me to take as much as I needed. All I could do is smile at the generosity of not only her, but all the amazing people I have met on the river. I was very fortunate. Her uncle told me about the marina. After eating, he invited me up to his place. He offered me a gatorade and to pick up anything I needed on his way to the marina. I told him I was good. We walked out to the kayak as he was in awe of all I packed into it. I told him life gets easier when things get simpler.

I was off to the marina. I was pushing my time to make it in before sunset. As I was en route, a truck passed me on the road next to the river. The guy was honking and waving hi to me. I realized it was Dennis. All I could do was smile. I made it to the marina. The girl in the canoe from earlier told me to come around and load up on the lift dock. It was a dock that pulled my boat out of the water for the night. The marina gave us all permission to camp there that night. Once I was docked, Dennis met me. He handed me a bag and told me he picked me up some things. It was a variety of beef jerky and some chocolate protein drinks. It was kind of him. I told him I would find room to keep them. After the marina shut down, we had the place to ourselves. We were all able to get showers and do laundry. We called up Pizza Hut and ordered some pizza. This is something I would not do solo. That could change in the future though. We all tore it up before calling it a night. I also realized, once again, I was near a train intersection. That would mean loud horns as the trains passed that night. Oh well. I would have to deal with that. This is adventure!!

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