The river rose about two feet overnight and I was awoken several times by large logs slamming into the channel buoy about 20 yards in front of my tent. The rising water let loose all sorts of logs, large and small, that are now marching downstream to St. Louis. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of that mess after I pushed off from Cooper's Landing. The current was again fast but I had a strong wind in my face and was working hard to stay clear of all the debris. A few times I did run over a smaller piece of wood but that created the problem of it catching my rudder and flipping it in the up position. The rudder is bound up and won't drop by itself so I had to pull over and put it back down, not an easy thing to do with the high water and fast current.
I arrived at Jefferson City mid afternoon. Joe Wilson was waiting for me at the landing. Joe is kind of the self appointed mayor of Noren Access. He has brought in sand to form a beach area, installed raised bedding planters, created nature trails, and put up bird feeders and a "miles to..." crossroads sign. He and I had been exchanging emails for the last week about my arrival and what I could expect. He got my name from Steve at the Brickhouse Deli in Jeff. City and Steve got my name from Carol Snow, his cousin, that happens to live in Lincoln, NE (thanks Carol!). When I pulled into the landing (on a sand beach, the best landing I've had of the entire trip) I took one look at Joe and my jaw just about dropped. If my father ever had a long lost twin brother I'm certain I found him. The two not only share a physical similarity but also a personality that has a healthy skepticism of the competency of elected officials.
While Joe and I were chatting a couple, Bruce and Kathy, pulled up to the landing. The next thing I knew I had an offer for warm bed at their place. Since tomorrow is my rest day I seriously considered the offer and then the thought of spending a day at Noren with the wind and rain that's predicted sealed my decision. I went ahead and accepted the offer as I figured I couldn't do any worse! They had to run some things home and then came back and picked me up. After we unloaded my gear at their place I changed and then we went out to dinner at a new Mexican restaurant in Jeff. City with Kathy's cousin and his wife. The fun part of the story is that the cousins are from Wyoming and he was chief of police in Cheyenne and his wife graduated from LCCC (where I taught for 7 years). I never would have guessed at the beginning of today that I'd be eating dinner and comparing notes about people I knew 10 years ago. What is it that they say about six degrees of separation?
Today was my seventh day of paddling without a break. In the last three days I've clocked over 120 miles. I'm ready for a day of rest and glad for some friendly hospitality. One thing I keep telling myself on this trip is to be open to the kindness of others (balanced by a healthy skepticism). I marvel at how helpful people have been. It's good to know the good olde U.S. of A. still has such good people (yes, I did use good three times in one sentence!). We could use a few more stories on the nightly news about the good versus all the rotten crap that gets reported.
I'm not sure what the rest day will hold. I do need to take apart the rudder assembly and see if I can clean it and get it to work properly. I seem to remember Austin (the elder and evidently wise son) saying "what happens if that breaks" when he first saw the canoe. Well, I have an answer, carry a spare replacement. Unfortunately, I didn't think of that little tidbit until I was 200 miles down the river!
I'm currently canoeing down the Missouri River from Nebraska City, NE, to St. Louis, MO. Check out my location and blog at canoequest2011.blogspot.com.