June 7, 2011

This morning brings us a new set of challenges. We are low on fuel and we don’t know exactly where we are going to meet up with Ten Tows. As the sun rises we get a better look at our surroundings, cars underwater, mail boxes barely out of the water.

Most of these small houses, I suspect, are weekend getaways but there is the occasional year-round dweller. Meet Dennis Webb, our most recent savior. We heard him milling around upstream from where we camped, the only sign of life so far.

Gator and I jumped in the canoe and eased over to his abode where we find him gardening on a modest mound of ground rising out of the water. With his high-water boots and hoe in hand he tends his garden as if it was just another day on the river.

I hollar a “good morning” at him and catching him by surprise he turns and smiles. We tell our tale of the Mississippi journey, like we have done so many times before, and like some kind of magic, he is sucked into our river adventure. He drops his hoe and by way of wooden rams he has laid out above the water, he follows a path from his garden spot across a ramp to his house across another ramp to his dock where he sits and begins to fill us with his philosophy of river life. He reminds me of the guy that stayed at his homeplace when Mount St. Helens was about to errupt. Not as severe of course but Dennis tells us that he could’ve left when the waters began to rise but he wasn’t about to. This was his home and he had everything he needed to survive. His words captivated me as a man of conviction and pride, a man who has lived his life on this river and will die on this river.

Dennis Webb

He gives us 5 gallons of fuel, we pay him anyway, and make our way down river to meet up with Ten Tows. After several phone calls back and forth we figure out where to meet him, another problem solved. That place turns out to be the “Yacht Club of St. Louis. So after a 45 minute wait to get through lock #25 we mosie in to the marina and pull up to the fuel pumps for some much needed gas. We meet one of the marina staff at the pumps, a guy who recently turned us down for fuel over the phone because this was a private club and “we don’t sell to the public.” But after hearing our “magical” story of the river journey, he was eager to help us out. He pumped our gas and gave us a covered slip for the night at no charge. I think people want to be a part of our journey in some way. Thanks to him and the Yacht Club.

Just as we are tieing up in our slip, Ten Tows appears with a neon green rental car. He helps us gather our stuff for the evening and we pile in the green machine and head to St. Louis, about a 20 minute ride. We arrive at his hotel by the airport, shower off and make our way to “Lambardo’s” a true Italian restaurant with amazing food. Now on to the Gateway Arch of St. Louis.

Approaching the Arch of St. Louis is a treat. You just can’t imagine the sheer size of the thing until you are standing beneath it, an incredible structure. We purchase our tickets and wait in line to get into our tiny capsule for the ride to the top. The door opens and we cram into this tiny space that seats 5 people. The ride to the top takes about 3 minutes and as the capsule door opens, we exit into the room at the top. Viewing the Mississippi on one side and the city on the other side, we take photos through little windows and mill around with the other 50 people who have arrived.

Enjoying the attraction thoroughly, I am already thinking about getting back to the “Belle” and the river. The lure is strong.

Looking back one more time, we leave the monstrosity behind and make our way back to the green machine. Stopping for groceries and a Blizzard from DQ, we find our way back to the marina with the help of Ten Tows GPS. We arrive to find a locked gate at the entrance. No problem. We scale the fence and began passing groceries, backpacks, computers, and other items over the fence. We say goodbye once again to Ten Tows and load up for the walk back to the “Belle.” She sits nestled in her berth waiting for us, a nice site. After puting our groceries away we retire to the veranda for a nightcap. It’s a warm night, 89 degrees and the mosquitos are smelling dinner. Somehow, we manage to fall asleep.

June 8, 2011


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