Closest towns or landmark (chart): La Crosse, Wi to island across from Gordon’s Bay landing

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First day on the water. Wow, what comes next? I can’t actually believe that I’m finally here and I don’t have a clue what is ahead of me. Our  first hopes were for a ‘ clean’ river run with no major weather issues. We  just wanted to get a feel of the river,  find out about current, fuel mileage (3 to 5 miles per gal), and lay down some river miles. 

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It turned out to be an awesome day. There was a gentle breeze at our back, the air was clear and chilly. I was amazed at the topography. There were these incredible green ‘bluffs’ on each side of the river. I saw more eagles today than I’ve seen in years. My senses were overflowing.  

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We soon found our pace – pretty much a little more than idle-speed yet with the current and a breeze at our back – there was still wind in our hair.

 The first tows that we saw were impressive, pushing as many as 40 barges at once. Lashed together with steel cables, these “tows” were kin to an aircraft carrier passing a tin can on the open ocean. Deffinately something to respect and probably our biggest concern. As we passed, we experienced our first of many waves that followed from such a passing, waves that could easily topple our small craft. It was both exhilarating and tense to say the least.

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We passed through locks 8 and 9 today. Wow! Here we are in a small craft approaching a steel and concrete barrier blocking our way with a strong current and tail wind urging us on into a  “chop” that would rattle your teeth and very little control from our 40 hp Johnson. There are several of these gigantic “tows” competing for space and we ask ourselves “what do we do now?? Well, you try to act cool and not smash your little boat into anything. I’m sure Tom was just that, cool and in control. After all, he had the wheel. Me, on the other hand, I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong.

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We “locked through” just fine. More on the locks later. 

 Along the way, small communities would  pop up around the bends. Families, with their fishing poles in the water, would offer a friendly wave.

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 Today was a wonderful day of unknowns and “first times” for sure. We tied off on a sandy beach around  8pm  a mile or so after lock number 9. Now it’s time to figure out our ‘camping’ routine.

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Our first night on the Mississippi was spent listening to the trains pass on the far shore and wondering what those suspicious splash noises were all about. It sounded like ‘coconuts falling into the water (ker-plunk). 
 

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