Miles Covered:  57 miles, um 52- to lm 948

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Cape Girardeau, Mo. to just below Cairo, Il

Original Post date: June 14, 2009

The next morning we saw a break from the weather, but it was soon apparent that another weather front was approaching – so we found a sandbar (out of immediate necessity) and protected ourselves  from being struck by lightning. Soon  this front passed also – just a quick moving microburst, and we were back on the river dodging barges and into our routine….

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The scenery and view from the river is worth every minute of it – we watched the bluffs turn into a flatter shoreline, saw different industries (cement, rock quarry’s, etc) each utilizing the barge as a primary means of transport – in comparison to trucks or trains, barges carry massive amounts of commerce.

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We made the confluence of the Ohio River around four in the afternoon, the difference in the clearer water of the Ohio as compared to the Muddy Mississippi River is easily apparent far out into the channel.  Being later in the afternoon, we figured that we would try to find some ice and something to eat so we headed up the Ohio – against the current and through a barge ‘re-hook’ area.  It took nearly an hour to make it above Fort Defiance past the bridge and near what appeared to be the city of Cairo, Il. 

Wow!  Tom let on how different the town was than what he recalled thirty five years earlier.  He had driven this way numerous times to get into Arkansas and this used to be a thriving part of the city – since that time they have rerouted traffic for the interstate, and now what is left in this part of the city is pretty much a ghost town.

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100_2423Me hauling ice back to the “Bird”

Old hotels grown over with weeds, businesses deserted, the only stores we could fine immediately available were an old restaurant and a package store (for ice). We took a chance for a meal with the locals.  As soon as we sat down, the waitress pretty much told us not to talk to anyone and ‘run for the boat,’- we should have known something was up when I first noted a ‘blowup’ doll hanging in a window….it was creepy walkin’ into town. I felt like eyes were upon us sizing us up for a quick kill….

I’m not saying never stop in Cairo, you could use a hand-truck and get fuel there – just leave someone with the boat.

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We were not completely uncomfortable with the surroundings, but at the same time saw no great reason to linger – with ice melting we found our vessel unmolested.

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The trip back to the confluence seemed to go much easier with the current. Once onto the Lower Mississippi we located an island and made a ‘bee-line’ to it. Crossing the white water of a wing-dam, we scraped the bottom of one of the pontoons (dented it) but it doesen’t seem to be taking on water. This unfortunate event severely dampened the evening for Tom – it was something that would remain on his mind daily until day 25 in Vadalia, La. (when he was assured that it was ok).  Lesson learned; would not intentionally cross the white water of a wing dam again, it wasn’t worth the worry.

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It was a great nights rest with nothing but natural sounds (I won’t describe them all), but no trains, plains, or automobiles…… just wildlife and silence, exactly what we had made this venture for.

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