Sam, Matt, and Harry had been gradually making their way down the Mississippi, and I had hopes of paddling with them for a day. They seemed up for it and I was excited because since I got the stand up paddle board my kayak has led a lonely existence. Once the accident happened I knew paddling would be out of the question, but maybe if it healed enough by the time they arrived I could manage a short stretch. There was hope after all.
Unbeknownst to me during this time they really quickened the pace because they had to reach St Louis by July 11th because they had secured a free room at the Embassy Suites downtown and had a full day of media scheduled for the 12th. Their arrival caught me totally by surprise and because of previous commitments I feared I wouldn’t even get to swing around and say hello. Messaging back and forth on facebook I learned that they planned to leave Saturday morning, so the best I could do is wish them luck on their journey. I was kind of bummed especially since I missed Rod Wellington when he came through the area. There was little I could do though because I was already booked up.
Saturday afternoon I was checking the hits on the website and saw that someone on the Embassy Suites network had visited. Thanks for the hits guys. So they hadn’t left after all. I went to their facebook page and didn’t see anything new and then by chance checked my messages. There was no indication that I had a message but I clicked it any way and there was a message from Matt asking if I had some floor space where they could crash. It may sound really strange but having people over really causes me a lot of stress, and not in the usual way when you have to apologize for the speck of dust on the otherwise spotless floor (not a description of my floors). Real stress that keeps me agitated and on edge.
If I couldn’t have them over I would do the next best thing, put them up for the night in a hotel. I knew they were keeping their kayaks at Harbor Point marina (home of the egregiously wrong display of the American flag) so I got them a room in Alton nearby. In hindsight I would have gotten them a room closer to home in case they needed anything. They managed fine without me though.
I picked them up downtown we were both easy to spot, they in their Mississippi Challenge shirts and me in the bright yellow Adventure Truck. I apologized for two of them having to squeeze in the back of the cab. It has one seat that folds down from the side but I don’t think it was ever intended for real use. They managed just fine and were very thankful for the help. After checking in at the hotel we went out for dinner at a nearby Mexican place. Harry forgot his ID so was not able to drink a beer with us. He ordered a mountain dew but got a pepsi and just went with it, maybe after living on the river anything beats water. Dinner was great and Harry insisted on paying as a thank you for me getting the hotel. Afterwards I felt like I should have taken care of it. I can be social awkward so sometimes in situations like this I only realize what I should have done too late.
Sam is happy not to be in the back.
Sunday morning I met them at the hotel, and after the laundry was dry-ish they compressed themselves into the back of the truck and away we went. They made their preparations to get back on the water after a couple of days on dry land. Packing away food, and stowing gear in its proper location. They were sorry it wasn’t more exciting but I was just glad to be able to help. I think adventures like this are important, especially in this country, where many people have lost the adventure spirit, due to being stuck on the travelator, mindlessly moving them forward through life without a stop to see the possibilities all around.
After they launched I went to the Alton Lock and Dam in hopes of getting some pictures as they locked through but was told I wouldn’t be able to get close enough to actually see them in the lock because of the current security level. I stayed for a while anyway watching the river from the levee trail. I tried hard to see them but if you’ve ever looked across a body of water you know that without a good reference like a boat or buoy your perspective can get all out of whack. I never saw them.
Leaving the Marina
While I was waiting to catch a glimpse of them I saw a guy on a fully loaded touring bike down on the road. I snapped a couple of pictures because I had my camera already in hand and then didn’t think too much more about it. After giving up on the up river side of the lock I went to the see if I might spot them on the down river side. When I got there I saw the guy on the bike, and as he rolled past I asked how far he was going. He said, “To Maine”, without blinking an eye. His name was Kevin and he also told me that he started in Oregon. To him it sounded like a good excuse to take four months of work. He was riding a Surly Disc Trucker too (same bike that I own). He said the bike hasn’t really given him any problems which is great to hear. I have yet to really put my bike to a long test so it was good to see one out in the wild and thriving. I said goodbye to Kevin and he was on his way. Like I said before I think adventures like this are important, and it made smile thinking that at the moment I had lost one sight of one adventure I stumbled across another. Life is funny like that sometimes.
Kevin, on his way to Maine
So Sam, Matt, and Harry made it through the Chain of Rocks and Port of St Louis and are currently spending a couple of days in Cape Girardeau. Meeting these guys was a real treat as they were both gracious and generous. I wish them the best of luck on the remainder of their journey down the Mighty Miss!
They are making this journey to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity that helps get wounded British soldiers back on their feet again. Truly a worthy cause.