Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Over and out!

And so the river adventure of Jay and Falldown comes to an end. It's been fun serving as their blogger and I look forward to helping out in future adventures. But until that time, it's over and out from Carol!

Motorcycle street party and end of the adventure

One of the bikes at Shawneetown biker fest

One of the bikes at Shawneetown biker fest

Motorcycles at Shawneetown biker fest

Shawneetown biker street festival

The adventure came to an abrupt end as Jay and Falldown arrived at Shawneetown and its motorcycle street party. It's sad that the adventure ended prematurely, but the celebration ended the expedition in fine form!

Bridges along the waterways

At the confluence of the Wabash River, Roger found the need to bear his chest in celebration. And at one point during the trip, we ferried two floating rafts full of Keystone Light. -- Jay

Falldown paddling under covered bridge

Jay and covered bridge

Many of America's iron and wooden bridges are in a state of decay and disrepair. And by our observations, most of them are closed along with the roads and train tracks that once fed them. -- Jay

The covered bridge is a newly built covered bridge of all wood construction near Greenup, Illinois. -- Jay

As many of these images weren't mentioned in previous journal entries, I found the need for some explanation. Bridges were a daily conversation topic. We spoke often about the demise of the classic American iron and covered bridge. The former is a wood planked single lane iron core bridge near St. Francisville, Illinois. It really captured our imaginations watching old trucks slowly creep and creak across the old bridge. -- Jay

Surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenery, Jay and Falldown paddled downriver

Launch day, dam and early days

The fresh fish Falldown caught made for some tasty dinners on the river

A typical camp along the river

Roger with the damn dam behind him that almost ended the expedition just as it got underway

Jay on launch day

Roger -- a.k.a. Falldown -- on launch day

Roger's story

Received a call from Roger (via Diane). It seems that Roger's view of events differs somewhat from Jay's. I urged him to submit his side of the expedition tale. We each live our own reality; that's what keeps it interesting!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Days 7-9, July 15-17

Lawrenceville, Illinois side note

Jay’s Report:

Roger momentarily lost control of his mind. Unable to think or even consider how he was feeling, he bought a pack of cigarettes. After smoking one and getting terribly dizzy he told me to remind him never to let him buy cigarettes again.

Day 7

Jay’s Report:

After 6 days of fair weather, we took on some serious wind and rain. Roger wore bluejeans for this event, sparing his sun-ravaged bottom half for the day. His feet blistered today and one of his toes is showing brilliant color after falling out of the hammock the night before. He thinks it’s broken. So much for leaving the river unscathed ; it has struck first blood

One of the great advantages of life on the river are the feelings you get from each night’s camp. Tonight we’re in the jungle, maybe Aftica. I asked Roger if it reminded him of Nam; he said it wasn’t hot enough for Nam. Last night at a broad bend with a long beach I’m sure I was looking across the river at Montana with its big skies and tall standing pines.

We stopped in New Harmony late in the day for some dry food. We acquired some new friends and fans there for the long journey to New Orleans. Mike Axton presented us with his afternoon catch after hearing about our loss the day before; he even put them on a stringer for us and tied them to the canoe.
That’s New Harmony…

Day 8

Jay’s Report:

Day 8 was a good one. We saw good running waters, had good weather and some of the most picturesque scenery yet.

We camped on a large sandbar, possibly part of the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers. It’s the biggest island of pure sand that I’ve ever seen on a river.

Roger made a good fire, pitched his tent and then his switch got flipped. He said, “I’ m going to bed and I think tomorrow I’m gonna get out and head back north when I get to the dam.” Then we got the shit…pounded on for hours by excessively high winds, rain and lightening . It was quite a show and made living on a sandbar between two giant rivers less than ideal. Roger even went so far as to say, “it’s stupid.”

By morning Roger had changed his tune and said he’d like to continue on and try to make it to New Orleans. It seems he’s having less than a fun time and often overwhelmed which leaves me with somewhat of a moral dilemma. I’ll keep you posted.

Day 9

Jay’s Report:

Good morning, sports fans. I said I’d keep you posted on the thing and like all good things, the river expedition has come to its end as well. We arrived in old Shawneetown, Illinois, after a long uphill paddle with Roger on the Ohio River. But as our party was ending, the Shawneetown street and biker party was just getting started.

We got some stuffed cabbage and fried green tomatoes upon entering town, then we hit the party. In Shawneetown you can drink outside and smoke inside. The party also features communal showers, casual stripper poles, and no cops. It seems the promoter of the event told Illinois Law enforcement to stay the fuck out…and they did!

It’s a little piece of lost Americana right here in the middle of southern Illinois just like those rivers we ran in. Words haven’t been easy to write today, but I’ll let you know if there’s something you need to hear.

Over and out….this is Jay Greaves.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Days 5 & 6 -- July 13-14, 2009

Day 5 – July 13th, 2009

Jay’s Report:

We encountered rapids in the early hours today near Lawrenceville, Illinois. There were three sets of them all between Class 1 and 2 (??) They were large enough, however, to take on a considerable amount of water over the bow.

After the short morning paddle, we stopped at the Highway 1 Bridge in downtown Lawrenceville. While there’s something about the parade into town, after being strung out for 5 days on the river, you expect signage spelling out your kind as you reach the bridge. You feel that kindred connection for your traveling brethren – the gypsies, the carnies… you’re one of them now.

We took on provisions there and ate lunch at the old IGA grocery store. After another short paddle, we had reached the confluence of the Wabash River. We took pictures and celebrated our first river conquest. Soon thereafter we reached the small burg of St. Francisville.

In St. Francisville we met the mayor’s father, an 81-year-old, upon arrival at the dock… J. Paul Gitay (sp??). Soon thereafter we had our water jugs full, enjoyed a smiling welcome by the chief of police and got a handful of catfish and new bait to get us down the river. We camped on Eagle Island 5 miles south of town. Mr. Gitay scribbled his address for us to write to when he hit New Orleans.

Day 6 – July 14th, 2009

Jay's Report:

We woke up on Eagle Island. Roger caught a 6.2 pound catfish that night. We had guests for morning beers and discussed a side adventure. There’s a sall canyon 3 miles down river with a cold running stream and waterfall. Roger and I took the hike and we had a photo shoot of the event.
We put our time in on the river that day – 30 miles to the next beachhead in the river as the river starts to bend along the Illinois-Indiana border. Somewhere within a mile of our take out, we lost our catfish and all the steam I had left for the night. We went to sleep with heavy hearts and empty stomachs. That was the end of Day 6, July 14th.