We were down the river at 12:30 pm after loading the canoe. Roger – more commonly known as Falldown -- had to activate a new cell phone at Verizon after falling in the river the day before. Today was familiar and so were the stories we had to tell as we passed such beaches and old party spots such as Hookah Island and Turtle Beach
The highlight of the day, however, was navigating “the spillway” at Charleston Lake. I would have preferred to portage the canoe around the obstacle, but Roger had thought too long and too hard about what the outcome might be if we lowered the canoe by rope in hand down the dam. I’ve never been one to deny someone their long hard-fought dreams so I quickly got on board with this idea.
It was a train wreck and just a plain bad idea. We almost lost the entire voyage in the first hour and a half on the river. As we lowered the canoe, it was quickly apparent that we were no match for the strength of the river or its courses. The spillway quickly sucked the canoe down its face without any fuss or muss as we let go of the hot rope. There was nothing left to do to but watch and see what was to happen with all at stake.
Within seconds, I found myself diving into the chase. Luckily, the rope that was still tied to the canoe for purposes of lowering said craft under control and safety into calm waters was erected toward the landing of our original aim.
In the end, all was saved and nothing hurt… besides if you came here to be a pussy... Falldown
River Expedition Beginning Inventory:
Jay: dry bag with clothes – 4 shirts, 4 pants (polyester or wool for warmth)
Roger: 2 pairs of cutoffs, 2 t-shirts, 2 flannel shirts
One tent (now in need of repair as a pole fastener is broken and the rain fly has given up… “We’re at half mast with the tent”
10 gallons of water
Backpack with cooking items including a stove, pots, pans, utensils, plates, grate for cooking fish … “The first night Roger caught a 2-1/2 pound catfish. Perfect for two.
Food bag that contains “a lot” of ramen noodles, peanut butter, chili, baked beans, tortillas, apples, oranges, and raisins.
River Notes Days 1-3 (July 9-11)
We were hoping to reach the MVP Happy Holler – an “all American bar” on the Embarras River – by the end of the second day, but after 12 hours of paddling we camped on a sand bar at around 10 o’clock at night. Roger was a bit cranky so we didn’t make it to the bar and found out the next morning that we had been just a couple miles away.
It’s hard to describe the MVP Happy Holler bar…. Lets just say its “always ready for a party”… outside bar with balcony, big pro outdoor stage, horseshoe pits, self-hydrated stripper pole and trampoline. “It just opened in 2001 but it has an old soul.” It’s on the Embarras River between Greenup and Newton, Illinois.
We don’t really have a good idea of the speed we’re going or the number of miles to New Orleans, but I’d guess we’re going around 25 to 30 river miles a day… We’ve put in some long days – the first day we were on the river from noon till 7 or 8 pm and yesterday, the second day, we put in 12 hours trying to make it to the bar.
On day three we ate “an all American breakfast” – coffee, pizza and OJ –at the MVP Happy Holler Bar while listening to vintage vinyl and checking on the weather report. It’s supposed to be a wet one for the next several days so we’re anxious to head south.