Miles Covered: (n0 river miles today) um 158.8
Closest towns or landmark (chart): Hoppie’s Marina (Kimmswick, Mo.)
Original Post date: June 9
Ok, so late last evening during a simple ‘re-set’ of our anchor at the St Louis Arch we were set adrift and then “flushed” Southward through one of the busiest ally’s of commerce along this river. The activity on the river South of St Louis is where ‘local’ tow pilots separate the groups of barges while arranging and reattach these barges into organized groups for regional delivery.
(Local work tows such as the example above from Cairo cris-crossing the waterway, but at night!)
It was the busiest area of barge activity that we had witnessed on the river so far – empty and loaded barges were being shuttled for delivery North (St. Louis up) South (St Louis down and the Lower Mississippi) East (The Ohio River) and West for the Missouri river conduit. It’s very likely that this terminal/barge activity is unrecognized for its true value in organizing the delivery of bulk materials within our country.
This is what we noticed as we drifted and ‘bobbed’ through the waves and wakes of the nighttime cris-crossing ‘yard-dog’ tows – occasional spotlights, radio chatter, and perpetual activity in a very unintentional manner – we felt about as comfortable as a ‘street-walker’ at a church social.
In the midst of it all the wakes and darkness we maintained power and somehow found the last outpost forty miles downstream, Hoppie’s Marina near um 158.8.
Hoppie’s is on the right bank heading south with little to no lighting, not sure how many wing-dams we crossed before we lucked out and located it, but we did – and that’s where we spent the rest of the night and next day…
Spending a day at Hoppie’s Marina was preplanned as a zero-mile day – I was really happy to just chill in one place for more than a day – it was a much needed ‘feet-up’ day.
This Marina is a log-time family business which dates back to when folks had to keep the lamps burning along the river, Bob Hoppies parents were ‘lamplighters’ here. The marina is build on old barges so it floats up and down with the river and dates back to the 50’s and 60’s.
It’s not a Yacht Club by a long stretch, but it does have all the character of a troupe of monkey’s eating candy ‘fireballs’ – just what I was looking for.
Fern and Hoppie are wonderful folks with lots of character too, I had read about this place as I researched the trip, now it was great to finally meet them and to watch them work together. Their ‘banter’ was a very comfortable fit – well worth much more than the short time we had there.
To some degree it is a ‘last outpost’ for supplies, but again you will have to walk – Hoppies does have fuel and Ice. There is a small village (Kimmswick, Mo) a mile away that has some really nice ‘shopping’ stores and a restaurant, for a grocery store you will have to walk 2 miles further….
We walked, but overall the day was about ‘stopping,’ some of which this is all about.
For a day it has been awesome to sit upon the river on these old barges and feel the river’s pulse – another place to be, another part of it – a big part for me. Hoppie’s has a hose to shower under – just don’t step on the power cord as you do…
‘Fern’ and ‘Hoppie’ have been great to us, as I have heard they are to all that pass –
Fern was sure to stress that there was no fuel for the next 400 miles!, she could have meant “on the river,’ which was true, but we listened appreciatively and then found fuel available along the way – we just had to walk ( Cairo, New Madrid, etc.).
The downtime was great, the river flowed while trees floated by in the water while we considered the more challenging circumstances of the Lower Mississippi ahead – it could be a few days before re-posting, but certainly we will as the signal or battery will allow.