Miles Covered: Short day – 25 ez river miles, lm 168 to lm 143.4 Garyville, La.
Closest towns or landmark (chart): Donaldsonville, La to 143.4 marker
Original Post date: June 26
Another night spent under a bridge, it wasn’t meant to be this way but after the storm and running late into the evening darkness – “it is what it is”…. this time I had company. Ironically I had met two Ft Myers area paddlers (my home town) on the river the previous day – tonight we camped as cars crossed the towering bridge above us – all night, thump, thump, “doggone people!”
A simple evening in a location that it was too far to walk for food, so we made do. It was some concoction from the Coleman stove – it was warm, included rice, flavored with something else and resembled – even tasted like land food. It was good to sit and share conversation about the river, even if the setting wasn’t perfect – but wait, on second thought – the setting was perfect.
The next morning Charles and Tom went through their morning river-ritual (everyone seems to find a ‘morning routine‘), after 47 days on the river it is an important moment to reflect, all while considering yesterday and the new day ahead on this awesome river. As they paddled off I remained for a visit with my cousin Lorelei Walker – she lives a few miles away and came over to see the ‘Yacht,’ funny.
I’m not sure what she was expecting but I think she liked ‘it.’ We then we went to Donaldsonville for lunch, she certainly knew the right place to eat – and the food was out of this world – no, I’m not saying that to be nice or because I was hungry – it was all so fresh (I had oysters) and she had the crabcakes – Bayou cooking, fresh food and lots of it -delicious… (Cafe La Fourche) those folks take pride in their food – it was a neat little town with plenty of quality places to eat. Had we stopped along the river a few miles back at the clear-cut area, we likely could have walked to town.
I think it was 2 in the afternoon when I made it back to the river and by that time I was ready – I can’t think of once through the whole journey that I have felt fatigue, weariness, or boredom – being on the river is all so interesting that I just want to remain on the river, more than anywhere else. It is ‘captivating’ to say the least.
The river touches so many lives – the smaller ‘local’ tows (lots of tows) have crews of four, the larger must have at least eight or ten living onboard, and then there are the tugs and support boats… I tied off to a barge to for a short break (and to peer in to the scrap metal) and the work tow Miss Kaylynn with her support boat ‘Eagle-Eye II’ came over and tied alongside, we chatted and the Pilot showed me around his vessel – they were all friendly and interesting – the Kaylynn had just received two new Mitsubishi engines and the pilot was happy and kind enough to show them off.
all the while the activity along the river continued nonstop – its an elongated city on water.
And now that the ships share the water I have to keep a better eye out back – they are quiet and fast going downstream and will slip right up on you. The wakes have not been an issue so far, as far as traveling the lower Mississippi – if you are careful and diligent – all will be fine.
Later that afternoon (and a little phone contact) I again met up with Charles and Tom – the kayakers, on one/if not the last beach available before New Orleans – behind the 143.4 marker, left bank headed down. From this point on the river was highly active and commercial, few if any beaches.
We took a walk and found a burger place in a ‘quick-stop’ store a mile or so south, we were hoping for a restaurant but didn’t wish to walk any further. It was a simple HOT meal before their last night and campfire on the river – burger and fries. Mmmmeat..
it was an entertaining evening with plenty of ice-cold beverage, conversation, and laughs about the river, good company…… in conversation our experiences were very similar if not one the same…. we each, even if but for a short while put ourselves in position of being ‘one with this river,’ – and we each earned the ‘River-Rat’ merit-badge – the big one for the Mississippi River – living within her shores for more than 1800 miles.
Noted ‘towboats’ for the day;
The Red Griffin
The Merlin Banta
The FR Bigelow
The Miss Kaylynn
The Ray A Eckstein
(again, river traffic up, not all names noted)