Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 7, 2010: Andalusia, IL to Muscatine, IA. 18 miles.

This was the shortest 18 miles ever! Must have seemed that way because we all knew it was the end of the trip.

We had an uneventful launching in the morning, and stopped at a park after a couple of hours. I saw this house barge and trash barge out on the water and found it interesting.... its proprietor turned out to be even more interesting! This set of barges belongs to Chad Prergracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters, an organization that focuses on cleaning up US rivers. He started with a massive Mississippi River cleanup and continued on to the Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Chad saw us on the riverbank and motored over to see us. He is a man with a mission, for sure. Here he is below, with his right hand man just below him. A lot of people on the trip knew who they were from a TV show, but of course I don't watch TV so I had no idea.

I bought his book, From the Bottom Up, and read it on the way home. Some of his trash statistics are as follows: 15,991 tires; 9,882 balls; 3,970 steel drums; 2,092 five-gallon buckets; 45 dishwashers; 545 refrigerators; 397 tons of metal; and the list goes on and on.... and this is only what was picked up out of our rivers from 1997 to 2005! Rex told us that the Great River Rumble makes a donation to Living Lands & Waters every year. I am going to put them on my list too--what a great cause!

On the way into the park where we met Chad, Max took a spill out of his kayak. Funny how it is not always the newbies who end up in the water! Here he is giving away yet another "Paddle to the Pearl" bandana after his spill. Max is the landing chair for Muscatine and arranged for our banquet tonight.Another kayaker spilled near the end of the day. I guess it's time for a rest day!

We pulled out at Muscatine, the "Pearl Button Capitol of the World". The Muscatine Search and Rescue Unit boat escorted us all day and put on their flashing lights to lead us into the harbor. I stayed with our kayak and gathered our bags while Bill went to get the truck. Once we were loaded up we went to our motel room and luxuriated in the air conditioning drinking milkshakes and taking long showers until it was time to go to the ending banquet.

We had our end-of-trip weigh in results at the banquet. Fortunately I stayed the same this week--those who won or lost big got razzed pretty good... here at our table (left to right) are Pete, Cindy, Mary Jo, Barry, Bill, me and Jan. We're already discussing the possibilities for next year's route. We all had a great time, but it's time to go home.

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