Shake, Rattle & Roll in New Madrid

New Madrid, Missouri

September 26, 2019

Dear Family & Friends:

September 25 was a tough day on the River. The strong headwinds erased the benefit of the weak current. Two hours out of Hickman, the rain started. No problem, I can paddle in the rain. Then, a lightning bolt lit up the darkened sky and I made a beeline for the shore. I set up my tent before the rain became a torrent. This turned into a two-hour delay.

When the rain abated, I got back on the River and paddled 30 miles to New Madrid (pronounced “New Mad Rid”), Missouri. It wasn’t easy. Upon arrival at the boat landing, I was greeted by a return of the rain. A local resident told me this is first rain they have had in 27 days. Go figure. No matter how hard I try to hide, the rain and thunderbolts always find me.

I set up camp in a grassy area above the boat ramp and walked 2 miles into town searching for a restaurant. I dined at Tasters and walked back to my campsite. It rained off and on during the night and was raining in the morning. This delayed my departure so I was not back on the River until noon.

New Madrid has a lot of history. Several bloody Civil War battles were fought here. And, the Trail of Tears extends through this city. Some of the Cherokee Tribes made the journey on overloaded and extremely dangerous boats. Many died in the attempt.

We have lots of earthquakes in California. I remember the February 9, 1971 Sylmar Quake as though it happened yesterday. I think New Madrid tops us in the earthquake derby. New Madrid sits on a fault line and experiences over 200 earthquakes every year. In 1811-1812, New Madrid suffered more than 1,800 earthquakes, some exceeding magnitude 8. One of the New Madrid earthquakes changed the course of the Mississippi River and even caused it to travel backwards. Fortunately, there was not much loss of life because so few people lived in New Madrid at that time. The shock waves from the earthquakes in this seismic zone travel 20 times further than the shock waves from earthquakes in California. So, I guess we don’t have it so bad.

This will be my last post for one week. Lisa, who posts my reports, is traveling with friends and I will be spending time with some of my family in Memphis. My next report about my trip from New Madrid to Caruthersville, Missouri will be a blockbuster.

Just so you won’t forget me, I’m including a photo featuring a wig like the wigs Danny would wear to shock his friends. We love you and miss you our dear Danny. I know you are traveling with me to keep me safe.

Bill