Cape Girardeau, Missouri
September 22, 2019
Dear Family & Friends:
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 58 miles downstream from my tent camp near Chester, Illinois, was my next destination, but it wasn’t easy getting there.
About 30 miles downstream, the cable connecting my foot pedal to my rudder broke again. Fortunately, it happened near Grand Tower Illinois. I pulled off the River and walked into this tiny city along the River. I was greeted by Dennis, the Chief of the Grand Tower Fire Department. What a truly delightful person. His voice inflection matches Andy Griffith perfectly. The local residents call him “Hambone.”
Hambone told me he has all the tools and cotter pins necessary to fix my rudder. But, he asked me if I was hungry. I told him I was both hungry and thirsty. He walked me into the First Southern Bank, where the bank tellers served me two pulled pork sandwiches, chips and soda. As luck would have it, it was Customer Appreciation Day at the bank! So, Sharon, it will now be a very long drive for us to make bank deposits and withdrawals. After I filled my belly with food and rehydrated, Hambone took me to his home and showed me his garage, which was full of tools and fantastic projects he is working on. In short order, I was back on the River with a functioning rudder.
Two miles downstream, it started to rain. This was followed shortly by lightning and thunder. I immediately pulled off the River, but did not have time to set up my tent before I was in a full downpour. I pulled the fly out of my tent, crouched down and draped the fly over my body as I was drenched with rain. After 30 minutes of relentless rain, the storm seemed to pass. I loaded my gear back into the canoe and started downstream again, hoping to get to a rendezvous point where my friend, Phil Brinson, was planning to meet me and ferry my canoe and me to Cape Girardeau. Twenty minutes later, the rain, lightning and thunder returned in full fury. I paddled furiously until I reached a large warehouse-looking structure along the River. I pulled off the River again and took shelter in this structure. It turned out to be a remote rock quarry where there was no sign of life. I dragged my canoe out of the River and brought all of my gear into the muddy, dirty and abandoned warehouse. I assumed that I would have to sleep in my chair in this warehouse, which would not have been a happy experience.
I called Phil and described my predicament and location. He drove up to the rock quarry but could not reach me on the dirt road because of a locked gate one mile from the quarry. We met each other half way up the dirt road. I left my canoe at the quarry and Phil drove me into Cape Girardeau. Phil rescued me from what would have been a miserable night on the River. He set me up in a very nice apartment that he owns in Cape Girardeau. I enjoyed a warm shower. and we had a great steak dinner at the 36 Restaurant. I will be forever grateful to Phil for his kindness.
The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, Phil transported me back to the rock quarry where I reloaded my canoe and paddled 18 miles downstream to Cape Girardeau.
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