Saint Joseph, Missouri
November 19, 2023
Dear Family & Friends:
At this point on my journey, I am trying to stay ahead of the rain and snow. Here’s how I got to Saint, Joseph, Missouri.
November 11. I left from Omaha and paddled downstream about 25 miles where I set up camp. I encountered mild headwinds. The nights and mornings are bone-chilling cold, even inside a tent. My rudder works perfect.
November 12-13. On November 12, I paddled 4 hours and 20 minutes and arrived at Camp Maybee in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Pam & Jody Maybee set me up in their fantastic cabin, right on the River. We enjoyed a great dinner together. My resupply package from Amazon arrived and I purchased additional supplies at the local Walmart store. Walmart has everything. November 13 was a rest day. I sent some unneeded gear home. My stove stopped working so Pam & Jody picked up a new stove for me at Dicks Sporting Goods store in Lincoln City. They were in Lincoln City for a minor medical procedure. Pam & Jody are wonderful River Angels.
November 14. I departed Camp Maybee at 8:45am and paddled until 2:30pm. I encountered brutal 35 mph headwinds. I camped just short of Brownville. During the day, I left Iowa on the left bank and entered Missouri. My final destination is St. Louis, Missouri, which is the terminus of the Missouri River.
November 15. I achieved 28 miles in 6 hours of paddling and set up camp just short of Rulo, Nebraska. I met Wendell who was day paddling in a kayak. He had a bicycle strapped on the kayak so he could bike back to his car at the end of his trip.
November 16. I suffered 36 mph headwinds all day. I stopped and had lunch at Wild Bill’s Bar & Grille in Rulo. I continued paddling and arrived at White Cloud, Kansas on the right shore in the afternoon. Bye, bye Nebraska. While exiting my canoe at the boat ramp, I slipped on some slime and slid down into the River. Most of my clothes I was wearing got wet. White Cloud was pretty much deserted except for the folks that run the grain elevator. There was a lot of truck traffic in and out of town. I set up my tent on a bluff overlooking the River and staked it out to fend off the winds coming from the South. In the late evening, the winds suddenly and violently shifted from the South to the North and blew my tent down, flat on top of me. Since it was dark and my tent poles were damaged, I had no choice but to “Cowboy Camp,”i.e., sleep outside. It was a cold, sleepless night. At 5:30am, two men showed up at the grain elevator. I joined them in their office to warm up and was offered luke warm coffee, which I gladly accepted. The three of us sat in our chairs and slept until 7am. Three tired old men sleeping in their chairs-what a sorrowful sight! At 7am, it was light so I inspected my tent. Sure enough, the tent poles were broken beyond repair. So, now I am tentless.
November 17. I paddled downstream all day, hoping to reach Saint Joseph where I could replace my tent. I enjoyed placid waters and a good current. I pulled off at Don’s Point, just short of Saint Joseph. After securing permission from the landowner, I Cowboy Camped again. Just a few yards from my tent were railroad tracks. I drifted off to sleep listening to the rhythm of the rails as the freight trains passed by. Despite the 30 degree weather, I slept warm and well. This was my best distance day of the trip as I paddled almost 38 miles.
November 18. Some of my River Angel friends contacted Emma & Derrick Gusset, who live in Saint Joseph and asked if they could help me purchase a new tent. They picked me up at the French Bottom boat ramp in Saint Joseph and transported my canoe and me to their home. I was unable to find an appropriate tent at Dicks, REI, Target, Walmart and Ace Hardware, so Derrick graciously loaned me his spare Marmot tent, which is exactly the tent I need. We had lunch at HiHo Bar & Grille and a fabulous Mexican dinner at Los Compadres. Emma & Derrick took me on a tour of Saint Joseph. What an interesting historic city. Saint Joseph is home to the Pony Express, the saltine cracker, Jessie James and Aunt Jemima. They say Saint Joseph is the city where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended. There is also Civil War history here with Fort Smith. Missouri tried to remain neutral during the Civil War. Fort Smith was built by the Union to keep Missouri from being taken over by the Confederacy.
Emma & Derrick explained what happened when my tent blew down in White Cloud. Have any of you heard of the “Alberta Clipper”? I hadn’t. A cold and windy storm front moves south from Canada into the midwest. When it meets warmer weather moving north, the wind suddenly changes direction from south to north and picks up significant speed. When this happens, the temperature drops anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees. Often, this weather event is associated with tornadoes and blizzards. So, my tent was a victim of the Alberta Clipper and never had a chance. Emma & Derrick told me that the same front that flattened my tent blew out glass windows and doors in retail stores in Saint Joseph. Lesson: don’t set up your tent on a bluff when the wind is blowing and always use guy lines to stake down all four sides of your tent. I’m not sure staking all sides of my tent would have made a difference given this particular weather phenomena.
November 19. I took a zero day because rain is expected today and tomorrow. It started raining before noon and the rain lasted the rest of the day.. Derrick prepared delicious Kansas City style smoked bbq’d ribs for dinner.
Tomorrow, I will be back on the River come rain, snow, sleet or shine. Rain. is forecast.
Thanks Emma, Derrick & Great Dane Molly for taking such good care of me.