Day 28 (Part 2): 9 Miles
The afternoon felt frustrating, even though we were trying not to complain today. Even trying to get in our canoes after the town stop, there were so many boats speeding around that area, the wake made it hard to get in the canoe. We decided to try a parallel slough which we figured would be quieter. Unfortunately, the slough turned into a dead end after half a mile, so we had to turn back and go down the main channel. As we got further from Guttenberg things seemed to calm down a bit. There were quite a few boats which had beached themselves along some sandy shores…in one place there was probably close to 30 boats. The wind remained mild all day and it was pretty pleasant paddling. Near the end of the day, we were crossing the navigation channel and had an encounter with a luxury boat speeding towards us. We had to wave our paddles before the boat finally changed course, but didn’t bother to slow down. When Beardoh yelled at them to slow down as they passed, the driver said he hadn’t seen us…definitely not a response which gives us any comfort. The encounter left us a bit unnerved and we felt like we didn’t want to be on the water anymore today. We found the first reasonable campsite and called it a day. Checking the weather for the town across the river from us, it is currently 92 degrees…ugh. Looks like we have a few more days of this heatwave. The mosquitoes are pretty bad here tonight, so everyone was in bed early.
Day 29: 32 Miles
The morning was really nice on the river. We didn’t see another boat until we were stopped for our first break an hour and a half in. The water was like glass and the morning colors were really nice. We joke that the two times of day we like are the morning before our first break and when we’re done paddling in the evening…a joke, but also pretty true. The river opened into another wide body of water, even if they don’t call it a lake. The wind picked up a bit and the water got choppy on the wide river. There wasn’t much boat traffic, and what there was stayed pretty much in the navigation lane, which we were far away from. We stopped for lunch at a spot which was basically a jetty of rocks. The spot was really hard to get the canoes up to, but there weren’t many good choices in that area. It took us probably an extra fifteen minutes just to get our canoes tied up and our food out of the boats. After lunch, we had another four miles to the lock in Dubuque. We were lucky to be able to go straight into the lock…the first time that has happened for us. It seems that most public boat launches are just south of the locks, so recreational traffic really picks up after the locks. Today was no different, with tons of boats speeding around the river when we got out of the lock. This trip has been interesting, in that the folks we meet off the river are so kind and generous, and really restore ones faith in people. However, for the vast majority of people driving the boats, pontoons and jet skis on the river, we see such bad behavior. After two negative boat encounters within a half mile of the lock, we were just lamenting the boaters on the river. As someone paddling a canoe, with none of the protections a motorboat would provide, it would seem logical that some deference and space be given, but that is almost never the case. Dealing with recreational boaters has easily been the worst aspect of the trip so far. They often put us in a bad mood, which we don’t like. On the bright side, we entered a new state today…we left WI and now have Illinois on our left. We found a campsite after looking around at several places…so much poison ivy. We decided this campsite is terrible…probably the worst of the trip, but we enjoyed our dinner on the bank of the river and headed to bed since the mosquitoes were bad. Hopefully with the weekend ending today, we’ll have a quieter day on the river tomorrow.
Day 30: 33 Miles
What a difference a day makes. Beardoh decided he really wanted to have a day without complaining (we both tend to complain way more than any other trip), so he said that if he complained at all today, he would give his Cheese-Its to Qball. It can be hard not to complain with this trip, but we both wanted to try to have a better attitude about it. While the temperature was still in the 90’s, the river was really quiet all day. It felt like we had the river to ourselves for most of the time. We were glad to leave our mucky, poison ivy infested campsite this morning for paddling on water that was smooth as glass. We passed a few fishermen out in the morning, but mostly it was just us. As we got within a mile of the lock in the late morning, we came to water so shallow that we had to get out of the boats and walk them a hundred feet or so. Granted we were way out of the navigation channel, but still we were surprised to encounter the shallow water. As we were getting closer to the lock, a speedboat passed us and went into the lock. Qball called the lock to see if they would hold the doors for us and they said yes. So, for the second day in a row, we were able to paddle straight into a lock…pretty sweet. Right after the lock, we pulled up on a landing in Bellevue, IA in search of food. We found a really sweet place right near the landing that was a mix of a cafe and a shop of knickknacks. The food was great…it felt like having lunch at your grandma’s place if she was a great cook. It was probably our favorite place to eat so far on this trip. After lunch, we headed back on the river. In the afternoon we saw two touristy steamboats, but not much else. We stopped for a long swim break and then found a great campsite just before 5pm. We had decided to paddle later today, but then we realized what a great spot this was and called it a day. It was a relaxing evening and we even played a bit of cards for the first time in two weeks. Again the mosquitoes are terrible, so we’re all in bed by 7pm. It was a really nice day on the river today…and Beardoh still had his Cheese-It’s at the end of the day.
Day 31: 27 Miles
The past few weeks, we have stopped putting up our rain tarps. It has been quite dry and we like to be able to look up at the stars from our hammocks. Well, last night it rained a bit, which meant we had to quickly wake up and put up our tarps at 1am…not so fun. And it took us well over an hour to fall back to sleep, even though it only rained for a few minutes. We were sad to leave our awesome campsite in the morning, but the water was calm, and we were only paddling a few miles before stopping at a cafe for breakfast. The folks at the marina cafe in Savannah were really friendly and the food was cheap and pretty good. It was a nice stop before heading back out on the river. The rest of the morning consisted of paddling across a really wide area which basically felt like a lake. We were headed for a lock which was in the middle, instead of on one state’s shore or the other. That meant that we couldn’t just hug a shore, but instead had to paddle through the middle of the “lake.” We stopped for lunch partway across and commented on how lucky we were that the water was so still that it was like glass. Apparently that comment was enough to jinx us, because when we headed back out, there was a strong crosswind. It was hard to keep us going straight as we made our way over to the lock. Luckily we were able to lock right through and we continued on our way. The wind continued to be strong as we paddled into the afternoon. We headed to the home of River Angels, Michelle and Gary (and daughter Chelsea), to fill up our water jugs that were getting light. Michelle and Gary were incredibly kind and welcoming. With the wind so strong, we weren’t in too much of a hurry to get back on the water. We ended up staying overnight with them…showered, in clean clothes, and with a belly full of pizza, we were feeling pretty lucky.
Day 32: 31 Miles
Michelle and Gary made us a great breakfast this morning and we chatted for a bit before heading out. It was so great spending time with them. They were fun to hang out with and they were so kind and generous to us. We took some photos together and then got in the canoes. The wind was present from the beginning today. It was so close to being an awesome tailwind, but it was off a bit and so was a terrible crosswind. It was so hard to paddle straight, and we ended up paddling the vast majority of our strokes on just one side…that makes for very sore arms. Paddling into a headwind is still the worst, but a crosswind comes in a close second. We made it to our first lock of the day in the early afternoon. Our lock luck continued and we were able to just paddle right in without waiting. After the lock, the wind continued to be brutal, as we entered the Quad Cities area. We tried to find a place to camp, but it was pretty impossible in such a big metro area. As we kept paddling and not finding a place to stop, we ended up at the second lock of the day. Our luck continued again and we had no wait. Luckily, right after the lock, we saw some trees and a rocky beach. We checked it out and it was a great camping spot. We were so glad to be done for the day. Even though we were finishing at 6:00pm, it felt like this had been such a long day. Battling the wind all day was super exhausting and we are both beat. We’re looking forward to a short day tomorrow to our friends’ Mace and Sherri’s place.
It was so nice to sleep in cooler temps last night. After so many nights where we didn’t use our underquilts or want our sleeping bags to touch us, it was nice to be back in our long johns, snug as bugs in our hammocks. Luckily, the wind from yesterday had died down and we had nice calm water when we headed out. We only saw one barge this morning and no other boats, so it was nice paddling. We did decide though, that the miles around and through the Quad Cities was the least pleasant smelling so far due to the different manufacturing plants along the river. We made good time today and arrived at Ducky’s Lagoon near Andalusia around 9:45am. We met up with Mace who had already arranged with the owner for us to be able to store our canoes in a building on the premises. It has been great to reconnect with Mace and his wife Sherri.