I scheduled a final training paddle before the MR340. I decided it would be from St. Charles (Blanchette) to the Arch Riverfront. My plan had me getting a paddler with experience to join us. There is a general and well founded fear of the Chain of Rocks. I had scouted the Chain of Rocks the day before and felt confident about the trip. That night, there was a party at JoJo’s house. I made the mistake of telling her about the water and what I saw. She was quite disturbed by my description and opted to pass on the paddling.
I met Mark and Nancy Fish in the morning at the boat ramp. The plan was that we would paddle to the arch and JoJo would pick us up and take us back to the the start. Mark and Nancy built a Chesapeake Light Craft kayak for the MR340. The boat was beautiful and ready to take on the river. After getting to know each other, we shoved off into the river for a fantastic paddle.
One of my favorite things about paddling is getting to see sections of the river that I have never seen before. I had never paddled through the confluence of the Mississippi and down to the arch. We made sure to stop and enjoy moving into the Mississippi. Its hard to describe how large the river is!
I was amazed how fast the Mississippi river moves. It seemed like only a few minutes from the confluence until we were under the I-270 bridge. From there, the is the old Chain of Rocks bridge and then the chain/portage. Talking with Mark, he wanted to be cautious and portage. He had recently finished his boat and didn’t want to chance a scratch. Also, he didn’t want to take any chances too close to the MR340. It was the right decision, but not the fun one.
As we pulled up to the portage, I saw a cute looking lady. I may have noticed her even more because she was wearing a sports bra. It turns out that it was JoJo. She came out to help us portage and see it for herself. JoJo was fantastic helping us move the boats, as the portage was a bit longer than I expected. We stopped in the middle of the portage at her van for some chips, beer, and watermelon. JoJo didn’t have a knife, so we were wondering how to cut open the watermelon. I came up with a crazy idea. I took the watermelon over to the metal guard rail and roughly shoved it against the edge. The result was the watermelon being “stuck”on the guard rail, half way through. One more try on the guard rail split the watermelon. It was not what it was designed for, but a perfect alternative use. What a tasty snack for our paddling!
Along the river was a giant crane that I named “Pappa Crane”as it was twice as big as the rest.
A panoramic of the new I-70 bridge going over the Mississippi river. Almost to the arch!
Success! We made it and JoJo was waiting for us after an amazing paddle!