Paddling the Port of St. Louis – 3/18/2018

The Port of St. Louis is the third most busy inland port in the United States. I’ve seen it from land many times and paddled to the northern end of it, but never farther south than the Gateway Arch. That was about to change today. Its still spring break and the wife and kids are out of town. Andy wanted to paddle, so we met in the morning at the Flamm City ramp on the Meramec. I suggested we paddle the port and talked him into it. We ran back to his house to pick up his dry suit and then drove to downtown St. Louis to begin the adventure.

I was a bit ill prepared for the paddle, having forgot my PFD at home. Luck for us, Andy had an extra inflatable in his truck so we could continue our trip. After pushing off and by the arch, Andy said that there are few people he would do this with and trusted my skills. No pressure on me to not mess up, and I’m very glad his Minnesota II boat had a rudder on it.

Most of the river from the arch down had barges parked on both sides of the river, leaving no space to get out of trouble. I quickly realized that if we capsized, we would have to fix it without going to shore, something I have never practiced and should! There were a large number of tugs moving about, more than I have experienced in several years of paddling/racing on the Missouri River. When they passed, their waves bounced off the parked tugs and came back just as tough.

I didn’t feel comfortable taking my focus off paddling until the Jefferson Barracks (I-270 South) bridge which was at least half way through our paddle. At one point, I started to get motion sick and wasn’t sure if I could keep the boat upright as the water got quite rough. But it passed and eventually calmed down.

There is quite a bit of interesting industry on the river and houses to see on the edge. If you’re not on the water, you will miss it. Once south of the Jefferson Barracks bridge, the river got calm and the shores were not littered with barges. The river looked amazing and empty (the way we like it). At the confluence of the Meramec river, we paddled the 2 miles up to Flamm City access.

Its a paddle I would like to do again, but in my Kruger Cruiser for extra safety 🙂

Hogan Haake

2017 Suzuki V-Strom 650

After 10 years and approximately 13,000 miles, I wanted something different. I was trading in my Kawasaki Concours for a different motorcycle.Over the years, I had spent far more in repair cost than the cost of the bike and I was starting to loose confidence in the bike. There were many little things that were off, but it is a 15 year old bike.But I won’t forge the time in Arkansas with Hiatt, or the Colorado trip where I had to purchase a truck to bring the bike home, or the 5 corners of Missouri. I had fun, but the fun was getting long. I didn’t ride it much. Part of this was due to the thread of breakdowns, and the other because it takes a while for the engine to heat up before its ready to ride.

I did research online and got permission from the wife to make the purchase. The only dealer near St. Louis was about 80 miles away. But the price was fantastic and I worked out the details over the phone before heading out.

Eric and I left on a 40 degree day. The ride out there was long and cold, even stopping for Eric to buy some snow pants to help him warm up. Eventually, we made it out to ATVs and More which is on the site of an old Target, so its beyond HUGE! I got to business quickly making the deal I came for. There was a bit of back and forth, but they committed to the original quoted price and I appreciate that!

So while they prepped the bike, Eric and I wondered the store…

When the time finally came, I wrote the check and we were out of there! The V-Strom 650 was mine. And most cool, it had 0 miles on it!!!

Here I am riding out of the parking lot for the first time!

Fortunately, it warmed up for the ride home. Without that 1000cc engine of the Concours pouring heat out on me, the increased temperature was appreciated. And finally home!

Hogan Haake

MRT Loop – 2/25/2018

I’ve been wanting to do longer unicycle rides for a while now. Today I decided it was the day to do just that. The plan was to ride the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) loop. I started early going up the deserted Missouri side of the trail starting near the Gateway Arch.

Going up the Missouri side happened fast. I did notice my cranks for the pedals were getting a bit loose, so I tightened them before continuing. It didn’t take long before I was crossing the Chain Of Rocks bridge.

Once across, I still had to cross another lesser bridge over the Chain Of Rocks canal for barges. This bridge had much lower railings and lots of metal grating, so I mostly walked across it.

By the time I got to Illinois, I was slowing down a ton. I didn’t take any more photos and had a rough time on the gravel section of the trail. But I eventually did finish the 26 mile trail on my unicycle. The last 1/2 mile was walking due to my cranks getting much worse! Overall, a success!

Hogan

Unicycles and Water Pipes – 2/18/2018

Sometimes you just have to get out of the house and explore. Corvin and I wanted to go for a unicycle ride and it seemed just warm enough at the house. We packed the unicycles and headed downtown to the Mississippi Riverfront Trail. We got out of the van, unloaded and started to ride.

It didn’t take long to realize that we should have worn pants! The wind made it nearly unbearable to ride, but we didn’t give up. We rode south of the Gateway Arch and back to the van for a grand total of about 1.5 cold miles.

After that, we packed back up in the van and cranked up the heater. But I wasn’t about to let the drive go for nothing, so I decided to just drive north near the river. Corvin learned a new meaning of poverty and “bad” neighborhoods. I tried to use this as a lesson for how fortunate we are in our lives and how the people are not bad.

I found 2 of 3 standpipe water towers in St. Louis. Essentially, they are 100 year old towers that were large tubes for water to rush up to help regulate water pressure. When the pressure went up, water would travel up the tower instead of rushing out of a person’s tap at different rates. They used to be very common and now are extremely rare.

Got to love history right in front of you. Hopefully the city will maintain these 3 historic structures 🙂

Hogan