Just 12 miles down the river, we stopped in Hannibal, MO--the birthplace of Mark Twain. Right as we landed, we were greeted with the American Queen (paddleboat)'s cheerful calliope announcing it's departure--a fitting welcome, I thought, to a legendary spot. The moment we walked up the ramp, we were greeted by a couple gentlemen who were enjoying their 50th highschool reunion. They and their wives were enamored of our story and invited us to enjoy what food was still available at the reunion in the pavilion nearby. That meant cookies and cake for me and chicken for Leanne. We thanked everybody and headed into town to enjoy being a tourist for a day or so.
We hopped aboard the trolley, and nearby the Tom Sawyer caves, Leanne requested that we be let off the trolley--she had a Jake and Julie sighting! Sure enough--we found our paddle buddies at the Rib Festival in the park there. Yay, river family!
Jake had befriended another boyscout, Steven, and his grandmother, Mary, in town, who graciously invited all four of us to stay the night at their house! After setting up our beds there and getting some laundry started, we headed back into town to walk around during the art gallery hop. Three of the galleries had drawings for winning art, and guess who won TWO of them? Lucky me! I gave one to Julie, and am keeping the fish one--perfect for my marine conservation self.
The following day, we bid adieu to our J & J pals, and Leanne and I spent the day being tourists, avoiding the strong South winds, and really really enjoying all that Hannibal has to offer in its quirky American splendor. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
That evening, we paddled 25 miles in the dark (I saw 16 shooting stars!). I had just finished telling Leanne about an experience I had had sailing up in Newfoundland where it was a lovely day and out of nowhere we were faced with 16 foot swells, when--BAM--we were faced with large swells of our own, leftover from the day's wind. The swells were nice and rolly for a while, but then, as we entered the pool above Lock #22, they became treacherous. I didn't have my full spray skirt on, and one swell after another was washing into my cockpit. We passed the spot where J & J were camped, and planned on getting much further, but the extra water in my boat was quickly making it impossible for me to maintain control of my kayak. I bailed. "Leanne, we need to stop right now, I can't keep going. I have to bail my boat out, we've got to pull over immediately." Twenty minutes of furiously focused paddling, we landed on Blackburn Island near Louisiana MO, where we faced mud, but found a decent camping spot. Grateful that nothing worse happened, I learned an excellent lesson: ALWAYS WEAR A FULL SPRAY SKIRT AT NIGHT.