Around the bend Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg, Miss. - Part VI

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day eight -- Oct. 25, 2008

My foam rubber footies worked really well last night. I had warm feet all night for the first time this week! Why didn't I think of that seven days ago?

The coyotes gave us quite a concert early this morning. They woke us up around 0400 as usual, but this time they were very close. Coyotes or not, I had to get up and make a bathroom run during their concert. The concert stopped as soon as I stepped out of the tent, so I knew they were close enough to be watching us. After the sun came up this morning, we could see just how close they really were. The pack had come up to the ridge of scraggly willows about 100 yards behind our tents. One coyote, a big one judging from the tracks, had walked along the river's edge up to our kayaks. Nothing was bothered and they never really threatened us, but incidents like that are why I always keep dog spray and my paddle within reach each night.

We only had two crossings to make on our last 19 miles to Vicksburg this morning. The sky was clear and the temp cool, perfect for paddling. We were entertained by planes from an airfield on the Louisiana bank. Some were flying in formation.

We have been traveling between Louisiana and Mississippi for two days now. We left Arkansas behind on day six. Most of next year's trip will be in Louisiana only as we leave the state of Mississippi behind. The Mississippi River begins in one state, Minnesota, and ends in one state, Louisiana.

The sand bar we camped on last night had a slackwater slough on its backside just beyond the line of scrub willows. I saw two beavers at its edge and several great blue herons. GBH's have been a constant companion on this river from that first day in Minnesota on. Backwaters like this slough will have to be watched more closely next year as we get into alligator country. Kayaking and camping where alligators live will be a real stretch out of my personal comfort zone. I have a basic life rule I try to live by, which is: "Never live, work or play where I am not at the top of the food chain."

We passed a sandbar just above Vicksburg where a big log was sticking out of the sand, looking like a running alligator. Was that an omen of things to come next year? While on the subject of gators, as I paddled up the Vicksburg harbor, a guy eating his lunch on a dock told me he had just seen a gator that was a foot longer than that little boat I was in! When he saw my eyes bug out, he told me he was just joking.

The entrance to the harbor is on the outside of a sharp bend so we chose to come in on the outside of that bend instead of the inside and then have to cross over. As luck would have it, a barge was coming upstream on the outside as we were coming down on the same side. He gave us plenty of room but the turbulence of his wake mixed with the boils and whirls that are always on the outside of the bends made for one last exciting ride to the harbor entrance. I took a few pictures just before entering the harbor and just had to hope I got what I was aiming at with TPll bouncing up and down and left and right.

We both made it into the harbor safely and arrived at the ramp at 1215. Marla and Colleen drove up 10 minutes later. Perfect timing! We were all glad to see each other again and soon had everything loaded in and on the Blazer for the trip home.

Following Clay Street out of downtown toward I-20, we found a Chinese buffet and had a good lunch before starting home. I drove to West Memphis where we stopped for gas. Danny drove the rest of the way back to Cape. We were in our driveway by 2100, tired but very glad to be home

Thank you, Lord, for another safe and exciting trip down this great river and for two wonderful women to come home to.

After reading over my journal for this trip, I noticed I hadn't commented on the terrain we were passing through. I have to say it was unremarkable. After leaving the bluffs of Memphis, it was flat on both sides all the way to the bluffs of Vicksburg. The day we camped across from Greenville we had started seeing some floating water flowers, hyacinth I think, and continued to see them the rest of the trip. The trees are the same trees we see here in Southeast Missouri along the river such as cottonwood, maple, willow, sycamore, etc.

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