Friday, August 10, 2012

Missouri River Rumble-Day 1A

The entryway to the Lewis and Clark Observation Tower

The steadily declining population of Hartford, IL, was only 1,423 a year ago, yet they decided three years ago to take on a $5.5 million debt for the construction of the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower. Those of us with our bags and boats loaded before eleven a.m., had to chance to take a shuttle to the tower, which is just a short distance north of the Visitor’s Center. It is made up of twin towers, one called the Lewis tower, and the other obviously called the Clark tower. One can climb the steps in the Lewis tower, or ride the elevator in the Clark tower to stop at any of the three observation decks located at 50 feet, 100 feet, and 150 feet above the ground. Needless to say, our group went all the way to the top.

A view up the twin towers and the three observation decks.

The Dubois River is now called the Woods River. With the constant migration of the rivers, it is estimated that the site of Camp River Dubois is now in the middle of the Mississippi in the Big Bend. In the meanwhile, Woods River has migrated 2 miles north of its 1803 location, and the confluence of the Missouri has migrated 4 miles further south. The natural features now, therefore, seem more spread out than they would have been during Lewis and Clark’s stay.

The confluence of the Missouri River (entering center) and
Mississippi River (foreground) as seen from the towers.

We all pulled out for the shuttle to Jefferson City. In the early 1800‘s, Daniel Boone would blaze the Boone’s Lick Trail, which would become I-70, and his son, Daniel Morgan Boone, would lay out the capitol city near the geographic center of the state in 1821. Jefferson City has a distinction of being created specifically to serve as state’s capital.

Ibi being strapped down to the trailer provided by the builders
of Wenonah canoes and Current Designs kayaks.

We would camp at the North Jefferson City Recreation Area, which was at the intersection of the final approach to the local airport and two primary highways through the capitol. I was surprised when we arrived to see neither water nor our boats, but they had been staged at the Noren Access Ramp about a mile away, and staff were camping near them for security. We only had a couple planes come in, but by evening I was convinced that one out of every five residents of Jefferson City owned a large motorcycle with loud pipes. The noise was constant. It was as if motorcycles were staged at either end of town. As soon as one made the run by the camping area, the next would be dispatched in the opposite direction. Later a motorcycle rode into the overflow parking area near our tents and fired off a gunshot. I heard the bullet strike some unknown object, and then the cycle roared back out. I could not believe I hadn’t brought earplugs. That was a lesson I should have learned on the Keys Challenge. By morning I would have gladly paid $5 for those little penny foam plugs.

Home Sweet Home.  The North Face Rock 22 tent with the Jefferson City
capitol dome visible between the tent and the telephone pole. 
Click any picture to enlarge.

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