While making our way downriver, we saw lots of barges that were hung up waiting for a dredging operation around Alma.
We found the mothership of tugboats. This one was enormous, with all the little tugs suckling at it like piglets. It is hard to convey the scale of this boat.
We also encountered working barges that had little shacks on them. We thought they were cousins of our shantyboat.
We pulled into Wabasha at the public docks. As cities turn their attention to the neglected river, use of the river is increasingly restricted.
We stopped into the National Eagle Center. Which hosts tens of thousands of visitors a year to teach people about eagles.
We talked to Eileen who was the PR director of the National Eagle Center. She was raised in Winona and knew some of the same people we knew downriver.
We walked around Wabasha and discoverd that they took Civil Defense very seriously. We saw lots of signs directing us to bomb shelters in public buildings and churches. Not only did Wabasha have awesome dirt alleyways, but had civil defense alarms on several blocks. One store had displayed old civil defense radiation meters so you know when it is safe to come up from the bomb shelter.
Everything we’d read about the river said, STAY IN THE CHANNEL, but the entire time we were on the river we saw dozens of boats skitering around here and there with blatant disregard for the channel.
We had a long day on the river and motored until the sun was almost down. We didn’t want to anchor on a beach in the channel and be rocked violently by passing boats all night long as we had on past nights. We through we might go outside the channel and camp on one of the islands on one of the many lakes adjacent to the river.
So the first time we go outside the channel, bam, we are immediately stuck in the mud on a sandbar.
We pushed the boat out in the direction we came and learned our lesson. Stay in the channel. Check.
We camped on a swampy beach and turned Mr Johnson into Cousin It with a halo of swamp grass. Kai immediately lost consciousness and I stayed up locking up the shantyboat and killing the mosquitoes who made it past our defenses.
Here, the bugs left outside beseech us to please let them in so they can eat us alive.