hannibal, missouri. it seemed appropriate that we start our mississippi river adventure in the birthplace of mark twain and where the beginning of "huckleberry finn" was also set.

at the boat ramp getting ready to go.

patrick bought a house in LA right before we left for this trip and in order to spare his wife the additional burden, agreed to take their dog june on the river.
neither june nor patrick had really been in a canoe before so the whole thing was a crap shoot.

june's whining like crazy but we figure that she'll eventually have to accept her fate and just deal.

this is what i ended up with - a 16x11 floating platform from a dutch fishing company. it's the first one ever in north america and they were unsure wether or not it would get past border inspections but i decided to risk it.
outfitted with a small 5hp motor, i can drift along when i feel like it, motor out of the way of freighters when i have to and most importantly, never have to tear down camp.
i need to thank the people at raptorboats for their help getting this thing to st. louis in time.

and as always, a major thanks to benji and poler for outfitting us with everything else we needed for cozy camping along the river.

honestly, im freaking out a little here. i can hardly believe everything worked out and im aboard some ridiculous floating motorized raft
drifiting merrily down the mississippi river with my friends.

this is not heath's first rodeo but i think he's pretty stoked too.

patrick's hyped and june is coping.

it wasn't long until we saw our first freighter and got a sense of their speed and relative immobility. they do not get out of your way, you get out of their's.

because heath is rowing, he has to constantly look over his shoulder to make sure one isn't barreling towards him.

we would eventually get used to the "lanes" of traffic but these massive container boats were a ceaseless concern.

next up was our first lock and dam. these structures are meant to grade the river and streamline traffic.
we knew they were coming but weren't entirely sure of the etiquette and procedure of getting through. first, we attempted to go around it,
quickly realizing our mistake and ending up right against the dam. a safety boat raced out to us and the captain yelled "if you don't get away from there,
you'll be sucked in. some guy went in there few months ago and we still ain't found his body." FUUUUCCCCKKK.
so we paddled, rowed and motored agaisnt the current and got in line at the lock. unfortunately, we were behind a freighter and would have to
tread water for 45 minutes until it was our turn.

in case you're wondering how these work:

with no experience piloting our pleasure crafts, treading water proved difficult for patrick and me. i managed to float over and hold myself in place
by clutching a crack in the wall but patrick started yelling for help. it was stormy out and the waves were really annoying, especially for a canoe and a dog.
i let go of my perch and maneuvered down to patrick and june who were taking on a lot of water. we put june in the raft so patrick could bail water out.
he eventually climbed in and we waited, held in place by another lucky crack in the wall feeling like a couple of kooks.

heath was taking bets.

we made it to a small island in the middle of the river called "jim young island", only 10 miles south of hannibal. approximately 2mph on day one.