Dubuque Iowa is fun place that we are glad we didn’t miss. We listened to music at Rock the Dock, biked up Mount Carmel for some overlook scenic views and walked through the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. After spending a couple hours fishing in the marina, Rob ended up with only one silver fish…he fried up real nice. Marinas are nice with the amenities they provide. We were able to take hot showers, do laundry and felt secure with gated access to the boat slips, however it was not as quite or easy to sleep as our sand -bar spots have been. Trying to fall asleep while 40-somethings are jamming Michael Jackson and one drunk girl yelling “wwwooooooooo” every minute was not easy. Its a good thing we’re broke because the casinos next door didn’t see a dollar.
Only planned on staying in Dubuque for one night, but an approaching storm helped us make the decision to stay for 2. It was the first rain we’ve seen on the river and hit us in the middle of night on Friday. It was a smaller storm and we handled very well by putting up two tarps to stop the rain blowing in from the West. Pushing on past Dubuque last Saturday, we noticed heavy weekend boat traffic. By noticing, I mean we had to turn our barrel-pontoons sideways to cut through each and every wake. The water was calm and fast moving as the navigation channel cut and turned through orange rocky bluffs and expansive amounts of green trees. The echoing bird chirps, crash of the water upon shore and skin-warming sunlight keeps us moving forward and thoroughly enjoying this river trip.
My soccer coach used to say, “you have three enemies out there on the field: the other team, the referees and the weather.” Here on the homemade barrel raft our enemies have been the weather, the traffic, and the WIND. A strong northern wind, although helpful at times, rolled the Mighty Mississippi waters into 2-4 foot swells as we crossed a lake this morning. Upon getting closer to the next Lock and Dam, a barge was locking south causing us to force maneuver out of the channel, wind, and wakes into safety in a side cove. Battling the north wake and winds while cutting east proved to be our sketchiest moment yet. Rocking back and forth through brown cresting water around a rock pier with unknown water depths to find the relief in a seaweed cove. Until the wind goes below its current 10-15 mph whip across this lake, we are stuck here fishing and sleeping.
Learned quite a lot about harnessing the wind this weekend! It was fun to play around with, but we’d need a HUGE sail to be able to rely solely on wind power.
Animal of the day: River Snake
Time in water spent this weekend: a lot less
WEB UPDATE: BarrelRaftBoys.com now includes a Map to visually represent where we are and where we post from. A photo gallery of the entire trip with the best photographs has been compiled, Gallery, and will be updated with photographs that are not used in the posts.