THE OLD MAN AND THE RIVER IV

5/30/2022   

Bill awoke on Friday morning, June 21st, the longest day, with a fresh attitude. He was the captain of a crippled ship that needed to get to La Crosse, Wisconsin by Saturday noon. His goal was to get a rental car there and drive to a death memorial 50 miles away. No marina on the river was going to fix his problem on a short notice, so at 6MPH, it would take around 15 hours of constant full power to get there. Bill filled up the gas tank at the marina and noticed his fuel consumption was horrible due to the waste of energy. Gas could be a problem. Out of the 2nd lock at 8AM, Bill started to enjoy the scenery. There were outstanding bluffs on both sides of the river that stood like sentinels over the slow bulldozer that carved that canyon for hundreds of thousands of years. The melting glaciers of the last ice age did a magnificent job of accelerating the depth, but Bill was still 600′ above sea level, so that river is far from done. Life was everywhere as birds dipped into this trough, waterfowl plied the surface and fish commanded the 9′ depths. Along with life comes death, and the river was a giant convey belt of spent creatures. A dead deer, a dead beaver, and dead fish floated by Bill’s life and death funeral procession. Less than 30 miles had drained the boat’s 20-gallon tank and 5-gallon can. Luckily, a marina laid ahead and it was replenished. As the river canyon spread out and choked off, it was loaded with commerce. Barges with giant pusher tugs sporting 7,000 HP came into view every 2 hours. They could kill in seconds, so avoidance was binding. Quarries and silos dotted the shores with products that needed to hit the markets. Recreation and bar/restaurants marked the towns. Trees filled in all the open spots as competition for shorelines were up for grabs. Flooding was the obvious winner. As the day waned, another marina was spotted, the gas pumps were shut off. Oh shit. The next marina on the map was beyond 1 gallon/mile limit. SHIT! 

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