Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kansas City Expedition Part 2 – “You Never Know It 'Til You Row It”

Heading down the river, I was pleased to be rowing in weather that was near-perfect.

photo by Elisa Mohr

Here’s my second “Report from the River” clip:

With all the time and energy I’d put towards researching the river, I found that, like so many other areas in life, you can’t just read about something, you’ve got to go there and do it, to jump in and swim around (although I never actually swam that day).

Learning the ways of a river is very exciting, especially when you realize that the wrong decision may result in disaster.
I found that the river narrows near many of the bridges, creating a bottleneck.

While the current moves somewhat lazily through the country in most sections, these tight spots beneath bridges have a different personality altogether.
extra attention was necessary when approaching a bridge because in that section, everything would speed up.
Once I tried to take a picture of a bridge stanchion and had to scrap the plan and row like heck to avoid running into it.

Another bridge stanchion had a great mass of driftwood pinned against the upriver side. This time I managed to snap a few photos:

Upriver from the bridge stanchion. Notice the painted height gauge - yes, the river gets way up there sometimes.

Driftwood pinned against the stanchion.

Those aren't just branches, there are full-sized logs in there.

Enough to build a sizable bonfire, or maybe even a small cabin!

While the overall current wasn’t that strong when I was there, everywhere around me I saw the affects of a rip-roaring current that must occur during the rainy season.

Here’s the third “Report from the River” clip, taken about 12 miles into the row:

From the look of things, you’d expect to see cargo barges plowing up and down the river, going to and from all those facilities, but I didn’t see a single one.
As I passed by most of the loading and docking platforms, I could see decades worth of rust, damaged and bent pieces (always bent in the down-river direction), and sometimes the mud nests of swallows tucked up into corners.

I had expected to see boat traffic and people along the river bank, but up til this point I was all alone. Once I left the Kansas City metro area, I saw nobody for 15 miles.

photo by Elisa Mohr

The solitude was unexpected, but quite therapeutic.


Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

> From the look of things, you’d expect to see cargo barges plowing up and down the river, going to and from all those facilities, but I didn’t see a single one. <

That is really surreal! There should be large Ford and GM plants in the vicinity if I read it right. Do they use truck and rail cargo exclusively or maybe they are idling currently?

(occasionally I see car-carrier barges pushed up and down the river Danube, serving factories in Slovakia and northern Hungary.)

Gondola Greg said...

Most of America's cargo transportation moves by truck or train these days. There is plenty of ship traffic on the Great Lakes and the Mississippi (or so I've heard), and we saw some barge traffic on the Hudson back in 2007. But the bulk of our cargo transport seems to be truck and train these days.
Ford and GM plants? Maybe in Kanss City, but I didn't see any. Detroit is best known for her autumotive plants, although there are plants in other states. Heck, we even have assembly plants from foreign automakers here in the US.

DG Beat said...

That looks like a lot of fun. Was it as lonely as it seemed? I didn't see anyone else traveling along the river.

Gondola Greg said...

Ciao senor Synco!
It was great fun.
I wasn't really "lonely" - I had my I-pod plugged into a boombox, with lots of great tunes: Neil Young, Creedence, Johnny Cash and Kansas seemed appropriate. I also found Paul Simon and Tom Petty agreeable. Reggae from my brother's band Christafari was inspiring. Soul Coughing has been a favorite for a long time, I listened to them for some time and then when I needed solid adrenaline, my choice was obvious in Metallica.

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

On the positive side, the solitude helped you avoid the strong wake and pulling effect of large barges being towed.

By the way, you should tell us eventually what happened to that large volume of popcorn! Happy hour for fishes? (it's a powerful bait.)