Thinking about the Missouri I can’t help but thinking about mud. And thinking about Haiti brings to mind mud pies. So, here’s the blog entry for the week.
The Muddy Missouri…..
The Muddy Missouri flows eastward from Kansas City and, just west of St. Louis, makes a curve north then east where it meets the Mighty Mississippi. At the confluence of these two great rivers the Missouri is actually carrying more water than the Mississippi. At 175,000 cubic feet per second there will be over ten million pounds of water under my little kayak. And that doesn’t count the weight of the mud this thing carries. Mark Twain said it was “too thick to drink and too thin to plow” and, while he was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi, he considered the Missouri too dangerous to navigate.
To a large extent the river has been tamed since his day. Dams and channelization by the Army Corps of Engineers have changed this once wild river into something much more navigable. But it’s still big river and a huge piece of our history.
When we put our boats in the river at Kaw Point, in Kansas City, we’ll be stepping off a site where Lewis and Clark camped as they headed west. 300 canoes and kayaks will head east to experience 340 miles of this great river. We’ll see it in the quiet of early morning, when the fog is lifting. We’ll grind down it during mid-day in late July heat. We’ll have a chance to see the plains to the north and the bluffs of the south, marking the boundary where the glaciers stopped and where the Ozark Plateau begins. And, if the river isn’t too fast and high, we all hope to experience the Missouri at night, under the stars and the full moon.
I grew up in St. Louis and drove over it many times. But I’ve never seen this side of the river. The plans are set, the boat is almost ready, and I’m about as “in shape” as I can get. Now it’s just a matter of waiting. Hoping for a fast – safe river. 15 days and counting down.
When we were in Port au Prince, Haiti, we noticed women forming what looked like mudpies and drying them in the sun. We asked our Haitian guide what this was all about and, to our horror, he explained that people make these out of dirt, salt, sugar, and a little oil. They’re salty and maybe taste buttery, so you don’t know you’re eating dirt. And when you’re hungry they’re something to make your stomach quiet.
We didn’t see any of this in Boileau. There’s still a lot of poverty, and most people there are living on the edge. But they at least have clean drinking water, very basic medical care, and a school. And the results of the micro-credit program and the agronomy project are beginning to be felt. As I said in an earlier post, the efforts of the Haitian Pilgrims have allowed Boileau to absorb earthquake refugees from Port au Prince without breaking down completely.
As I write this, the total pledges are at $3,053.00. That’s $8.98 a mile as I paddle down the Muddy Missouri. Hey, a few bucks more and we can make it an even TEN dollars a mile! If you’re thinking about it, just shoot me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t send any money in until (unless) I finish the race – it will give me a goal to shoot for. Five cents a mile is only $17.00. A dime a mile is just $34.00. And, as always – your prayers are priceless.
7/12: An update to this post. Since putting the picture of the mud pies in here I’ve discovered a couple of things. The mud these things are made from isn’t regular mud. It won’t hurt you to eat it (unless you eat too much, I guess) and pregnant women have been nibbling these for years to get minerals that their regular diet doesn’t provide. Since the earthquake, though, the price of food has skyrocketed and more and more people are turning to these because they’re so cheap. They don’t provide much nutrition but they quiet a hungry stomach, for a while.