Friday, April 27, 2012

Current River Eve

The final  headcount is 13.   We will take three vehicles:  Skip's truck, Rob's Suburban and Neil's SUV and we'll pull the canoe trailer and the jon boat behind the truck and the 'Bourbon.  Since Pete and Ian are meeting us there we'll have 11 riding from Nashville and we can ride 3, 4 and 4 with most of the gear in the trailers and the truck bed. A leaky jon boat still makes a great trailer.   No need to arrange a ride other than that, just show up and climb in.
The following 9 canoes are going:
Rob C.
Mike C.
Skip (x4)
That will allow for seven in solo boats, four riding tandem and two riding the Mule.
The Club will provide coolers and drinks for Ian, Bill and Pete who are arriving by bike and plane.  The rest of you know by now to get your own beverages.

We will provide sleeping bags, pads and a tent for Ian and Bill.  Pete will have this stuff on his bike trip.  The rest of you bring your own.

We will provide a personal box of Ohio Blue Tips to all the smokers.  The rest of you can fuck off and start your fire with steel wool and a battery. 

See you in the staging area at 6:30 sharp tomorrow morning. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


The Current River is just one holler over from the Eleven Point so the route is the same as the Fall 2010 trip until the very end.

The Simple Version

Take I-24 west to Paducah
Take Hwy 60 west (Exit 4) a long way, at least 150 miles
In Winona, Missouri turn right on Hwy 19
Take Hwy 19 north about 25 miles to Round Spring

The Full Version

Take I-24 west to Paducah
Get off on Exit 4 in Paducah ("Hwy 60/Hinkleville Rd.")
Turn west (left) on Hwy 60
Take Hwy 60 west about twenty miles
Stop at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers for the Hanging of the Balls ceremony

Continue west on Hwy 60 about ten more miles to Interstate 57
Take I-57/Hwy 60 west
In about 25 miles, Hwy 60 splits off from I-57 again. Follow Hwy 60.
In about 50 more miles you'll get to Poplar Bluff, Missouri...

For those of you who were disappointed that The Pony Gentleman's Club was closed on the way back from the Eleven Point, you get a second shot here if you want to take a short ten minute detour. Just turn left after Poplar Bluff onto Hwy 67 and it will be on your right in 10 miles. Pretty sure you can't miss it.

...otherwise, continue on past Poplar Bluff on Hwy 60
In about 60 miles, turn right on Hwy 19 North near Winona, Missouri
Take Hwy 19 about 25 miles to Round Spring.

The meeting point will be at the canoe access on the river, not the campground.  Look for flashing blue lights and Ian and Pete Feldman handcuffed to the bridge.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here are some things you should be doing during Trip Week:

1.  Oil your gunwales, wax your hulls, tighten the seat and thwart fasteners.  It is bad form to go on a good canoe trip without paying some attention to your boat first.

2.  Pick out which knife you're going to bring and your personal cup.   If this is the first trip for your cup, you should test it beforehand.  Choose a night that you can sit down with a copy of Goodbye to a River and practice pouring into it. 

3.  If you are not planning to play a guitar, watch this:

and then this  

The perfect instructor for our Anglo-themed trip.  Continue practicing with your personal cup. 

4.  Gather your beverages.  Remember that it is BYOB for everything except coffee.  That means you are responsible for your own beer, brown liquor, water, soft drinks, etc. 

5.  It looks like there will be times this weekend it will be cold.  Mainly at night and anytime during the day that you take an involuntary swim.  Pack for both possibilities.

We will meet at 6:30 am Saturday morning.   We won't be stopping for breakfast and we'll just drive through somewhere for lunch.   Sometime between now and Saturday, when the final roster is in place, we will do a full accounting of the trucks and canoes that will be going and we'll post a map to the river.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T Minus 5

This weekend, cheering crowds lined the streets and hung signs from the overpasses as the canoe trailer made its semiannual trek up I-65 from Cool Springs.  It was made available to the public for photo ops at Brown's Diner on Sunday afternoon before being moved to the staging area on Barton Ave.   You may now bring your canoe for loading any time this week.  Thank you to those of you who already have. 

While we were at Phil's warehouse we helped ourselves to some useful looking equipment that was clearly being underutilized by ERM.   Is it stealing if you say you're taking it?  We grabbed a couple of extra collapsible tables thinking we'll need the counter space for the big veggie chop, even with the upside down Grumman.   We'll bring some more cutting boards too because there's probably been something worse than Gluvit on those tables.   We also got a nice, professional-looking utility box to hold the jon boat accessories (spotlights, tools, outboard oil, etc.).  It will give us lots of river cred because it says "Large Impingers" across the top so if we get pulled over by a MO DNR agent we can tell them we're impinging.  Only thing better would be saying we're sucker gigging

Mike is confirmed for the trip so he's still in charge of an axe.  Make sure it has a blade on one side and a blunt end on the other because we'll be using it for driving wedges as much as chopping.   Rob, if you forget the wedges we'll have to find something else to use like your cell phone.  Vernon:  you are the lube man. 

For those of you still worried about the distances, look at Float #24 (October 12) about half way down this "Float Log":   FLLOG.   They covered 44-miles on the Current River on a one night trip.   Granted, they were in kayaks but they also say they were heavily loaded with both gear and beer.   Nice pics, too.  Should get you fired up. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Super-shuttle; K.P.

The pay-to-shuttle plan has spawned a whole Occupy Akers Ferry movement with demands for even more and better shuttling. The 99% are saying that if we can pay the outfitter to move one vehicle for us, why can't we pay them to finish the job since they'll have three days to do it. After considering the logistics and costs, it appears feasible and it would save a lot of time on both of our travel days.

Here's how it would work. We all go to the take-out first just like the original plan. Then we would move our gear into the minimum number of vehicles possible for carrying all of our people and boats, ideally only two or three trucks.  Leaving all of the other vehicles at the take-out, we would then drive up to the put-in, probably riding people in the bed of pickups which is actually legal in Missouri and not an unusual sight. If we can make it in three vehicles, the outfitters will do the whole job for $150 which is $10.50 per person then when we finish our trip all of our vehicles will be waiting for us and we hail out of battle back to Tennessee.
Another system that needs to be addressed before the spring trip is dishwashing, which is to say we need a system. Sometimes it's ok to just throw it all in the chuck box (maybe that's how it got its name) and deal with it later, but on a two-nighter with lots of people the dishes start to be a problem. So we sat down with the kitchen crew and asked them to help develop a plan.

Here's the reply we got:

Main thing is after sun nights meal, everyone should throw all the leftover food on their plate in the river and give their plates and utensils a good rinse in the riffles, ideally using a hand full of sand to get most of the shit off. And then stack them on the overturned Grumman in one area so they are not all over camp where they look unsightly and get lost. This simple task saves the kitchen staff many many hours down the road from having to scrub off last trips 6 month funk.

We will eat off cheap paper plates sat nite, those should be burned in the fire afterwards. We don't need to haul stinky paper trash down the river that is easily burned. We will have enough trash hauling cans, bottles, plastic, etc. Basically people just need to use a little common sense.

If everyone just helps a little with cleanup, it is so much easier and our camp looks like we have some goddamn horse sense about us and if you are not smoking, drinking, getting the cooks a smoke or a drink, fire tending or helping with kitchen and meal prep in some way, then stay out of the kitchen. Maybe go to the party fire and think about how you can increase our coal bed. Anyone doing any one of the aforementioned activities is always welcome in the kitchen. Those not culinary savvy should ask the pot wrasslers often if they need a drink or a smoke or more wood. Because the answer will always be, "hell yes, and keep 'em coming"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiver Request

The Beverage Manager is seeking a variance from the One-Personal-Cup policy:

From: Tim [mailto:]
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 8:47 AM
Does the new cup rule include me making bloodies and screwdrivers in personal cups or is there a Styrofoam exception?

In support of this request, the B.M. states that styrofoam keeps the Screwdrivers colder longer and the coffee hotter longer.  

The official response from the RRCC is:   drink faster.   Having styrofoam cups, and especially little pieces of styrofoam cups, all over camp and in the bottom of our canoes is one of the main reasons the O.P.C. rule was implemented.

The Screwdrivers tasted just right in real cups on the fall trip. 

In other beverage news:  we coated the inside of the jon boat's built-in cooler (formerly live well) with Gluvit because it was leaking too, and because ever since we discovered it we coat everything that doesn't move with Gluvit.  So when you're making those Screwdrivers you might want to take your ice off the top.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shuttle Diplomacy

We are still unwilling to say that 18.5 miles over three days is anything like an adult sized serving, but it's true that the more river we can get behind us on Saturday afternoon the easier our trip will be for our big paddle on Sunday.   It is also true that having lots of daylight when we hit camp is more important on the second day than it will be on Saturday night when all we have to do is grill our first-night-Brats.  So we may want to paddle into the evening a little on Saturday.  Which is a great time to be on the river by the way.  

There is another time-saving trick we've never used before and this may be the time to try it. 

Normally we arrive at the put-in on the first day, unload all the canoes and gear into a big pile and then go run the shuttle while the rest of the group stays behind to pack the canoes.  That usually takes about an hour and then we get back, find the others half drunk and the canoes and gear still in a big pile, load up and shove off down the river.  The Current River shuttle from Akers Ferry to Round Springs looks like more than an hour judging by all those twisty Ozark roads. 

That is a lot of time that could be spent on the river. However, since there is an outiftter right where we are putting-in, what we could do is arrive at Akers Ferry, unload the canoes and gear and then PADDLE OFF DOWN THE RIVER WHILE WE PAY THE OUTFITTER TO RUN

Under this plan, if we let the outfitters take the truck that's pulling the canoe trailer, then at the end of the trip (Monday) it will be sitting at the take-out and we can start loading it up while another crew of drivers completes the shuttle by going back upstream for the other vehicles.  In order to to THAT, we need to have a second car at the take-out, right?  Not a problem.   Ian and Stuart will be coming from St. Louis which is a much shorter drive than the rest of us so they would have been sitting at the put-in waiting for us anyway, drinking and throwing knives between each other's feet.  They can just as easily wait for us at the take-out, in the parking lot by the forest preserve, where we will pick them up, leave their rental car, and take them upstream with us to Akers Ferry.   

In a happy coincidence of geography, the route to the Current River from Tennessee takes us right past the take-out before we get to the put-in.  See below.

So it all sounds too good to be true but what will such an indulgence cost us?  We called Akers Ferry Canoe Rental and they said yes, they would drive our vehicle to the take-out.  But because of the time and distance involved they would have to charge....$50.  Let's see, with fourteen members going on the spring trip, that comes out to about $3.50 per person.   All opposed say nay. 

Pete, this means when you bike from New Orleans to Missouri you should head for the take-out at Round Springs to wait for us there instead of Akers Ferry.  If it's not too far out of your way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Week Warning

The roster is still a moving target, with Mike rumored to have given himself the real axe and Bob rumored to have gone out and bought a tent.   Those are both pretty good indicators but not enough to change the official status of either one of them so we will call it a net zero gain and leave the number at 14. Jack is definitely out but is sending with us his black guitar in the same spirit as his Great Uncle Johnny, who threw his dentures over the fence at the nursing home "so at least part of him could be free." Stuart is coming unless he has to create a horizontal platform that's vertically agnostic.

Ian has submitted his shopping list.  The one line item that really stands out is:  "17 pounds of pork."   We never thought we'd use the words "dietary" and "restriction" next to each other in this club, but then again we never thought we'd keep reading glasses in our tackle box - so for those of you who are are going meat-free these days, there are as many different types of vegetables on the list as there are pounds of pork.  In case it makes any difference, Ian does insist that we only cook with a pig that was raised locally, antibiotic-free, in a humane environment by a farmer who read to him every day and played Mozart for Piglets while he slept.

Here is the official packing list, updated.   If you weren't assigned something at the pre-trip then you're only responsible for what's listed under personal items, but feel free to come on back to the garage anytime between now and next Friday.   Bob will be there drinking a beer and watching, which tells you absolutely nothing about whether he's going on the trip or not.

RRCC Packing List

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Personal Procurement

We have made our final club purchase before the spring trip.  It's something, as a shareholder in a fifty-year-old aluminum boat, you didn't know you needed but you desperately did.  There are actually a lot of things like that in the RRCC but this one is called the Panther XJ5000 Transom Saver.   A transom saver lets the trailer support the weight of the motor instead of it bouncing up and down mounted to just the stern of the boat.  This is ours, installed:

Don't laugh.  If you've ever watched your motor in the rear view mirror while driving over washboard gravel roads you'll know this is not a minor matter.  We can live with slow leaks and banging our propeller on the rocks every now and then, but if the back end of our Commissary Boat rips off we will be in trouble.  If you are saying to yourself  "Wow, this transom saver will save our ass" you might be talking about our's, the boat's, or the fact that it's The Mule but in any case you'd be right.

So as an organization we are done with acquisitions, but there are two items that everyone needs to make sure they get for themselves before April 28. 

#1 is your personal cup.   You were put on notice here, before the last trip, about getting a personal cup, and the grace period is over.   If anyone shows up with a sleeve of red solo cups and/or sings that stupid country song you will get stomped.  You will use your cup all day, every day, from coffee to port.

#2 is high quality, head-to-toe rain gear.  Including and especially a real rain hat.     If you're dressed right, the rain is genuinely fun, but the opposite is also true.  No one who went on Big Swan Creek or the Pavilion Trip in 2005 needs to be reminded of this but if you only paddled in the golden sunshine of the Duck River last fall you may need a reality check.  There are lots of styles of good rain hats, so think of it as another opportunity for personal expression.  Like your cup. 

Big drops of rain spatted down diagonally through the violent air, and the old elm on the fire hissed and spewed and stank and radiated; lightning took over the sun's work and made the early night for a time flickeringly white, and loud with thunder. 

It was a fine show.  Out, natural drama big and little sops up much of that interest that in towns we daily expend upon one another's small nobilities and bastardliness, and for me no surer proof of our unchanging animality exists than the response we give to storms.  There is nothing rational about it.  And man is a fool to welcome bluster and wet and cold, and yet he often does, and even indoors he is seldom indifferent to their coming.
. . .

I baked a slab of biscuit bread, dry and toast-tasting, beside the fire, ate it with thick slices of broiled bacon, and went to bed.  The rain thickened, then slacked, then came down in floods; the night crackled and roared with change and iron cold.  Drunk with coziness, the pup wallowed beside me and groaned, and I remember wondering, before I slept, a little more about the relation of storms to man....If, being animal, we ring like guitar strings to nature's furies, what hope can there be for our ultimate, planned peacefulness? 

But night questions don't have answers. 

Goodbye to a River, pp. 116-17.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who Ate All The Pies?

Announcing an English Feast
on the Banks of the River Current

A Full Sunday Roast

Spit-roasted Joint of Beef, Hung Well
Yorkshire Puddings with Lashings of Drippings Gravy
Roast Tatties (Oh!)
The Whole Root Cellar / Roasted
Brussels Sprouts Braised in Rendered Calf Suet
Two Subtleties**

Chocolate Cake
Board of Blue-veined Cheese
Flight of Vintage Port

ANSWER:  You, Fat Bastard!

** "For extravagant feasts, the medieval contributions to the annals of weirdness are the "subtleties" -- which were anything but subtle. These were bizarre presentations -- culinary showpieces -- such as a swan with its innards removed and cooked with other fowl and meats, restuffed, and brought into the dining hall in a dramatic position. Or a pie whose crust, when first cut into, releases a flock of birds. Or an animal positioned in some intriguing scene."

Monday, April 09, 2012

More Things We Did

It usually take a few days to remember all the things we talked about at a pre-trip meeting.  Sometimes we don't ever remember - but here are a few more items we know we covered.

There was the minor detail of where we are going to float. And how far.  We had legitimate debate about this question, but the way the access points set up, the decision was actually pretty easy.  We will be putting in at Akers Ferry and taking out at Round Springs.  See the map.  It's a total of 18.5 miles (according to this site) over parts of three days.   Both Akers and Rounds Springs are major Forest Service boat ramps with another one, Pulltite, about halfway between them.  Although there was some concern expressed by certain members (Tim) about the length of our paddle on Sunday, if we make just one hour on the river Saturday after we put-in (about 2.5 miles on a slow river) and maybe an hour-and-a-half before taking out on Monday we will be at around 12 miles for our all-day paddle.  It is true that 12 miles is longer than we usually like to go given our paddling style, if not paddling is a style.    For comparison purposes, we went about 9.0 miles for our big travel day on the Duck last fall.  We went 17.0 milies for our "adult sized serving" on the Sequatchie.  But both of those trips were at low water level in the fall and neither of those rivers were called the "Current," were they?  This guy went 60 miles in one day on the Current River and clearly wasn't trying to set any records.

There are some other intangibles.  This is a popular section of a very popular river for a reason.   By doing Akers Ferry to Round Springs we will be on one of the prettiest parts, which also includes Cave Spring and you don't want to miss that.  But it also means, unlike almost all of our other trips, we will see other canoeists and maybe a lot of them.  If we were going in the summer this could be a big  problem.  It is not as much of a party river as say the Spring River right across the state line in Arkansas but it can detract if you don't plan around the crowds.   Read this tip from a veteran Current River paddler:  link.     By putting in at Akers Ferry late in the day we will be doing exactly what he recommends (even though he is talking about a one-nighter starting farther upstream), which is to camp a few miles below Akers.  The next morning you're ahead of the day trippers who have to travel from wherever to get to the river, rent their canoes, etc.  Sadly, with our slow starts we'll probably still get lapped. 

Another thing we had to work out at the pre-trip meeting was the canoe situation and what we worked out about that was we need all the canoes we've got.   Especially with so many people flying in.  Having the jon boat helps immensely.  Not only will it take two people who would otherwise need a canoe each, it also hauls the bulky and heavy stuff thereby making it possible for us to paddle tandem in other canoes.  I ♥ The Green Mule!   Ultimately we decided we need 10 or 11 boats total depending on who confirms and/or drops out. 

Finally, on the musical side, Vernon got in the Easter spirit at the post-post-pre-trip meeting by announcing we should try to resurrect My Sweet Lord, which we crucified on the Duck River just last fall.   When he said we should also learn the key change, we knew it wasn't about Easter anymore it was about eleven pitchers of Shiner Bock at The Villager becuase that is going to take a miracle for sure.  But since there will be plenty of Shiner Bock on the trip too we figured we might as well give it a try.  Accordionly, we have posted the music and a sample up on the songlist page.  Notice how George remembers his capo...

Friday, April 06, 2012

What We Did

The best thing we accomplished last night was find the prodigal Rob Cannon who has been in a vegetative state since Auburn won the national championship.  Yesterday he sat upright, ripped the Crown Royal I.V. out of his arm and drove himself down to the pre-trip meeting.  So that puts our headcount at fourteen - plus or minus two or three members who are on the fence.

Greg and Bill are flying into Nashville now, so that leaves Ian and possibly Stuart flying into St. Louis.

The Nashville caravan will leave with the canoe trailer and the jon boat no later than 7:00 am on Saturday the 28th. 

Peter F. Feldman will make Ian proud by arriving on his bicycle.  Seriously, he is coming from New Orleans on his bike and is going to meet us at the put-in.  When you've already pedaled across the country a couple of times it's not that big a deal.

We will bring sleeping bags, pads and tents for Greg, Bill and Ian.   Pete is bringing his own.

Mike is getting the axe (so to speak), Rob is bringing wedges, Vernon is getting the saw oil.

The Beverage Manager reported that everyone can bring their own damn beverages.  

The Happy Enchiladas decided that we should have a rehearsal today (Friday).  We also decided that the rehearsal needs to be in the parking lot of Mere Bulles in Brentwood.   This morning, no one can remember why it was so important for this to happen in the parking lot of Mere Bulles but now we're afraid not to, so that's where you can find us from 2:30 to about 4:30 today if anyone wants to join.  Bring your guitar or just come have a beer and see if whatever was so essential about that location reveals itself.  

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Pre-Trip Meeting Agenda

1.  Headcount
2.  Travel/vehicles
3.  Put-in and take-out
4.  Daily distances; campsites
5.  Canoes (how many, which ones)
6.  Guitars (how many, which ones)
7.  Procurement
  • woodcutting wedges
  • saw oil
  • extra propellor
  • kitchen wish list
  • other?
8.  Beverage Manager (10 minutes max)
9.  Out-of-towners  (what to bring, what to bring for them)

Refer to this post for maps:

For campsites, we're going to rely as much as we can on satellite to find our gravel bars, or at least sections that appear to have a lot of gravel bars.  Go to and type "Akers Ferry Missouri" into the Find box.   Then toggle between Map, Satellite, Terrain and Topo.

Remember it is UPSTAIRS at McDougal's.   Arrive at 7:00.  Conference call at 8:00.

Bob was so excited he showed up early to save a spot.  24 hours early...

From: Bob D [mailto:]
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2012 8:17 PM
To: Skip
Subject: Re:

Where R U guys?

Bob Delevante

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

"F-in Weird Ass Tweakers"

Here's a pretty colorful narrative of a solo trip on the Upper Current River that should get you in the mood for the pre-trip meeting:

It's a longer float than we can do but ours will be on some portion of this section.  So the pictures are representative.  He says it was in "late April" but it looks earlier based on the redbuds and having so few leaves on the trees.   Regardless, our trip is going to look pretty much like summertime because spring came so early this year.   Note to author:  the answer to your bird i.d. questions are (1) osprey  ("some kinda fishing eagle") and (2) green heron

Here's another typical Current River picture.  This one's from 1966 when the secretary pool from Mad Men went on a canoe trip.  Almost exactly the same age as the Green Mule  by the way (1967).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

We have 15 members committed for the Current River, but a third of them are from out of town and several more are on Metro's spring break this week.   So for those of you who want to join the pre-trip meeting by conference call, use the following dial-in numbers.   Call about 8:00 Thursday night:  

Toll-Free: 866-506-1416

Participant Passcode: 615 726 7381

Some of you have asked why this meeting is at McDougal's instead of Savarino's.  Savarino's is strictly a post-trip location.  Also, the upstairs at McDougal's is small and clubby, like the clubhouse we wish we had.  

Actually, the real reason is it's about 100 yards closer to The Villager.

Monday, April 02, 2012

I'm Gluvin' It

We filled the jon boat up with water all the way to the gunwales.  Just to see if those alleged leaks are real. 

They're real alright.  Our "Commissary Boat" should be the "Colander Boat." There were drops of water forming in at least ten different places, some of them a lot more than drops, and they were all coming through the rivets in the aluminum.  No wonder the Mule was feeling a little sluggish by the time we hit camp last fall.

We are not the only ones with this problem.  Judging by the amount of bandwidth devoted to it on the web, everyone in the world has suffered from a case of drippy rivets at some point in their lives.  And all of them say the only cure is a marine epoxy called "Gluvit."   

So we got some-  and it is bad, bad stuff.  A viciously toxic chemical compound developed by rogue scientists from Chernobyl in their spare time.  You have to combine the resin and the catalyst then turn the boat over while still in your hazmat suit and quickly paint it on the trouble spots on the outside of the hull before the EPA can mobilize and the birds fall from the trees.  We went ahead and coated every rivet that showed from the bottom and can now tell you - without even putting it in the water - that our leaky days are over.  This shit works. 


In music news, the John Hartford song is up on the Song List page now.   It's really a worthy addition too.  "Too thick to navigate, too thin to plow."    Good stuff.  The first audio link is not John Hartford, though, it's a band called "Wissahickon Chicken Shack" doing it in a much more singable, strummable style.   More like the way The Band would have done it.  Dare we say it's even...Wagon Wheelesque?   The second link is for those who know what it's like to get relegated to playing your guitar on a cooler in your garage.  You know what I'm talking about.