May 13, 2007

May 13 - Rolling with the flooded river

A Surprising yet relaxing spring weekend in the Heartland
by Melanie Cheney
photos by Melanie Cheney

Well, this weekend we were supposed to be helping 300 volunteers clean-up on the banks of the Missouri River near St. Charles, MO. However, that river had plans of her own, and she sent us packing for home.

After spending the first night on Pelican Island checking the boats every hour because the water was receding down the sandbar at a rate of a foot every hour, we found out she was going into major flood stage back at home in CoMo and soon to follow in St. Charles. After our Birds, Bugs and Botany field trip on Monday, we proceeded to pack up that evening and leave at dawn the following day.

It took us half the day to load up and drive back to Columbia only to unload and try to help the local communities with our baots and vans. We took off to Rocheport where they had set up a major sandbagging operation. WE had fun, although I was sick from exhaustion by the time I finally made it home.

What I really want to write about is what an amazing weekend we just had because of our beloved raging river. First of all, she didn't crest as high as expected...saving our river clubhouse (Club Medfly) and our hangout at Cooper's Landing. Secondly, I got to relax all weekend with no obligations. We were free to visit with good friends, eat good food and play in the beautiful spring outdoors.

My new love and I got to camp out underneath the cool starlit sky for two nights, sleeping in new places, walking in new woods, checking out the woodland ferns and wildflowers, stopping at the "Moon Rocks" in the creek, going for a morning swim amonst the clear trickling waterfalls.

We then went for a jaunt over to Strawberry Hill nursery, where my sweetie took me plant shopping and then home to beautify the gardens. We soaked up some sunshine while planting mint, cleomes and impatients, taking shady hammock breaks before finishing up to pack a cooler and head down to the Big Muddy once again.

Anthony (Boudreaux) met us on the flooded River Road with a canoe and guided us through the flooded bottomlands and creeks to Coop's. To our surprise, music was playing and people were hanging out, wading around in their mud boots, relaxing on docks tied up in the flooded parking lot.

Dinner had just been cooked and we enjoyed the beautiful warm sunset amongst great company. Naked Dave and Dyno were perched in the bow of Barb and Roger's houseboat (sitting on it's trailer with water all around) and they serenaded us with outrageous acoustic jams. Soon, the barred owls started their wild hooting and proceeded to make "owl love" all night long. It was amazing. By then, Anthony had rigged his canoe with a tiki torch and took us on an evening canoe ride in the backwaters. Only the sounds of owls, frogs and the occasional dip of the paddle filled the otherwise silent night.

We paddled back to our clubhouse for the night, making a bed on the back deck, right over the surging waters of the flooded river. Somehow, we managed to sleep dry and peacefully. What an amazing and ambitious adventure, yet such a relaxing and wonderful weekend.

My love and respect for the river has continued to grow, along with my great gratitude for all she gives.

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