October 17, 2011

Big Muddy Clean Sweep Log Vol 4 - Washington Mooring

diligently recorded by Jodi Pfefferkorn

 (In which the barge decides to untie itself, the crew gets welcomed by the town mayor and school kids walk from school to the river to learn about it. We are welcomed by the kindest rivertown people and give lots of boat rides. The trashiest spot on the river is cleaned up, trash gets made into art and a masseuse comes aboard.) 

Monday, October 10, 2011
Today we moved the barge to Washington after getting the port-a-potties pumped and switching the tow boat to the head of the house barge (which then made it the stern). We were on our way by 0930.

Washington Clean Sweep 2011
We pass through the gorgeous Bernheimer Bluffs. photo by Melanie Cheney

At around 1130, a small crew consisting of Steve, Tim, Alicia, Gale & I took off in a plate boat to gather trash up river of New Haven. We turned loose of the barge while cruising through the beautiful Bernheimer bluffs, which run along several miles of the river below Hermann on river left. While the trash crew was out, Mel, Jeff, Anthony and Habibi took a plate boat on to Washington. They trailered the boat to Kansas Cityfor the start of the Missouri River 340. On the way they dropped off Habibi in Jeff City to get his car. He's heading to St. Louis to visit a friend for a couple days. Mel will leave Jeff & Anthony with the Hildy in Kansas City & she'll head back to the barge tomorrow.

Hermann Big Muddy Clean Sweep 2011

Meanwhile, the trash crew hauled in a fridge, a deep freeze, a tractor trailer tire and a boat load of misc. trash. We also found a mother lode trash spot just across from New Haven that we hope to get back to later this week. We met back up with the barge as Capt. Mike was starting his approach into Washington.

We started mooring the barge around 1330. We found a wonderful place right on the riverfront in perfect view of the public. But we quickly realized we had created a death trap for the paddlers of the MR340 because of the way the current shoots off the boat ramp. It's a tricky ramp for paddlers in the middle of the night no matter what, but with a two-barge wide tow just downstream, they would have had very little time to cross the current and clear the head of the barge. So Capt. Mike scouted another place further downstream at the location of an old sand plant. There were concrete pilings to tie off too and a wall to place the barge against.

Barge Team moves to Washington
Our mooring spot at Washington. photo by Steve Schnarr
We were a little short-handed on deckhands since Habibi and Anthony were gone. So Steve, Tim, Gale and Alicia helped with the mooring and they did a great job. But then, as a small crowd gathered above to watch, the barge broke away from the moorings and started heading downstream. All the while, the tow was made fast to the small work flat. Oh yeah, and the radios started going out one by one. But Capt. Mike was cool under the pressure and calmly caught up to the runaway barges. He then very patiently walked us through the proper way to tie the mooring lines.

All of the impromptu crew - Steve, Tim, Gale and Alicia - were rock stars during all of this. Steve managed to man the tiller of a plate boat while creating a makeshift dock with the bow so a cable could be wrapped around a concrete pillar. All the while he was holding the only working radio and had to communicate with Capt. Mike the progress of a mooring process he'd never seen done before.

Gale was a stud on land for us. Twice she had to catch a line we'd thrown to her (they're heavy as hell) and shackle it to a chain, not to mention she had to traverse some pretty sharp, steep & rocky terrain. She was wearing a black bandana so she totally looked like a pirate muscling with that rigging.

Tim was quite the agile acrobat during the 4 hour ordeal. Hopping in plate boats to move them then hopping right back out when I told him to move the wrong boat. Sorry Tim! He also learned in a hurry how to tie a line. Thanks!

Alicia was Johnny on the Spot with drinks of water and extra radio batteries.

Between Capt. Mike keeping his cool & hand signals to the pilot house when the radios failed, we were able to successfully finish mooring the barge by 1730.

After this trial, we were treated to a fresh fish fry by Allen Rost, a local fisherman. We picked him up at the boat ramp with his fryer and he took care of everything. Fish and potato wedges right there on the work flat. Gloria, Michael and Mike Smith joined us for dinner, which we enjoyed by moonlight and lantern light out on the flat with the generator turned off. After dinner some folks went into town to watch the Cardinals game & grab a drink.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
We had a bit of a lazy morning today. It was nice to kick back with cups of coffee and read or check emails at the galley table. Breakfast was a free for all and ranged from banana nut bread to grilled ham & cheese sandwiches left over from yesterday.

Washington Big Muddy Clean Sweep
Our barge tucked in under the Washington riverfront. photo by Melanie Cheney.
After breakfast Gale and Alicia picked up quite a bit of trash along the bank next to the barge. It was obviously an old landfill, with rusty metal and broken glass. It really feels good to make such a dangerous place safe again.

Tim spoke with the caterer for Thursday night's dinner and got all those details ironed out. Then Gloria came aboard and ironed out even more details for week's activities with Steve.

We had to move the barges. With our current (made up on the fly) configuration, the house barge was up against a rocky & possibly re-bar laden shore. So we needed to move the barges away from shore a bit. This whole process could've been avoided if we'd listened to Capt. Mike in Hermann & reconfigured the barges before we got underway. But instead, we just moved the tow to the head of the house barge. I guess maybe we should just listen to the man who has an Unlimited Masters & years of experience. But what do I know? I just keep the log...

So Gale, Alicia & I retied the lines. (A step we'll have to repeat a few more times while we're here)

Steve worked hard on office stuff - fielding phone calls and sending emails all day. Alicia pretty much single-handedly emptied the plate boat from the trash we hauled in yesterday. Tim & I went into town to do Laundry & pick up a few things at the grocery store.

Mel came back today. Soon after we shuttled her back to the barge we had to head to Mannwell's for a welcome party. that Gloria put on. Mannwell's is a pretty cool coffee shop within walking distance of the river. On display was a sweet quilt made by artists from across the state. Each panel depicted a different river scene. I don't think I could even draw that kind of stuff and they were sewing it into fabric! Gloria and many of her friends made some really delicious appetizers & Michael baked and decorated a cake for Steve & Mel's anniversary.

After the welcome party, we had a campfire up the hill from the barge. Everyone who was musically inclined played various instruments, which included guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin & drum. Jim Karpowicz and Laura Billings joined us for a little while too. A light rain set in and we headed back to the barge.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Today we held an education event for 4th -6th graders down at the Riverfront Park. Steve & Alicia had a slideshow that discussed the history of the Missouri River. Tim and I talked about the kinds of trash we find and we showed kids the barge. Mel was the photographer/videographer in the morning & in the afternoon she joined Tim and I.

During the transition from morning to afternoon the kids watched a demonstration from the World Bird Sanctuary. From the bits & pieces I caught, I saw that they had a red-tailed hawk, a barn owl and a turkey vulture with them (they had 4 other animal carriers I saw).

We got a few sprinkles but other than that the event went really well. Oops...I forgot about the Fish & Wildlife Service. Colby & Brian from USFWS had a live fish display. The kids rotated between the history slideshow, the trash/barge viewing and the live fish display.

As we were wrapping up the education event, Steve got a call from Scott Mansker about sending someone to the Weldon Springs checkpoint for a few hours until another volunteer showed up. Steve, being the kind guy he is, offered to drive down there. He was back a few hours later and admitted it had been a complete waste of time because no racers came through by the time the next volunteer showed up.

Racin' made a gang plank out of wood that Mel salvaged from the Gasconade River. Unfortunately, we're too far from shore to use it, but it works nicely between the sand flat & the house barge.

We have a fairly functional ferry system between the work flat & shore. It involves a plate boat and a bow line from the starboard side to the work flat, then another line from the port side to the shore. All a person has to do is pull the boat to them using one line and pull themselves to their destination with the other.

Colby joined us for dinner tonight, along with my mom and sister.Pep. Tim made salmon & rice with steamed broccoli and it was fantastic.

We started seeing boats from the 340 at 1745. They were pretty spread out,. We'd see one every hour & a half to 2 hours. We stayed and watched until about 2300 when my little sister, Katie, and her partner Di McHenry paddled by.

Tonight we had a good downpour for about 10 minutes, then it steadily rained off & on into the wee hours.

Thursday, October 13, 2011
Steve was up bright and early to make breakfast for everyone. Bacon, eggs, pancakes & ham.

Racin' & Mel had to eat in a hurry because Steve had gotten another phone call from Scott asking for a rescue....of a runaway safety boat! It seems one of the 340 safety boat operators didn't tie his boat up very well at Bates Island. It drifted away in the night. It was a piece of cake for Racin' & Mel to buzz up there & retrieve the boat.

Second verse same as the first as far as the education event goes. Except today we only had a morning session. After the event and a bite to eat, we set about getting ready for a fundraiser dinner that we're hosting here on the barge.

Anthony & Jeff came back today! It's good to have them back. And a few hours after they arrived, John Brady & Josh Pennington showed up in the Hildy. They had switched with Jeff & Anthony to take over as safety boat drivers in the 340. Craig made his usual stealthy appearance a little after Josh & John arrived.

1800 arrived & it was time to shuttle the guests to the barge. We had to switch out the ferry boat (Anna Deka) with the Hildy since A.D. was cleaner. Shuttling went off without a hitch and for the most part dinner did as well. Codi, the caterer, made one hell of a meal, which the MRR crew was allowed to partake in, albeit in the galley. The guests were seated at a long, linen-dressed table on the work flat.

Codi is more than a caterer. She, and a bunch of volunteers (including her boyfriend) put on Labadie Supper Club once a month at a variety of surprising locations, like old barns, blufftops or sandbars. It was kind of amazing to hear a caterer say "It's not like it's my first time serving dinner on the river."

She served up salads with candied pears on top, thick french-cut pork chops, squash stuffing, apple & onion hash and a puff pastry with pumpkin pie filling for dessert. Not to mention some rockin' hors d'oerves, wine & microbrew beer.

Yep, it was a fine evening. And the best part is that Codi & her volunteer staff took care of cleanup. A little moonlight boat ride after the last shuttle run and then some chillaxin' on the barge.

Friday, October 14, 2011
After a pretty relaxed breakfast of everything-in-a-cast-iron-pan casserole, we rallied a crew together to pick up trash at New Haven. Mel, John Brady, Racin' and Alicia stayed behind to take care of filling gas tanks & getting the water heater working. Steve, Craig, Tony, Anthony, Tim, Josh and I made up the New Haven crew.

On our way there, we ran into Scott Mansker, the race director for the Missouri River 340. He was pulling sweep boat on the race, staying with the last paddlers. He came with us to the clean-up spot and helped us for about an hour. We arrived a little after 1000. Within half an hour, we had 3 refrigerators! In 4 hours of cleaning we picked up 2 boatloads of trash (including one message in a bottle). The site we were at had places where we could literally pick up arms full of plastic bottles. When we left at 1415, we had completely cleaned more than half the site.

As we were pulling back into the barge, the scout boats were pulling out. Mel & Alicia were heading upstream in the Saskia. Habibi and Brian Waldrop (yay Habibi's back!) were in the 150 heading down. Rod & Nanci came aboard today and they brought their friend Jen from New Mexico. Jen jumped right in and helped Tim with dinner. Mike Smith showed up for dinner - which was chili & cornbread. Gale popped in before dinner to lend her trash-pickin' talents for the weekend.

After dinner, we had a pow-wow to discuss the events of tomorrow. While Steve was conducting the meeting, Jeeannie & Jonesey showed up. And a little later Dave and Patty came. That completes the overnight crew for Friday in Washington.

Quote of the Day (from Santa Fe Jen):

Washington Big Muddy Clean SweepSaturday, October 15, 2011
Today was festival day. We set up a booth at Gloria's Washington River Festival (the third!) on the Washington riverfront. From our booth we encouraged people to go out on the river & participate in mini-clean-ups. We had all three plate boats. going out and tried to have one leaving every 30-45 minutes. This is the third time we've tried this & the first time it worked well. We had around 100 volunteers!

And with the way the shifts were working out, many of the MRR crew were able to enjoy the festival at one time or another.

Tim Nigh was the auctioneer for the sculptures made at Joey Los' "Trash to Art" booth. Many of the items they used came from the mini-cleanups.

Washington Big Muddy Clean Sweep
A boat ride on the river! photo by Alicia Pigg.

Washington Big Muddy Clean Sweep
It's pretty muddy out there... photo by Alicia Pigg
Washington Big Muddy Clean Sweep
All by herself. Photo by Sarah Pennington.

The volunteers seemed to really have a good time. We recognized a few kids from the education events on Wed. and Thurs. They came for the cleanup and brought their families. Many of the boat drivers gave their boatload of volunteers a tour of the barge.

River Festival organizer Gloria Bauermeister
Gloria Attoun Bauermeister - the festival host AND the music! photo by Tim Nigh
After the clean-up and festival, a crew went out to get one boat load for the trash haul. Once the trash was unloaded & found its proper place on the sand flat, the good times were ready to roll. Tim grilled up an amazing pork loin and put together enough sides to feed the ever-growing crowd. Our Washington angels Mike Smith & Gloria came. Mike brought his wife Maria and daughter Grace. Scott Mansker & my little sister Katie stayed for dinner. They had stopped by on their way home from the 340. Jodi Stephens timed her arrival right at dinner time. Josh & Sarah Pennington had eaten dinner in town with Josh's parents & then joined us for the evening socializing.

For dessert we had a choice of cherry crumble pie, peach pie and the mother-of all: a chocolate cream pie with a 10 inch mountain of whipped cream on top!

Washington Big Muddy Clean Sweep
Jonesy shows off the mile-high chocolate pie. photo by Melanie Cheney.
 At the star circle, Craig (river name "Iffy") produced the day's second message in a bottle. Rod had found one as well but he opened it earlier. It's been a long day, but we're sleeping in tomorrow!

Sunday, October 16, 2011
Sleep in day! Irish coffee at breakfast day! Laundry day! Showers for some people day! Chillax after trash haul day! Watch the Mary Lynn towboat (with a bunch of barges) come up river for half an hour day! Watch Steve defy laws of safety and walk on a floating drift pile to get a refrigerator & barrel day! Eat at Marquart's Landing day! Massage Day! (Thanks Jodi!)

Monday, October 17, 2011
We had an impromptu day off. Normally, we would move the barge on Monday, but Capt. Mike won't be available until tomorrow. So today was an errand day, a get caught up on office work day, a chillax & play guitar day and a sit and listen to the rain day.

Mel, Anthony and I went to town to find a thrift store & stock up on cold weather gear. Mel found the most hilarious bumble bee costume for Sombra at the Goodwill. Jeff & Racin' went on a vice run (smokes) and did a load of laundry. Habibi played every song he knew on guitar and then some. We even busted out some awesome, off-key duets.

In the midst of the singing (& later percussion playing) Nancy McKenna found her way on board. She made it in time for dinner which was an everything-in-the-pot stew. After dinner, Mel, Jeff & I shuttled the vehicles and trailers to St. Charles. In the future we won't be taking the trailers on the windy-ass & narrow Hwy 94!

We met Jenn Branstetter, from Living Lands & Waters, at the boat ramp. She'll be coming aboard to be the cook while Tim's gone. Jenn did her first clean-up at the Confluence with Missouri River Relief and later joined the Living Lands and Waters crew, then married Chad's brother! I can already tell she's going to be a blast.

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