April 8:  Put in at the Wood River Lewis and Clark Center, on the Illinois
                   side of the Mississippi River, directly across the mouth of the
                   Missouri.  Crossing the Mississippi and entering the mouth of
                   the Missouri proved a major challenge.  I had to paddle into
                   the teeth of a 20+mph wind which had whipped the Mississippi
                   into something resembling the ocean in a squall.  For the first
                   time I was thankful that I had a lifevest.

                                 Richard begins his journey.

                   Once across the Mississippi, tired and drenched, I had to face 
                   the wind and the stiff 5 to 6 mph current of the Missouri.  After
                   5 1/2 hours of paddling, I had travelled 6 1/2 miles.  Exhausted,
                   I pulled ashore and set up camp.  There, I almost ended the
                   trip (and my life) prematurely when the butane gas cannister
                   for my stove ignited itself into a huge fireball.  Fearful that it 
                   would explode in my face at any second, I managed to kick it
                   into the water.  Fortunately, I had a back-up stove (with
                   different cannisters) which has worked fine since.

    April 9:  Faced strong headwinds again, but not as bad as yesterday.
                   Made about 10 miles in 6 hours of paddling.  I'm finding it
                   difficult to develop a rhythm with my paddling.  The wind is a 
                   hindrance, but equally frustrating are the countless exposed 
                   wing dikes that I must negotiate.  Built by the Corps of 
                   Engineers to control bank erosion, they are normally 
                   underwater, but with the unprecedented low level of the river,
                   they are all exposed.  Not only do I have to go into the middle
                   of the river to get around them, but getting around them 
                   requires  maximum effort because at their ends the river has
                   been constricted into a much stronger flow.  At the midstream
                   edges of the dikes, the current is closer to 8 or 9 mph.  One of
                   the dikes proved so difficult today that I couldn't get around it
                   and I ended up crossing to the other side of the river to try my
                   luck there.

  April 10:  No wind today!  I pulled into St. Charles at 3:30 to check in with
                   Mimi Jackson at the Lewis and Clark Center, and to make some 
                   repairs.  I discovered that not all of the dikes are exposed, and
                   managed to put some scrapes and chips in the outer shell of 
                   my kayak when I hit several hidden rocks.  In St. Charles I met
                   Scott Mandrell and Dave Hibler, two men who worked with Ken
                   Burns on his documentary, and who are local leaders in the
                   bicentennial project to replicate the original expedition.  They
                   were both extraordinarily helpful with their information, time
                   and support.

                                  A view of the Missouri.

  April 11:  Got a late start today.  Dave put me up in his place last night, 
                   fed me a half dozen eggs this morning, and helped load my 
                   gear.  I put in at 10:00 and made good time.  I feel like I'm 
                   developing a rhythm to my paddling and a sense of what to 
                   expect from the river and the dikes.  I made 12 1/2 miles in 
                   6 hours, which is closer to what I'd hoped for on this section 
                   of the river.  Not facing a headwind makes a difference.

  April 12:  My best day yet.  With a light breeze at my back and a good
                   steady effort, I made 18 1/2 miles in 7 3/4 hours.  I've seen a
                   variety of wildlife: muskrats, otters, beavers, deer, and lots of 
                   birds, especially ducks, geese and herons.  Unfortunately, it's
                   virtually impossible to get pictures of them.  My camera is 
                   excellent, but in the kayak it's unwieldy, and I have to store it 
                   in the cockpit rather than on the deck, where I'd have easier 
                   access to it.  I would be better served with one of those small
                   disposable cameras that I could just keep in a lifevest pocket.

                             A view from on shore

  April 13: Another good day - 17 1/2 miles in 7 1/4 hours of paddling.
                  When I don't have to face headwinds, I can make the progress
                  I need in order to reach the Continental Divide before the first
                  blizzard.  I passed La Charette today, which for Lewis and Clark
                  was the last outpost inhabited by Europeans.

  April 14:  Mild weather, no wind, and 19 miles in 7 1/2 hours of paddling.
                   I hope to increase my paddling time in the next two weeks so
                   I'm doing between 8 and 9 hours consistently.  It will be easier
                   to do this as the sun rises earlier and sets later.  Right now I'm
                   building up my strength and stamina.

                    Click here for days 8 - 14 of Richard's journal