Thursday, July 24, 2008

We awoke in a thickness. Fog all around and the sand island we barely made it to the night before only visible. As it cleared slightly we set off, meandering through the mist, glad the barges still used the lights the used all night to see through it all. We came along an army corps of engineers survey boat, sounding the channel and took advice to make way for the tug coming behind us. Another lock, more eventful than usual, having a little trouble waiting for the gates to open we resorted finally to motoring a big circle and then through. Hannah feeling a little weary, in time for Lindsey's poison ivy to be just clearing up (but boy calomine lotion really does some damage). And we floated, calmly on through to the east channel, over a wing dam, jostling Bernadette's bottom, so thankful to have decided finally on using 2x6 as the underside of the pontoons. And then we floated, at half speed, weaving baskets, napping, watching the fish jumping and eating a little bit, too hot for too much. We arrived in la crosse in record time, 30 miles in 3 days, and here we are for a minute.
Miss Julia Belle Swain coming out of the lock just before us.

it seems that la crosse is a explsoion of postings

some thoughts, some images of Winona.

house boat hobos the band. we aspiring to such heights. (we do have a washboard)

some views of and around where we stayed. so beautiful. these people have really made some incredible things, "recycled" "unique" quite a few of the adjectivew we recieve, given only too easily to these calmly living homes.

From Winona to La Crosse

We got to Winona and so luckily landed at the most beautiful boathouse in the world.

We met new friends, and met up with old friends. Oh Winona. Oh.

And we even did our first ferrying.

i swear i'm not going to the bathroom
And some thoughts from a few days past: Joe and Jim of The great Alma Fish Float
This place is magical, luckily for us the day was too hot and we were the only visitors, sitting for the first time in a long time on a squishy seat and eating for the first time in a long time food we thought worth while to pay for, but even so more than we could have asked for. A sleeping bag to replace what blew away in the tornado of Deer Island lake pepin and delicious smoked fish and advice about so much fishing and boating.
The fish jump to clear their gills. Its like an eh hem. And then they splash back into the muck of the river.
The backwater just past lock 5 does not actually go through to the main channel, found unfornately after sticking on some shallow sand and cutting a foot open on some zebra mussles... that's the last time i'll jump in with no shoes on. And we got a tow out so thankfully.
And then we got found by some jet skiiers. Oh those jet skiiers, whose invitation back to the houseboat and some kind of crazy time was enticing until their 250 horsepowers got achey at going so slow to tow us reasonably and the prospect of arriving by ourselves at 2am or so was completely inconcieveable. We should have known, jet skiiers are too used to speed to be able to contend with the patience of C Bernadette Able. And that night we discovered the torture of heat and mosqitoes.

passing through the lovely fountain city

yeah, we too are getting sick of pictures of us. and although the 10 dollar digital camera from teh dollar store turned out to be only a beeping machine, we now have a real camera! and will have photos from our perspective too. oh yeah. These photos thanks to John Sagan in fountain city.

making record time

This slowness thing is quite educational. Moving at a speed few know
how to cope with. We scarcely know how to adjust to the speed of the
known world, not even the power boats and jet skis, or cars
trafficking around town lights, signs... our motor now even seems like
speeding. We know the, the, rhythm of .03 miles an hour, we can
distinguish the subtleties of moving or not moving. And the speed of
the river, the river moving on ever on though sometimes seemingly
backward. And meeting a person or being in a place is the only
stress, time rolling on past us quickly, us rolling little, stuck as
it goes. This is the biggest reflection to have at this point, and
the most important, to stay steadfastly combatant to the pressure of
the speeding world on us to move, to remember the length of an hour,
or a day, or a week. Now knowing the length of our boat, of one buoy
to another, of one lock chamber. It is almost as if we are entering
another plane of existence, approaching that space between still and
motion, who knows what opens there, what lies there. We will be in La
Crosse next. Someday. Well, before tuesday, probably the quickest
travel yet, as we have a passenger now, still living in the world of
schedules, and therefore an extra engine.

Friday, July 18, 2008


oh my my. we're in winona.

meaning, we've come 100 miles so far, slowly going and well.

it's been quite a thing so far, this thing.

met with infamy tv stardom, met with the same three questions, met with new friends, met with saviors, met with pleasure boats, and jetskiiers, and fishermen, and lockmasters, met with all the flora and all the fauna, met with the weather.

there are probably too many stories to convey here now, but a brief synopsis of life on the river would be: wild current river floating and bathing and foraging and technical difficulties, easy as pie lock and dam, then red wing where we were quite the attraction, where we were looked at by many and befriended by a select few wonderful wonders really swung it in motion, thank you, fourth of july and millions of wakes too big and to the head of lake peppin and little fireworks, and then lake peppin. everyone before that place was pretty sure we'd never make it down. lake peppin lake peppin. and everyone since we made it through, even a little, thinks it will be no problem, of course, the delta, of course. it's pretty amazing. we weathered five storms, one tornado, and a fallen off paddlewheel there. some of the most beautiful skies and some of the most hospitable people, thank you. wabasha finally and we fixed up the paddlewheel situation and life's been good since then, cooking and eating and floating and figuring it out more and more, it's been a lock a day for the past few days, #5 had a great fish float deliciousness at its banks and #5a let us up into their bat cave during a horrid thunderstorm, which was amazing, and we took a long backwater way to latsch island.

we just ate hotdogs and drank some cola. we got a solar powerer for our battery. lindsey's horrible terrible poison ivy is maybe going to be under control soon.

we're currently staying with the posterchildren of winona's houseboat community: (just picture all the trees green and a lovely blue sky and our boat tied out front of the house with a chimney), who are kind and fantastic, and we're about to have our first longerterm guest, a bike buddy we'd met in redwing is gunna be our paddle buddy until la crosse, yeehaw.

at the rate we go we'll have more things to smile about and more things learned than we'll know what to do with, more people to thank heartfeltedly, oh my, and we might be in st. louis by sometime in 2009. ha, oh but it's good.

in other news, although we got a digital camera at the dollar store to replace the one that broke, it's apparently unfriendly with library computers. so there's sadly not too much to show you other than that wiki page and this picture of us, sunburned and determined, north of alma:

if anyone has photos then and can email us, please do: and i know a lady in red wing took a million photos that are on photobucket or flickr or shutterfly, if you find them, please email as well.

okay, over and out, and much love, these ones of c.bernadette able.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Press. oh the press.

Click here to see us on the news.

They tracked us down by night, and ran us down the next morning.
Yes. Lindsey's glasses are broken.

The LA River Yellowcats Come for a visit

Camping in the state park, in the sunset, in the calm of the St. Croix finally. And such thanks for sharing meals and friends and music. Our first visitors. success. and what joy. thanks eleanor, julia, nicky (whose name i've never spelled before) and james.