When you have more than a canoe, a paddle and a manual focus Nikon camera life gets a little more complicated as I knew would be the case in our marshmission, but I stand prepared to be ready for all.
Two days ago the adventure began at 2:28pm EST, when the Wetland Wanderer departed river mile 602 on the Ohio River to move upstream for 4 miles to fill up with fuel: the boating part anyway. The real adventure for me began 169 days ago when Rhea Gary and I decided to expand a book idea into a four-year multi-media project. Humble at the beginning, it grew and grew to the combination of an art and photography book to join the talents of Rhea Gary and myself and then an exhibit at the new Louisiana State University Art Museum, a spectacular venue that overlooks the Mississippi River, the river that built the Louisiana wetlands.
And that is our mission to bring attention to that marsh, built over thousands of years by the billions of tons of sediment spread from the overflowing banks of the Mississippi and now sinking, subsiding and eroding away to the tune of 24 square miles per year due to lack of new sediment and other problems.
As our journey began, the sun was hanging to the left of Louisville, clouds were breaking up from the hard morning rain and turning to wispy mare's tails forewarning of the coming cold front. The Ohio flowed tan-chocolate filled with logs and debris from the flooding side streams. I snapped away at the golden glow of the low sun and coached Sue in steering the Wetland Wanderer. We were off, full steam ahead, 1100 miles to Baton Rouge.
A few miles down we have our first lock right in Louisville. The McAlpine Lock where the falls of the Ohio used to be. We made it through in 26 minutes, I don't recall ever making one that quick when I rafted down the Mississippi in 1997 (link to advocate Mississippi journal here) We dropped 34 feet, its kind of claustrophobic as you sink between those dark walls. Things were looking good, even with our late start. We wanted to leave at 9 am to make about 100 miles today,
When water is involved you're going to see some nice sunsets, reflections, wildlife, people having fun and some harsh weather. When boats are involved, there will always be something that slows you down. Engine problems made us stop early and limp into Brandenburg, Kentucky, but there will be more on this lovely town next issue.
Follow us down the Ohio and Mississippi and into Louisiana's wetlands on this journal as I photograph, my wife Sue teaches and artist Rhea Gary paints. We hope you will learn how important this valuable habitat is to all Americans.