Just like a particle of sediment trapped behind a lock and dam and never making it to Louisiana to replenish the marsh, we too have been held up on our houseboat journey south. The Ohio River, which rose 15 feet while we waited in Brandenburg, Ky., is still rising; the debris in the river is increasing. Whole trees were floating by. The second lock we navigated at Cannelton was a total logjam so when we had a few more engine problems we decided to ship the boat to Louisiana by truck so we can get started on the primary focus of marshmission.
If we had been ready to start two weeks earlier the fading fall colors we saw this week would have been in full splendor, the weather good, and the river low. We would have had time to stop for photographs and to re-read "Undaunted Courage" about Lewis and Clark's expedition down the Ohio and up the Missouri. These two men were my childhood heroes. Murals on the Sea Wall at Paducah, Ky., depict the brave historic men as well as many more aspects of river life. We viewed these in the incessant rain on our way to Louisiana.
But now our more important job is to get into the Louisiana marshes and swamps to start recording the landscapes there with cameras and paints. We will also do interviews with scientists and the people who live and work in this landscape. Over the next year we hope to show you how productive, important and fragile the Louisiana marsh is with pictures, paintings, and words. While we wait for the boat to get here we will go by bateau into the Atchafalaya swamp and then again into the marsh most likely near Lafitte, Louisiana. My journals from these adventures will appear next week.