Day 8 – August 16th


The small ferry in the tiny town of Kampsville runs 24 hours to shuttle folks from one side of the interstate to the other. Chelsea and I know this because we selected a sweet little spot to camp right by my canoe and by the water with practically front row seats to the ferry action. So we are camping in Kampsville, where a very kindly waitress treated us to dinner at the only restaurant in town which as luck would have it, was very good.
I got here early enough-gotta love these downhill days!-to take a tour of the museum here. Kampsville is home to many archeological wonders. Fossils and the first ever domestic dog burial site among other archeological interests abound here. The dog-burial find, a dog skeleton all curled up with his domestic wares like bowls and other trinkets his/her humans bestowed on him is prominently featured in the museum . If I remember correctly the dog find is dated back to 6400 BC. Absolutely wild.

Yesteday’s run down the river has me into the rolling unglaciated hills of Illinois. It is simply beautiful, with shells littering the riverbanks, bald eagles gliding from tree to tree, plenty of disgruntled blue herons, and homes high on stilts or RV’s parked along the side. If you wanna be by the river your home better be way up high or on wheels.

According to Rose Joseph, who works at the museum here, this town now floods once a year. In ’93 they had a massive flood which brought the water into town and went three feet up the museum walls. Chelsea showed me a shell that one of the construction guys gave her. It had perfect holes punched out of it because up until the 40’s folks in Meredosia made buttons out of the shell. Looking at the shells lining the river banks one does not see shells of that thickness anymore.

Rose Joseph and I talked about the state of the ocean, flooding, and the changes we are seeing, right in front of our faces. She feels we have completely destroyed our ocean. She’s definitely concerned about water and water quality, and the impact of contaminated rivers on our drinking water, as rivers do also feed the aquifers only 100 feet down. While I think the ocean is most certainly damaged, and our water is at great risk, I do think there is hope, but it’s going to take a lot of us to come to grips with the problem and care enough to get involved and demand our elected officials do something.

I’m not hopeful that in this bitty town that there is a coffee shop open so early, tho one might make a killing by the ferry as cars wait to continue on the interstate. Apparently “Red-eye,” the mayor of this town who we have yet to meet and who gave us permission to pitch our tents in the town park, right by the slippery boat launch, nixed a state plan to put a bridge in.  It kinda through me a little bit, because my GPS was showing me a bridge here, as if it were a done deal.

These folks here have a small town and they like it that way. It is a pretty cool little town, with its campsites, restaurant, and active museum, and it does seem to be faring a bit better than poor Meredosia 40 miles upriver. There’s camping here, the amazing museum and current archeological activities, and this fantastic-but slippery boat launch and places to camp right on the river. It might not be bursting with energy but this town has what it needs and the museum plays an active role in the community with art programs for the kids. It also has wonderful campsites and a gorgeous waterfront undisturbed by any hulking industry. It’s quiet and smells good, the only noise being the ferry and the occasional barge.

I really like it here, and glad I don’t hafta rush off as its only 30 miles on a relatively quick river-30 miles and one lock. I’ll soak it all in as I make myself coffee and let the few dry off my tent.

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