Day 16 – Surfing it out from Cairo


Thank goodness for a wicked wind out of the South, I made decent time in the first part of this uphill slog from the utterly depressed town of Cairo to the tiny (population around 300) town of Joppa. From Cairo to the Olmsted Lock and Dam, which was open because of high water on the Ohio River, it was a constant surf session. I think I caught more bumps and had longer rides than anywhere to date.

It was bouncy and inlet-like all the way to the lock, with small swells to catch and ride as I went through the narrow chambers. Without those bumps it would have bee a slow slog, maybe a tad faster than if you were to paddle the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Delaware or the Pt. Pleasant Canal in NJ against the tide. A couple of boats came out to meet me, and one followed me through the clear open chamber, which was nice. I’m hoping the Joppa lock is open as well. Then I’ll hop over to the Kentucky side to Paducah, staying on that side to pick up the Tennessee River.

Chelsea, or “Poco” (short for Pocahontas,  what her daughter calls her),  had gotten permission from a nice farmer to pitch our tents and set up shop on his property which is right next to the public boat launch. I can’t tell what crops he grows as he has a nice big old buffer and a  wide swath of huge old trees which boarder the river. Poco made us a wonderful dinner in the fire and we both felt like we were in a little bit of heaven with the amazing sunset.

We are keeping our eyes on the hurricane, as that might cause a hold up and more flooding downstream. If this one doesn’t get blown out to sea we could have more folks underwater like the poor folks in Louisiana.

I’d been looking at this odd structure from always back as I paddled upstream, and then as I got closer, real close, like to the boat launch across from it, that it looked like some sort of oil or gas rig. Unbelievably, it is. Right here in the middle of the river. I wonder what happens to it when it floods? But seriously, I can’t believe that someone would put a fracking pad in the middle of a river. I was thinking poor Cairo, which struggled so and is trying to bring folks down to the river and highlight its amazing waterfront parks, doesn’t have a rats ass chance in hell of growing if folks are gonna wonder what’s in their water. I know with a fracking pad upstream actually IN the water, I sure would!

What I don’t understand is how W.Va gets away with risking the drinking water of folks in Illinois and Kentucky. Fracking is exempt from Clean Water and Clean Air rules. Numerous studies show the contamination from fracking puts our drinking water and rivers at risk. I’m floored by the greed of folks that think it’s okay to put the people’s lives and livelihoods at risk. If fracking were not a risk, why is it NOT regulated? Why is the fracking industry so scared of regulations? (This was all part of the Haliburton Loophole.) I think the answer is that protecting water and air comes at a price the industry doesn’t want to pay. So you and I get to shoulder that. There is an old adage- “good health is worth a million bucks.”

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