Monday, June 18, 2007

Meet Me at the Rendevous

Hello, world! We're back, still alive and doing well! We know we scared you with all that pessimism and drawn out misery, but don't worry! We're still at it, faring forward! Thank you so much to everyone who posted with their support and suggestions, and we'll take them all into consideration. I can't tell you how much it means to us, knowing you're all out there cheering us on.

We're currently camped in Cassville, WI, a day out of Dubuque, Iowa. It rained last night, and the temperature stayed down all day. On the final stretch into Cassville, Stoa and I were interrupted from deep conversation by four teenage boys in a motorboat. "Will you play us a song on your guitar?" they yelled, and we asked them about places to eat in Cassville. "The girls are all sluts," one of them said. "They've been around." Later, we pass them tied up with two other boats and a dozen more drunk young people. They give us beers, and we tell them about where we were going. "How much energy you guys got?" they yell and laugh, and one guy shakes a blow-up female doll at us. "You want to fuck her?" he asks. "It's gonna be a slow night."

In Prairie Du Chien, WI, a day of the river, we pull up and walk right in on a massive reenactment trade fair up the road from the boat landing. It is called the Rendevous, and it goes all weekend. Around hundreds of hide tents and teepees selling everything from rabbit hides to wooden swords, people mill about in loincloths and boots, and cook over open fires. Danny and I talk to a man who explains that the fair is a reenactment of the 1800s, when the American settlers, the French, and the local American Indians would gather annually at Prairie Du Chien to exchange goods and rest up for the year. "Chien, in French, means dog," he says. "Dog was the name of the Indian chief who ran this area. Plain of Dog." We sneak our tents in with everyone else's at the campgrounds across the street, and decide we'll stick around.

The next day, we get breakfast in town and let our bodies rest from all the physical exertion of the last few days. We walk around and rummage through used clothing and antique stores. We go into Walgreens and spray our bodies with Axe body spray, and I buy a pair of sunglasses. Stoa and I walk around the Rendevous and Stoa buys a cowboy hat. Wearing sunglasses and hats, we look like tourists: incognito, and sticking out like sore thumbs. We sit and watch a three-piece band play a beautiful, two-vocals melody. We watch a short man in khakis and a cowboy hat, auctioning off pies ("I got twenty, twenty, twenty-five, twenty give me five, twenty-five, I got twenty I want twenty-five, twenty-five anyone..."). We walk past lemonade stands, and people selling iron skillets, tents of trinkets and muskets and authentic 1800s garb, hot salesmen in period dress who just want you to buy something, forget talking to them, and girls selling root beer, and men in loincloths carrying six-pa!
cks of Ga
torade back to their tents. Confederate flags are everywhere. We ask one girl if there's anywhere we can get water. "Oh I don't know," she says, pulling back her bonnet. "We just drink the stuff that's bottled."

Danny and I get it into our head to try and find a ride south when the fair wraps up on Sunday, and decide to try our luck asking tent owners at the fair. We walk around asking if anyone's headed toward Dubuque, but we don't have any luck. Instead, we meet a man named Jake who tells us that he once set out to float from St. Louis to New Orleans in a life raft with his best friend. "We only made it three hundred miles though," he says. "Then we got robbed."

Later, Stoa and I run around the bars and make friends with a couple from the area who take us up the road to some other place called the Winnishiek and back down again. The main drag of town is pretty dead, save for one surprisingly good live band, Big Muddy, in a bar called the Main Entrance. We wander back to our REI tents and slip out of the 1840s, and during the night, it rains. In the morning, the Rendevous rages on, and we pack up our tents and paddle to Cassville.

Now, the air is cool and there's a nice breeze going. Tomorrow, we are planning to paddle the 27 miles into Dubuque, where we are staying with Tom and Susie Lammer - the aunt and uncle of one of my oldest and dearest friends Ellie Lammer, who have been incredibly generous in allowing us to stay the night and take a shower. They have also offered to drive us about 50 miles down the road to Savannah, Illinois, and from there further adventure awaits. But more on all that soon! In the meantime, sit tight! Daydream of your own wild hopes and aspirations! Start planning them! Go for a hike! Climb a tree! Tell somebody how much you love them. We hope you're all well and good out there in the digital world, and we'll be talking to you all soon.

Goodnight from the Mississippi,
The MP


Jamie-Lee said...

From Paul Hendrickson:

Dear Gabe. I've been away from the blog for a bit and just caught up. It sounds as if you caught some renewed energy by Father's Day. I just wanted to throw in my support in as admiring a way as possible --and to say, at the sametime, that
you guys have already succeeded in ways that most of us never could. Please remember that. I think the terrible ups of this trip can only be matched by its horrible downs, and if the latter outweigh the former, well, you'll come to that
decision and recognition on your own, with your mates. I had an old Jesuit teacher who used to say, "If anything's worth doing, it's worth doing badly." Get it? I think You do. I say again, Gabe: I think you've already succeeded brilliantly, heroically, and for me, at least, part of the victory and heroism resides in how honest you're being currently about your emotions. You're just putting it out there, and that is beautiful. So many nights in my life I have
wondered if I'd ever get out alive of the book I was (read "am") currently bogged down on and with--and then, in the morning, some new and unexplained ray of strength would come, and I would find that I could go on. But not always. I think you know I completely gave up on a book once, only to re-find it a half dozen years later, after another one in between. Please go forward on this trip for all the right reasons, none of the wrong ones. You have not the least thing to prove to any of us. As I say, you and your pals have already accomplished something of large imagination. I, for one, am prouder of you than I am able to
say, so I can only imagine the feelings of love and admiration and pride that your parents--all your parents'--must feel.

Best to you, man.

Prof Hendrickson

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

I'm one of Kevin's good friends from high school. Just wanted to let you guys know that my whole office is following you guys, as well as my family. You're right, it is an inherently American act, and I think we all wish we could do it ourselves. I'm sure the sights are something to behold, but the humidity is something else. Hang in there, and remember that sometimes the hardest acts are the most worthwhile.

markie said...

So glad you're all back. You mentioned the folks cheering you on, i hope you know, our numbers are great. jamie-lee: I'm Danny's mom and yes, proud. Years ago I read something much like what your old Jesuit teacher said, and it stuck with me..."if you can't do something well, learn to enjoy doing it badly".

markie said...

hey boys, to picture it clearly, how do you travel? Same two in same canoe or do you mix it up? One big tent? You often speak of getting rides "50 miles away", etc. Does that mean canoes and all? those rides would be hard to comeby. Gabe, you said it and you were right. You've got us all planning an adventure, even us old ones. thanks!

Gabrielle said...

I'm so glad to read that you guys are cheering up and doing better! Oh yes, the adventure you are living is one that triggers imagination and that helps us plan our own life-learning experiences.

Keep enjoying the trip! I might not follow it as closely anymore: I'll start my own adventure in 12 hours, but will sure be thinking of you!

P.S. Stoa -- See you in Montreal, live it up, amuses-toi, keep the good stories in mind for our looong runs to come (preparing for *hum* marathon!) --- Toute l'équipe est fière de toi, et à hâte à l'année qui vient...mais d'ici là: vis chaque instant intensémment!

Peter said...

Gabe and MP,

First of all great to hear you guys bouncing back, not that I didn't know you would but still.

Secondly this may be too much trouble but I think it would be really cool for your growing fanbase to be able to track your progress with a map you update somewhere on the website. Maybe its just me and my public school geography education but I think it would be neat.

Oh and Gabe I sent you an YAKL email to your gmail. Hollaback.

G'Luck and keep on keepin on,

markie said...

I second Peter's motion.

famille stoa said...

Bravo for continuing on your odyssey!
I am glad you got tips on girls, glad that Ryan got a cowboy hat ( after all he was born in Houston, Texas) and superglad you will soon take a shower!
I would like a map also!
Are we demanding or what?
Have a good evening on the Mighty One.

Keith said...

Hey Gabe and guys,
I showed your blog to an 11th grade girl planning, once having graduated high school next year, to get her license as a cosmetlologist so she can make lots of money.

I let her read your last post here, while surfing on TacoBell's free wifi. She began to get absorbed in your introverting, and her reading showed much greater depth than I got from reading the same entry. I encouraged her to compare with an earlier blog entry, but she made me read that to her.

I now chuckle at my reading your writing how each miss whasername 2007 - 2006 - 2005 threw a ball in a baseball game, now wondering what cosmetologist made what big money for their makeup and nails, for that 0ne big beautiful event of their lives...which barely got an honorable mention in the blog...

When the cosmotologist wannabe here at TacoBell got absorbed in the depth of your writing, so much that her fascination with her outer 1/8" paled in comparison, that during her reading outloud to friendly, critical, adult, 51YO stranger, her stammering became clear, unbroken and as emtionally deep as the murky waters you were stirring...

I have to laugh, and maybe she'll find a better future than preying on the vanity of others!

Suffer much and drink deep now, and just remember - you could have gotton blisters handling a pair of scissors for the rest of your lives!

Fernbashket said...


My name is Fernando Madrazo. I'm from Mexico City. I'm good friends with Arturo Ezquerro which is the reason I heard about this blog. You guys have a big fan base that's constantly growing. This thing is getting pretty big. I've shown it to multiple (deserving) individuals and they're all perplexed with The Mississippi Project. I check the blog periodically and try not to miss your stories. Just wanted to wish you guys the best and truly hope you get to New Orleans.

¡Que les vaya bien!


Ezequiel said...

Hey man, talk about a haircut. Greetings from Buenos Aires. I'll read the blog eventually, its just that its very long, but im sure its going pretty well, haha.

keep on keeping on

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....

Entertainment at one stop

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....

Entertainment at one stop