Saturday, June 23, 2007

Notes from Iowa

There are a few things that have happened to us since we left Dubuque:

Two days ago, we rode down with Tom and Susie to Clinton, IA, and camped for the night on a sandbar in Illinois next to a huge electrical tower. While we unloaded the canoes, Danny and Ryan went to check it out, and came back saying they were going to climb it. It was the sketchiest thing ever, but I guess that just got them more excited about the prospect. "Don't die," I told them, and recorded their final wishes. "Spread the word of Marx," said Danny, and the two of them started to climb. At first they are just pulling themselves up by nail-like pegs stuck into the side, sticking their bodies out into the thin air. Maybe 50 feet up, they reach a tiny, encased ladder stretching up the rest of the way that is padlocked shut at the bottom. It is the type of ladder that seems like it will never end. They angle out and around the encasement to get by the padlock, and they start pulling themselves up, rung by rung. The ladder creaks and shakes as they go, and they keep calling d!
own that
this is the scariest thing they have ever done. While they climb, I jump in the water and swim out far enough so that the world looks flat all the way around, and by the time I get out there, the two of them have made it to the top. "This shit is crazy!" they scream, and take tons of pictures. Danny climbs up one final ladder that isn't even encased, that goes out over the water to the actual electric wires themselves, and reports back that it is absolutely insane. Up there, 300 maybe 400 feet, they look so small. I yell to them from the water, and we yell back and forth, nothing in particular, mostly just admiring at how great life is, at how high up there they really are.

Afterwards, Kevin finds a radio station playing great song after great song with no comercials, and the two climbers come down and we have a fire in the sand. The music gets us going, and while we talk I get up and start to dance around. That gets Ryan dancing, and that gets Danny to pull out his glowsticks and do a lightshow, right there on the sand, spinning and wheeling his arms so fast they become a blur of yellow and green. Barges pass up and down the river, their spotlights protruding miles out ahead. With the river dark, the lights are like little salutations, tiny affirmations of existence as they slip by us on their way. Danny spins the glowsticks in his hands, and the radio plays, and we talk into the night, making tiny affirmations of our own.

The next night, we get into Davenport and walk around downtown in the middle of a lightning storm. Heading back to camp, Ryan and I decide to run, and since my shirt is soaked from the rain, I take it off. Coming across the parking lot to our camp, I spot a bum rummaging through our things and I start running at him fast, yelling "Hey! You! Get the fuck away from my stuff! Hey!" Ryan is right behind me, and the bum backs off like he thinks he is going to get jumped, swearing when we confront him that he was just putting the packs in a pile, and spreading the flag over it. "If there was something to eat, I might have taken it," he says. "But what am I going to do with dried pasta?" While Ryan watches the bum, I walk over to two old men fishing across the way, and they say about two dozen people have been picking around our stuff. Meanwhile, two separate cars sit right next to our camp with their drivers just sitting there, doing nothing, just watching the whole scene. We stan!
d in a gr
oup, staring warily around, on guard as a young guy on some ill-advised combination of drugs staggers by our camp, his eyes doing crazy things behind his eyelids. We tighten up our gear and put it right between our canoes, as if to make a tiny bunker. Eventually the whole scene dies down, but the mood remains, and Kevin and Ryan go to sleep with the mace and the butterfly knife and one eye open.

Still, it is not very late, and Danny and I don't feel like sleeping, so instead we walk back up a couple blocks and wander around. We are sort of shook up, but mostly just exploring for a minute and walking around. When we decide to head back to the tents, a train comes along the track, heading south. "It's not going very fast," Danny says, and I look at it going by, sizing it up . I get a little jog going, and soon I am running right with the train. I jump and grab onto the car ladder and hoist myself up. I look back and Danny is on the next ladder down. "This is fun!" I yell to him, and he yells Yep back. When we get back to camp, we pass the young intoxicated guy trying to break into some woman's car. He somehow manages to slip his arm through the window and unlock the door, but it sets the car alarm off. Rehh! Rehh! Rehh! it goes, blaring into the night. But the guy is so fucked up he doesn't know what to do. He gets into the car and just sits there in the driver's seat!
, fiddlin
g with the stereo and ignition. The two old fishermen stand right there, just watching. Danny and I keep our distance and take down the license plate number in case we need to call it in, but right as Danny is about to call, the woman whose car it is runs up and yanks open the front door. "What the hell are you doing in my car?" she yells, and her boyfriend runs up behind her. The fucked up guy stumbles out. "Stay right there," the woman says, and the guy is so messed up and harmless he just puts his hands in the air. "I'm noottt, I'm not going anywheehreeioewa," he says. The boyfriend calls the cops, and soon they show up and have the guy with his cheek pressed to the ground. We walk back to camp and pass the fishermen, just fishing, harmless observers, minding their own business, not doing a goddamn thing.

In the morning, we go through the stuff and realize that my guitar is gone. I don't really realize it until I'm fully awake, but once the realization hits, I sit very depressed and stare at nothing for a long, long time. Ryan, Danny and Kevin have gone off, and I imagine them eating a hot breakfast without me, being served by a beautiful young waitress. There is another guy parked right next our camp, just watching me, and I sit in one place and don't move. Finally, Ryan, Danny and Kevin come back with the U-Haul, and they bring me a coffee and donuts for everyone. We load up the truck, and start driving to Chicago.

8 comments:

famille stoa said...

U-Haul? Chicago? What is going on?????

famille stoa said...

This last blog is not very reassuring.....
1. an electrical tower is ELECTRICAL...........
2. the guitar ( sorry, Gabe) and other things gone???
3. Driving to Chicago in a UHaul???????
Updates, please????

D said...

Parents, we appreciate your concern. Everything is fine.

markie said...

I'm so sorry for your losses and fear. There's always the riff-raff who do nothing but hang around, waiting for the paddlers to settle into camp to be robbed or worse. Please be wise.

You have a big following who've gotten to know and like you so much and who can't wait to log on! But the stunts aren't impressive. Staying safe, yes. Having wild adventure, of course. But choosing to risk your lives is scarey and suddenly it's not fun to tune. (You could just not write about it...but when someone looses his life, you can bet it'll be out there).

Luckily, it's a very long river. There's still time to right your canoe!

I will repeat part of my recent email to Danny. Don't be fooled. You may get comments from brainless cheerleaders encouraging you to climb higher towers and jump faster trains for their amusement. For them, it's summer reading, it's fiction...who cares about the hero? But for your real fans, and this might be an old mother talking, why should we support you if you won't look out for one another?

Walker said...

Gabe,

Sorry about your guitar. You can borrow mine whenever you want. And watch out for train gangs who have train car turf and are really mean.

Hope your journey becomes jovial once again. I am sure it will.

Yuo should go to a Cubs game in Chicago. Take care,

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....

___________________
Rozydesouza
Entertainment at one stop

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....

___________________
Rozydesouza
Entertainment at one stop

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....

___________________
Rozydesouza
Entertainment at one stop