Enjoy the Scenic Missouri

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

I heard the sounds of a screech owl mixed with the shrieks of the blue heron.

During the night, I was awakened by the throbbing hum of a towboat, its powerful diesel engines pushing several sets of barges upstream. Its floodlights lit up the river and illuminated the shore. The lights glistened off the heavy dew that had fallen on my boat. The boat and its din passed quickly. Nature's symphony reclaimed the stage and serenaded me back to sleep.

The days and nights raced all too quickly as I enjoyed the serenity of floating. I also had plenty of chances to chat with local fishermen, admire the restoration of historical riverfront towns, talk with the proprietors of riverside businesses, and take pleasure in the ever changing scenery.

I spent the last night at Blanchette Landing in St. Charles. I arrived at about 4 p.m., but the truck and trailer for my return trip home wouldn't arrive until the next morning. I didn't mind. It just gave me more time to visit with the people who were loading and unloading at the ramp.

As evening fell over the river and the traffic slowed, I joined a fisherman on the nearby riprap bank. He was tall and thin, with long gray hair tied in a ponytail. He looked as if he might be in his 50s. He wore blue jeans but no shirt. He was fishing with a heavy surf rod and reel, casting his bait out in the current and letting it drift downstream.

While he fished, he told me a story about his uncle who once owned a fishing camp downriver. The camp was somewhere in the Cul De Sac Bend. He regaled me with many fascinating stories, including tales of huge catfish that were caught and sold on the river. After he gathered up his stringer of channel cats and his fishing gear, he bid me good luck and farewell with a friendly smile.

Alone again on the river, I returned to the Gray Eagle, where I spent the rest of the evening listening to the night sounds and allowing my mind to wander over the experiences of the last 12 days and nights. I never regretted a single hour of my float trips down the scenic Missouri.

If you love the outdoors and unhurried serenity, you will appreciate a slow float down the Missouri River. A float trip may be as simple as one person in a canoe, or you can join a flotilla of boats floating for weeks and covering hundreds of miles.

However you go, I guarantee that you will log lifetime memories while camping on clean and inviting sandbars, preparing your evening meals by firelight and watching the moon rise over the river as you sit with fishing tackle in hand. These experiences are there for everyone.

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