I have, in a variety of precarious situations – usually involving poor judgement and a cat-killing level of curiosity, considered what would be the headline of the article announcing my death.
This weekend setting out for a canoe trip with the Mississippi Water Security Institute was not one of those times – I casually checked the weather and thought to myself that the parts of the Mississippi I had seen could hardly be considered impressive. For back story, about a month ago, I took my students out on the Wolf River in Tennessee, and given the weather called for severe thunderstorms I disappointed all of my students by declaring that it would be a day trip rather than an overnight. The weather turned out perfectly, and I looked like an overly cautious mother duck.
After setting out on a side channel outside of Clarksdale we encountered bad weather only briefly – Bad weather in the south means something very different than what I’m used to. I have NEVER seen a canoe fill with water so quickly as we began to bail water out of the canoes. Half of the students seemed mesmerized by the thunder and lightening, and the other half seemed panicked enough to help out. Everyone had rain gear, but it absolutely seemed ridiculous at that point to done a poncho and hope to stay dry. ‘Realizing that I was the only one laughing, it occurred to me that April’s camping trip cancellation was probably the right idea. Imagine camping in a swamp with twenty sopping wet freshman. Not my idea of fun.
After a few minutes the weather calmed down and we made our way out to see the main channel of the river. That was the first time it occurred to me that this river, the longest in North America, really is quite impressive.
So if you find yourself with the time, money and resources to venture out on the Mighty Mississippi, it’s certainly worth the visit – even in a thunderstorm.