I got out on the Missouri River Saturday with 130 other guests of the Missouri River Communities Network (MRCN). The 9.5-mile float from Katfish Katy's boat ramp to Cooper's Landing took us past two sandbars adjacent to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.
I'd say we lucked out, when you consider what Missouri's weather can be like in July. The price we paid for an afternoon of cloudy, breezy weather was a few showers. The rain dampened clothing without really dampening spirits. Floaters ranging from youths to senior citizens were too enchanted by live programs provided along the way to mind the warm drizzle.
One of the most interesting programs was a talk by historian Angela da Silva, of Lindenwood University. She talked about the Civil War in Missouri. Floaters also got to see a live pallid sturgeon, various species of river turtles and the biggest attraction -- the majestic Big Muddy itself.
The reaction of first-time floaters to the Missouri River is universal -- wonder at its wild beauty and surprise at how dirty and dangerous the river is not. After an introductory float under controlled conditions, many vow to return on their own.
Judging by the increase in river use I have seen over the past 10 years, I'd say many are following through. Sunny weekends find lots of people paddling, camping, picnicking and fishing from sandbars that dot the river during low summer flows.
MRCN is talking about another Big River Canoe Float in the fall, when the weather is cooler and tree-lined bluffs are painted every shade of red, yellow and orange.