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Week #13, 27.November - 03.December, 2005

Memphis, TN to Greenville, MS: Mississippi River Mile 734 to Mile 537


We decided not to leave Memphis without first visiting the famous ducks of the Peabody Hotel, located downtown in the heart of the city. For as long as anyone seems to remember, these ducks have been living in the fountain of the main lobby of the hotel during the day, where they swim around and play duck games. In the evening after a hard day's work, they march up out of the fountain on the command of their trainer, and walk down a red carpet rolled out especially for the occasion. The carpet leads them to the elevator, which they take to the top floor of the establishment where they eat duck food and spend the night in comfort. A similar ceremony happens in reverse every morning when the ducks are marched down from their high perch. This ceremony happens everyday and seems to draw lots of people with cameras.  

During our stay in Memphis, the Palazola Family gave us their living room as a place to crash while the vessel was hauled out of the water for the Children's Museum Presentations.   They offered us exceptional hospitality and showed us some of the many sights and neighborhoods of the greater Memphis area. They were really quite pleasant for our entire visit even though we turned their house into the disheveled River WaterWorks headquarters for nearly a week. Pictured from right to left are Cece, Baby Aza, and Andy on the morning of our departure from the city.

Cece accompanied us back to our vessel where we again launched into the river at the Memphis Yacht Club Marina on Mud Island. She took some photos of us paddling the vessel downstream, including the one to the right. Most of the photos we have from our journey were taken while actually on the vessel, so consequently we don't have many shots of the boat in action. Thanks to Cece for capturing the essence of the bicycle powered pontoon boat underway! We left Memphis on the morning of Tuesday, 29.November after living the lush land life for an entire week. We had a good stay in the city, having managed to meet lots of great people, and left refreshed, traveling on a vessel that was equipped to safely complete the final leg of the journey.

On our first day back on the river we left Tennessee and entered into the state of Mississippi on our left descending bank. In the evening we ended up at the Tunica RiverPark Museum, which has one of the few public docks on the entire Lower Mississippi River. The area of Tunica, MS used to be quite small, but then grew and prospered as a result of casino development. Many towns along the rivers try to use riverboat casinos to help boost their local economies. From our experiences, the success of these endeavors does not always meet up to the original expectations of the establishments. However, the casino business in Tunica seemed to be quite prosperous, and was complemented nicely by the presence of the RiverPark Museum. We arrived at the museum just as it was closing and were received with a warm welcome. Upon hearing our story, the museum officials allowed us to wander around the museum after hours, taking in the many beautiful river aquariums, educational exhibits and Mississippi River history it had to offer. It was definitely one of the best museums we had ever been to, and we recommend it highly to anyone traveling through the area! You can get more information about the museum on their website at .   The above photo is a picture of the museum at sunrise as we departed early Wednesday morning.

Week thirteen was the last week of our school programs for fourth-grade classrooms. At the beginning of the week we stopped at the Osceola Academic Center of Excellence in Osceola, AR where we did two programs in their library, pictured on the right. We finished up our classroom educational efforts at the end of the week at West Bolivar Elementary in Rosedale, MS. All told, during the course of our journey we talked with over 2000 kids from 26 different schools about the concept of watersheds and how people use their water and rivers. You can read more about our educational program and curriculum by clicking here.

The photo to the left shows a grain barge being loaded in the port of Rosedale, MS. Note how the barge is quite tilted in the water as the grain is being loaded into the one end. As more and more grain fills the barge, it will sink lower into the water. Once the front end of the barge is full of grain, the back of the barge will be filled so that the barge sits level in the water. When this barge is unloaded, it draws (meaning how much of the boat is below the water line) about one or two feet of water. A fully loaded barge of this size draws at least eight feet of water! We spoke with a prison convict on work-release who was working at this particular loading facility.   He informed us that it takes about two days to completely load a single barge with the equipment they have.

We departed Rosedale, MS having completed our planned education program, and looked forward to finishing the rest of the journey without having to keep to a definitive schedule. We decided to make the elementary school in Rosedale our last stop because the towns further south either had schools that were far away from the river, or the nature of the river and its increasing barge traffic was not conducive to stopping. We did, however, take time to stop in Greenville, MS where we arrived at the Greenville Yacht Club just in time to find out that the town's Christmas parade was taking place that very night! We went into town, and sure enough we were greeted with marching bands and parade floats welcoming in the holiday spirit.

The evening festivities were wrapped up with one of the finest fireworks displays that either Aimee or Morgan had seen in recent memory. Often times in this world of computers and technology, even fireworks displays are controlled and fired by some sort of electronic mechanism. However, we were close enough to these fireworks to notice that this display was being ignited by hand. There were at least three people running around in a field with glow sticks that they seemed to be using to light off different banks of fireworks simultaneously. It was overall quite an impressive display of motion and light. As we walked back to our boat after a grand evening of unexpected celebration, we relished in the fact that we had traveled over 1500 miles by water to arrive in the city of Greenville, and were humbled by the thought of the over 400 miles of Mississippi River that our journey still had in store for us to face.


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