Saturday, March 22, 2008

A short detour to Nauvoo...then home.

We escaped the floods in Missouri and scampered over to Nauvoo, IL for a few days of R&R. The place was fairly deserted, which is wonderful compared to the hoards that inundate it in the summer. It is of historic significance to 99% of Utah, so that means a good chunk of Nauvoo is blonde in the summer.

I must say it was weird walking around in a short-sleeve t-shirt and even more weird was sunburning the top of my head, having left my hat behind in the car. I gotta watch it more closely now that I don't have the protection up top that I used to have.

I did get a short paddle in on Big Muddy, which was bigger and muddier due to the rains, but it was nice (and totally deserted -- not even a powerboat, skiff, or barge). The wind was a nice Beaufort 5 gusting to 6, but the Argosy handled it all with aplomb. The only tricky part was passing a moored barge with its beam straight at the wind, causing some clapotis that was more than I would be used to, but again, the Argosy is a fine, fine canoe.

Nauvoo, for those who don't know, is a small town in Illinois that was a refuge to the Mormons from 1839 to 1845 after being driven from Missouri. Some of my ancestors were involved in draining the swamp and creating what was one of the most beautiful cities on the Mississippi. At its peak more than 40,000 souls lived there, rivaling Chicago.

It was deserted almost as quickly as it was built due to pressure from mobs, general unlawfulness, and I must admit, a growing sense of unease from locals about an emerging theocracy, economic isolationism, and probably a few unstable individuals from both sides who wanted to be important (usually the cause of most troubles). You must recollect that the law in the Midwest at that point was pretty sketchy, and church leaders were routinely arrested and imprisoned on an affidavit from a disgruntled ex-church member who wanted revenge for some perceived insult (like someone calling them on their poor behavior).

Still, it's a nice place to visit, and the Williamsburgesque demonstrations and tours are great (and free). The older couples who are there as missionaries are sweet, friendly, and decidedly low-key. Ian was a participant in the rope-making demonstration, which was cool. The blacksmith who works there defied anyone to find the forge-weld on the wagon wheel, which I, of course, did within a few seconds.

He laughed and said "Maybe you should do the next demonstration." Well, Brother Porter, in twenty years I just might, if they'll let me make something besides horseshoes.

No comments: