Robert Wildwood's "Robnoxious Years" Blog

Forever Living The Dream

Tag: The Snowball

Peat’s Photos

Here i am at the rudder of The Snowball. Peat's engine on the left is running and the shaft is dropped in the water, pushing us along. Don't you love a free haircut?

Here i am at the rudder of The Snowball. Peat's engine on the left is running and the shaft is dropped in the water, pushing us along. Don't you love a free haircut?

The Snowball on the Missouri River, 2008.

The Snowball on the Missouri River, 2008.

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The Snowball Meltdown: Caruthersville

End of the line. Tired and broke. Caruthersville, Missouri.

We met an awesome guy named Davey from Scotland who now lives in New York, he found us a fellow at a pub in Caruthersville who wanted to take The Snowball off our hands. Our idea of setting fire to it after taking the foam out to avoid leaving a piece of floating trash on the river, does not need to happen. I like it this way better. The Snowball is a great platform: rock stage, fishing deck, party boat, barbeque, hunting, yoga and meditation, or all of these at the same time. Long live The Snowball in it’s new home.

Ah, the good times.

Ah, the good times.

More good times.

More good times.

The bad times (simulated in this dramatic re-enactment)

The bad times (simulated in this dramatic re-enactment)

Mottoring into the lower river, to the left the Mississippi River, to the right, the Ohio River, underneath us, the combined rivers, the confluence. The southern tip of Illinois in the background. Peat is playing chicken with a barge.

Motoring into the lower river, to the left the Mississippi River, to the right the Ohio River, underneath us the combined rivers. The confluence. Look ma, i'm on the lower river! The southern tip of Illinois in the background. Peat is playing chicken with a barge.

Cooking dinner. Careful now, that fire's hot.

Cooking dinner. Careful now, that fire is hot!

The mud cakes.

The mud cakes.

Our friend Davey and his Kyak which Peat is testing out as furniture.

Our friend Davey and his Kyak which Peat is testing out as furniture.

The final sunrise of The Snowball.

The final sunrise of The Snowball.

The melting of The Snowball.

The melting of The Snowball.

Burning the cabin. The glorious end.

Burning the cabin. The glorious end.

Get a load of that guy!

Get a load of that guy!

The joyride to pick up my tent from the other campsite on our new flatbed utility boat. A coast guard bouy tender in the background. Seeing the pile of our possessions strewn on the beach, a piece of conversation was overheard comming from their vessel, "Do they need help?" It really did look like a shipreck.

The joyride to pick up my tent from the other campsite on our new flatbed utility boat. A coast guard bouy tender in the background. Seeing the pile of our possessions strewn on the beach, a piece of conversation was overheard comming from their vessel, “Do they need help?” It really did look like a shipreck.

Thanks to everyone who helped us out in Kansas City, The Crooked Hat, the house across the street, Jimmy who we met at Cooper’s Landing and all the Cooper’s Landing late night drinkers, all the St. Charles anarchist people, those random donations of food from river rats loitering around boat ramps, Davey from New York, and everyone else who helped us along the way.

All the photos taken on this journey were on a $99 Polaroid a300 digital camera, thanks to Paula for giving me the thing, otherwise, there would be no photos.

See ya next time.

If you have any questions, drop me a note. robnoxious666@gmail.com

I Sleep With The Sun.

The Snowball.

The Snowball.

The last Missouri beach. Small beach, big log.

The last Missouri beach. Small beach, big log.

Digging the cooking fit pit. Big log! Tiny beach!

Digging the cooking fit pit. Big log! Tiny beach!

Sunrise. Today we float down onto the Mississippi River.

Sunrise. Today we float down onto the Mississippi River. All the pictures in this post are sunrise. I go to sleep shortly after dark and wake with the sunrise. That's living outside, without electricity. I have never seen so many sunrises without staying up all night.

Great Blue Heron mud foot art. This piece was done during the night, i awoke to find it in the morning.

Great Blue Heron mud foot art. This piece was done during the night, i awoke to find it in the morning.

This is the beach where i looked up and saw a spiral rotaing in a cloud above my head.

This is the beach where i looked up and saw a spiral rotaing in a cloud above my head.

Ged.

Ged.

Self portrait, me and The Snowball. We find ourselves too far north, a knit hat weather is upon us.

Self portrait, me and The Snowball. We find ourselves too far north, knit hat weather is upon us.

Strange lights at night.

Strange lights at night on the Mississippi.

The Snowball Rolls On.

Return to The Snowball. Was it still there? I had been wondering all week if our journey was over. My intuition told me the boat was fine. We tied it up in a good place. We knew how high the river would crest.
When we returned and drove out to Sioux Passage Park we ran into the same park ranger that commended us a week ago as we evacuated. We found the flooded parking lot and road covered with mud. The cool thing about the entire ground being covered in mud is you can see all the animals that walked there, deer tracks everywhere, birds, mice, raccoon, beavers,  coyotes (or were those from dog-walkers?) some of them i didn’t recognize. Our canoe was still stashed in the trees, but now we had to portage it all the way back to the river, dammit! That thing is heavy. I talked to a couple park workers in a truck, unlike the first two that day of evacuation who called the rangers on us, these guys were very friendly and curious.
This is the road we canoed out of the park on. When the water left, mud remained.

This is the road we canoed out of the park on. When the water left, mud remained.

The water at it's crest went over the guard rail at the top of the boat ramp.

When the flood reached it's crest it covered the guard rail at the top of the boat ramp.

What if we got a hot air ballon, and then...

The Snowball is still here! Sweet! Now, how do we get it fifty feet down the bank, back into the Missouri River? What if we got a hot air balloon, and then...

Tied to large cottonwood trees the Snowball came to rest perfectly balanced, like something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie. We could walk around in it, it would move around, just like it were on the water.

Two large cottonwood trees hold the Snowball where it came to rest perfectly balanced, like something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie. We could walk around on deck and it would move around, just like it was still on the water.

The balance.

The balance.

A visitor while we were gone, a beaver, am i right? Who else would have been out in that flod, looking for snacky-treats.

A visitor while we were gone, a beaver, am i right? Who else would have been out in that flood, looking for snacky-treats. (the dog prints are from Ged)

Here we prepare to roll the boat back into the river from the top of the bank where the flood left it.
Here we prepare to roll the boat back into the river from the top of the bank. This looks like something that would totally never work, but some people think the Egyptians built the pyramids this way.
Damn. How did the egyptians do this? Halfway down we come to a dead halt.

Damn. How did the Egyptians do this? Halfway down we come to a dead halt.

A chunk of driftwood stuck in the mud proved to be the culprit putting the brakes on our roll.  This was a good thing, as it saved a portion of the rolling for Peat, and when he returned from town we pried from the side and off it went.

Victory! The log roll debris is scattered on the bank. The second launching of The Snowball occured in the dark of night. I convinced everyone we could do it. I knew i couldn't get to sleep until it was floating again.

Victory! The log roll debris is scattered on the bank. The second launching of The Snowball ocured in the dark of night. I convinced everyone we could do it. I knew i couldn't sleep until that thing was in the water. Yay! Let's build a pyramid now!

A view between the two big cottonwoods that our boat was tied to thru the flood.

A view between the two big cottonwoods that our boat was tied to thru the flood.

We were all very happy this night, tho every day since Savannah & Zoe left after the Two Headed Dog went down has been somehow strange and lacking. Half the flotilla gone. It isn’t even a flotilla anymore, it’s only a float. We miss you.

Building Plywood Pontoons and Longtail Boat Engines out of Scrap.

Here is a link to the printed zine

published by Microcosm Publishing:

Unsinkable: How To Build Plywood Pontoons

Longtail Boat Motors Out Of Scrap

Building my longtail boat motor.

Building my longtail boat motor at Gertie’s shop. I got the 3.5hp engine from a guy on Craigslist, fifty bucks, brand new engine. The prop was $20, the u-joint $8 at Ambles, the axle $10 at a hardware store, all the rest was scrap metal: bedframes found in alleys, pipes in abandoned buildings. Total cost, adding welding supplies & hardware, would be about a hundred bucks.

Ready for the water.

Ready for the water.

The longtail, finished and painted, a close up of the u-joint connecting 3.5 hp Briggs & Stratton motor to 7' long shaft.

The longtail, finished and painted, a close up of the u-joint connecting the horizontal shaft of the 3.5 hp Briggs & Stratton motor to the shaft. A black iron pipe for the axle, an outer shaft for it to spin inside of, and a T-15 diecast aluminum trolling motor propeller from Young Props (find them online).

Strting to look like a boat. 5 gallon plastic buckeswith the lids hammered down, square plastic 5 gallon grease jugs from fast food joints, and all colors of foam jammed in every crack.

Starting to look like a boat. 5 gallon plastic buckets with the lids hammered down, square plastic 5 gallon grease jugs from fast food joints, and all colors of foam jammed in every crack.

5 gallon buckets and green foam for floatation.

5 gallon buckets and green foam for floatation.

Pink foam for floatation.

Pink foam for floatation.

Bella and Fern working on the 4' extensions to be bolted on the ends of the two 8' sections already bolted together. 20' long total, 8 feet wide. A rather minimal space for 4 people to attempt an extended voyage.

Bella and Fern working on the 4′ extensions to be bolted on the ends of the two 8′ sections already bolted together. 20′ long total, 8 feet wide. A rather minimal space for 4 people to attempt an extended voyage.

The front of the pontoon has a good angle to it. With five of us on board, we ride somewhere around halfway up the side. Pontoons are two feet wide, two feet deep.

The front of the pontoon has a good hydro-dynamic angle to it. With five of us on board, we ride somewhere around halfway up the side. Pontoons are two feet wide, foot and a half deep.

Grease jugs and buckets. When all the empty spaces are filled with foam, a plywood cap is put on top to keep everything from floating out, because the wood pontoons are not watertight. We did have some glue and we glued the plywood to the 2X4s. The deck frame here is not yet connected, Peat is drilling holes for the lage bolts that will attach it to the pontoons.

Grease jugs and buckets. When all the empty spaces are filled with foam, a plywood cap is put on top to keep everything from floating out, because the wood pontoons are not watertight. We did have some glue and we glued the plywood to the 2X4s. The deck frame here is not yet connected, Peat is drilling holes for the lage bolts that will attach it to the pontoons.

Alrigh, that's it. Le's go put this thing in the water. On top of the pontoons are four benches to be nailed down on the deck. On top of the van, my canoe, The Saucer.

Alright, that’s good. Let’s get the hell outta town. Four benches are strapped to the top of the as yet unassembled boat.

The Snowball on it's birthday.

The Snowball on it’s birthday. A work in progress.

The first storm.

The first storm.

The stormfront snapped a couple branches that had been supporting our roof. All six of us huddled inside while it rained, drinking wine, smoking the very last of our cigarettes. The wind howled and the opposite shoreline disappeared in the cloud, windblown waves battered the boat. Epic. At this time our fragility was made known, when the storm front hit it came from a dead calm and roared towards us thru the trees on shore, and the mirror-like water rose instantly to become endless lines of two foot waves rolling straight into our side, we held on to the breaking roof to keep it from flying away.

You can tell which way the wind was blowing by the shape of the roof in this photo. The storm front snapped a couple branches that had been supporting our roof. All six of us huddled inside while it rained, drinking wine, smoking the very last of our cigarettes. The wind howled and the opposite shoreline disappeared in the cloud, windblown waves battered the boat. Epic. At this time our fragility was made known, when the storm front hit it came from a dead calm and roared towards us thru the trees on shore, and the mirror-like water rose instantly to become endless lines of two foot waves rolling straight into our side, we held on to the breaking roof to keep it from flying away.

The new Snowball, picking up stuff while rolling downhill.

The new Snowball, picking up stuff while rolling downhill.

I have a new blog folks, with my new name: robertearlwildwood.wordpress.com

You can see photos and read about my Solar Powered Canoe!

Keep on floating!

 

Water Is Good.

This is the crest of the flood, the road below, usually illuminated by those streetlights, is sealed off by the concrete floodwalls and the metal flood doors.

At the arch in St. Louis. This is the crest of the flood, the road below, usually illuminated by those streetlights, is sealed off by the concrete floodwalls and the metal flood doors.

The steps leading up to the arch, 9/18/2008.

The steps leading up to the arch, 9/18/2008.

It’s good to do different things, keeps your mind working. I’m on a break from the river now, waiting for all the water dumped upstream from here to come down in it’s slow time. After this weekend perhaps. All the rest of the crews have gone up to Minneapolis to work and play. I’m loving being here, hanging out with people is awesome, exploring St. Louis more, sitting in Black Bear Bakery drinking coffee and writing down this story i’ve been working on all winter and spring and summer.

I fixed a garden hose today for the house next door, the Momo, i stepped on it the first night we were here and water went gushing everywhere. After two attempts, i got it working today, still a little drip coming out. Having problems with water lately.

It’s kinda sad having everyone gone. But good to, cause i’ve been on a boat with four other people and a dog for a month now, and i am a person who has learned to be happy when i am alone. Sometimes that means i dont know how to be happy around other people, so i just want to be with myself, cause it’s easier that way, i dont have to deal with anyone but myself, and i have learned how to talk to myself very well.

I am putting up some more photos of the journey so far, cause all this flood stuff is too linear.

Zoe, Ged, and The Two Headed Dog!

Zoe, Ged, and The Two Headed Dog!

Savannah, Willard, and The Two Headed Dog!

Savannah, Willard, and The Two Headed Dog!

Paradise Island, The Two Headed Dog, The Snowball, and Stag.

Paradise Island, The Two Headed Dog, The Snowball, and Stag.

Paradise Island.

Paradise Island.

The Crew of The Two Headed Dog. Going insane.

The Crew of The Two Headed Dog. Going insane.

The Kirk, The Donut, & The Two Headed Dog in KCMO.

The Kirk, The Donut, & The Two Headed Dog in KCMO.

The launch was smooth, like chunky peanut butter.

The launch in KCMO was smooth, smooth like chunky peanut butter.

Moments after launch the Two headed dog heads out, minus Willard who jumped and swam back to shore. They came back and got him. He got over that jumping off the boat thing.

Moments after launch the Two headed dog heads out, minus Willard who jumped and swam back to shore. They came back and got him. He got over that jumping off the boat thing.

There was ice cream at the top of the hill.

There was ice cream and beer at the top of this hill.

20 days out on a shanty boat

If only i had one of those Stags in my hand.

If only i had one of those Stags in my hand.

We made it to Washington, Missouri today, a fine old library here. The Snowball and The Two Headed Dog, safely tied up to the rocky bank. Immediately upon stumbling up to the top of the bank a fellow in a car stops by to chat, he’s gone down the river, and out on the ocean. He gives Peat a ride to the marina, looking for a prop to get our third engine running. The space shuttle has triple backup systems, and so will we. St. Louis is a wild bottleneck in the river, and right after the Missouri joins it, so the extra thrust will put us into the proper orbit as we pass over the wreck of The Circle Of Death, the appropriately named boat a friend of ours nearly went down in a couple years ago.

Today is my friend Siobhan’s birthday, happy birthday! Mostly what i have to do is make sure i call and get ahold of her. Just one phone call. That’s top of the list in town. Next on the list, hmmm… Perhaps a little debby snack. Who knows. Or Stag beer. Everything is better with Stag beer. If only we were sponsored by them, and could pick up a case or two in every town… Maybe there is something to this big money boat trip thing. Aw, hell. I took the canoe into town today and watched from the top of the bank my boat, The Snowball, come into shore. What a terrifyfing sight! The current sweeping it down, the 3.5 horse power motor working for the shore! The boat is only 8 foot wide by twenty feet long. It looks so tiny on the big river, back in the driveway in Kansas City it seemed huge, like we could each build our own cabin on the deck.

We ran the parts of the boat over this log like a sled. Yeehaw! (thanks everyone for the help!)

In Kansas City we ran the parts of the boat over this log like a sled. Yeehaw! (thanks everyone for the help!)

Play that Minnie The Moocher...

We have a new sturdy roof built and it even seems water proof. Ready for the next raging fist of atmosphere to massage our blue tarps. The zipper on my tent blew out, jammed with mud and sand. I sewed up the zipper and cut out the screen from the door window, so now i go in thru the window. Peat sleeps on the boat under a mosquito net mostly, cause his tent is busted. Maybe Ged clawed a hole in it… Fern and Bella share a tent. Z. and S. alternate, one sleeping on the boat, one in a tent. After the storms the river dropped down a bunch, five feet one night. I awoke to see The Two Headed Dog with a space you could crawl underneath it. S. woke up wondering why her head was lower than her feet, and then turned around and went back to sleep. It’s a small aluminum boat so easy to slide off the shore. Our boat, the plywood pontoons, not so easy to slide, but everything is a lot of mud now so you just loosen the rope and it oozes back into the river.

Aw, Willard...

Aw, Willard...

Been foraging a decent amount, Goosefoot, Stinging Nettle, Wood Nettle, Evening Primrose, Wild Grapes.

The Snowball as it looked today.

The Snowball as it looked today across the river from New Haven.

Between the two boats we have found 5 plastic decoy ducks that now happily trail along the sides on our journey.

duck, duck, duck...

duck, duck, duck...

See ya'll next time.

See ya'll next time.

shanty boat pontoons made of trash

Here is the link to my book: “Unsinkalbe: How To Build Plywood Pontoons &
Longtail Boat Motors Out Of Scrap”
http://www.microcosmdistribution.com/catalog/books/3679/

Front of pontoon and Lord Gedly guarding the perimeter.

Angled front part of a pontoon and Lord Gedly guarding the perimeter.

Here we are working on the pontoons for the shanty boat. So far all material is from the trash (except screws and glue). The sections assembled will make a pontoon boat 10 feet wide and 24 feet long, each one stuffed with buckets, bottles, foam, and anything else that will cause bouyancy. All of which is free. Below is a picture of my flatbed bicycle cart loaded with foam found in the trash. You hardly need a few bills in your pocket to go down the river.

The Bicycle Flat Bed Trailer. It can haul full sheets of plywood and create an instant parade in the street.

The Bicycle Flat Bed Trailer. It can haul full sheets of plywood and create an instant parade in the street.

Below is a shot of the assembly of the middle of a pontoon. The sections will be attached with bolts, then stuffed with stuff that floats, and capped on the top with plywood. The two pontoons will be attached to each other with 2×4’s, bolted into the pontoons with lag bolts.

The pipe clamps make it easy to pre-drill and screw the pieces of the pontoon together. The crew also builds the boat, we know every detail down to the last splinter, and on the water she'll sing a music to our ears.

The crew also builds the boat. We know every detail down to the last splinter, and on the water she'll sing a sweet song that we all know.

We decided, on this day, to call our boat “The Snowball”.

One pontoon ready for the river.

One pontoon ready for the river.

Next to the pontoon a 17' long Herters Wilderness Canoe with square stern for a motor to be attached. The pieces of the second pontoon we built when we got to our launching point in Kansas City. Visible in the pontoon here are 5 gallon grease jugs from a fast food restaurant.

Next to the pontoon a 17' long Herters Wilderness Canoe with square stern for a motor to be attached. The pieces of the second pontoon we built when we got to our launching point in Kansas City. Visible in the pontoon here are 5 gallon grease jugs from a fast food restaurant.

Somewhere out in the Mississippi basin. Our shanty boat, "The Snowball" and my Herters Wilderness Canoe, "The Saucer". At the end of a day of boating, the sun going down, relaxing.

Somewhere out in the Mississippi basin. Our shanty boat, "The Snowball" and my Herters Wilderness Canoe, "The Saucer". At the end of a day of boating, the sun going down, relaxing.

The Snowball tied up to a lazy bank, the front of the boat pointed upstream, tiny ripples of current heading down.

The Snowball tied up to a lazy bank, the front of the boat pointed upstream, tiny ripples of current heading down.