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June 12, 2006

Healing Wabash Wounds

Homer L. Twigg IV — One of the first things that I realized while canoeing the Wabash River these past four days is that I really wasn't on the river until I had begun to heal from the wounds the river inflicts on me.

We all came home with blisters, scrapes, bruises and sun burn. However, the day when I woke up and noticed that some of those minor injuries were already healing, I began to understand the Wabash River in a new dimension that was outside simple aesthetics.

Over the course of 120+ miles, we had grown and flowed with the river. Walking on the land right after 12 hours of canoeing feels strange because you don't move at a rhythm with the land beneath you.

The Wabash River will slowly take over her travelers, forming them into people who will work tirelessly to make the next bend in search of new wildlife, scenery and answers to the dozens of questions the river poses. Even with our differences, by day four we were all paddling at the same stroke, both mentally and physically. We laughed more. We started showing symptoms of "too much fresh air", a phrase invented by jealous city-dwelling folk. Like driving long distances or biking, canoeing has the mystical ability to make the traveler work on just one, simple action--like paddling.

The mental effect of focusing only on one task is of a certain natural bliss that abounds as one gets inside their own head and begins to do spring cleaning. The best moments on the river are when you focus so hard on the paddle and focus so little on time and yourself that miles of river go by before you can say, "Hey! Where'd Attica go?" or "Wasn't it just 2:30!?"

Taking Water Samples on the Wabash

Clayton Craig ’08, Wabash River — After a month of research, planning, and sitting through 9 a.m. meetings we finally made it on the river for an extended period of time. The original plan was to be on the river for eight days, but due to some unfortunate events that time was cut in half. The time we spent on the river was everything I though it would be. As an up and coming biologist, it was wonderful to have the Wabash and its diverse ecosystem right at my finger tips. It was like three hundred miles of classroom stretched out before me.

I spent the first four days taking water samples every three or four miles. I measured the secchi depth, conductivity, O2 concentration, total dissolved solids, water temperature, and salinity. Each of these tests will be compiled in my final paper. To keep myself entertained, I had either Zach or Homer time me every time I took measurements. It was a race against the clock. I eventually got it down to 6 minutes from 15 the first time I took measurements; quite an improvement. In no way did I sacrifice accuracy while improving my time. The tests are quite simple.

We’re headed back out onto the river today and will be there until Friday. A hundred miles and about 33 measurements from now, I will be back in Crawfordsville planning the final leg of our trip down the Wabash River.

An Afternoon of Parke County Bridge Hunting

John Meara, 6-7-06 - After spending the morning cooped up in the library, as I had the previous two days, I decided to visit Parke County for an afternoon of covered bridge hunting. I took 47 West until U.S. 41 South to Rockville.

Once I hit Rockville, I veered off on Bridgeton Road and began my journey throughout the county. The first bridge I visited was Mecca Covered Bridge. Through the town of Mecca I could recognize signs of the past hidden in there clay pots used as structures to hold back piles of earth when creating the roads and ditches. These pots were probably from the old clay factory that operated in the very early days of Mecca. 

After the Mecca bridge I continued the loop to the nearby Zacke Cox Bridge, and Harry Evans Bridge. I continued on to see the Roseville, Nevins, Neet, McAllister’s, Crooks, and Beeson covered bridges. After 100 miles and nine covered bridges I decided that I had had a nice afternoon hiatus, and headed back towards Crawfordsville.  Hopefully, it will give me a nice enough break to endure two more days of work in the library before the weekend.