It's Day 4, the last day, and I'm rushing madly to the finish line! Okay, not madly, I was traveling about 1 MPH upriver on a ferry boat to the conclusion of the Mississippi River Tour.
It was a gentle end to a delightfully casual trip.
As with every morning so far this trip, my first priority is to find a car wash and clean my ride. The great thing about small towns, they always have a coin-op car wash!
Crossing the state line into Missouri on a deserted back road, I came across this unique little "Welcome" monument. I thought it might be some small version of the St Louis Arch, but the dedication plaque made no reference to anything I recognized.
The next bridge is the last bridge. The. Last. Bridge.
It's called the Caruthersville Bridge and it spans the river between nowhere Missouri and nowhere Tennessee. You can barely see it between the trees in the distance in the picture below. I admit, it's a bit too far away to make out much detail.
So, I pulled out my big gun telephoto lens and tried again. There it is! I call this my "reach out and touch someone" lens.
Driving north to the other side, I found one more place to get a nice pic from. This is the last bridge (or the first bridge, depending on your perspective) on the lower Mississippi River. The next bridge north of here is in Cairo, Illinois.
Trespass is bad, m'kay! I've seen many "No Trespassing" signs on this trip, but none had the personalized touch like this one. No matter, it was time for me to turn north one last time to the very last automobile crossing possible over the Lower Mississippi River, the ferry at Hickman, Kentucky.
I've been doing this river thing for 4 days now, and I've definitely figured out why the "Great River Road" campaign never captured the imagination of the public. It's that there is too much road and not nearly enough river. Much as I've enjoyed the trip, the fact is I spent very little time looking at the river.
The Dorena-Hickman Ferry is about 50 miles north and since this is the last segment of the trip, I'm in no particular hurry to get there. I drive slow, I take side roads, I stop and take pictures of nothing, and still it comes rushing up on me and before I know it, I am there, at the last crossing.
In some ways, this ferry ride is a very different experience than my first ferry ride at the end of Day 1. When I arrive, there's nobody and nothing except a pole with a button and a sign instructing me to press the button for three seconds and wait, so I do. A short time later, a pickup pulls up behind me and I get to chatting with the driver, who had used this ferry only an hour before and was now heading back across.
We have the boat to ourselves. I'm to be the first on and the first off. This ferry is tiny compared to the first one back in Louisiana! It was my last crossing of the first day, so it's fitting to do this again on the last crossing of the last day.
The driver of the pickup is a great guy and we chat about all sorts of things as we cross. My NSX is the first one he ever remembered seeing in person but he was familiar with it from video games!
We were going upstream about a mile and across the river as well, so this would not be a quick trip. The guy in the pickup told me if I'd come a week earlier, the ferry would have been closed due to low water conditions on the river.
He also told me about an enormous flood that they had last year in the spring, one of the worst ever. The Corps of Engineers had opened a levy in this area to relieve flooding upstream in Cairo, Illinois. It had ruined a lot of buildings and roads in this area and the locals were only now starting to feel like they'd recovered.
Interestingly, where the ferry in Louisiana had been free, this one cost $14. Thinking about it, the service still must be heavily subsidized by someone. Even at $14, there's no way this makes money. The ferry in LA was packed solid every trip I saw it make. This ferry deadheaded across the river to get us then went back with 2 cars. You can't pay a pilot and a deckhand and put fuel in the boat for that kind of traffic!
I guess it's cheaper than building a bridge, especially when there aren't any major roads in the area to connect. Here's one last view of the river as we motored slowly upstream. The destination dock is ahead on the left.
It's not hard to believe mine is the only NSX to ever cross here. I know it's probably boring to non-car people, but the car has been a big part of this trip.
And here we are on the Missouri side. I was worried at the awkward joining of the ramp and the dock, but I got off without a scrape.
And just like that, it was over.
Departing the ferry, I came across many miles of freshly laid road replacing what was ruined by the flood of last year. I also saw a lot of damaged buildings. Not as dramatic as what I saw first thing on the first day down south of New Orleans, but here the damage is blunted by over a year of rebuilding.
I will write one more "Epilogue" post for this trip, but until then, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed traveling along with me.
Four days, over 1,000 miles, 15 bridges and two ferries, and tons of memories backed up by several hundred pictures.