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 From the "ya gots to have a plan" file 
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 Post subject: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:36 pm 
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Dreaming of a Huck Finn-style adventure on the Mississippi a young couple are instead afoul of the law

Claire Boucher and William Gratz had their sights set on the southern reaches of the Mississippi River when they packed their chickens, a sewing machine and 20 pounds of potatoes into a houseboat they crafted from scratch.

Calling themselves Veruschka and Zelda Xox, river names worthy of the grand adventure they envisioned, the young couple pushed off from the riverbank in north Minneapolis the first week of June.

But their journey ended only a few miles downstream after engine trouble and a three-week tangle with the cops. The Minneapolis park police trailed them from river bank to river bank, as Boucher and Gratz tried to get their boat in working order, often tying up to trees and hopping ashore to gather supplies from Craigslist and hardware stores.

Now their vessel, the "Velvet Glove Cast in Iron," is marooned in the Minneapolis impound lot. The chickens were seized by animal control, and Boucher, 21, and Gratz, 23, have abandoned their hope of reliving the enduring tradition of river lore.

"Even though it's sad this happened, it's still an adventure," Boucher said.

The trouble began, as it often does, with a sudden twist of fate and an encounter with the law.

Boucher, who's from Vancouver, B.C., and Gratz, from Tennessee, met at school in Montreal. The idea for the river journey was hatched last fall. After months of Internet research, they made the 25-hour trip to Bemidji, Minn., where a friend allowed them to build the boat on his property. For more than a month, they toiled over the engineering of the 20-foot boat to make sure it floated. They installed accordion folding doors, glass windows, pink shutters and painted murals in black, white and red paint of fantastical creatures on the sides. Strangers gave them bikes, a mattress and the sewing machine (powered by on-board batteries). They got a copy of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which neither of them had read.

"I always wanted to live on a boat," Boucher said. "We both wanted to go south and live on it when we got to New Orleans."

They hauled it to north Minneapolis and shoved off from land the first week of June. Moments later, their engine began to sputter and gurgle. They made it to the other side of the river and tied the boat to a tree, determined to repair the motor and be on their way again in a few days.

They were awakened one morning by Minneapolis park police officer Rob Mooney tapping the side of their boat with a stick. Mooney gave them until the next Tuesday to gather life jackets, paddles and other supplies, despite a Minneapolis park ordinance forbidding boats from tying up to any tree, shrub or post in a park without a permit. The officer said the couple never told him about their engine trouble.

"I love the idea of the Tom Sawyer adventure," Mooney said. "The problem is it's not 1883. You can't do that anymore. You have to follow the rules."

When Mooney returned a week later and saw Boucher and Gratz's chickens grazing and signs of camping, they were given citations for camping and alcohol consumption in the park and told to move along.

"We were just trying to get our act together so we could get out of the Twin Cities," Gratz said. "We didn't want to float down the river out of control."

The next leg of their journey was much more precarious. After entering the channel without a working motor, they began to drift toward rocks jutting out of the water. Surrounded by caution signs, they frantically pushed away from the danger using sticks. They reached an island north of the Lowry Bridge.

The island seemed to be a haven for canoes and other boats, they said, so they set up camp and made plans to resume their search for a working motor over the next week. Swimming was the only way to reach the river bank, so several times a day they would jump in the water and bring back tools wrapped in plastic bags.

The tranquility of the island didn't last long. This time, the Hennepin County Sheriff Office's water patrol showed up and told all of the boaters to leave by that evening in advance of the Lowry Bridge demolition on Sunday. Another boat towed the Velvet Glove Cast in Iron to Boom Island, where the final showdown would take place.

Mooney said when he spotted the houseboat there, he'd had enough.

"I personally allowed them for a couple weeks to try to solve the problem on their own," he said. "It was clear that they couldn't get it done."

The city loaded the houseboat onto a flatbed trailer and took it away.

On Thursday, Boucher and Gratz took a city bus to the impound lot to retrieve whatever they could carry from the boat. They searched for a jar of wild rice so they could make dinner for the strangers who are letting the couple stay with them for a few nights.

The couple say they can't afford to fix the minor damage from the towing or have the boat hauled back to the river. They're planning to continue their trip south by bus. The chickens can't be reclaimed without a Minneapolis address and permit, so they will be sent to a chicken farm. Its fate uncertain, the Velvet Glove Cast in Iron rests next to burned-up and smashed car carcasses.

Boucher and Gratz still have a few people rooting for them.

"I would love for them to go," Mooney said. "I hope they do it."

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:49 pm 
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The fact that they met at a school in Montreal (all due respect to Canadians) and the line
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They got a copy of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which neither of them had read.
is all I need to figure out the rest of the story without wasting two minutes of my life reading the entire thing.

I sure wish I had those two minutes back. :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:44 pm 
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DeanC wrote:
They were awakened one morning by Minneapolis park police officer Rob Mooney tapping the side of their boat with a stick. Mooney gave them until the next Tuesday to gather life jackets, paddles and other supplies, despite a Minneapolis park ordinance forbidding boats from tying up to any tree, shrub or post in a park without a permit.

When did the Minneapolis Park Board gain the authority to regulate traffic on an a navigable interstate waterway?

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:01 pm 
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jdege wrote:
DeanC wrote:
They were awakened one morning by Minneapolis park police officer Rob Mooney tapping the side of their boat with a stick. Mooney gave them until the next Tuesday to gather life jackets, paddles and other supplies, despite a Minneapolis park ordinance forbidding boats from tying up to any tree, shrub or post in a park without a permit.

When did the Minneapolis Park Board gain the authority to regulate traffic on an a navigable interstate waterway?


Never, I'd guess...but they can control what you use the trees in their parks for.


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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:00 pm 
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Great idea, very lousy execution!

A canoe and some good camping gear would be much more practical on their budget and skill level; and a routing through the Tenn-Tom waterway for the southern half of the trip, the southern half of the Mississippi is just an industrial ditch filled with barges!

More power to them...I'd contribute to a canoe fund if there was one!

YMMV

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:08 pm 
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mrokern wrote:
jdege wrote:
DeanC wrote:
They were awakened one morning by Minneapolis park police officer Rob Mooney tapping the side of their boat with a stick. Mooney gave them until the next Tuesday to gather life jackets, paddles and other supplies, despite a Minneapolis park ordinance forbidding boats from tying up to any tree, shrub or post in a park without a permit.

When did the Minneapolis Park Board gain the authority to regulate traffic on an a navigable interstate waterway?


Never, I'd guess...but they can control what you use the trees in their parks for.

If the violation was tying up to a tree, seems to me the correction should have been to anchor or tie up to a rock.

Of course, these do seem like the sort of fools who'd head out in a boat without a pair of anchors...

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:13 pm 
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I've seen some pretty ill prepared attempts at that trip, but this one is the worst.

You need (minimum)

Backup power to at least make the shore
Life jackets
Radio (handheld works fine)
Fire extinguisher
Portapotty
Anchors
Lights
Boat license
Charts

A clue might be nice too!

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:21 pm 
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How do we get a pic of this thing??

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:04 pm 
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nutflush24 wrote:
How do we get a pic of this thing??


Sorry:

Image

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:35 pm 
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When I was in the 7th or 8th grade I liberated a piece of construction waste from a dumpster found a piece of styrofoam insulation not too far from my home. It was about four and a half feet square by abou tseven inches thick.

After some initial tests to ensure both bouyancy and rigidity, I waited for the right time.

Close to the end of March, the nearby perrennial stream filled with water. Seemed like a good enough time for me.

That one and a half mile ride was both fascinating and terrifying; terrifying when I found myself in the middle of an unfathomed holding area about 20 acres in size and terrifying when I rode the current through the large-bore culvert that passed under the highway-not knowing if the water level would rise above the outlet of the culvert or if I would get snagged on submerged derbris under the waterline...

Fascinating when I found myself in patches of woods few people normally visited; some areas that were accessible, it seemed, only by riding the stream on a piece of liberated styrofoam or by hiking through and around some of the most dense underbrush I'd seen up to that point.

I took a couple dunks in the water; somehow I managed to drag myself back onto my makeshift raft despite my soaked winter clothing. I completely lost track of the time and realized only too late that the sun was rapidly setting and the mild temperatures were falling back into the dangerously cold range. Now I had to orient myself and find my way back through a mile and a half of private property, marshlands, underbrush and unexplored territory.

Both the coolest and scariest mini-adventures I'd been on in my adolescence.

Point (if there is any) being, I can fully understand the fascination of riding the waterways to an adventuresome spirit. I can fully understand the underprepared devil-may-care attitude that these guys may have had on their attempted adventure.

Being older and wiser, I wouldn't neccessarily do the same thing, but every now and then I look to that stream and wonder if I could fit a small kayak on it, maybe find out exactly how far it really goes...

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:13 pm 
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Binky .357 wrote:
Being older and wiser, I wouldn't neccessarily do the same thing, but every now and then I look to that stream and wonder if I could fit a small kayak on it, maybe find out exactly how far it really goes...

Been there, thought that.

A canoe, adequate supplies, my black lab and myself and many weeks of vacation. Damn! That'd be fun. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:33 am 
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Great idea in theory but man, talk about a total lack of preparedness.


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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:06 pm 
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They got a copy of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which neither of them had read.


What's especially funny is that the writer makes it sound like they obtained this to use as some kind of manual!


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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:45 pm 
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Dave Pendleton wrote:
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They got a copy of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which neither of them had read.


What's especially funny is that the writer makes it sound like they obtained this to use as some kind of manual!


Or it may have been an attempt at the sort of environmental reading that I enjoy! I once read "Down to a Sunless Sea", which is about airliners trapped mid atlantic during a major nuke war. I was enroute (16.5 hrs)from San Francisco to Honolulu in a single engine Cessna in the middle of the night; I REALLY got into the story! I read "HMS Ulysses" all night in the middle of a blizzard, same result. Reading "Huckleberry Finn" on a river trip would be fun.

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 Post subject: Re: From the "ya gots to have a plan" file
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:39 am 
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While on the subject of drifting, why not let the subject drift...

I found Life on the Mississippi more enjoyable than Huck Finn. I just couldn't accept the ending of Huck Finn. The showdown with Merlin in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is mighty hilarious.

I went on a Mark Twain spree a few summers ago, as I figured I couldn't call myself a good American without having read a few of his more famous works. Life on the Mississippi is the one that stuck with me the most by far.


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