Rollin’ Down the River - The Missourian: Features People

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Sights and Insights Rollin’ Down the River

Third in a Series of Summer Adventures

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Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 10:02 am, Wed Jul 11, 2012.

…Two fellows navigating the Missouri River pulled into Washington last week and found an “oasis” at La Dolce Vita Winery and Restaurant, up the street from where they docked their boat. In the restaurant they had lunch, read about The Old Dutch and hoofed it up the hill to get a room.

Jon Ingersoll, 66, and David Youngstrom, 65, from Denver, Colo., were looking for a place to bed down after another scorcher prevented them from sleeping on the 20-foot “open welded aluminum fishing boat” Ingersoll had outfitted for his epic excursion from Fort Peck, in eastern Montana, to Key West, Fla.

Ingersoll put his boat in the water on June 3, and on his way to Florida will have a variety of co-pilots. His first was his brother, who accompanied him for two weeks until they reached Kansas City, where his prior co-worker and friend Youngstrom got his sea legs. The two will be together until they reach Paducah, where a new co-pilot will climb aboard.

As the saying goes, it’s the journey and not the destination; that’s certainly proving to be true on this river trip. Youngstrom said they’ve met an “interesting assortment of people,” like the folks at the St. Joe Boating and Yacht Club who allowed them to spend the night on their dock.

“They were great to hang out with,” Ingersoll said. And they helped the boaters get some much-needed fuel — took Ingersoll and Youngstrom to a gas station several miles away in their pickup truck, making two trips back and forth so the men could “leave there with the boat and jerry cans all topped off,” Ingersoll added.

Out of the goodness of their hearts, strangers are rising to the occasion, assisting the travelers at various bends of the river. It’s this kind of hospitality that’s making Ingersoll’s “bucket list” dream memorable.

As Youngstrom said, you can’t make a trip like this without being “outgoing,” willing to put yourself out there and ask for what you need, and open to meeting people.

Ingersoll, who retired in June, thought the river voyage would be fun and planned for it for three years. First he had to consider the kind of craft that would best serve his needs. He needed a boat that could run in the shallow water in Montana, and a boat that had a deep “V” bow to break waves on busy waterways.

Normally, the back end of a johnboat would be used for fishing, but Ingersoll had an extension added for living and sleeping. The boat can comfortably sleep two, has a top for sun protection and can be enclosed with screens or plastic, to protect from mosquitoes and the weather.

Ingersoll said they didn’t plan on experiencing a record-breaking heat wave, but the 100-plus temperatures haven’t been the biggest surprise. Instead, it’s been the “lack of facilities — pitifully little support for people doing what we are doing — no gas, ice, food or a place to even tie up,” Ingersoll said.

The men wondered if the past two floods wiped out facilities along the Missouri, and added that if there were more availability for food and fuel they’re sure others would ply the river on extended trips.

After an overnight in Hermann, followed by one in Washington, the men left the riverfront Friday morning bound for St. Charles, where they spent the weekend with friends, their boat safely parked in a driveway. Come Monday, it was back on the water.

There’s no question that Ingersoll will reach Key West — he has too, he said. Ingersoll’s told everyone it’s his final destination, and there’s no throwing in the towel now. Besides, there’s key lime pie in Key West, and a special bar to visit, Sloppy Joe’s, made famous by its patron Ernest Hemmingway.

In Florida, Ingersoll will pick up a car that’s waiting for him and wend his way back to Denver — “to plan the rest of my life from there,” and a busy rest of his life it’s sure to be.

To follow Ingersoll’s progress, readers can go to www.jonsriverrun.blogspot.com.

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