I figured this out as they gunned the engines in the turbulent water, to cross whirlpools in the middle of the river and ride over the wakes of passing barges in the channel. The roar of the engines, the crashing of the waves, and the howling wind made it impossible to ask, but I was pretty sure they were looking for us.
We sat, holding on tight and confused, as we sped downriver.
This was all explained to us once we arrived at the boat ramp. A pickup truck was waiting for us, and they loaded the boat up onto a trailer behind it. Our rescuers weren’t the friendliest of fellows up front, more rough and strong seeming than jovial. “Y’all are real lucky” and “This river kills a lot of folks” were the main topics of conversation.
“I ain’t got no room in my truck, y’all mind jumpin in the back?” asked the man with the war paint once the boat was ready to go.
The captain of the Sheriff’s department stood in the boat on the trailer. He yelled a simple conversation to us as we sped along the highway. We were surprised to finally see green leaves on the trees – and very green grass. We’d finally reached the tropical south and we were without a canoe.
They dropped us off at the Sheriff’s department – the two men from the Civil Defense helping us to unload our stuff from the boat into a big pile behind the office, and then driving away with a wave. We were left with Captain Alvin, standing there looking at us.
“So I don’t what y’alls situation is – is there anywhere you want to go?”
He ended up taking us to a motel in a nearby town, Marston. I went with him in his pickup truck, Kevin with another cop in the squad car (front seat). Speeding along the highway in Southern Missouri – no canoe, no plans.