Lazy Day on the Big River

I finally got to float the Big River. First time this year. My school buddy Mark Nelson and I met st the Huddle House in DeSoto for breakfast at 7 a.m.. after a hearty breakfast we headed for the river.

We left Mark’s truck at Merrill Horse conservation area and drove to Mammoth CA. We got the yaks in the water about 8:30 and headed down river to the Merrill Horse Access.

There hadn’t been enough rain to cause the river to rise but the water was stained and not as clear as usual. The water was cooler than I thought it would be with all the hot weather we have had.

Mark chillin’ on the Big River

The fish weren’t cooperating and had apparently ate before we got there. We didn’t really care because it was a beautiful day to be on the river.

Finally the fish got their appetite back. The first four escaped the hook and swam for freedom. I was 0 for 4. Patience finally paid off. I caught a small largemouth.

Then I finally caught a small smallmouth.

I caught a spotted bass then we had to head for the boat ramp.

I fished this stretch a lot last year. It is approximately 5.4 miles. Last year I saw a Bald Eagle 4 times. I was disappointed I didn’t see it this time.

Mark caught about a 10 inch bass and a perch.

“The River is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that. – Eartha Kitt

Easter Sunday at Bismarck Lake

It was a beautiful morning to hit the lake. The temp was perfect and Mother Nature had began painting the countryside with the colors of red bud, dogwood, honey locust and various wild flower blossoms.

The wind however was gusting to 30 mph making it hard to fish. There were a few folks catching crappie but I was after the largemouth bass.

I guess Wayne’s Diner didn’t serve up what they wanted. I did finally manage to catch a bass and a crappie.

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Later that day I rigged my poles for catfish but they must have not liked what I was serving because I didn’t even get a bite.

All in all it was a great day. I am hopelessly addicted to the water and fishing. I guess there could be worse things to be addicted to.

Safety First!

I live in southeast Missouri and kayaking has become very popular. On the weekends the area rivers become very crowded with kayakers. I see so many that aren’t wearing life jackets. I myself used to be one of them. One day I just happened to put it on and ended up dumped in class II water and if it wasn’t for my life jacket I would have drowned.

For those of you who don’t know the water classes:

A – Lake water; still

Class I – Easy smooth water, light ruffles, clear passages, occasional sand banks and gentle curves

Class II – Moderate

Class Iii – moderate difficult

Class IV – Difficult

Class V – extremely difficult

Class VI – extraordinarily difficult

Safety devices have a purpose in life and are there to keep you safe.

I know they are cumbersome and can get in the way but they can save your life. There are those in your life that would appreciate you using one.

I have been boating and kayaking for 50 years. Never came close to drowning until that one dreadful day. It wasn’t the first time I had been dumped. Unfortunately when learning something new unplanned things happen due to the lack of experience.

Just keep in mind when you get in that kayak or boat that the decision as to jacket or not could be a life saving decision.

In closing I would like to remind everyone that if you pack it to the river take it home with you. Please don’t leave your trash on the river or lake. Keep our water ways clean.

Spread the love and be kind to one another. “

A Day in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri

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Welcome Center Fort Davidson Pilot Knob, MO

My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri.  The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us.  We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.

After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion.  The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.

The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864.  It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War.  Price had the Union army  outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.

On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is.  Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour.  The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.

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Dam of the Iron Mountain Lake  in Missouri

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Wooden bridge spanning the creek that handles the overflow.

After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri.  It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.

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View from the top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri

Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains.  It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet.  It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief.  The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.

There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres.  There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail.  There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations.  For day use there is a picnic area.

The park has its own legend.  It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story.  The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior.  They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms.  There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed.  Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life.  This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.

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View on top of Tom Sauk Mountain

We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains.  The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants.  Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.

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Elephant Rocks

 

The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county.  The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland.  The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819.  The 2010 census showed a population of 130.  The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.

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Two historical homes of  Caledonia

It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley.  There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861.  There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels.  The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley.  It is a great way to spend the day or weekend.  I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

 

A Day on the St. Francois River

The St Francois River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is 426 miles long and meanders through northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.

In the springtime they have kayak races on the part that goes through Silver Mines Park. Fishing is fair with a large variety of fish.

They were calling for a high near 70 degrees for today. That was all I needed to hear. I was river bound. I decided to try a new place that I had found. It was on the St Francois River in an area I had never fished.

I really didn’t think the fish would be hitting anything that I had in my tackle box. Just 3 days ago the high for the day was 9 degrees and a front was moving into the area today bringing rain with it. Well that wasn’t enough to stop me. I loaded the yak in the truck and headed out for a day of peace and relaxation.

The air temp was 55 degrees when I got to the river and the water temp was damn cold! It would not be a good day to flip the yak.

The water clarity was clear and water level was normal for this time of year. I didn’t go upstream 20 yards before I had to get out and pull the yak through the riffles. Once through there was a good 300 yard stretch with numerous deep holes and lots of structure and cover for the bass to suspend in. I knew to get them to hit I was going to have to drop my lure right under their nose.

I knew as cold as the water was I was going to have to fish a slow moving lure. This time of the year bass are lethargic and slow to attack the food source. So my choice was a pig and jig and a Charley Brewer slider worm.

The morning really started off slow. Not one single hit in 4 hours. Then a little after one p.m. I got a hit and set the hook. Didn’t appear it was going to be much of a fight then I guess it decided, not today bucko and the fight was on. After about 5 minutes I got it close enough to the boat so I could see it. OMG!!!!! He was big. My heart started beating 200 beats a minute then crap: I forgot the dip net.

Well he dove under the yak and popped up on the other side. With the help of the cold water it tired quickly. I got it up to the yak and I lipped it and put it in the boat.

OMG! What a beauty. I put it on the board and it was a hair over 20 inches. I admired its beauty and returned it to the river. It was a spotted/Kentucky black bass.

I caught two more spotted/Kentucky black bass.

Eleven and a half inches

Thirteen inches

All in all it was a great day. When I pulled out of the river it was 68 degrees. I felt good. I really needed that.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It is very much appreciated. Remember to spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos are property of Double D Acres LLC and May not be reproduced without written consent from me.

The River is Calling

I know I write a lot about the river. It is a big part of my life. I know it is hard for some to understand my passion for the river. For those that don’t have a chance to enjoy the river I hope you can get to experience it through my writing.

I love to be on the river at early dawn. Just as the fog starts to lift off the river. You can hear the fish hitting the top of the water partaking of their morning breakfast.

Songbirds fill the morning air with their beautiful music and the squawk of a Heron can be heard.

The river is my utopia and my kayak is my yacht. The world seems so perfect there. I have watched deer cross the river 10 yards in front of me. Watched beaver hard at work and have had Bald Eagles fly above me. One early morning I had an otter swim up and put his paws on the side of the kayak.

I can sit for hours and listen to the sound of the water working it’s way through the riffles. I can feel the tension start to melt as I begin to relax. There is so much that goes on at the river.

It’s a place one can go to take the time to know themselves better.

It’s a place to shed your troubles and worries.

It’s a drug you can’t overdose on.

It’s a place that can cause you to be overwhelmed with joy.

It’s a place where your soul, spirit, and mind can be healed.

In time it is a place of memories.

I am truly addicted to the peacefulness of the river. My love for the river has been around for a long time.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. Remember to spread the love and be kind to one another.

Fall Fishing on the Big River

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On October 17, I embarked on another adventure on the Big River.  I had a client that shuttled my yak and I so I could do a straight through float.  I hit the water at 8:30 am and the temp was 37 degrees.  The sun was coming up and the fog was starting to lift.  It was going to be a beautiful day.  The high was supposed to be 55 however the wind was a big pain in the yak.

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Big River near DeSoto, MO

On my third throw of the day I cast my lure around the boat ramp.  I reeled in a couple turns and whammy.  Something hit hard and the fight was on.  I fought it for about 5 minutes and then all of a sudden it was over.  It had got off.  In the next 15 minutes I hooked 3 more and got them about half way to the boat and they would get off.  It was like I was jinxed.

I fished about a half an hour and not a hit.  Then, whammy.  I had one on.  It was a 13 inch smallmouth and it appeared the jinx was over.  I caught 5 more smallies and 1 largemouth and 4 spotted bass.  Around 1 pm I pulled up on a gravel bar and ate lunch.

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My kayak on Big River near DeSoto, MO.

Around 1:30 I started on down the river only to be greeted by a Bald Eagle that Mark and I had seen the week before in the same area.  What a magnificent bird indeed.

I continued to catch fish.  I caught them on a  Rapala floating minnow and a Rebel Wee-Craw which caught the most.  Last week with my buddy Mark I had caught some on a pig and jig and a plastic worm but couldn’t buy a bite with them today.

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A 13 inch largemouth bass

 

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A 16 inch smallmouth bass

The day was going good and then it happened.  I had cast the Wee-Craw and retrieved it a couple turns when wham!  Something had hit the lure and hard.  It started peeling line and headed up stream.  I was in some shallow fast moving water and I knew it was going to create a problem.  I was in good shape as long as the yak stayed in the middle of the river but then I hit a pocket of water that started pushing me to the bank.  I got it right up next to the boat and I saw what was the biggest smallmouth that I had ever hooked.  It looked like something you see in a Bass Pro Shop aquarium.  The 16 inch I had caught was dwarfed by this smallie.  Then, this was all taking place now in about 3 foot of water and I could easily see the bottom, I saw it zero in on a tree branch on the bottom and wrap my line around a limb.  Here I am sitting with one of my biggest dreams right there in front of me and I can’t do anything but watch it tug then finally pull loose.  I was devastated!!!!!

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Rebel Wee-Craw

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Rapala original floating minnow

When the initial shock of losing the biggest smallie I had ever caught wore off I headed on down river making my way to the boat ramp.  Along the way I managed to catch several more smallies and spotted bass.  It was a great day.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to spread the love.  A few more pics of the river that day.

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Big River

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Big River

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Big River

A Lazy Day on the River

 

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Big River near Fletcher, MO.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship” – Thomas Aquinas

On October 9, my long time friend Mark and I finally got together for a float on the Big River.  We have been trying to get together for a float for 3 months now.  It was well worth the wait.  The temps were in the upper 70s, and the water was clear.  It was overcast with the sun popping out from time to time.   All in all it was setting up to be a great day.

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Big River near Fletcher, MO.

I brought along 3 poles and Mark had brought only one.  I use ultra-lights with 4 pound test line.  We launched our yaks at Mammoth access and planned to float to Merrill Horse access.  I believe it is a little over 5 miles.

The leaves on the trees were starting to change colors but unfortunately their colors hadn’t matured yet.  It was quite breezy however we were able to handle it. The river was low but we never had to get out and pull our yaks across shallow places.

 

“Rivers run through our history and folklore, and link us as a people.  They nourish and refresh us and provide a home for dazzling varieties of fish and wildlife and trees and plants of every sort.  We are a nation rich in rivers.” – Charles Kuralt

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I caught this nice 15 1/2 inch smallmouth.

The fish bit real well for a while and then they shut down.  While they were biting they weren’t picky.  We caught them on a Rebel Wee-Craw and Floating Minnow, Pig and Jig, and Plastic Worms (two different colors).  We caught perch,  largemouth and smallmouth.  The length limit of smallmouth in Missouri (on the Big River) is 15 inches.  I choose not to keep smallmouth because it takes one 6 to 7 years to reach 15 inches.

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Big River

“The River…It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.  What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.  Lord! the times we have had together!” Kenneth Grahame

Everything was going smoothly and then it happened.  My paddle broke and we still had some swift places to get through and without the proper paddle they would have been difficult to navigate.  This is why one should always carry a knife with them.

Well I think Mark and I would be classified as country boys and maybe a hillbilly tag on myself.  So we went to work and fixed the paddle good enough to get me back to the boat ramp.  McGyver would have been proud of us.

 

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Paddle Repair 101

It was a good day.  I always enjoy my time on the river and it is nice when a friend goes a long to enjoy it with you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Be kind to one another and spread the love.

The River; As I See It

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Bourbeuse River in the fall.

 

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.” – John Muir

I have been having a battle with writer’s block and I seem to be losing.  Wanted to go to the river this weekend but with forecast calling for 3 to 6 inches of rain in the area and flash flood warnings I decided to pass.  I would have to wait for another chance.

I long for that much needed quiet time on the river with the croaking bullfrogs, crickets, the howling of the coyotes and that occasional slap of the beaver’s tail on the water warning the other beaver in the area that they have an intruder within their territory.

“There is a love of wild Nature in everybody, and ancient mother – love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.” – John Muir

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Borubeuse River on a fall morning.

I love gazing into the night sky at all the stars shining down upon me.   The peace and tranquility soon overtake me and allows my spirit and soul to recharge.  I become one with Nature at this moment and feel all the negative energy exit my being and I begin to look at life with a positive attitude.  It allows me to use logic in my thinking unencumbered by my emotions.  It is a feeling I will never be able to adequately express with words.  It is something that one must experience and feel in their heart before one can understand the true feeling of total peace within oneself.

If for some reason I lose the ability to be able to interact with Nature and the river in this capacity, I will not be long of this world.  I truly understand how John Muir had such and immense love of the mountains.  His mountains are my rivers.  I wish I could just live on the banks of the river and explore it daily.  It is my Utopia my safe place.  My experiences on the river enhance my quality of life and I develop a better understanding of life.  I won’t ever grow tired of the serenity of the river.

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Bourbeuse River (Picture by Double D Acres LLC)

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Until next time, be kind to one another and spread the love.

 

Time on the River

 

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Big River near DeSoto, MO as darkness gives way to the dawn.

I have always been mesmerized by the beauty of the river.  Due to flooding it is constantly changing but Mother Nature seems to always protect its beauty.  If only man would cherish the river as much as Mother Nature.  The pollution and the trash left behind has grown, adding an ugliness that shouldn’t be there.

“The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.  What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.  Lord! the times we’ve had together.” – Kenneth Grahame

On August 11, I decided to spend a very much needed night on the river.  Temps were in the 90s and humidity was high.  I loaded up and went to Mammoth Access on the Big River in Missouri.  A lot of people on the river and I got a lot of stares.  I have had a round with melanoma so I show up in a long sleeve shirt and jeans and really don’t look like I belong.  I board my yacht and head up river for a much anticipated night of relaxation.

As I paddle I look for spots to set limb lines and a place to make camp for the night.  I opted out of taking a tent and would opt to catnap on board my trusty yak.  After finding places for lines and camp I went to an area to do some bass fishing however the fish didn’t seem to like the smorgasbord I provided for them.  I finally started tight line fishing and waited for dusk to show up at which time I would set and bait lines in hopes of catching some catfish.

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Big River near DeSoto, MO as dawn takes over the night.

“A river seems a magic thing.  A magic, moving,, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin

I finally finished getting the lines set and baited around 8:30 p.m.  I then set up camp and  set up for tight line fishing while I waited until time to run my lines.  I like to run my lines every 2 and a half hours.  All I seemed to get was empty lines with no bait.  There was a bait stealer loose in the Big River.  My luck wasn’t much better with my tight line fishing but I did manage to get a good fire started.

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The night got cool enough that the fire actually felt good.

Finally I managed to catch a drum, or stone perch.  I put it on a stringer because I had plans for it.  I also managed to catch a sucker but since it wasn’t high on my culinary preferences I returned it to the river.  They are pretty bony.

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One of Missouri’s suckers.

Around 4:30 a.m. my beef stew MRE had began to wear of so I prepared the fish for breakfast.  I didn’t have anything to cook it in so I improvised and rigged up quite a contraption to cook it with.  I used some green tree limbs and fashioned sort of a spit and cooked it 10 minutes on each side and I am here to tell you it was delicious.

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Breakfast on the river.

The darkness began to give over its control to the rays of sunshine.  I headed out to run my lines and take them out.  As I was running the lines I heard something that sounded just like a lamb.  I use to raise sheep so I know the sound all too well.  I could hear it but couldn’t see it.  finally it broke out of the brush and to may surprise it was a fawn still sporting its spots.  I figured it got separated from its mom and hopefully it wasn’t an orphan.  Then I got my answer.  I hear the bleat of a doe and the fawn spun around and headed back into the brush giving what sounded like a very happy round of bleats.

“A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish.  It is a continuum only broken by humans.” – Aldo Leopold

All the lines were empty and void of bait but one.  I noticed that it was wrapped over a limb but is wasn’t moving so I figured I had caught one and it wrapped the line around the limb and got off.  I managed to pull the line and limb up but to my surprise the line wasn’t empty.  No sirree!  As it broke the service I found a 20 pound, at least, soft shell turtle hooked by its foot.  This means that its head was free.  Now I am here to tell you when it comes to the length of a neck the giraffe has nothing on a very pissed off soft shell turtle.  Now the pucker factor has kicked in and his neck extends way out, jaws snapping and barley misses my arm.  We wrestled for a while and I was finally able to unhook him and I gave a sigh of relieve that was probably heard in St. Louis.

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Phot of Big River by Double D Acres LLC.

After all the excitement and I calmed down a little I headed up river for about 2 hours and then turned around and fished my way back to the boat ramp.  I managed to catch one small Largemouth bass and that was all she wrote.

It wasn’t a very productive fishing trip but the relaxation and peacefulness I enjoyed was priceless.  Being alone on the river without any distractions is the perfect way I have found to cleanse the soul and recharge the spirit.  I have always said when I die I want to be cremated and my ashes spread in the river.  That is the only place that I can experience a true sense of peace and tranquility.

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I apologize for being a little long winded.  If you get a chance to sit on the bank of a river, close your eyes.  Listen to the running water and feel its energy.  Like us it has a destination.  A beginning and an end.  It has its low times (summer) and high times (floods).  Outside the interference of man, dams and levees, it manages to take out any obstacle in its way to its destination.  We can learn a lot about life from a river.  Remember to spread the love.