Traveling with The UGB: Coming Home
Just a few seconds after we pulled away from the dock in Alexandria, MO, I remembered that I have terrible motion sickness and the last time I was on the water (about 10 years ago) I threw up a whole bunch. I don’t want to interrupt filming, so I say nothing. I end up being just fine, and see jumping fish for the first time.
We settle into a routine pretty quickly- I drive during the day, stay up late and read, sleep into the late afternoon, wake up for dinner or start driving again. Walken and Gus film interviews in the early morning and at sunset, then fall asleep pretty early each night.
We stay in Niffen, MO- I get to play with Tinkerbell a bunch. She likes to gnaw on rocks, play catch with them, break them in her mouth and spit up chunks all over my pants.
Gus has us drive along the river most days (so we can pull over to film), which works out fine. It takes longer, but it’s far less stressful to drive with so little traffic around. We stay in Cairo, IL for two nights. I had last been to Cairo about 7 years ago; at that time we drove through the Historic Downtown, found that most of the buildings were abandoned or falling apart, and quickly left. These days the majority of the buildings in Downtown have been torn down and replaced with empty lots. The buildings that remain are full of garbage. I walk around the rest of Cairo and see lots of houses in a similar abandoned/trash-filled condition. Lots of properties are for sale for a flat fee of $635.00. This includes homes, shut down businesses, a hospital, and a school.
I insist we stop at Lambert’s in Sikeston, MO. We do this after a long interview with an engineer who shows us some levees on the Illinois side of the river. Gus and Walken have a great time taking in all the excitement of Lambert’s; the throwed rolls, free sides, giant tubs of soda, and the infectious energy of our fellow customers makes for quite a spectacle.
We spend two nights in Caruthersville, MO with Larry. While Gus and Walken film, I spend as much time as possible with Larry’s six dogs: Lex, Zev, Yummy, Ky, Thor, and Endo. We make one long drive home from Caruthersville. The next day Gus and Walken head off to Itasca for more filming. I forgot to pay my collection of parking tickets before we left, am labeled a scofflaw, and get towed.