Why you didn’t hear the story on Saturday

A first-person look at how the State Treasurer celebrated the holiday

It started with a tweet, and ended with a whimper.

One week ago, I spotted a Race to the Dome update on Twitter.

Zoning out for a minute, which almost never happens here in the newsroom, I thought about my Florida days when I would load up my two little girls in our canoe, paddle out to the bay and soak up the afternoon sun. We would tie up to the mangroves and fish in the shallows, spotting bonnethead sharks and baby barracuda in the gin-clear water. Happy thoughts.

The next day, my boyfriend Jimmy and I decided we were going to do it. Race to the Dome. Take no prisoners. Or, alternatively, come in dead last and enjoy a morning paddle on our wide Missouri. [Enjoy slide show of our adventure]

We found a post on Craigslist and scored a canoe from a Highway Patrolman in Rocky Mount.

Jandj

When I got an e-mail saying that Treasurer Clint Zweifel was also joining in the fun, I fired off a response telling him he was going down. Not even Neil Young himself would be able to soothe the agony of defeat at the finish line come Saturday.

3 a.m. race day: After hooking up with our friends at Paddy Malone’s, a popular watering hole on the next hill west of the Capitol, we came to the horrible realization that we had to be at the river access in Hartsburg in three hours. Ah, well, work hard, play hard. It’s worked out well for me so far and my co-workers always seem to enjoy my Monday morning show-and-tell series, which usually features random injuries big and small.

We arrived and set up our vessel with our expert supplies: one bottle of water, two paddles, a roll of duct tape, and three Ziploc bags, one of which contained my iPhone, the others our smokes and a lighter. We took one set of keys — mine — back to the car and hid them under our wheel well. You know. Just in case.

After taking a moment to further taunt our State Treasurer, we were off. The sun was not shining. The water was not gin-clear. The wind was at our faces, negating any sort of push the 11-knot top current might have provided.

If we weren’t paddling, we … were sitting … still.

After a few miles, I wrapped my hands in duct tape to prevent wearing my thumbs down to the point of actually exposing the bone by the time we reached the finish.

After a few more miles, we managed to score a couple of beers.

After a few more miles … we were only halfway there. Old ladies paddling with their canes were passing us by. How’d they get in this race? My hands were numb. I had to go to the bathroom. Water had seeped through the Ziploc bag and my phone was dead. There would be no call-in report to Priddy at the finish line.

Finally, after 2 hours and 23 minutes, we made it to the Missouri River Bridge. State Treasurer Clint Zweifel was already there.

Jimmy passed out in the canoe. I shuffled into line to collect my free bratwurst. On the way there, I sank two feet into mud that ate my shoes.

That afternoon, Missouri River Relief sent out an e-mail that said, “Thank you all for participating. Great first year with 66 boats…We found a set of keys at the Hartsburg Access. Likely someone from mid-Missouri lost them. Let me know if they are yours.”

On the upside, my phone came back to life after drying out. I got my keys back. We can say we paddled 16 miles on the Big Muddy.

On the downside, I can’t point and laugh at Treasurer Zweifel every time I go to a press conference for the next year.
But I can point and laugh at his Communications Director Jon Galloway, who summed the event up thusly:

“We finished very last. Tipped one mile in and got the canoe to shore but with no paddles. Had to wait 20 minutes for a paddle. But we finished. My Ziploc failed too but the phone is working again. We will try to beat you next year.”

Photos courtesy Diana Dexter and John Galloway

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