Dialogue with Ike Hastings

I like living on the river mostly because: 

* River people share the same interests I have. They are good people and willing to help if you're in trouble. *The most interesting and oldest towns are along the river. I like history. * The river traffic is always interesting, towboats, barges, pleasure boats, work boats, and once in a while a riverboat. * If I'm bored or not happy where I am, I can untie a line and move on to the next interesting- looking place * I like watching river wildlife, deer, and water animals, migratory birds, eagles, herons and egrets. * Sometimes I just want to lean back and think awhile * I enjoy weather and there's no better place to watch it than from a big wide river

What's it like to live on the river?

It's a nice feeling to sort of control your own destiny and because of the weather, currents, and many other unpredictable things, there's generally an adventurous feeling. Now that I think about it, there are several adventures every summer to remember.

I've fallen in the river when leaning over the edge of boats, and pushing with poles. Something gives way, slips or breaks and instant soaking. I've fallen through ice and the shock keeps you from breathing for a little bit. I've slipped on decks and wet docks and got dunked but except for drying off and dry clothes it's never been a problem.

How long have you been on the river?

I've been duck hunting since I was nine and building boats since I was twelve. I decided to become an art teacher instead of a commercial artist for three reasons: I like young people, I like art, and I had my summers free to be on the river. I've even combined commercial fishing with my vacation times so I could be on the water.

Have you experienced dangerous storms?

When you can't take your boat out of the water (73,000 lbs.) and go home, you're going to have to put up with whatever nature dishes out. So you get in some pretty good storms. If I get enough warning by watching a front come, I go for a lee shore and put my big lines on the trees. Sometimes it surprises you and you try to stay headed into the wind until the front gets past. I've seen it blow hail so thick you can't see anywhere, and you hope it doesn't last for long. Besides not knowing for sure where you are, it ruins your flowers and I have lots of begonias, geraniums, and tomatoes.

Have you ever been on sinking ship?

A ship is a deep water vessel and I've never been on one that sank. I've been on boats that went down, but everyone made it ashore. River Conditions and Levels...

There's not much problem keeping up with river conditions when you're constantly looking at the river and the level. I can also tune in channel 22 (Coast Guard) and get readings and predictions from up and down the river.

How often do you fish?

Probably because I ran basket traps (wooden boxes) for catfish for several years, I don't fish as mush as I used to. But I enjoy eating river fish, especially Walleyes and Catfish. There are times of the year when catfish spawn and I don't eat them during the season. They look different and taste different at this time.

Dead Zone

The "Dead Zone" of the Mississippi doesn't ring any bells for my memory. Tell me, I'd be interested in hearing about this. Maybe it's something I use a different name for and I've been there, I don't know.

Tim and Anthony

My airplane is an Amphibion. It has wheels and a boat like hull. (No floats) The wheels retract (electric hydraulic) into the wings and nose. When I leave Freeport, ILL (where I have a hanger) I get airborne and run the wheels up so I can fly faster. Then when I get to the boat and land on water the wheels are out of the way and I can land on the boat hull. I tie to the barge (in front of the riverboat) and a boom or crane picks the plane up by a hook on the engine and swings it over and down on a cradle on the barge deck. Then it sits there until I need it again.

Note to Lauren:

If you ever see the "Lilly Belle" anywhere, you would be welcome to come aboard and look around . Watercolors come and go, but there's always carved wooden eagles and other things to look at.

Dave and Greg:

I was stuck on a sandbar for 23 days in Oct. '96 on my way home. Then the river came up and floated me free. I started the boat in 1958 and it seems like I'm still adding to it, so I guess it never gets finished. The airplane took three winters to build, I had to take the summer off and live on the river. I never kept track of how much money I spent (I'm still buying things). If I hadn't built the boat and plane I could have never afforded them. The boat is 60' long, barge is 40' - 100' overall.

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