The Boulevard Draft Raft, a 28-foot-long vessel with beer-keg pontoons, started its voyage on June 22 in Yankton, South Dakota, and landed in St. Louis on July 13. We hopped aboard the KC-to-Lexington leg on July 5, joining its crew of two brewers, Sasha and Caton; Matt, the sales guy; and Cap'n Tony, a Boulevard IT guy. Our testosterific crew brought to mind Smithers' great line on The Simpsons in the King Kong-parody episode: "I think women and seamen don't mix." (To which Mr. Burns replies, "We know what you think!") But we happily proved that adage wrong; our fellow sailors were quite the congenial group -- which we discovered once the liquor started flowing, of course.
8:27 a.m.: "Do you want a shot?" Caton asks. It should be noted that he spent the previous night on the boat when it was docked at Kaw Point (yes, there's an enclosed area with four bunks) and had fallen off the top bunk and landed on his shoulder. Before we launched, he was spotted taking a swig of Maker's Mark and cracking open the Costco bottle of ibuprofen. ("The first time that's been opened in 14 days," Tony says.) Whether it was to relieve the pain or was more a hair-of-the-dog measure, we're not sure. In any case, we accept, so he pulls out a collapsible camping cup and shares his whiskey. It should also be noted that said shot is downed approximately 4 minutes into our trip.
8:34 a.m.: Caton offers us another shot.
8:44 a.m.: Matt takes out a bottle of Knob Creek with the rallying cry, "Blind taste test!"
8:50 a.m.: Taste test and third shot of the morning completed. We agree that Maker's Mark is smoother.
8:58 a.m.: The two kegs on board (Zôn and Wheat) have been tapped, so we start on the Wheat.
9:11 a.m.: Another shot of Knob Creek is foisted upon us.
9:33 a.m.: Caton, who, for the rest of the trip, threatens to jump in the river and swim, decides to dunk his head over the side. "It's a moral imperative," he says solemnly. "If you think I smell like fish now, just wait until 3:00, when I smell like fermented fish."
10 a.m.: The sun is upon us, and the scenery is gorgeously peaceful in a Huckleberry Finn way: The wide, muddy river is surrounded by acres of lush greenery. Blue herons swoop above us, and the few people on the banks gawk and wave. The guys' shirts come off. "Yeah, now you can see my man tits and hairy back," Caton says. "I don't shave my balls, either," he randomly comments. "Does that make me a bad person?" Later, he asks us, "Can you see my butt crack?" "Um ... yes," we reply.
11-ish: The concept of time is becoming nebulous. We laze about while CCR's "Proud Mary" plays over the loudspeakers. Our reverie is broken by Gary, a guy in a boat, checking his lines. We wave him over and offer him a beer, and he drifts along with us for two more cups. Gary, who is best described as "rural," is impressed with the product. "I'll buy your beer," he exclaims enthusiastically. "I'm a beer-buyin' sumbitch."
In an area where accents have become broader, we're hailed by another boat, this one full of folks from Napoleon who are out on the river, hoping to see the Asian carp that propel themselves out of the water ("and dead hookers," Michelle adds). "This is God's country here on the river, where it's wild and untamed," proclaims Mike, who is usually out boating, oh, all the time. Meanwhile, his son Andy is busy calling friends. "You gotta see this! It's a floating bar comin' down the river!" he says excitedly into his cell phone, which is decorated with a Stars-and-Bars color scheme. Another boat attaches itself to the other side. "We've got a flotilla here," Sasha says. "We're Flotilla the Hun," Caton adds.
1:30 p.m.: The NR "falls asleep" -- the only one to do so on the trip. Sasha busts her on that later: "There's a picture on your camera of you passing out," he says.
3-ish: Forty-seven miles later, we dock in Lexington. Caton immediately dives into the river and is soon struggling against the current. Afraid that he might, well, drown, we get the life preserver, but before we can throw it out, he manages to make it back to shore. "That's the first time the life preserver's been used on this trip," Tony says.
According to Cap'n Tony, the trip's been fairly uneventful -- no one has fallen overboard. "Well, it's been under control ... until Caton got on board," he amended. But we'd gladly quaff some grog with those mateys again. Next time, though, we'll bring the rum.