Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fish Story

Several folks who have been following the blog sent notes of appreciation for the "Fishing, Technology, and Uncle Lester" entry.

Let me add a "fish story".  As I paddle the Mississippi I find myself singing a lot.  Remember "Oh, what a beautiful morning!"? 

Another musical I have always loved is Porgy and Bess.  While the characters are a bit stereotyped, the music still moves me.

"Summer time and the livin' is are jumping and the cotton is high."  I now understand that line "fish are jumpin'.." because they really do jump all the time and all over the river.  Maybe it's because I am on the water all day and have little else to do, but here's the best part of "true story".  On several occasions fish have jumped over the front of my boat and and almost jumped into my boat. My uncle Lester is smiling and nodding his head!  And they do this without warning often causing a spike in my blood pressure and other near anatomical responses. 

In local riverside restaurants the fish list jumps off the menu.  In Minnesota, the walleye heads the list.  But down in the lower Mississippi, you can choose between catfish, buffalo, and carp.  Being a vegetarian I am certainly a "stranger in a strange land". 

Despite her sweet intentions, I had to tell a waitress recently that "friend okra" was not the solution.  Back to the "fish story".  Sorry, no pictures.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Helena, ARK.

Another casino, meal, friendly folks (Sam, Pauline, Christia, Rose) and security guard (Clayton).   The way they get around the law which allows gambling "on the water" is to put the casino on a pond of Mississippi River water.  Almost as amazing as the motorcycle I won and am finishing my pilgrimage on......NOT!  Although these 100 degree days make that a tempting proposition!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Buffet Blessings

As I came around the bend Fitzgerald's Casino called me to enjoy their buffet....
Thanks to riverboat Capt. Mark for chart advice and transport from dock to casino

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A glimpse of glory

Kenyarda is a special education teacher who has begun a master's program...keep the dream alive!

Lower Mississippi Experience

For over a half mile a topographically accurate "river" traces the Mississippi from its various sources to the Gulf of Mexico.  Not only a great learning tool, but a wonderful place to cool off on a 100 degree day.

Civil Rights Museum

A wonderfully powerful witness to many brave and faithful people. We shall overcome....someday!

Beale Street

Blues (B.B. King) to Rock (Elvis)...much better than Bourbon Street
Great trolley on Main!

Mud Island

Wonderful Venue: Marina, Ampitheater, Cable Car, River Museum

Memphis: Mud Island Marina

Jim, Chuck, Jason, Dennis...thanks!

The water was shrouded in drifting mist.  A gradual crescendo of birds were warming their voices.  The dawn of a new day suffused the horizon with an orange hue.  My paddle dipped noiselessly and my kayak carved a clean slice in the dark water.  The primal rays illumined the distant shore.  The pulsing orb rose above the tree line and the river was bathed in umber as the mist swirled and melted around me.

A voice sang in my head.  It was Curly singing praise to an Oklahoma daybreak.  "Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I've got a wonderful feeling, everything's going my way. Oh, the sounds of the earth are like music, the sounds of the earth are like music, the breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree, and an old weeping willow is laughing at me. All the cattle are standing like statues, all the cattle are standing like statues, the corn is as high as an elephant's eye, and a little brown maverick is winking her eye."

And I had no choice but to join in the chorus, "Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day, I've got a wonderful feeling, everything's going my way!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Arkansas McDonalds Run

After paddling 60 miles in up to 100 degrees Mark interrupted his catfish angling to drive me to Osceola for fries, salad, hot fudge sundae.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Can I tie up my kayak at the Lucky Lady Riverboat Casino?

Nate, Megan, Justin (boat) and Billy, Steve, Lloyd (fresh produce) all volunteer to help .... mission accomplished (food) after 42 miles paddling from before dawn in up to 100 degrees...aargh!

Where do baby barges come from?

Caruthersville, MO.

Redemptive Suffering

Travel blogs often focus on highlights, positive events, even "mountaintop" experiences.  This river journey, like life, has had its share of pain.  In the early days near the headwaters in northern Minnesota, as I paddled in cold, driving rain I often was tempted to "pack it in."  This was not fun.  I was so cold that I didn't realize I had torn a muscle in my calf and damaged my pinkie causing the nail to eventually fall off.

My hands were so sore it was hard to grip the paddle and impossible to peck out blog updates on my smartphone.  A wrist which I had broken years earlier and has an inserted plate, throbbed during the nite.  I lost 15 pounds in the first three weeks.  After paddling for 10 hours a day my back ached. Oddly, my arms have rarely been tired.  Then there is the mental pain of loneliness and boredom.   In sum, it has been a much more difficult and painful experience than I ever imagined.

Certainly suffering and pain can be destructive and debilitating. That is particularly true when it's thrust on us and isn't of our choosing.  But it can also make us stronger and more confident when we embrace suffering.  You know the phrases, "No gain, no pain!" or "The truest steel passes through the fire."  and ultimately, "There is no Easter without Good Friday."  Suffering becomes redemptive when it leads to "humble boldness."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Madrid, MO.

After 96 degree 50 miler, two firsts: a floating welcoming committee and dinner at Helmes, a deli and buffet in a gas station (Aunna, Recco, Trabias) complete with fried okra.