Archive:  Year 3 - Wednesday, June 25, 2008 #23: "Aye, Aye"


Indeed.  It is, in fact, very nearly 2AM and I am currently sitting on the stern of The Road.  I am watching Harry Potter -The Goblet of Fire on very low volume and nursing a cocktail while wading through old emails.  Sleep has been elusive these days.


I have been calling home to Wisconsin everyday to check on my grandmother’s condition and things are relatively unchanged.  Mom encouraged me to hold off coming home but it remains where a bulk of my thoughts are.  Grandma is 92 years old – born in 1916.  This was the year that Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service, and the Germans bombed Paris.  She was born at the start of World War I, worked as a welder on submarines in World War II, and has seen technology go from horse and carriage to blue-tooth.  I’m feeling particularly proud to be her grand-daughter these days; such times cannot but render some sense of appreciation for what you’ve got. 


Which was, in part, the impetus to finally untie from the dock and let the Road be a boat for awhile.  


Perhaps somewhat ominously, as I was untying the hose and line from the dock, the marina crew began to haul in a hobbled cruiser.  She ran aground on a sandbar several miles down-river and needed to be pulled out and towed home.  Simultaneously heartbreaking, expensive, and humiliating.  Shudder.



I put the call out, and the crew gathered about 6PM, bringing with them spare booze and a collective excitement.  Nights like these are rare for boaters.  No wind, high water, little traffic – and lingering daylight.


I had fired up my engines about 20 minutes before we planned on leaving and was immediately concerned by how the port-side engine was running.  She got hot quickly, spit out some white smoke, and wasn’t churning through as much water as the Starboard side.  She didn’t cut out, however, and so after some muttering and cajoling, I decided she could probably make the trip… The temperature was not critically high, and, after-all, this is what a season’s maiden voyage is for.


Navigating in and out of the marina is typically the most difficult part – it’s a narrow channel and I’m big as hell, plus I have the davets hanging off the stern which look, and act, like a giant claw.  But helped by the ideal conditions, we found ourselves out and heading up-river before Gracie even realized her life jacket was on.  There was much rejoicing.  


Those aboard included Captain D who agreed to come along as my skipper – which essentially means he’s makes sure I don’t hit anything and will know what to do if I should.  He always keeps his cool and manages to navigate the waters between teaching and doing with as much skill as he navigates anything.  


About half a mile up-river, the temperatures of the port engine began to balance out and by the time we reached Lock and Dam #1 all systems were doing exactly and precisely what they were supposed to do.  My exhale of relief was probably audible from shore.



I came about at the dam and went back down-river on what was, ultimately, about a three-hour trip.  Tipping our hat to the solstice, we pulled back into the slip slightly before 10PM and with a fistful of daylight to boot.  As far as I was concerned, it was paradise.



There is something singular about driving my house down the Mississippi River.  Everything from my ice-cube trays to my tax returns were riding with me, and at about 7 knots (10 mph). The feeling of riding on the roof of the Road into downtown St. Paul - friends on all decks in idle river-gazing - can not be paralleled.   


The trees are full and green; and heron, eagles, and whole families of ducks waddled along every mile.  There were no bugs, no deadheads, and no bilge leaks


Tied back up and engines off, we headed up to the fire-pit to brag and exaggerate... Which we did until late in the night.


Next Post: July 14, 2008 #25: "Stay Cool"

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