Monday, October 18, 2010

Southern Comfort

Apple's next i-pod ad?
(When you're on a boat all day, you need some exercise!)
We docked Saturday night at Pickwick Landing State Park, where we got to stay for free at a run-down, weed-covered dock that's due for renovation (but not this summer). We needed a leg stretch, and we'd heard the park had a restaurant, so we set off in search. Walking up the dock, we ran into a tiny white-haired woman in a windbreaker, walking an equally minuscule white poodle. The Captain asked for directions.

"Ya'll want me to carry you there?" the woman asked.

How I got that photo of the Cap'n
Pause . . . two . . . three . . . while we surreptitiously glanced at each other. After three beats, we figured out, simultaneously, that the woman was NOT making a self-deprecating joke about her size. If you already know the vernacular, you know of course that she was kindly offering to give us a ride.

Absolutely everyplace we've stayed, people have been similarly kind . . . but the farther south we go, it seems the warmer the welcome.

Back at Paris Landing, for example, there was a sign at the marina: "Call ranger for ride to park restaurant." To us that seemed far and above the ordinary duties of a park ranger. But apparently it's routine in Tennessee parks.

Earlier this week, after spending a night anchored out in a bend of the Tennessee River, we were ready to get off the boat and have a leg stretch. So we put in at the marina in Clifton, Tennessee. The road had a narrow shoulder and town wasn't terribly close, but after more than 24 hours on the boat it felt good to walk.

The crew turned back before the Cap'n--because we'd met several other Loopers in port, and they'd invited Dragonfly to a pot-luck dinner, and the crew needed to rifle the boat shelves and see what might work as a pot-luck contribution. Fast forward thirty minutes: cook in blue-striped apron, garlic sizzling in olive oil, pasta water on the boil, sun-dried tomatoes soaking, fresh herbs from the roof garden, ready to be chopped . . . and there's a rap on the steel side of the boat. "Honey, can I bring some company aboard?"
Docked at Clifton Marina. Those tall blue poles anchor the floating docks. Their height
gives you an idea of how high the water sometimes comes up!
The Cap'n ushers a compact, suntanned man into the galley for a firm handshake.

"This is police officer Steve Wilson," Cap says. "He brought me home. He's with the state police drug task force!"
We CAN get SOME exercise when we're anchored out!
Pause . . . two . . . three . . . It's not what it sounds like. The officer had spotted the Cap'n walking, knew that if you saw a stranger in town, he or she was likely to be a boater from the marina, and knew the marina was a good long ways back.

So Officer Wilson did the hospitable thing . . . and offered a ride.

Addendum (apropos of absolutely nothing): SlowBoat is always on the lookout for examples of innovative, alternative technology boats. Check out this canal boat in Amsterdam, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell!

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