Third Leg - Memphis, TN -> Greenville, MS - 2 days
Monday was rainy and I spent until about dinner time in the internet cafe where I was dry and able to get a ton of work done. I figured I'd want to be prepared for some serious Beale street partying with the pirate boys that night.
When I finally left the rain was pouring down hard core. My laptop bag not previously tested on waterproofness, I wrapped all my expensive computer stuff in garbage bags and hoped for the best. I set out to cross the foot bridge to Mud Island where the boat was docked. The gate to this foot bridge had been closed at 7am when I arrived in Memphis. I thought it opened at 10am but it turns out that it was simply closed all day on Mondays (opens at 10am every other day).
So I went over to the Welcome Center across the street and found out that there was a car bridge a mile or more north that I could take over to the Island. I called a cab and waited an hour, soaking wet. The cab never came and the security guard at the welcome center offered me a ride for $3. I was actually really amazed that doing any single task would be worth $3 to anyone that wouldn't be worth doing for free. I gave the guy $6 because that's what a cab would have charged.
Captain Sean greated me with a hearty "ahoy" from a distance. I scrambled down the embankment to where the boat, Faith, was and exchanged hugs, met Eric the crew member, and got on board. First Mate Brian was elsewhere. The cabin seemed TINY and I was amazed that three people could sleep in there much less 4. There was barely enough room for the 3 of us to sit around and chat. I found out later that there were narrow spaces on each bunk for legroom when laying down so I was only really seeing about half of the "laying down" space.
We went to some relatives of Brian and Sean and watched Pirates of the Carribean on Sean's laptop in their motel room. They'd driven out to Memphis from Louisville just to meet up with the boat and hang out. They had the cutest 15 month old kid EVER. We taught her to drum on the bed and she had really good rhythm! She was walking and crawling all over the place and was REALLY communicative and engaged for not being able to talk yet. The whole family proved to be a lot of VERY cool folks.
Afterwards, it was decided that partying on Beale street was right out as the crew had done that the night before and had to head out on the water at dawn the next day. So we headed back to the boat. The ever adventurous Sean went with Eric to try to conquer the locked foot bridge by scaling walls or something and Brian and I got a ride back to the boat where we ate some MREs (Meal Ready to Eat, army rations). Brian works as First Assistant Director on the TV show JAG and they got a huge case of these MREs on the set to use as props and he got to take them afterwards. The food was surprisingly good, even if a bit of a let down from my dreams of having a Memphis BBQ feast.
Sean and Eric arrived, having actually managed to conquer the walk way. I had thought it would be physically impossible to scale and they'd fail BUT it turned out that the locked gate could be lifted high enough to crawl under. So they just did that and no dangerous scaling neccessary. We all squeezed into our bunks, cuddling months worth of food stores and other supplies, and went to sleep gently rocked by the wind.
I woke up in the middle of the night kind of cramped up from the sleeping arrangements and went onto the dock to sit for a bit. The air was really nice and crisp and the rain had stopped. I took a leak and watched the river and eventually slipped back into the boat through the top hatch. Amazingly, no one woke up. I found a position to sleep that was much more comfortable.
Tuesday morning we headed out. We didn't sail at all during the two days I was on the boat. We operated under motor power. The problem with sailing is that the river is CONSTANTLY changing directions which means the direction of the wind is constantly changing and so maneuvering is a major ordeal. Combine that with the fact that sometimes we we sharing the channel with 2 or 3 gigantic barge tows going in either direction and sailing was just not an option.
Seeing the world from the perspective of the river was pretty cool. The Mississippi is really a major industrial transportation channel. Everything about it is geared towards that purpose. The way it is marked, the way the Army Corps maintains it's path, the resources that are available along it. I learned a lot about how barges operate and cooperate. Very neat stuff.
I got online just long enough to find out that my server was down and walk sdm through fixing it. Then I took a nap. By the time I woke up we were out of cell phone range. So no work got done.
Tuesday night made the whole thing worth it though. We pulled the boat up onto a sandy beach on the shore of the river. Totally surrounded by trees, not another sign of humanity in sight apart from the occasionally barge moving down the river. Set anchor, leaped from the boat onto shore, build a huge campfire, and made a feast using a wok over a bed of coals. The meal was spagetti noodles boiled in the wok with some garlic sauce and lots of spices and canned chicked added. It was like gourmet chicken noodle soup and it was delicious!
We got rained on on the island but we'd been soaked by the spash of the wakes of tows all day. Sitting by the very hot fire in the rain made the rain irrelevent and it didn't last long. Sean ended up sleeping on the beach and the rest of us eventually made our way back to the boat and slept in our bunks.
Fire is cool.
Wednesday the water was calmer and there were less tows to contend with. We got into Greenville around 2pm and the boys got gas and dropped me off and continued down the river. Sean gave me some photos to upload (I'll post them shortly). I wandered into town and found a motel and I'm still at the same motel. I ate a DELICIOUS stuffed catfish dinner last night and I'm about to go find another place to eat tonight.
Got some more work to do and have to file my taxes and then I'm back on the Greyhound tomorrow and headed to St. Louis.