Monday, November 15, 2010

Small world down by the river

If you read my Election Day post below, you'll see I took the Monongahela Monitor to Hildebrand Lock and Dam in early November. Here's an epilogue.

When I got back from that trip I noticed that my Sansa Mp3 player, which had been in a pocket of my backpack, was missing. I looked everywhere but could not find it. I had tied the Monitor up to a big sycamore and walked through the woods up to the rail trail then on to the dam. So, I figured that a branch of the bush had plucked the wires for the ear buds and I'd walked on through the woods leaving my Sansa hanging from a bush.

So, last Saturday my wife and I hiked up to the same spot where I thought I might have lost it. There was a bicycle propped against a tree next to the trail, and down below, next to the sycamore where I had tied the Monitor, a guy was fishing.

I followed my Election Day footprints through the woods, looking for my Mp3 player, and yelled out to the guy fishing, telling him I had lost something, so that he wouldn't be alarmed at my approach. "I have it," he replied, with a smile over his shoulder, holding his rod out over the Monongahela.

"What?" I asked, surprised by his words. "You found an Mp3 player?"

"Yes, but it's at home," the fisherman replied. His name is Bill Collins, he told me. He fishes in that spot lots and found my Sansa days earlier. Now, if he hadn't been there fishing that day, I don't think I would have gotten my music back. He asked about all the African percussion on it.

"Yep! That's mine" I'm in the Morgantown Drum Circle, and listen to a lot of percussion, especially Babatunde Olatunji.

So, we agreed to exchange phone calls, and I was able to meet Bill and his wife as they headed to church the next day. She invited me to go to church with them, and I gave them a gallon of apple cider I'd bought at Walmart that morning.

Those two are real nice folks. I told my wife, as we were walking home after the first encounter with Bill down by the River, "See, this river is such a great place. I meet people and have such interesting times" I hope to see Bill again. I know where he fishes, and he told me he would fish all winter for catfish. He was hoping to catch a walleye when we talked on Saturday.

I had put my Sansa through the wash early in the summer, and I didn't think it would ever work again. It did! Now, it's had a further adventure. Maybe it's because I have Babatunde on there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

End of the season

It's cold! I got a call from Mark at the marina yesterday. He said he's pulled the Monitor out of the river and winterized her. We'll be putting some new deck on this winter and back out on the river next spring - heading upriver to the Hildebrand pool, too. You all keep warm now!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Election Day trip upriver

On Election Day I was off from work. In West Virginia state workers get the day off to go vote. I did vote, late in the day, but during the afternoon I took The Monongahela Monitor upriver to Hildebrand Lock and Dam.

We worked all summer below and just above the Morgantown Lock and Dam cleaning up litter, and I was wondering what conditions were like further up. Plus, frankly, it was a beautiful day and I knew it was time to lay up the Monitor for winter at Mark's Marina (mile 97). I wanted one last boat ride.

The title says "Late November...." I don't know what I was thinking. It was actually early November. I'm a confused old man. Anyway, I saw a lot of litter along the banks as soon as I got away from the area we had cleaned during the summer. I am writing an article for The Dominion Post that shows it. I'll post some of the photos after the DP article comes out. I hope that next summer we can get up through the Morgantown Pool and into the Hildebrand Pool for cleanups.

Also, here is Mike Krafcik's report from WBOY-TV on our last litter cleanup in late October.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New prop for the Monitor

Well, it looks like I can get a new propeller for The Monongahela Monitor - and a new deck. The Morgantown City Council has once again approved funding for my river cleanups, and that means that "deferred maintenance" on the Monitor doesn't have to be deferred. The boat has to have a new deck because of some soft spots, but although the propeller is nicked pretty bad, it still works. But I'd like to put on a new one to take out the vibrations caused by the old prop. So, thanks Morgantown City Council.

The City has supported my program since it began, and the Council understands that without the Revival the litter would be all around the Wharf District. Given all the development in that area, doing nothing simply isn't an option any more.

Next summer, I am determined to get further up river. The Adopt-a-Mile-of-the-Mon effort should help. I hope to have a WVU student to help me raise funds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Last 2010 Cleanup, and TV

WBOY-TV came out with us last night (end of October) for a cleanup - the last one for this year. Mike Krafcik, reporter, and I had been trying to hook up for months, but it never worked out. But yesterday evening he was available and so was my West Bank Crew, the Farley Family, and we did a special harbor area cleanup just for Mike.

I was a little worried that we wouldn't find any litter; after all, we've been cleaning this area since April. That was dumb though. We found two pretty bad spots (where some people were fishing and drinking on the east bank and where a homeless person had broken camp on the west bank) plus some tires right at Ruby Park.My thanks to Mike and WBOY for covering this.

So, here they are, being videoed by Mike. I'll post here when Mike's piece is going to run.

It was a little sad, having our final trip. The Farley's have been so great. What a fine crew, and they have also signed up to help with refitting the Monongahela Monitor this winter. She needs a new deck. So I'll see them again. But I guess we all will miss our wonderful outings on the river. Sure, we were in the mud and up to our knees in the water pulling out barrels and cans and other litter. And those tires filled with mud! But that made it all the better. Not just a boat trip on the river, but a boat trip for the river. Prepositions are so interesting.

Thanks to everyone who has helped so much and those who supported the Mon River Revival.

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Mon River Information Kiosk

I'm very happy to post that we have installed the first Mon River Information Kiosk in the Morgantown area. With funding from GenPower (the Longview Power Plant) and support from others, this weekend we dug into the ground where Decker's creek enters the Mon and sunk 12foot 6" X 6" posts four feet into the ground to support the kiosk (Thanks, Rich Farley!). Fortunately the ground was free of roots and rocks! (Click once, twice, to see larger photos).

The purpose of this kiosk (two more are planned) is to point citizens toward a nearby litter barrel (which you can see in one of the wide photos). It's that simple. But it goes beyond that. Each kiosk will be "sponsored" by a youth group. The first is sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church Sunday school group. This brings to the kids a couple messages about the environment and their roles. And the kids will also help in litter cleanups. (In the photo are, from left Charlie Huguenard, Tim Terman and Joe Douglass. Charlie and Joe are from Longview. In the top photo is Chris Wilson, who helped me build and install the kiosk)

On the kiosk is a map of the Upper Mon Water Trail, which I had a part in establishing back in 2002), a rather lengthy history of the river, a photo of the youth group holding a banner saying "Help Keep Our River Clean, Use the Litter Barrel," a photo of a dead albatross, and credits to the Mon River Revival, Longview and the City of Morgantown.

Dead albatross?,you may ask. Sure. We pick up lots of bottle caps and plastic cigarette lighters, items that float to the ocean and are swallowed by these grand birds (who are on the endangered list) which kills them. The point is that being against the litter isn't just about a blemish on the river (although that's important).

Here's a photo of the First Presbyterian Church Sunday school kids and their leaders. Ruth Donaldson is the person who contacted me to get them involved. My plan is to have these all up the river! Gotta work on that this winter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turn Back, O Man

When I attended a prep school during my junior and senior years of high school, the headmaster's favorite hymn was by Clifford Bax: Turn Back Oh Man.
Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
old now is earth, and none may count her days.
yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,
still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim,
"Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways."

Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
age after age their tragic empires rise,
built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep:
would man but wake from out his haunted sleep,
earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.

Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
nor till that hour shall God's whole will be done.
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky,
peals forth in joy man's old undaunted cry:
"Earth shall be fair and all her folk be one!"

I really liked that hymn. I was reminded of it today when I was looking in the library for works dealing with sacred rivers. I found a book called "Earth Might be Fair." It's rather heavy reading about religion and environmental issues edited by Ian G. Barbour - published in 1972!

Here's another; this one from William Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An eagle and an osprey

Yesterday evening I was preparing for a kayak tour and an eagle flew by my pontoon boat over the river, down pretty low so that I knew it was an eagle. I've heard other people speak of seeing eagles around here, but despite all the time I've spent out on the river, until yesterday I'd never seen one.

And there's an osprey at the Morgantown Lock. It hangs out on the 3rd light pole on the outside wall. Every time I see this bird, that's where it is.

After my tour, the sun had set and I stood on the forward deck relaxing after the paddle, watching the colors in the sky, the reflections in the river, losing my mind in its ancient movement toward the sea; wanting to drown in timelessness and sunset and the movement of liquid and eternal waters.

It occurred to me that this might have been my last tour this year. Perhaps my last forever. I don't know about next year. On Sunday night's tour, one gentleman was celebrating his 60th birthday, and we sang Happy Birthday to him just down from where the water flows through the dam. I recalled that the first tour I did, late April and earlier than I'm accustomed to, was occasion for a ceremony too. I had a group of Naval Reserve men and women, and one of them was sworn to re-enlistment right there, just below the dam, in a sunset ceremony.

I should go out on the river again. There's something magical there. It's a good place for ceremonies. That's what the eagle and osprey tell me....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good cleanup Sunday

The Farley Family, Chris Wilson and his young companions went out with me Sunday and we collected 5 bags of litter, two tires and one blue barrel. Most of this was from above the Morgantown Dam. Above, Rick Farley loads onboard one of the infamous blue barrels that float on the river. Below is the scene as we entered the lock to go above the dam for our litter collection. I believe we counted 14 bass boats headed home for the day. The wake was like being in a bad chop on the ocean when they took off downriver, of course full throttle....

Saw an osprey too! He was at the Morgantown Lock up on a light pole.

Say, take a look at this link. We aren't the only people dealing with litter and trash in the water. Photo from Jakarta.

The photo below is of Chris Wilson, who is the carpenter who will build a kiosk similar to the one behind him down by the river. Thanks to a donation from GenPower - the Longview Power Plant - we will be installing three of these with litter barrels. One will be near Deckers Creek, one at the Walnut Street stream access next to Ruby McQuain Park, and another yet to be located.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Living on the Mon

My friend Mike Breiding recently gave me a book about a man who paddled down the Mississippi. All the way from Itasca to the Gulf. That would be great. But do you know how many people have done that? A bunch. I found a lot of books published about their trips. So, for me, that's out. I want to do something unique.

I have it! How about I live on my pontoon boat, the Monongahela Monitor, from April to November. I want to do something I can write a book about. So, I live on my boat and take notes of every town I visit and everyone I meet and every experience I have. I take great photos. And the book is Six Months on the Mon: One Man's Experience.

What do you think? In five and one-half days I paddled down the Mon back in 2005. It was entirely too fast a trip, so I didn't get much local color. But you can see what I'm getting at here . The photo above is from that trip, somewhere down in Pennsylvania.

I'll do litter cleanups the whole time. That way I might get sponsors. I'm thinking 2012.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trash Rash: A Poem from Charleston, WV « Pick Up America

Trash Rash: A Poem from Charleston, WV « Pick Up America

I met the folks from Pick Up America down near Thurmond, WV, when I was attending the Clifftop Festival in early August. This poem by a person they met in Charleston was recently posted on their blog. The group has been in our state for some time, picking up our litter. What great kids! So click on the link above. Also, I noticed at their blog, they plan a pro-bottle bill demonstration in Charleston : "Pick Up America's Recycle Mountain!! " Monday, September 13 from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

River buffs museum in Monongahela, Pa.

I was going through some old photos and came across this. These are two of the officials with the Monongahela River Buffs Museum in Monongahela, Pa. They have some very nice artifacts there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Larry Durdines, OBL mate and a good man

Last month I received word that Larry Durdines died at the age of 58. I worked with Larry on the riverboats run by Ohio Barge Line, and I'm sorry to hear he died so early.

He had two blogs. about his home town. Also a site with some of his humor.

Larry was a good man. He was a pain in the butt mate, though. Of course, as I recall, they all were. Larry was always a little excited. He was excited to be alive, even if it meant going out on the tow to wire up 15 coal barges for the trip from Clairton, Pa., down to Kenova, Ky., which was dirty work often done in the rain, heat or cold. But he was always ready for it and ready to give you a smile. I guess he was just more into deck work than I ever was. He told me, later, that it was "man's work."

I'm sorry he's gone. We always talked about getting together and drinking some and talking about the old river days. We got laid off back in 1984-85, I believe it was, and I never went back on the towboats. I lost track of Larry, then one day at a festival in Greensboro, Pa., here he walked up, in a tie-died t-shirt. Smiling.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A little break in the heat

It was pretty hot for the Morgantown area last week, up in the mid 90s. But this weekend we got a break and had a nice day for a river cleanup on Sunday. Maureen and I cleaned up the area behind the Ruby Park amphitheater; then went up through the lock to hit the mother lodes along the west shore. Maureen took before-and-after shots, with some nice flowers along the shore. (Click to see larger image)

I have said this before, but it bears repeating: litter behind the dam will often drift upriver and deposit along the shores. So, when we clean up these areas along the shore, we are actually getting the litter from behind the dam. Do nothing and it all goes back to the dam during the next high water.

Here we go into the lock as the gates open, and another of Maureen, deckhand and first mate, with our catch for Sunday. We do a lot better than most people fishing. It's a great workout for older people such as Maureen and me. We were pretty tired by the end of the day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Things you learn...

I never knew a bowling ball would float. Not until I picked one out of the Monongahela river on July 5. I thought it was just an air filled ball, like so many others we've picked out of the river.

Well, the things you learn out there. I have to tell you I was surprised when I went down to the docks a day after the big Morgantown fireworks display and didn't find a whole lot of litter left behind by my fellow Americans celebrating Independence Day. I may have to give them a benefit of a doubt. Perhaps they decided to have a little respect for a change. Perhaps.

But what about those Mayflys! They picked the evening of July 4, 2010, to transform themselves from their nymph form to flying adults. As we watched the fireworks from the deck of the Monongahela Monitor, we could see a solid swarm of millions of mayflys over the river. They were covering the boats and docks. We were amazed at this natural phenomenon.

Speaking of nature, anyone know what this is? My first mate spotted this and took the photo during a cleanup on July 3. There's always a lot of pretty stuff to see down on the river.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Catfish tournament day

I was asked by the Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau if I'd like to participate in the Cabela's King Cat Tournament last Saturday, and I agreed to take kids out on the Monongahela Monitor. It would be fun for the kids and also give me a chance to get more people familiar with the river and the anti-litter program.

(Above, Jim Steward with catfish boats at the Ruby Park dock).

I took one boatload of kids and parents out and let each of the kids steer the boat. Everyone really had fun. Then, when I came back in, the dock was so full I barely had a spot to unload everyone. All the boats with participants in the catfish contest were in to have their fish weighed.
Anyway, got my folks ashore, and this guy with a cane comes ambling up and says, "I wanna go for a boat ride." I said for him to come aboard and that we'd leave as soon as I got a few more passengers. He was Jim Stewart, a resident at the Bartlett House, a home for the homeless here in Morgantown.
By that time more boats were trying to dock, and I had to back out with only one passenger, Jim. Turned out to be a special trip. "It's my birthday!" Jim said. "I'm sixty-five and I've never been on a boat before," he told me.
Jim was so delighted to take the ride. He beamed. "This is fun!" Well, Jim was just like a kid, and if my goal is to get more people to appreciate the Monongahela River, then it was certainly accomplished Saturday. I find that the river makes people happy. I've done kayak tours on the river and trips on the Mon Monitor (for free as I have no license), and yesterday evening after a kayak tour for a family from Missouri, I got to thinking, "This river makes people happy." It's a phenomenon. It really happens.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Down on the river in June

We are having some hot weather this June, but it's not bad. I had my first swim in the Mon Saturday. We did a litter cleanup and I was washing down the Monongahela Monitor's deck and dropped my bucket into the river. As I saw it disappearing, I jumped in and grabbed it. It was great.

The Farley family joined me again. Ben, with mom Michelle and dad Rick Farley. We gathered in more than we expected. Thanks, you guys!

It is a little disconcerting to see what's in store for us though. Here is a photo by Mike Hardy who took his boat up through Morgantown Lock Sunday morning (my wife Maureen and I saw him go up while we were having a coffee on the Mon Monitor in the shade below the dam). Mike went up through Hildebrand Lock and said he'd never go again.

Do you see the bass competition boats in that mess? (Click to enlarge). I wonder, Mike said, what they were thinking. Probably the same as you Mike: they are going to leave never to return. Something must be done! There is a meeting about this Friday.

Another photo from Saturday's cleanup. Note the blue barrel, tire and, yes, a small refrigerator....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Met a guy last night

Yesterday evening I took a couple friends out for a kayak trip, even though it was very warm. I like to take folks under the fountain down by the Ruby Park to cool off, and this worked well. Plus, we stuck to the west bank in the shade.

But what I wanted to mention is Larry. He was fishing off the Wharf District docks. He said he likes to fish down there in the night, as the minnows are attracted by the lights on the dock and, thus, the bigger fish such as smallmouth bass.

Larry has the history of the United States tattooed on his left arm. Signing of the Declaration; Washington crossing the Delaware; Mount Rushmore; wars, and Arlington National Cemetery.

He's got Johnny Cash, Archy Bunker and some family members on his other arm.

I enjoyed talking to him and wished I'd had a camera. It was a very nice moment along the Monongahela River. Perhaps I'll see him again. I want to write a book about the people I see down there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's summer on the river

Hey, I know today is only May 26, but I declare it summer on the river!

We had some high water last week and the water got muddy, as it does in spring, but now it's clear green and you can see the little fishes (I don't know what they are, but there's a blue million of 'em). The trees along the banks are pretty dark green, not the yellow-green of spring, and yesterday evening I saw the first cedar waxwing in one.

I went down to the dock to look at the Monongahela Monitor at its marina berth, and everyone along the rail trail seemed friendly and smiling and the air was cool and a little hazy, boding a hot day. People were going to work; some just sitting on the benches already. A couple guys fishing at the Decker's Creek point.

The seasons are really amazing. Summer may be the best, because pretty soon, I'll be able to drop myself into the arms of the river and sink into its cool dark green enormity. Hey, you should come down with me and I'll show you how. Not until June though. The water's pretty cool yet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 15 Cleanup

We had a beautiful day for a river cleanup Saturday.

Great crew too. Ben Farley had a lot to say, as you'll see in the video. But his brother Rich was along and helped too, and also educated me about some river facts.

For example, Rich told me that along the Nile River, the ancient people only live on the east bank. The west side was reserved for the dead. Also, he said, the Celts believed rivers and water were magic because of how light reflected. The Ganges, I commented, is sacred. Something about a river that is magical. And, of course, there's Alph:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

From Kubla Kahn, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Also vital parts of the crew were Rich and Michelle Farley and Garth Lindley. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Last Sunday Ruth Donaldson and her Sunday School group and some parents came out for a cleanup trip on the Monongahela Monitor - in the rain!

I think everyone had a great time. I know I did. I had to keep a close watch on my young helmsmen, but I managed to capture a little video. Thanks, Ruth!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Mon River Summit has come and gone, and I have to confess to being disappointed. It was difficult to listen, again, to how concerned the Corps of Engineers and all are about litter on the river, then to see everyone move right on to harangue about other issues.

It's my fault, I'm sure. Don Spencer of our City Council told me I need to attend all of the river meetings if I want to make progress. But I abhor meetings. I'm sure they do some good. But I somehow think that something will break, that there will be some philanthropist or sponsor who will want to help us get the litter off the river.

The river looks pretty good now. About one week after the terrible mess of the litter coming through the dam and into the Morgantown Wharf District.

Friday, April 16, 2010

No litter cleanup tonight, Friday, April 16

The litter situation is under control, so we don't need an emergency cleanup tonight. We did one last night, and our local parks department worked all day on the mess. So, we are good for the present. Thanks for all the interest and support.

Litter has been dealt with - for now

Yesterday, our a crew from our parks department in Morgantown spent hours cleaning up the east bank of the river from Walnut Street upriver past the Waterfront Place Wharf District. They did a bang-up job! Thanks! Ralph LaRue, the supervisor, was upset, too.

This morning I saw the WVU rowing teams out on the river practicing for their meet this weekend. That's always a beautiful scene. And because of BOPARC's effort, it was this morning.

Do you hear what I'm saying? We have a rowing team that will bring people from other states onto our river, and fans of both teams will be on the banks cheering. What kind of impression do we want them to take away when they see our river? A good one, of course, but that's going to take some hard discussion and planning and work and commitment.

Things are better now than in the past. For example, our parks department cleaned up the litter spill. That would not have happened years ago. And Richard Lockwood of the Corps of Engineers has expressed his regret about the incident.

Deepest apologies to you and all our Mon River Partners. Please know that we are sensitive to the issue of Drift and Debris on the Mon - especially at Morgantown - and would never intentionally flush debris through any of our dams.
Unfortunately we needed to set a bulkhead in the dam gate bay at Morgantown for safety purposes. This was related to an ongoing maintenance contract on our remote dam controls. The only way to set that bulkhead was to clear the gate bay.
While the outcome of that operation with respect to debris would have been the same no matter what, I think we owe it to you as our partner not to create a nasty "surprise". Clearly we did just that.
Hopefully you are aware that Harry Durinzi has retired and that Lockmaster Bob "Smitty" Smith has moved to backfill behind Harry. While Smitty is a highly skilled Lockmaster, we may not have passed to him the same level of partnering that we had developed with Harry. That failing is mine and I deeply apologize."

I will attend the Mon River Summit Monday and talk to all concerned to see what progress can be made on this issue.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Early this week the Corps of Engineers let litter through the Morgantown Dam, and this is the result as of Thursday morning, April 15.

(click the photos to see clearly).

A tragedy.

We had done a river cleanup Sunday, and we thought things were in pretty good condition along the river banks in Morgantown. Our next cleanup would take us above the dam. But now, it's an absolute mess. Just in time for spring. We were talking about when the black locust trees would bloom and how beautiful that would be along the river. But now...

Please watch the 1 minute slide-show. UPDATE: Ralph Larue's BOPARC crew has done a lot of work today, and much of this is gone. There's still more for a cleanup this evening, April 15. Morgantown Marina, by the railtrail Subway. 5 p.m. at the dock.

Well, we need some help here. I'm planning an emergency cleanup tonight, Thursday, April 15 and tomorrow, Friday April 16. Starting at the marina behind the Boathouse Bistro (near the Subway in the Wharf District). Please call me at 304 276-8306 if you can join the cleanup crew. Some of this has gone downstream, and someone also cleaned up an area near Decker's Creek. But it's still real bad. I have gloves, grabbers, bags and a boat. I need two to four people each evening. I should mention that someone has cleaned up the point above Decker's Creek since Wednesday evening. Thanks!

We need for the Corps to inform us when the debris behind the dam is going to be let go!

Monday, April 12, 2010

This photo was taken Sunday, April 11 on the west bank of the Monongahela River near Morgantown. They are called bluebells. You won't see these walking down the sidewalks or driving to the mall, I don't think. Nature has treasures for us - marvels that we can never match with our craft.

Photo by Maureen Terman, first mate of the Monongahela Monitor.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's been pretty warm and the river level has fallen quite a bit. So, I'm taking a group of Navy Reservists out for a kayak trip Sunday. What is the Navy doing in Morgantown, you may ask. Training. Whatever. Looking forward to my first paddle on the Mon for 2001. Also, I'll be doing the first river cleanup Sunday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is here. The Mon has been somewhat high (a little above the normal pool depth of 9 feet, up around 11.5 feet lately). So, we won't put the Monongahela Monitor into the river for a few days. but soon.

We are planning a membership drive for our Facebook crew, and a donation campaign too. And I'll have a schedule of Mon Monitor trips up soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ice on the river

There has been a coat of snow on the river, making it white. The snow, of course, is resting on a thin layer of ice that has formed during the past couple weeks. It's been pretty cold.

But nothing like I remember from my days with Ohio Barge Line and Midwest Towing. I guess the coldest place I've ever been is up on the Illinois River on the Midwest boats. But when it comes to ice, I recall going down the Ohio on one of the OBL boats - Steel Something, I don't recall which - and pushing through thick ice.

One time we were down around Kenova, Ky, where there is a "boat store." This is a place where towboats can get fuel and water, gorceries and other things needed. We were southbound for New Orleans and the store boat couldn't come out to us because the ice was too thick. So our captain told us to simply disconnect the towboat from our tow of barges and he ran the boat over to the shore to pick up our supplies and to fuel. He left the barges right out in the river! The ice was so thick they only moved a few yards while we left them.

On the towboats the ice made a lot of noise rubbing along the sides and bottom of the boat as we pushed through. It is always pretty noisey on a towboat, with the huge engines running. But the ice was different and made it hard to sleep. Also, while I'm on the subject of ice on the river: it sure was hard putting barges together when there was ice in between them. We had to take long poles and push out the individual chuncks of ice so that we could wire the barges into a tow. All this was done in pretty cold conditions.

Can't say as I miss that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Riverside beauty

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Memory of last summer

Here I am, grinning at a pink flamingo I found among the litter along the west bank of the river last summer. Just happened to come across this photo and thought I'd post it.

Now, in the cold, gray, snowy days of January, it's nice to remember what a wonderful summer we had. It really was exceptional.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blue Heron in January

Since it got cold, I haven't been out on the river much. Well, not at all. But I like to go down there near it, so after I finish with my gym workout at Stansbury Hall, I walk the rail-trail home, and these days, it's dark.

Last night, across the Decker's Creek bridge near Oliverio's Restaurant, I stopped in a particularly dark spot (the better to see by) and there I saw a blue heron walking through the water. I dare say that most people would not have seen it. This happens to me a lot around the river. It wants me to see things, and I do. The heron is so elegant, its long neck moving forward first, then its legs, in a kind of dance through the cold, dark water. Solitary, silent, standing in the ancient, endless water.

The river is beautifuly at night. It seems like, what? I can't really describe it: like a being of some sort, its current and length to the Gulf, and fish and herons, and somewhere, pushing barges, a tow boat headed to Baton Rouge, and the cook is washing the dishes and the pilot listens to a radio as he steers.

Here's a movie of one of our last trash hauls. Maureen, first mate, is cleaning up the Monongahela Monitor.