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.