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.

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