“How do I get to the Mud Island Marina?” I shout to a couple of fisherman in a boat. “Under the bridge and back up the cove.” They shout back. I have been seeing lots of fishing boats the past two days. I go up the cove about a mile passing more fishing boats usually with two guys with beards and ball caps.
The marina was busy and a sign announced ‘Mississippi River Monster Week’. A Catfish contest. The marina owner was friendly and gave me some protected space to tie up even though every slip is full. When asked how much I owed he dismissed me with a wave. ‘I don’t charge you guys anything. However you can’t camp here, the city won’t allow it.’ “Don’t worry”, I said happily, “I’m getting a hotel for a couple of days.”
I sat in a comfortable chair under an awning while I searched my phone for a hotel. I felt a little dizzy. I pushed it a little getting here, maybe a little too hard. I check my phone. It was 3 pm and 99 degrees. Oh yeah, that will do it.
I overheard a group next to me saying a big fish is coming in. I asked and they told me in about a half an hour. That gave me time to go over and empty Little Joy and wipe her down to remove the small piles of sand and caked river mud that accumulated over the past few days. The steel deck of the dock radiates heat and I hurry to get the job done. I also cover the deck with a tarp to protect myself from being burned as I climb on and off it. The steel plates of the dock were so hot I honestly believe you could cook an egg on it.
With Little Joy cleaned and secure, I walk back to the main dock with a bag on my back and one in my hand. The group is still there. “Did the big fish come in?” I ask. A tall man with a shitty look on his face says, “Are you from Fish and Game?”
“No I’m from Philly!” I said with a laugh.
He gave me a humorless, even shittier look and I walked away. A teenager, I hoped was his son, laughed out loud.
The big fish did come in. I asked the fisherman still in his boat to show it to me. He opened a compartment.
“Holy crap! How big?”
“112.5 pounds.” he said softly.
“Did it put up a fight?”
“Is it the winner?”
Alright, tough room. Time to head out. As I did a guy approached me “Are you the guy in that long boat?” I told him I was. “I saw you an hour and a half up river. Yesterday! (I figured that was fifty to 75 miles.) “Do you have a motor?” Nope. “You are a crazy Mother Fucker!” Thanks I said and puffed out my chest as I left and walked past grumpy guy.
I walked straight up a hill then over a long pedestrian bridge to downtown Memphis as the marina owner suggested, then another three quarters of a mile to the hotel. I was totally spent. My brain was so fried and I had such a river centric mindset that it never even occurred to me to take an Uber or cab or ask the hotel to pick me up.
High up in the Holiday Inn, without a river view, I took my first shower in nine days and turned the air conditioning on as low as it went.