I was sitting on my front porch having a glass of tea, too hot for coffee, and continuing to remember the trip I took down the Mississippi River in September of 1995. As I have said before, I was working as a financial consultant at the time. It was a pretty stressful job. I did love doing what I was doing but I was continually working under a great deal of stress.
Having said that you can just imagine the relief I felt when we finally started our journey down the Arkansas River to the Mississippi. Did you know that, going down the Arkansas River and going through the various locks on the river that you actually do not enter the Mississippi River from the Arkansas River? As the Arkansas ends in a large delta area down by the Mississippi, you actually shift over to the White River for the last several miles and enter the Mississippi from the White River.
One of the things that I learned while on this trip was that mankind is really pretty good. I must confess that listening to the news on a daily basis and watching the evening news casts and reading the newspapers, one can get a pretty bad feeling about people. I had developed a pretty negative attitude toward people based on the above media.
An example of the type of people we met while on our journey down the river came on the last night spent on the Arkansas river before shifting over to the White River and going into the Mississippi River the next day.
We had stopped at a small park on the river that was maintained by the state of Arkansas. They actually had a pretty decent dock at this park which made it really convenient. We needed to replenish our drinking water and we needed more ice for our ice chest that was built into the boat. We would get blocks of ice or just big bags of ice and that helped keep our food cold.
When we had tied up for the night, we went into this park with plastic water jugs to fill for our drinking water. There was an older gentleman mowing the park who we went to so we could find out about water and ice. In visiting with him he told us that there were faucets for water throughout the park and that would be good for drinking.
We told him that we also needed ice. He told us we could find ice at a corner grocery about a half mile down the road leading into the park. Then he looked at us and said, “Oh, you are the fellows in that boat aren’t you!” When we told him that we were, he said for us to take his truck to go get the ice. We said we would pay him to take us and he told us that he didn’t have time.
So, we took his brand new Dodge Ram pickup that had about 4,000 miles on it and drove to the little store to get about 100 pounds of ice. The man did not know us from Adam’s off ox but he trusted us to go get our ice and then return his pickup.
It was a good start to our trip and one that began to help me regain my faith in mankind. ‘Til next time, God bless.
Bill Sampson, a retired financial consultant, lives in the Cameron area. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org