Swing Set

Aug 26, 201210:28 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Waiting Out Hurricane Isaac On Coffeeville Lake

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At lunch time, I was checking our messages and we had gotten one from some friends from St. Louis who happened to be in Pensacola visiting some friends of theirs. We knew Harry and Linda Steele from the Duck Club Yacht Club were they lived on a 55-foot houseboat and were Harry did a stint as harbormaster for several years. They had since moved off of the boat and are now vagabonds, traveling around where they want and looking for potential places to perhaps move to, or buy a second home. Linda mentioned stopping by to see us on their way back to St. Louis, and I started looking at the map, curious to see how our location was on the way to anywhere.

My first thought was that they may not really have an idea just how remote this spot in Alabama is, and I told Rosie to call Linda and tell her that as much as it would be fun to see them both, we thought it would be too much trouble for them to come by here, requiring them to find Bobby's Fish Camp for us to meet there. After finishing lunch, we lounged around on our rafts and let Holly swim, keeping a sharp eye on her as she would be considered prime alligator food. The whole time, it nagged at me that we may have given Harry and Linda the idea that we didn't want to see them, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

We got ourselves cleaned up, left Holly in charge of the boat and arrived at Bobby's Fish Camp by 5 p.m. Little did we know that we would celebrate Rosie's 54th birthday at such an interesting place. We went in, and Rosie grabbed a table as the place was filling up quick. I arranged to have the gas pump at the dock turned on and went back down to the fuel dock to fill up the tank on the dinghy and to get some water in one of our water jugs that we brought along with us. I was told that the water faucet was "down by the tree," and it took me a good bit of time to find the right tree. I had to use my keen detective skills to follow the white hose coiled up on the fuel dock over to the bank, where I eventually found a tiny faucet about 2 inches from the ground, wrapped in insulation to prevent freezing in the apparently harsh southern Alabama winters.

By the time I had gotten the water and the fuel, another boat had pulled up and was wanting fuel. Lora Jane, the proprietor of Bobby's, had come down to the dock, and we introduced ourselves and both agreed that it was unbearably hot for us to be out. Besides right there at the fuel pump, the dock was already taken up by a huge houseboat and a sailboat, but both were spending the night and I parked the dinghy between them, with Lora Jane's approval, of course.

I walked back up to the restaurant and was soaked with sweat, my hair wringing wet. The air conditioning in the restaurant was a welcome relief, and I found Rosie already hard at work on a ice cold can of Bud Light. "You can just grab a can there from the cooler," Rosie said. "They just count 'em up when we go to pay." Perfect. I joined Rosie and perused the menu. Catfish is the specialty, and all around me I saw folks with big platters of fried fish, hush puppies and french fries piled in front of them. When in Rome. So, we both ordered catfish fillets and grabbed another beer.

I asked a patron walking by to take our picture, and he kindly obliged. That little girl behind Rosie sat and watched us knock down beers while she quietly played with some Lincoln Logs. She probably thought we were strange.

While we waited for our food to come, "and don't get in a hurry," Rosie took her turn to look around. See the alligator heads stacked on the counter on her left? I asked our waitress if we couldn't get a couple of warm cases of Bud Light to go when we left, and she said we could, but first she had to go see if they had them. Things were working out all right.

Rosie sat back down, and our empty beer cans were piling up when our food came out on an aluminum platter, piled high with fish. I want everyone to listen and listen good: I've had catfish at a lot of places on the Mississippi River on the Alton Pool: Kinders, The Fin Inn, O'Jan's and The Loading Dock being a small list. I have never  had catfish that tasted this good. Anywhere. Period. The fillets tasted more like crappie than catfish. Rosie agreed, and we dug in.

We were slowing down on our feast when I looked up, and who did I see but Harry and Linda Steele walking in to join us on Rosie's birthday! We couldn't believe it, not for a minute. They had used Mapquest to get them near, but then had to rely on people they had stopped to ask to find Bobby's. I noticed it was 7:10 on a clock over the door when they sat down. After ordering their dinner, they began to tell how they had left Pensacola around 3 p.m. and set out to find us. We laughed when Linda told us how she had mentioned to Harry that Rosie didn't sound too encouraging on the phone, but Harry was undaunted and set a course for Coffeeville anyway.

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