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Missy V in Wheeling, West Virginia

OHIO RIVER

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Time and rivers flow. So do lives. Sometimes time, a river, and lives fortuitously meet. So it was when we met Missy V.

MISSY V

------We were moseying along down river, enjoying the afternoon with fall colors lighting the ridges and sun's warmth filling the cabin. It was a perfect cruising day on a beautiful river.

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-- ------And then it happened.-El had commented that we hadn't passed a single cruising boat since leaving Pittsburgh - many tows and an occasional fisherman - but it appeared no one was out enjoying the fall on the river. And then...

-----Off in the distance downriver we spotted a boat coming northerly near the left descending bank. As it approached, El said excitedly, "It looks like a C-Dory."

------She reached for her binoculars and confirmed her sighting - "It IS a C-Dory." Now that is a rare circumstance. First of all, there were no cruisers on the river. Secondly, the only one we had spotted in almost 100 miles of river is a C-Dory. There aren't many C-Dory owners in the MidWest. We knew of only a few, from the C-Dory Owners pages on the Internet, near the Ohio. We vectored toward her at the same moment she changed course toward us. In a few moments, like excited puppy dogs, the two boats were circling each other and finally we closed together.

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------"I know you two," exclaimed the skipper, through a broad smile. "You're El and Bill. I recognized you, from your boat, the moment I saw you."

------We were astonished - first to be meeting a C-Dory on the Ohio - and second, to be known by name by a person we didn't know. "Yes, we are," El called across the water. "But who are you, and how do you know us?"

------ "I'm Max and this is the Missy V. I follow your travels on the Halcyon Days section of the C-Dory site. Sure didn't know you were on the Ohio, though," he answered excitedly.

------ Max lives in a riverfront house downriver a ways. He had trailered his Missy V north to explore this more northerly section of the river and was chugging along enjoying the fall afternoon just as we were. We chatted a few minutes, and then decided to meet at Rayland Marina for the evening. Max continued his journey to the north and we sauntered south to the marina, fueled, tied off and visited with the owner (a nice fellow who had owned a paddlewheeler for years and knows every paddleboat up and down the river). Just at sundown, Missy V came into the harbor.

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------We had a delightful evening together swapping tales and getting to know each other. It's interesting to see how owners have modified their vessels. Max was raised on a farm and is handy with tools. He had skillfully added many extras to Missy V, and she was a comfortable, trim, lightweight little cruiser.

------The next day we traveled southerly together past Wheeling, through a lock, and down to the ramp where he had left his truck and trailer. It was another beautiful day, and Max was helpful in pointing out special places. We tied off at the ramp and he was soon loaded and ready to head home.

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------We made arrangements to meet the next day at a marina near his home. We would tie off Halcyon there for a few nights. Max had offered to drive us back to Aspinwall Marina to pick up our truck and trailer and store it at his house. He also wanted to show us the riverboat and college town of Marietta. We happily accepted.

------The next day we met at St. Mary's and Max drove us up to Pittsburgh. Whew! Our trip north through town was easy and we knew that route, but the return trip required different roads and it was a bit harrowing. We survived unscathed and were almost back to his home when Max pulled off the road into a parking area. Puzzled, we walked up to see what was the trouble. "No problem," he said, grinning like a Cheshire cat. We knew Max well enough now to know that he had something up his sleeve. "Leave your truck and hop in here. I have something to show you two."

------ We hopped in and soon we were ascending the river bluffs up some back roads to a cemetery high on the ridge. The sun was just setting and the sky was a pink glow. Below us the river stretched far off to the south. Max is an award-winning amateur photographer and he instinctively knew the importance of site and timing to create a striking photo. What a spot he chose!

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------We stayed ashore in Max's guest bedroom enjoying the river views from his house. He has been logging the passing of tows for years and recognizes most of them by sight. He had grown up in the area and lived there all his life. He knows the river, the hills, and the people.

------The next day, we met him in Marietta - and he showed us the town.

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------------Serendipity - the chance meeting, both drifting a river, and the good times shared. That's the fundamental nature of cruising - and the essence of life.

(11-02)

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