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Road Fotos never tell the whole story, but enjoy these fleeting sights from the Mississippi Valley . . . like an excursion boat called Tom Sawyer

or one called Mark Twain . . ..

Some towns have statues of obscure favored and maybe local folks . . .

but no such unknowns are raised onto a pedestal in Hannibal. Is there anywhere in the US a writer as universally known and recognized as Mr. Clemens?

I’m sorry never to have met him.

Let me be uncharacteristic, and add a bit about my visit here.  After some trouble I’ll not elaborate on in Saint Louis, I was driving north along the Mississippi.  After some debate with myself, I pulled into Hannibal, found a room, took a shower, and walked around town looking for some food.  The BBQ place had moved out to the highway (Highway 61 !), so I walked on and found a Turkish place, right next to the farmer’s market where I bought some pears.  This Turkish place…  I sat outside, where a cat of the feline sort joined me.  The waitress had no voice but was very charming and wondered why anyone would visit Hannibal.  I’ll get back to that.  After a delightful and delicious meal, I paid up and walked out onto the deserted street, or I thought it was a deserted street.  Two deer, who seemed to be out exploring, met me.  We chatted and then went our separate ways.

Why would anyone visit Hannibal?!!  

Are you kidding me?  

I’d go back.  I highly recommend a visit to Hannibal, although I can’t guarantee you’ll meet the deer, the cat named Isabel, or the waitress with no voice.

All photos, WVD, who is now out of my personal WiFi desert.

D … as in departure …  moment 00:00 for me, the observer with a camera over on the other side of the Kill, fascinated.    This foto is an arbitrary starting point for this series.  I love it about digital fotos that snap-time is recorded in the file.  By this instant, crew on Torm Carina have Margaret Moran‘s towline on.

00:03   Three seconds later, the same crew makes their way forward to stand by at Torm Carina‘s forward docklines.

00:45  45 seconds later, crew is standing by.

01:07   Just over a minute later, shore crew stands by to release the line on command.

15:40  Note that 15 minutes in, bow lines have been released and taken aboard the tanker. Margaret Moran throttles up to take slack out of the tow line.

17:21  A little later Joan Moran throttles up to move tanker stern away from the the dock.

19:16  Pilot and tanker crew monitor from the starboard bridge wing.

19:25  Margaret’s crew maintains a slow steady pressure.

21:38  I’ve no clue why this member of crew is stationed here, maybe he’s just taking a break, standing by.  My attention gets drawn to people, though.

26:40  Tanker has left the dock area and is proceeding westbound on the KVK.

30:22  Tanker passes R. H. Tugs with Margaret and Joan as escorts.

These fotos were taken on 1/27/2011 by Will Van Dorp.  As of this writing on 2/11/2011, Torm Carina is off Galveston, where … at sunrise today, Friday, the air temperature is not that much different than it is in NYC.

Realizing my role as outsider here, I know there’s a lot I don’t see, which reminds me of Mark Twain’s brilliant observations in “Two Views of the River.”   (…) mean I’ve taken liberties and edited Twain, for which I hope to get some forgiveness from Mr. Clemens.

“…when I had mastered the language of this water … every trifling feature that bordered the great river… , I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too … which could never be restored to me …. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone …! I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as a opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the somber shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it every passing moment with new marvels of coloring.

I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.

But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight … upon the river’s face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have … should have commented upon it in … this fashion: ‘This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody’s steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; those tumbling ‘boils’ show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there; the lines and circles in the slick water over yonder are a warning that that troublesome place is shoaling up dangerously; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the ‘break’ from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?’

… the romance and beauty were all gone from the river. All the value any feature of it had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a … boat. Since those days, I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beauty’s cheek mean to a doctor but a “break” that ripples above some deadly disease? … Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn’t he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn’t he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?”     (1883)

And I will content myself to see this from the other side . . . .

Unrelated but reminiscent:  See a C tractor close up on Mage’s Postcards.  Thanks, Mage.

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