A couple of my best memories from the summer of 2010 will be my two Mississippi River voyages on the U.S.S. Pontoon with Cap’n Tiny at the helm.
In the real world, Cap’n Tiny is a guy named Larry, a retired City of Minneapolis civil engineer, and my brother-in-law. But once he steps foot on the U.S.S. Pontoon and heads out on the Mississippi River, he becomes Cap’n Tiny, fearless navigator and river explorer. He knows every river landmark, every below-the-water danger, every rip rap rock on the shoreline, every flock of ducks. Cap’n Tiny knows who illegally landscapes the river bank or lops off tree branches and throws them into the river current (usually because they end up snagged on somebody’s dock down river).
And like every good river captain, he knows exactly where to pull into shore to find the good bathrooms.
He’s even trained my sister to be an efficient first-mate. “Aye, aye, Cap’n Tiny,” she calls as she pulls in the pontoon bumpers and unhooks the rope that tethers us to the dock, pushing us out into the river. “Avast and shiver me timbers, Cap’n sir, we’re ready to set sail.”
Well maybe my sister doesn’t exactly say “Aye, aye, Cap’n Tiny” and the rest of that salty sailor talk, but I’m sure she’s thinking it.
The first one onto the pontoon is always Lucy, the half German shepherd/half Chow mix dog they rescued from the animal shelter. Lucy dislikes the water but loves the pontoon. I suppose it would have been better if Cap’n Tiny had a parrot to perch on his shoulder; but given a little encouragement, I’m sure Lucy would be happy to climb up there and squawk a little pirate talk. She’s a dog who wants to please.
Cap’n Tiny and his wannabe parrot, Lucy
After everyone is boarded, dogs and people, off we go, down the Mississippi, to chase river pirates and keep the muddy waters of the Mississippi safe for other Minnesotans.
Then again, maybe we just float along the river, enjoying a beautiful September day, the blue sky, the moderate temperatures, the changing colors of the leaves—in the safe hands of Cap’n Tiny, master of the mighty Mississippi.