The LONG Hitch

The long hitch started December 20th, five days before Christmas. I left home early that morning with 2 garbage bags stuffed full of Christmas presents for the guys on my Boat who were getting off work that day, as me and my tankerman, Mike were getting back on the boat for our 28 day hitch.  Black garbage bags aint exactly Santa sacks, but Peg packed them that way so the other guys (the crew who had to stay on the boat) couldn't see what this year's gifts looked like.  The guys who were getting off the boat left with smiles, all excited that they would be home for the holidays, leaving the less fortunate of us to man the boat 'til they'd return.  The next four days on the boat seemed to drag as we started listening to Christmas music on the radio and watching some standard videos on tv, like A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, and my MOST favorite, Tyler Perry's, "A Madea's Christmas" the play.  On Christmas Eve, my beloved Peg spent 5 hours on the road driving down to where the boat was parked, to deliver us our Christmas presents.  She brought everyone a stocking filled with goodies, topped with a musical, animated fuzzy toy, as she does every year and each of the crew a new pillow, with a set of individually themed pillowcases that she made from material she ordered online.  Also everybody got a big canister of fancy dipped pretzels.  The galley table looked like Santa passed Christmas morning with all the presents piled on it. This year we didn't have room to set up our little tree with all the fancy lights, etc., but that didn't really matter anyhow.

I laid everything out while the crew was still sleeping Christmas morning, and when they got up they tore into the presents like the kids we all are at heart.

My Texan tankermen loved their Houston Texan pillow cases, While my "red-necked" wheelman grinned at his NASCAR themed cases.  Not shown are the tankerman and my relief captain's pillow cases because they took home with them. New Orleans Saints cases for the tankerman and  The Three Stooges for my relief captain. 

They then got into their stockings, discovering an assortment of candy, peppermint candy canes, a bag of lumps of coal (made of chocolate) also included was some type of game for each, an activity book.  For a gag gift, the white box shown contains a log of "Poop Soap". Peg thought they could have fun 'pranking' their friends or family at home with them.  I hadda giggle cause as they opened them, they all looked it over then sniffed it.

The crew settled down and we had a Christmas dinner of Ham and all the trimmings.  The next week before New Years went by pretty fast as my days were consumed with driving the boat and doing all the computer and paperwork required to end a year and start another one.
New Years Day found us docked in Venice, so I had time to prepare our traditional New Years dinner of pork roast with black- eyed peas, smothered cabbage and cornbread.  I also made a couple sweet-tater pies with pecan praline topping.  The crew finished off a pie and a half in one sitting, so I guess they liked it.  I am not sure why I didn't take pictures of the meal, I guess I was too busy cooking.
The next 2 weeks seemed to drag by ever so slowly as the weather turned all damp, foggy, rainy and dreary.  Some days the fog wouldn't burn off at all leaving us stuck whereever we were, waiting for a break.  The crew would disappear as they walked to the front of the barge, and in the gloom there was nothing to see except for the occasional pelican perched on a pylon.

The fog played tricks on our eyes.  Every day common things took on an eerie glow and the big dock lights could be barely seen peering at us through the gloom like the eyes of some big creature from the foggy gloom.  They were very spooky 'til we realized they were big lightts facing away from us which gave the illusion of 2 dark spots with a glow around them.  The picture doesn't show the effect well, but if you use your imagination ya can see what we saw staring at us through the gloom.
On the rare days that the wind blew hard enough to blow the fog away, the water in the Sounds was rough and choppy.  On days like this the seagulls come along for the ride strutting around our barge.  Even the pelicans sometimes take a break from fishing and ride along for awhile, too


The barge kicked up spray as we plowed along occasionally ruffling our passengers' feathers.
If ya look close at the starboard bow corner ya can try to make out a rainbow effect in the spray.  The story is that when rainbows fade they fall into the water, and sometimes ya kick them up in the spray.
We passed a big house boat one day and the whole crew came to the wheelhouse to see us slowly pass it.  We talked about the lucky guys we saw on the stern drinking glasses filled with some kinda drink.  Based on the fruit we could see, we surmised "da lucky stiffs" were sitting there sippin' mojitos as we worked for a livin'.  All of us talkin' about how lucky they were to be lounging on that big ole boat.  As we passed by we began to talk and think about it and decided that just maybe we were the lucky ones.  After all we were in the same place, had all our food, fuel, etc. paid for, and were making a good livin', in the same place where these rich dudes decided to come to visit.  In a week or so they waved to us as they headed back up the river off to their world in the "Rat Race", while we kept right on riding around in our lil corner of heaven.  As me and the crew talked about it, we decided that maybe LONG holiday hitches weren't so bad after all .
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