David Tschiggfrie suggested we let all of you know how the day with Franz, Carmen and Leonie went, so here goes..

On late Sunday night things were not looking very optimistic. We were predicting a 10:00 to 10:15 A.M. arrival of the Mississippi Queen at Lock 8 which is three miles south of our home but a half hour to the JBS dock for an 11:00 cruise. By early Monday morning things were looking much better and the estimated time of arrival moved closer to 9 A.M. or shortly thereafter. The boat entered the lock chamber right on schedule and there they were, standing at the top of the stairs all decked out in orange work vests. The water level was changed. They came down to the bow. The milk crate (I think to be used as the first step) was placed next to the lock wall ladder and up they all came.

The Lock Master was on the wall to handle lines and after the boat was let loose he invited all of us into the lock house for a brief tour. He showed photos of when the original lock was built and explained the system. Then it was on to a quick stop at our home. We were joined by our daughter and her two children who were eager to see Leonie again. It is amazing to watch kids who do not have a common language interact and seem to understand each other.

We got to the Julia Belle Swain about 20 minutes before departure and made the introductions. Carl Henry, the former JBS pilot who went on to become the head mate on River Barge and now is the captain on the m/v Dennis Collins, joined us. Franz and Carmen had only visited briefly with Carl in New Orleans. As the boat prepared for departure, our daughter Heidi, grandson Michael, granddaughter Kate, Leonie, Bill and I left the boat. Leonie got a little teary-eyed. The boat pulled away and the six of us headed for the park.

We were back at the landing as the JBS approached with Franz and Carmen in the pilot house . When they got off the boat, Franz’s first words were, “I got to steer.” He talked about how the boat handled and how it felt to have his hands of the wheel. He was a pretty happy guy!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then we all walked back to the Mississippi Queen. Carl joined us again. Most of us headed to the pilot house to visit with Jim Davis. I’m not sure if many of you have had the opportunity to meet him. He is quite the character….lots of fun and a little crazy……also a well respected and very capable pilot. He entertained us for well over an hour. Franz blew the departure whistle and was invited to join Jim at 11:00 that night to ride in the pilot house. I’ll bet Franz did some steering on that boat also…..at least I hope so!!!!!

Our time together was nearing the end. We all agreed we could not have planned a more perfect day. The ski was blue, the winds were light and to use a line from an old song, “who could ask for anything more…..”