Closing in on Birdsong Creek, we hailed Bob, the owner of Birdsong Marina, on the radio. The air was thick and the sun was burning our skin, but it was a beautiful day and Bob had taken his family out on the pontoon boat to meet us at the entrance to the creek and guide us inside. Meandering our way through buoys, trusting the zigzag route that our leader was taking, despite the fact that in some cases, he was driving outside of the channel.
Two miles back, lays Birdsong Resort and Marina, just before the creek turns into a mud pit. We were passing pontoon boats and fishermen tucked into small coves and inlets. A couple of disguised hunting shacks dotted the shoreline and small islands peaked out above the water.
Noah, a mechanic at the Marina, guided us into the fuel dock with ease.
While coasting into the narrow space, RJ asked, “So what is this beauty we’re parked next to?”
Noah chuckled. “Well, that, that’s got a good story.”
He proceeded to tell us that Bob had purchased one of the retired Memphis Queen paddle steamers a few years back. Two tow companies attempted pushing the Queen through the sludge and sharp turns of the creek before giving up and a third tow company had to be called in. Miraculously, they found a way to get her to her home at Birdsong Creek. At some point during the last day of it’s trip, the boat must have hit something and sprung a leak. This went unnoticed, until after the boat had been tied up, left to gradually sink for the next few days. I’m sure it was a disappointment, but the Memphis Queen still left quite an impression on us, even underwater.
There were spider webs where windows used to be and rust was peeling off in layers like chipped nail polish. A row of turtles rested on a railing barely peaking out from the water. Looking through the windows, we saw chairs and tables floating around, imagining what else might be found in there.
While RJ was filling us up on fuel, I stepped into the small boat store. There was a desk with pamphlets about the area, some shelves with candy bars, and an open jar of pickles next to another of pickled eggs. I was unsure of how long they had been sitting there and proceeded further inside. There was a cooler with a couple of beers. Half of the room wasn’t even lit up by lights, but full of fishing supplies. At least, I assumed, though everything was covered in dust.
I explored the rest of the dock: wooden water skis, deflated rafts, fish tanks with anything but fish in them, an ice chest, a shopping cart, and more spider webs. Spider webs seemed to be the foundation that was holding the marina together.
Grabbing our laundry, I threw it in the shopping cart and headed up the hill (remember, we still had seed ticks to deal with). After finishing a few “to-dos,” we pulled the boat around to it’s home for the evening. We were in a covered slip, which was fortunate as we expected rain and we have still yet to fix a couple leaks on the boat. We ended up next to a second sunken boat, though this one wasn’t as monstrous as the Memphis Queen. Peaking through the windows of a small houseboat, the blinds still intact though covered with dried slime, we didn’t see anything of interest inside.
At this point, it was almost 5:30 p.m. and having heard that there was a drive-in theater about a mile and a half away, we knew our plans for the night. After asking Bob if we were able to take the courtesy car for a few hours, he asked us, “How is it that two kids from somewhere in Ohio knew about our little drive-in? There’s no other drive-in theaters within a hundred miles. Of course you can take the truck.” A quick drive to Walmart for snacks, and we were set.
Pulling in to the farm-turned-theater, we parked ourselves among the ten or so other cars, bought some popcorn, cleaned the windshield, and sat back to watch Blade Runner 2049 (which was amazing by the way, though this is not a movie review). Leaving the theater, we listened to the closing credits as we drove down the dark country road, yawning our way back to the boat.
Transferring our clothing from the washer to dryer, we headed to the showers. Time to scrub our bodies with loofahs and lice shampoo. We didn’t make it to bed until well after midnight, feeling cleaner than we’ve ever felt in our entire lives.
Waking up the next morning, quite late, we paid to stay another night.
Our second day, though lazy, was pleasant. We drove to the center of town, one small block, and walked through the two open stores. One, an antique store, curated to perfection. We bought two wooden spoons for forty-nine cents total and got advice about where to watch a football game (all RJ wanted to do). The second store, a used store, think Goodwill, but more personalized.
We took a short visit to Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, which sat on the shore of a portion of Kentucky Lake that we had already passed by. Climbing the mountain, in the truck of course, as we were not even close to being in the mood to go back outside and encounter ticks again anytime soon, we made our way to the Tennessee River Folklife Center. It’s a small museum that serves free popcorn and coffee.
It had some history about a battle during the civil war, which this town still seemed immensely proud of. Displays were circling a small boat in the center of the room. We learned about oyster harvesting on the river, how it began with grabbing the oysters between your toes to pick them up and advanced towards scuba diving. The pearl is supposedly the state gem of Tennessee. We read about the religious cleansing properties of the river and our personal favorite, a quote about how stories told on the river can sound exaggerated and extravagant, but you should never question their truth.
Taking some back roads to grab a beer at a local hot spot, RJ got his fix of football before we headed to Walmart for a real shopping trip. We loaded up and returned to the marina, but not before pulling aside for quite possibly the best sunset to have ever existed. A friend of mine wrote once that each person gets to paint the sky at least once after they die. A sincere thank you to whomever had painted it that evening.
And so we spent our second night at Birdsong Creek. And somehow, the next day, we opted to stay a third.
Waving goodbye to Birdsong Resort when we finally decided to leave, we were thankful for not always trusting the two star reviews of previous patrons.