Grand Harbor, TN to Joe Wheeler State Park, AL with a side trip to Jacksonville, FL (May 28 – June 22, 2018)

Grand Harbor, TN to Joe Wheeler State Park, AL with a side trip to Jacksonville, FL (May 28 – June 22, 2018)

Up a lazy river by the old mill run
Lazy river in the noonday sun
Linger awhile in the shade of a tree
Throw away your troubles, dream with me.

 From “Up A Lazy River” by Sidney Arodin and Hoagy Carmichael

Gone are the days of big waves, salt water, and open seas.  Now our days are more relaxed and less structured; they fit into the spirit of a true Southern summer.  Days are hot, pop up showers and quick thunderstorms are common each afternoon, and we decide moment to moment whether or not we will move along this lazy Tennessee River on our way to its end near Knoxville, TN.

IMG_4734A busy weekend on Pickwick Lake at Grand Harbor Marina.IMG_4735IMG_4737

Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake was really our first introduction to lake life on AfterMath. We enjoyed watching the countless boats zooming around on the lake every weekend and the calm waters and peacefulness of the lake during the week.  The people there were so friendly: Dave, the owner of the entire property, who made us the most amazing chicken-bacon-ranch pizza and then threw in a whole chicken and a pack of rolls to boot, Neely, the harbormaster, who just couldn’t have been more welcoming or made our stay any nicer, Jim and his wife, the previous owners who brought me a microwave when they heard mine was broken and we were waiting for a new one to come in, the transients we made friends and dined with, the people from the marina we met in the pool and about the docks, and the wonderful younger group who were the crew around the marina.

IMG_4608Memorials abound at Shiloh National Military ParkIMG_4609IMG_4617IMG_4612

IMG_4623IMG_4626IMG_4634The National Cemetery at ShilohIMG_4640

After a few days we rented a car and, after having a delicious lunch at the Catfish Hotel, we went to visit the highly recommended Shiloh National Military Park in Corinth, MS.  The visitors’ center at the park runs a very informative movie explaining the Civil War Battle of Shiloh, which was fought on April 6thand 7thin 1862 and which began when the Confederates launched a surprise attack on the Union forces in Tennessee.  Ulysses S. Grant had led the Union with the objective of obtaining Corinth, a major rail center that would give the North control of the region.  Initially the Confederates had success, but the Union then pushed back and won the battle. Both sides suffered greatly, however; a total of 23,000 men died. After viewing the movie, we drove through the park seeing first hand where so many fought and died during that time.

IMG_4643Then a road trip to Florida to visit with our grandkids.  Cupcakes for all!IMG_4644IMG_4646IMG_4650Outside at the Art MuseumIMG_4653IMG_4660Creativity at it’s best!IMG_4662IMG_4664

Soon, on June 4th, it was time to take the eleven-hour drive to Jacksonville, FL to visit with Kelly, Craig, Michaela, Carter, and Madison.  Kelly and Craig had to work on the 5th,and they also had a dinner to attend, so John and I had the grandchildren to ourselves.  It was pool time in the morning, then a quick lunch before we headed to a cupcake shop and then to an art museum with the kids.  The museum was a lot of fun for all of us.  I would say the big hits were the wishing fountain and the children’s area, with plenty to do for all.  It was “make your favorite pizza” for dinner, and then a movie, so all in all it was a great day for everyone.

IMG_4670That’s Potter, Michaela’s new kitten.IMG_4686This is four-year old Madison in her ballet costumeIMG_4705After the recital, along the waterfront in Jacksonville, Madison in her tap costume.IMG_4724IMG_4729

The next day, June 6th, was the day I had been waiting for.  Last year was Madison’s first ballet recital, and, as we were in the Bahamas, I had to miss it.  This year I scheduled my final eye doctor appointment for my cataract surgery to coincide with this year’s recital.  After a very successful appointment at Atlantic Eye Care (my vision is now 20/20), we met Kelly and the children who were at Madison’s dress rehearsal at Jacksonville Landing.  We had a great lunch there and then took Michaela and Carter with us while Madison finished her practice.  Soon everyone was home and it was time to get ready for the big night.  This year Madison was in two dances, both ballet and tap. For me, this was a very sentimental time.  Kelly was a dancer from the time she was two until she went to college, and even then she took classes when she could.  She danced in competition, in the Nutcracker and in a small dance company.  Dance was a big part of our lives and the recital was always an end to another year.  Being able to watch Madison continue in her mother’s footsteps was incredibly important to me and I was so thankful to be there.  The recital did not fail to impress us.  Of course Madison was wonderful and adorable, but both John and I really felt that the school put on a great show and we both thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the dances.

Unfortunately, our time in Jacksonville had to come to an end and we drove back to Grand Harbor on Thursday.  Our new microwave/convection oven arrived at the store on Friday and we drove over an hour to the nearest Home Depot to pick it up. Yes, the nearest Home Depot was over an hour away.  Pickwick Lake is pretty far from everything else in the world; even the nearest Wal-Mart is 45 minutes away.  We spent a good part of the next two days installing the new oven, and then from that point on, we truly got work done, but at a slow and easy schedule.  I, however, have not finished my project of polishing the stainless steel around the boat, but now both heads are working perfectly, the boat is clean from top to bottom, the oven is working great, and everything seems to be under control (knock on wood, please).  Of course, I spent countless hours in the pool, and I even got John to join me there on a couple of occasions.  As always, we planned to leave far before we did, but finally decided to relax on Father’s Day, wash the boat Monday, and leave on Tuesday, June 19th.

IMG_2221At the waterfall.IMG_4739This lock raises boats 85 feet at a rate of 55 million gallons over 20 minutes.  Note the house at the top for perspective.IMG_4745And here we are at the top!IMG_4753After the lock opened we were greeted by this very large barge waiting its turn.IMG_4759Now, on Wheeler Lake, this is the lodge at Joe Wheeler State Park.IMG_4767

Tuesday’s trip was easy up the lazy Tennessee River.  We stopped at a waterfall not far from Grand Harbor then continued to Florence, AL. There we borrowed the courtesy car to take a brief look around town and we are anxious to spend a little longer on the way back, but on Wednesday we got an early start as we had two locks to traverse before arriving in Alabama’s Joe Wheeler State Park.  The park here is just beautiful and we are docked directly in front of the big lodge.  Yesterday we took Tangent out for a ride to see the sights, and, once again, I have been making good use of the pool that is, this time, right in front of us. John, not quite the water lover I am, has been enjoying time planning our route up the Tennessee.

Now we look forward to seeing the towns ahead of us and viewing the beautiful scenery we are about to find.  Maybe we will even have some company soon!  In the meantime, we will take our time, enjoy the views and the clean water around us, and travel up a lazy river together, sharing our dreams, and wishing the very best for all of our friends and family.  We wish you all health, happiness, and the life you want to live.