Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. So goes the song, and so goes our time on Aftermath. Timing is everything when living on a boat, and sometimes we find ourselves needing to slow down and stay put before we can move along. Currently we are stalling for hurricane season at Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN. It’s a good time for projects and pool time; we are at a beautiful marina that provides us with a courtesy car, and, for the first time ever, we are in a covered dock. We did slip out for a while, however, to take a vacation from our vacation aboard.
After leaving Chattanooga, we moved along the Tennessee River, curving back and forth between the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. By the 30th of July we had arrived at Goose Pond Marina in Scottsboro, Alabama. We rented a car for a couple of days to check out the area and discovered a very interesting store while we were there: the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Apparently, back in 1970 a gentleman named Doyle Owens came up with the idea. He borrowed a truck and $300 and drove to Washington DC to buy unclaimed baggage from the airlines. He took it home and, on card tables, began selling the contents to whoever would buy it. Before long, Owens had the only lost luggage store in the United States. Over the next 40 years, he formed relationships with other airlines and other transportation companies and kept expanding. The store now encompasses 40,000 square feet, has its own café, and sells just about anything you can imagine. While visiting the Unclaimed Baggage Center, John and I bought a nice backpack, a new Compact Flash card for my camera, a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones, and a pair of sneakers, all in perfect condition. Also while there, I entered a drawing that takes place each day; the prize is to be able to open one of the suitcases and see first hand what might be in it. I had a great time being part of the fun and won a free (new) Unclaimed Baggage T-shirt and a coupon for our purchases.
We left Goose Pond on August 3rdand traveled to Ditto Landing Marina in Huntsville, AL. Once again we rented a car to tour the sights and scenery. Our first day we took a drive to Alabama’s Lake Guntersville State Park, a beautiful park that encompasses both the mountains and the lake. We also drove through the town of Guntersville, AL, as we missed it on our way north. The following day we were able to go to the NASA Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. Of course, this was on John’s list of go to destinations, but we both enjoyed the wonderful exhibits and tours there. I loved the life sized Space Station model that you can walk through and John especially loved the tour to International Space Station, Payload Operations Center where we could watch the people directly in contact with the Space Station in real time. This is also the home of the Space Camp for youngsters, and many were arriving for a week of exploration and learning while we were there. Although we spent the entire day there, we left thinking there was even more to see.
The next few days were travel days for us. We stayed at the Lucy Branch Marina one night and then at Joe Wheeler State Park the next. The following day took us through the lock at Wilson Dam near Florence, AL. This lock dropped us 94 feet; it is the highest single lock east of the Rocky Mountains. After passing through the lock we stayed at the Florence Municipal Marina on the nights of August 8th and 9th.
We arrived back at in Counce, TN on August 10th. Here, back with our good friends at Grand Harbor Marina, we settled in for an extended stay. It is important not to enter Florida too early during hurricane season, so, after weighing all of our options, we decided to stay at this marina which we enjoyed so much on our way north. Tucked in a covered slip, our boat stays cool. We also have a patio where we can put our cockpit table and chairs and have dinner watching the river. As an added bonus, because the dock is a distance from the ship store, and, especially, the pool, Neeley, the dockmaster, provided us with a golf cart to get around. Of course, I spend most afternoons at the pool while John putters on AfterMath.
Because we had time and because John hadn’t seen Jeff’s children since last December, we decided to take a road trip to Annapolis. On the way there we drove through the mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway, spending one night in a lovely old inn along the way. We completed our drive to Annapolis the following day and we were so excited to see everyone there. Jeff and Sarah’s house is always fun as there is so much going on! One day, as Jeff and Sarah were working, I was able to take Walter and Rush to school and to meet their new teachers. John and I then had Ford to ourselves and we were greatly entertained by the antics of a one year old. While in Annapolis, we baited and checked crab pots, only catching two, but we ate them anyway. We boated a lot, watched Walter out sailing on his own boat, enjoyed playing with the boys, took a trip to Washington Reagan, the airport from which Jeff flies, so that the boys could see the helicopters and fly paper airplanes in the hangar, and met up with our niece, Sarah, her husband, Jason, and little Annie for a visit to the park and to a Mexican restaurant. We attended a christening ceremony for their new boat, Toboggan, which replaces the old Toboggan, and took a trip across the bay on it to have dinner at Hemmingway’s. As always, there is never enough time to spend with family, but we really enjoyed our visit in Annapolis.
On the way back to AfterMath, we drove the length of the Skyline Drive in Virginia on to Nashville, TN. We spent the day exploring the city, first stopping at the Parthenon there. It is a full sized model of the real Parthenon in Greece, and was originally built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. The building is now an art museum, but its central piece is, just as it was in Greece, a gold plated 42-foot tall statue of Athena who is holding an impressive shield next to a snake in one hand, and Nike in her other. During the day we also visited downtown Nashville, passed by the Ryman Auditorium, where the Grand Ole Opry began, and went to explore the new Grand Ole Opry site when it wasn’t crowded.
That evening we were excited to attend the Opry for our first time. While Rascal Flatts was supposed to be there, they unfortunately had to cancel, but we saw, in this order, Jeannie Seely, the Del McCoury band, Chris Janson, Mandy Barnette, Charles Esten, and Darius Rucker. They were all great but Chris Janson, who just found out that day that he was up for three CMA awards and had a new song in the top ten, was the most entertaining act of the night, and Darius Rucker with his familiar tunes such as Wagon Wheel, was fabulous.
Wednesday morning we set out after a nice breakfast and picked up Kirby who had stayed in Nashville at a “Pet Resort” while we were away. Traveling along the Natchez Trace Highway, we enjoyed scenery and, after just a couple of hours, returned to AfterMath at Grand Harbor. It had been a wonderful trip away from home.
Back aboard, we started some projects that had been waiting for us. John always has a list a mile long, but his big job right now is more teak work, in particular, the teak from the cockpit and the flying bridge. My kitchen counter is now covered in pieces of wood as the humidity and the spiders outside do not allow for the sterile environment John needs. I was working on sewing projects such as new covers for our fenders that were so destroyed by the numerous locks, and plan to begin soon, new cushions for the bow seat and the flying bridge, but with my workspace used up by teak, my jobs are currently on hold.
We will stay here another couple of weeks before heading down the river system again. Time goes quickly somehow, even when we are not underway. We are working on our plans for our family Thanksgiving in the Isle of Palms, SC, but as of this week, we are watching the storm that is barreling to the east coast. For all of our family and friends in harms way, we are thinking of you and praying you all fare well this weekend as Florence approaches. Stay safe, hold on to those you love, and, please, don’t try to weather the storm if you can remove yourself from it. Life is precious, take care of yours.