From Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake, Counce, TN to Niceville, FL  (September 12 – October 25, 2018)

From Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake, Counce, TN to Niceville, FL (September 12 – October 25, 2018)

Finally it was time. As much as we loved Grand Harbor, it was time to begin our 450-mile trip along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway heading south again.  Before we left, John completed refinishing all of the teak, painted inside every locker and cabinet you can think of, and spent days polishing the hull until it looked better than it ever had before.  The boat was scrubbed from top to bottom as well.  To assure us that it was really time to leave, Grand Harbor closed their swimming pool for the season; a sure sign that we needed to move on.

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From our dock on Pickwick Lake we watched these beautiful clouds which were the far outer bands of Hurricane Florence

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This is Alisha. She lives on a paddleboat at Grand Harbor and she has three raccoon rescues who live with her.

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Shortly after leaving Pickwick Lake on October 8

Early in the morning on October 8th, we pulled away from our dock at Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake.  We were both excited to be on our way and the morning was beautiful.  Our first stop was at Midway Marina in Fulton, Mississippi. It was there that we began meeting a lot of cruisers who are making the Great Loop trip, a 6000-mile circle that encompasses the eastern half of the United States and Canada.  Previously, we have been out of sync with this group, always going the opposite direction or hanging out where they typically do not go. At Midway Marina, though, we found some of those “Loopers” who were just slightly ahead of the majority, and we began making friends who were traveling south, just as we were.

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In Columbus, MS. This is Tennessee Williams first home. It is painted exactly the same as it was when he lived here.

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Columbus, MS historic downtown district.

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At the town park in Columbus, MS

 

The following day, we moved to Columbus Marina in Columbus, MS.  It was a much longer trip that day than we expected as we were held up for four hours of lock delays. We stayed in Columbus for two days, as did most of the others at the dock, as we waited to see what Hurricane Michael had in store for the area.  Thankfully the storm did not appear to be getting close to us so, on October 11th, we departed for an anchorage for the first time in almost three months.  It was so nice to be “on the hook” again after such a long time in marinas.

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As if in a fairy land, steam rose from the water early in the morning on the day we left for Demopolis.

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We traveled past those impressive white cliffs on a day when the sky was as blue as it could be.

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Following Mark and Heather aboard Bushranger down the ICW. They flew from Australia, came to the US, and bought a boat, just to do the Great Loop.

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Right next to the marina is a cotton field. Growing cotton is a novelty for those of us who grew up in Connecticut.

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Here are Ron and Judy aboard Ginger G. This was the most unique boat we have met on our adventure.

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Ginger G’s mascot, this is Powder.

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I was able to check out the interior of Ginger G

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And what boat would be without a Harley on the stern? Note the 50 gallon oil drums they fill with fuel to extend their range.

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Knights in shining armor are handy on a boat too.

October 12th brought us to Kingfisher Marina in Demopolis, Alabama.  There we passed the time for a few days swimming in the pool, using the courtesy car to provision for the upcoming voyage, and enjoying nightly happy hours with the Loopers as we all waited to assess the damage from Hurricane Michael on the Florida Panhandle.  Everyone in the group was planning to travel along the shore from Mobile, AL to somewhere on the west coast of Florida, and everyone wanted to find out what the horrible destruction that had occurred meant to them and their plans.

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Anyone wondering why it takes us so long to traverse a river only needs to look at our chart plotter. We go a long way to cover a little distance!

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The last lock of our voyage. Our 264th.

Finally on October 16th, a group of five boats, including AfterMath, made their way to an anchorage called Bashee Creek, and the following day, the group continued on to another anchorage, Sunflower East.  That day, the 17th, we passed through the last lock on the Tennessee-Tombigbee River; and despite the two and one-half hour delay due to tugboat traffic, we were happy to have completed our 264th lock aboard AfterMath and to be done with locks on our adventure.

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Mobile, AL Harbor. I was so excited to have some different subjects to photograph!

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Passing through Mobile, we once again spotted the Ginger G

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Out in Mobile Bay. The first shrimp boat I’ve seen for quite a while!

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After another night of anchoring along the river, we continued our way southward and we were very excited to enter the very busy Mobile Harbor.  It had been a long time since we had seen that much action! Ships everywhere, containers of every color stacked up waiting to be loaded onto ships of foreign ports, cranes lined up along the water’s edge, and busy people working in the port.  After so many months and days along the peaceful rivers, we were both surprisingly excited to see so much action.  And, as soon as we left the city and entered the bay, we were greeted by Kirby’s favorite entertainment: lots of dolphins.  The dolphins were following a shrimp boat, hoping for a free meal, I suppose; it was a beautiful sight and made us so happy to be back in salt water again.

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Passing Lulu’s, Jimmy Buffet’s sister’s restaurant, where we spent a few days when heading up the rivers.

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The cement structures are some kind of artificial reef. I’m not sure why the boat is on the barge!

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You can’t imagine how happy I was to see this sign.

We arrived at Dog River Marina in Mobile, AL that afternoon.  John changed the oil in the engines and caught up on more never ending maintenance while we were there.  We also enjoyed visiting with the Loopers again and had a nice dinner out with a group of five couples one evening.  After getting as much information as we could, we decided it was time to start heading east on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) along the Panhandle.  The first night, October 22nd, found us in a gorgeous, peaceful anchorage called Ingram Bay and on the 23rd we finally re-entered Florida!  It was so nice to see the white sand beaches along the ICW again and to know we were back in this beautiful state.  That night we anchored in Navarre Cove, not too far from Elgin Air Force Base. Navarre Cove was not a particularly quiet anchorage, however, as the Air Force Base was running artillery exercises that kept Kirby on edge for a few hours.

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Back in Florida, where it is always summer.

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Our first sight of the sinking boat.

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Here it is starting to rise again.

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Almost all of the way up.

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And the Naomi is ready to be moved.

Yesterday we arrived at Blue Water Bay Marina in Niceville, Florida.  As we arrived we saw two fishing boats tied up to each other. One, however, was half sunk! There was a lot of activity around those two boats, and, after we docked, the people who work at the marina told us that the sunken one was simply coming into the marina for fuel when the boat started to go down.  Apparently it had happened just minutes before we arrived, so, of course, we pulled up chairs on the dock along with our neighbors, and had fun watching the excitement.  It was so interesting to see the activity: the Coast Guard arrived, but left after they were sure everyone was safe, the marina personnel had a workboat out to help, and, of course, Tow Boat US remained on the scene in case they were called to action.  After a few hours of pumping water, people swimming, and who knows what else, apparently they were able to at least patch up the boat, raise it, and, after dark, they moved it away for what I’m sure will be more repairs.

Today was a rainy and cool day, so we stayed at Blue Water Marina to await a nicer ride tomorrow. We continuously meet up with our new friends now, and expect we will do the crossing with them from Carabelle, farther east along the Panhandle, to Tarpon Springs or nearby, next week when we get a good weather window.  It will be an overnight trip of 160 miles and 23 non-stop hours, so we want to be sure it is calm and clear.

This part of the trip has been fun.  Although we knew we were leaving a part of the country we might not have otherwise explored, we were ready to leave the rivers.  Along the way we have met so many interesting people.  We met Steve, from the UK, who is doing the whole loop on a kayak by himself, Ron and Judy, who are probably on the most interesting boat we have seen along the way, Mark and Heather, who came all the way from Australia to travel the Loop, and Lynn and Doug, who have an African Grey Parrot that can talk a mile a minute and can convince Kirby to come to him every time he whistles.  We had a wonderful dinner aboard Milton and Julie’s Hatteras, enjoyed Phyllis and Sonny’s company again, as we had met them in Apalachicola and in Dog River Marina on our way north, and so many others.

Tomorrow we will pass through Panama City and, I expect, see the horrible devastation left by Hurricane Michael.  We are so sorry for those who lost so much in this storm and during Hurricane Florence, just last month.  We are respectful of Mother Nature as we travel, always watching, always adjusting our plans to stay safe.  For now, though, we will continue on our way, meeting new friends, seeing new places, and living the dream we have created for ourselves.  We wish you all a safe journey; whether your dreams take you near or far, enjoy every day, make someone happy, and be kind and loving. It is the only way to weather any storm.

Back to Grand Harbor in Counce, TN and a Trip to Annapolis and Nashville By Way of the Mountains (July 30 – September 11, 2018)

Back to Grand Harbor in Counce, TN and a Trip to Annapolis and Nashville By Way of the Mountains (July 30 – September 11, 2018)

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.

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The Unclaimed Baggage Center, Scottsboro, AL

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Racks and racks of unclaimed clothing

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Yes, there is a whole rack of unclaimed bridal gowns.

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John is picking out a Bose headphone set

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Might you men need some blue suede shoes? If not, how about some sparkly ones?

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Here I am, getting ready to open that bag to see what might have been left behind.

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.

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Leaving Goose Pond. Since our visit earlier in the summer, the water plants had grown exponentially. The color they added to the scenery was spectacular.

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A beautiful day on the Tennessee River

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The view from the top of Lake Guntersville State Park in Alabama

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At the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL

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This is a model of the Pathfinder Space Shuttle, which was built by NASA and used as a test model for size on the launch pad, etc.

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Part of the International Space Station model

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These men are in constant contact with the astronauts on the International Space Station.

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Flags of the many countries that are part of the Space Station

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This is Saturn V. The size is just amazing.

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.

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The Wilson Dam, a lock that raises and lowers boats 94 feet.

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.

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At the pool at Grand Harbor Marina.

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.

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Sweet little Ford!

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Walter in front of his school

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Rush attends school here too!

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Love that baby face.

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Clyde wants some attention too

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Loving that Papa (Jeff) is a pilot of those cool helicopters

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That’s one happy Rush to be sitting in a helicopter.

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And Walt gets the right seat.

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Bop loved it too! Rush is supervising.

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I love this picture of Jeff and Rush

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All three boys got a turn to go up on the stand and fly their paper airplanes in the hangar

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Meeting Teddy Roosevelt. Rush said to John, when he heard that this was a statue of Teddy, “Wow, he sure was big!”

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That’s Annie. She loved being pushed around by her big cousins.

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A view from the bridge that leads to the Theodore Roosevelt monument. That is Georgetown in the background. This park is quiet and beautiful. It is also one that many seem to miss while visiting Washington DC

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Ford wants to go up to the fly bridge with the big guys

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And he got up there!

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Jeff’s new “Toboggan” at dock at Hemmingway’s Restaurant

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The christening of Toboggan with the use of sparkling tonic water so everyone could have a sip.

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Clyde doesn’t miss out on any fun!

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Six year old Walt, sailing his very own boat.

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Crazy shenanigans on the water mat

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.

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Along Skyline Drive

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Nashville’s Parthenon

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The Parthenon is built to the exact scale of the Greek Parthenon

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Athena, with John in front of her to show her size.

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Her shield and snake

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The face on Athena’s shield

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The goddess, Nike, getting ready to crown Athena

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Downtown Nashville

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Outside the Grand Ole Opry building

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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.

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Let the show begin!

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This was during intermission. It was a packed crowd that night

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Del McCoury

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Chris Janson

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Charles Esten

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.

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Back to the Tennessee River

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.

From Chattanooga, TN to Knoxville,TN and Back to Chattanooga and Great Times with Chris and Sam (July 6 – July 29, 2018)

From Chattanooga, TN to Knoxville,TN and Back to Chattanooga and Great Times with Chris and Sam (July 6 – July 29, 2018)

After leaving Chattanooga, the trip up the river was nearing its end.  A marina not far from Knoxville, TN was as far north and east as we were planning to go, and, with the exception of a 30-mile run up the Little Tennessee River to be at the base of the Smokey Mountains, the time was coming when we would need to turn around and head downstream.  The area promised to be a great place to do some sight seeing, however, and to meet up with our friends, Chris and Sam, who were joining us for part of the trip.

Our first stop on July 6th was at a wonderful family run place by the name of Terrace View Marina in Spring City, TN.  Here, we met Mark and Heather, and their seven home-schooled children.  The children charmed us with their outgoing personalities and polite manners.  The marina has a restaurant and a pool, and on Saturday, hosted a poker run for pontoon boats.  We really enjoyed Terrace View and put it on our list of those places to stop on the way back down the river.

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Back when we lived in Bethel, Ct, we were pretty sure we had a steep driveway.  Ours was nothing compared to this one on the right!

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The barbecue food truck at Long Island Marina

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Enjoying lunch and country music at the Long Island Marina

Next we moved on to Long Island Marina in Kingston, TN.  Another great stop, this little marina is run by Marla, a very pleasant lady who was happy to have us, even though we took up most of her gas dock by being there. Long Island Marina does not have a restaurant, but it does have a great tradition; each weekend day a food truck arrives to serve guests delicious meals, and on the day we arrived, music was provided as well.  We had a great barbeque lunch while enjoying the view and the country music played by a local artist.

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I found the rock cliffs along the river so interesting.  So many were diagonal.  You could just imagine the earth being pushed up as the land shifted below.

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University of Tennessee’s stadium in Knoxville, TN

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At the World’s Fair Park in Knoxville, TN

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Also at the World’s Fair Park in Knoxville

On July 9th we arrived at our farthest point up the Tennessee River by boat, Fort Loudon Marina in Lenoir City, TN.  While we originally planned to go to Knoxville aboard AfterMath, we studied the map and found that Fort Loudon Marina was a perfect place to allow us access to rent a car and do some exploring of the area, including the city of Knoxville itself.  We stayed at Fort Loudon for several days, with the exception of one night where we moved to an anchorage as the marina had a large group of boats coming in and they needed our dock space.  John and I rented a car while at Fort Loudon and the first day we drove in to see what Knoxville had to offer.  I felt pretty guilty taking pictures of the University of Tennessee football stadium, being University of Florida fans, but I did enjoy seeing the World’s Fair Park there.

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High in the mountains

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At one end of the Tail of the Dragon

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In the Great Smokey Mountain National Park

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Gatlinburg, TN.  

The next day we took a day trip through the nearby mountains.  I researched driving trips in the area and we came up with a plan for our day.  Our first adventure that day was to drive the “Tail of the Dragon”.  This road sounded interesting, as it was a favorite for motorcyclists and sports car drivers.  In 11 miles, the drive has 318 curves that travel up and down the mountain. By the end of the drive, both Kirby and I had had quite enough of those curves, and I refused to do it as a return trip.  John was kind about our carsick feelings and took us on a much nicer, and calmer, drive through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park and into Gatlinburg, TN.

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Back up in the Smokey Mountains

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Sam finding the Appalachian Trail

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John’s turn to show off his hiking abilities on the trail.  Do you think he hiked all the way from Maine?

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At an overlook I saw this group and asked if I could take their picture.  They were the “Iron Pigs”.  Checking it out later, I found out they are all police officers.  What a nice group!

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Chris at a swimming hole in the park

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AfterMath in Fort Loudon Marina

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Silos still showing above the water on Tellico Lake

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Fort Loudon

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A beautiful ride up Tellico River, also called the Little Tennessee

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Chris and I got up to capture sunrise from our anchorage.

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We stayed in that water for hours

Chris and Sam arrived on July 17th, for their fifth trip with us, loaded with goodies as always. We looked at weather and decided to do another road trip the next day through the mountains before leaving our dock. Soon, however, it was time to move on. All along the way we heard that the prize destination was the Tellico River, also known as the Little Tennessee River.  The Tellico River, and much of the controlled Tennessee River, was formed by flooding towns and farms, and along the way it’s easy to see buildings that are still partially emerged from the water.  Soon, however, we were at the base of the mountains in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  It’s a beautiful sight to see the colors that change as the sun sets and rises over the scenery, and, for us, what started as a quick dip in the water turned into a few hour-long soak in the lake.  After a night at anchor in this gorgeous scenery, we returned to Fort Loudon Marina for one more night before beginning our downstream voyage.  We had traveled 1008 miles since leaving the Gulf Coast at Montgomery, AL and risen 814 feet above sea level by way of eighteen locks.

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AfterMath at Long Island Marina, taking up most of the gas dock!

Retracing our steps, we took Chris and Sam to Long Island Marina where this time the food truck was called “Waffley Good”.  While John and Chris ate waffle sandwiches stuffed with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries, Sam and I were more adventurous, Sam eating a bacon, chicken, ranch waffle and me having a BLT waffle.  No matter what, we enjoyed our stay at this tiny marina where AfterMath was oversized but the people were friendly and welcoming.

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The snow cone boat comes to Terrace View Marina on occasion.  The kids are thrilled, of course.

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The children at the marina were given a pygmy pig.  Kirby got to meet the pig one afternoon.  He loved it!

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On our way to the grocery store Chris and I ran across this trading post.  We had a great time looking around.

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As always, meeting the local people is the highlight of any day.

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This swallow and her babies were camped out on the boat next to ours.

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Getting ready for the fire fighters practice at Terrace View Marina. Heather is in the blue shirt and black shorts.  William, one of the kids in the family, is next to her.  Jackson, another son, is in the rear in a grey shirt and black shorts. 

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Mark, the dad, and two of his girls, Molly and Annie.

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Fire departments sure seem to have fun!

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July 22nd took us back to Terrace View Marina.  It’s really surprising how much we all loved this stop.  Chris and I spent countless hours at the pool over the next couple of days and we all enjoyed a great dinner at La Hacienda, a Mexican and Italian restaurant in town.  One night, the local fire departments conducted training at the marina. The kind owners held a full dinner for the fire fighters and, by way of two adorable kids bearing a home made flyer, we were also invited to attend.  Mark and Heather served smoked pork, pork loin, an assortment of barbeque sauces, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and Texas sheet cake to all who came to share in the fun.  After dinner the fire fighters had a great time with demonstrations of their hose power and rescue boats.  We loved our time at Terrace View and truly hated leaving such a family oriented place.

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Such a beautiful sunset at anchor.

We were back at anchor on the 25th.  Anxious to jump in, we were soon shocked by some of the coldest water we have felt in a very long time on the Hiawassee River.  Although we were never sure why this water was so cold, we still enjoyed floating around and enjoying the scenery.

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On the 100 year old carousel in Coolidge Park, Chattanooga, TN

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Each beautiful animal has been hand carved.

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Fun for all ages!!

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The beautiful splash pad in front of the carousel at the park

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Next stop, the Tennessee Aquarium

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The view from the top of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN

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The ride on the Incline Railway was quite the thrill!

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At its steepest point, this car travels at a 72% grade.

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Chris and I were great sports as the guys explored the International Towing and Recovery Museum

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After dinner the night before they left.  It’s hard to believe we have known each other for 60 years now.

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Chris bought the guys these hats and they modeled them for us as they got ready to leave on Sunday morning.  It was a wonderful visit and the time passes way too quickly!

We arrived back in Chattanooga on the 26th and that is where we spent the rest of our time with our wonderful visitors.  John and I had left plenty to do in this city for when we had company and together we all enjoyed riding the carousel, visiting the park, lunching in the German beer house, visiting the aquarium, riding the incline railway to the top of Lookout Mountain, and, John and Sam’s favorite, visiting the International Towing and Recovery Museum.  We topped it all off with an amazing dinner at Hennen’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant. It was so hard to say goodbye again to our good friends when they left on Sunday, but it’s nice to know that we will find them again somewhere in the near future.

So, now we are now heading back towards Florida.  We will travel slowly, stopping for a month or so again at Grand Harbor Marina at the junction of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.  The Tennessee River has brought us to, what was for us, an unexplored part of America.  I’m not sure that we would have ever spent time in this area of the country if we were not traveling aboard AfterMath, but it has been an eye opening experience full of kind people who were happy to have us see what the true south is like. We look back at our lives over the last three years and we are in awe of the people we have met, the sights we have seen, and the things we have learned about the nation and the world.  Our eyes have been opened to new opinions, different values, and unfamiliar cultures.  Travel is surely a learning experience.  To quote one of my favorite authors, Pat Conroy, “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”  Hopefully, we will never forget, never have our minds break off from, this adventure of a lifetime.

Joe Wheeler State Park to Chattanooga, TN (June 24 – July 5, 2018)

Joe Wheeler State Park to Chattanooga, TN (June 24 – July 5, 2018)

The Tennessee River between Joe Wheeler State Park and Chattanooga twists and turns through Alabama and Tennessee, almost touches Georgia, and switches from Central Time to Eastern Standard Time.  The riverbanks often are high stone cliffs, and mountains appear on the horizon; the scenery changes with each passing mile.  Finally we were in Chattanooga and spending time at one of our principle summer destinations.

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Grain processing plant along the river

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Here is where Meow Mix is made!

We pulled out of the beautiful Joe Wheeler State Park in Alabama on June 25th and traveled to the Riverwalk Marina in Decatur, Alabama.  This small marina, in a cove off of the Tennessee River, had been hard hit by a storm in April, sinking boats and collapsing the structure that covers the slips there.  We docked on a rather rickety dock that did not have power, but we did fine for one night. There was no discussion, however, about whether we wanted to stay an extra night!

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The scenery changes as Chattanooga is approached.

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High cliff walls along the way

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Debbie and Dave Smith, new friends who just purchased a 48′ Hatteras LRC like AfterMath

The next two nights were spent in Huntsville and Guntersville, both in Alabama, before moving on to Goose Pond Colony Resort in Scottsboro, Alabama.  At Goose Pond, we were happy to meet Debbie and David Smith, a very nice couple who just purchased a Hatteras LRC like ours.  We spent time touring each other’s boats, having dinner and a night of entertainment together, and talking about our travels and plans for the future.  Hopefully there will be more meet ups with Debbie and Dave in the future.

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At the free dock at the state recreational area

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Look at this young boy’s fishing rod

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Here is his catch!

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Hales Bar – an early multipurpose dam on the Tennessee River 

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Some early morning views along the river

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A morning drink along the river for this deer

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Kudzu was brought from Japan to help prevent erosion.  Now it has overtaken much of the landscape.

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As we got close to Chattanooga we saw this funny little tour boat

On June 29th we motored to a pretty recreational area that provided a free dock for transients. I found the swimming area quickly and finally was able to get into the water of the Tennessee River.  The view was beautiful with clean water, people fishing and swimming from the docks, and the first true views of mountains as a backdrop.  Finally, the following day, we arrived in Chattanooga, TN.  As we approached the city, we noticed our phones had changed times, and we were back to EST for the first time in three months.

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One of the many duck tour boats on the river

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Any kind of watercraft can be found on the Tennessee River

 

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From the pedestrian bridge.  AfterMath is front and center, the Southern Belle is on the right under the bridge.

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That’s John on the pedestrian bridge

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Coolidge Park at the north end of the bridge

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Looking back across the river from the north side

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Splash pad in Coolidge Park

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Such a cute couple on the bridge.  She asked me to take their picture on her phone, so I asked if I could also take one for the blog

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The waterfall pool on the river in Chattanooga

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At the base of the waterfall pool

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The pedestrian bridge at night

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Inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel

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This train is affectionately known as the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  In truth, there was no one train called by that name

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A few more shots of the hotel

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The aquarium on the waterfront

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Getting ready for the fireworks on July 3rd.

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The Southern Belle out for the fireworks tour.

Chattanooga is a vibrant, hot, humid, and hilly city.  To get anywhere around town visitors must be prepared to climb stairs and hills, but it is well worth the effort.  We arrived in time for the Fourth of July holiday and we spent the first couple of days exploring by foot, by tour trolley, and by the free shuttle that transports people around town.  There is a wonderful pedestrian bridge that spans the Tennessee River and connects north and south Chattanooga, and we were docked right under it.  From AfterMath we could watch the converted Army Duck Boats as they brought tourists past us, see the big paddleboat, Southern Belle, make its way up and down the river, and watch all of the action as boaters traveled through the city.  We spent some time at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, now a hotel that was made from a converted train station and that was named in honor of the old song by the same name.  The hotel, of course, houses a train by the name of the Chattanooga Choo Choo in its garden and over night guests can choose to rent a train car to stay in instead of a hotel room if they like.  We were rewarded with a fabulous fireworks display directly overhead for the National holiday; we watched from the fly bridge of the boat while eating cheeseburgers. It was time to move along on July 5th, but we made plans to see more of the attractions as we pass back through on our way west on the river in a few weeks.

So, we are looking forward to returning to Chattanooga again.  The sights ahead, however, are waiting for us and we are ready to continue to make our way east and north along the river, and we are excited to know that Chris and Sam will be joining us near Knoxville for more of the trip. For now, we will continue on the last leg of our Tennessee River journey before starting back downstream.  We are enjoying traveling the inland waterways of our country, finding new friends along the way, and visiting new places, all while “living the dream”.

 

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.

From Mobile, Alabama to Pickwick Lake, Tennessee (May 15 – May 29, 2018)

From Mobile, Alabama to Pickwick Lake, Tennessee (May 15 – May 29, 2018)

It’s a long way from Mobile, Alabama to Pickwick Lake on the Mississippi/Tennessee border.  It would feel long even if there were not floating trees to dodge and massive barges to be navigated around, but add to the mix, the numerous locks to traverse, the very few anchorages or marinas to stop at, and the season’s first named storm brewing, and the distance seems even longer. In this situation, ten-hour days become the norm, and time off from traveling feels like a reward well earned.

IMG_2056This smiling guy swam by while we were still in Mobile, ALIMG_4403Leaving Mobile, we saw this ocean exploration vessel.IMG_4405Mobile, AL skylineIMG_2068Barges are king on the rivers.IMG_2073This little guy was along for the ride.IMG_2089I wondered where all the logs and debris could come from, and then it became apparent.  One side of the river has calm beaches but the other side has banks that are badly eroding, and trees fall from those banks and float down the waterway.  Here is the beach side.IMG_2094And here is a side with severe erosion.IMG_4425This cute little dragonfly rode with me for quite a long while!IMG_4438More beach vs. erosion on the Tombigbee River.IMG_4445IMG_4453IMG_4456The first of several locks we traversed.  We were alone in every one except this and one other.IMG_4459IMG_4461A beautiful morning scene.IMG_4468These rocks almost seem to be painted.IMG_4479IMG_2103Reflections on the river.IMG_2126IMG_2130A tiny hut for fishermen?IMG_2138White pelicans at the base of the dam.IMG_2140Next to the next lock were these pretty dramatic falls coming over the dam.  Apparently they are good for fishing.

We left Mobile on May 16thafter accomplishing everything we hoped for at Dog River Marina. It felt so good to be on our way again, and from reports we had heard, the Tombigbee River was in much better condition than it had been over the previous weeks.  It was good we waited because there were still countless huge logs and trees floating south as we moved north, and those that weren’t floating were sunken with little showing above the waterline.  For John, especially, putting in long days was truly exhausting.  Rest did not come easily, however, as many of the anchorages we expected to suit us well were too small or too shallow for us to squeeze into.  We managed to find small anchorages two nights, but one night was spent right on the river after asking a tugboat captain to warn others of our presence. Anchoring on the river itself is frightening as it is narrow and its path twists, often in 180-degree turns; there is always the possibility of a tug with barges three wide and three long, for a total dimension of 100 feet by 600 feet, passing by and needing to make wide swings to get around the turn. Cell service was almost non-existent for the 216 miles in this stretch; there were no houses along the way, and not a single marina, with the exception of Bobby’s Fish Camp that looked pretty weak and a bit sketchy to us.  There were, however, trees, lots of trees, but not a single palm tree.  And once again, we were back to locks that lifted us to higher water.

IMG_4482Along the Demopolis River WalkIMG_4491Scenes from the town of Demopolis, ALIMG_4492IMG_4499IMG_4506IMG_4509IMG_4510IMG_4512IMG_4515IMG_4517

May 19th brought us to the Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis, Alabama.  We were happy to stop and relax, and I was thrilled to find a very nice swimming pool.  The marina also offered the use of a courtesy car, which is always a pleasant convenience. We didn’t need any groceries or supplies while we were there, but we did take the car to look around town one day and then I took it another day myself to take a few pictures and to check out the fresh produce market.  While we were in Demopolis we started seeing signs of a tropical storm forming in the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico.  As always, weather determines everything we do, and, although we had planned to take our time heading north, we realized that we needed to leave our safe marina and move quickly.  The heavy rains that Alberto was promising would once again add to the flooding rivers and floating debris, so we chose to fast track our way to Pickwick Lake in Tennessee, 240 miles farther north from Demopolis, along the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

IMG_4519Our first sight of the white cliffs along the way.IMG_4540IMG_2153Watching a flock of white pelicans get into formation.IMG_2160IMG_2171IMG_2178IMG_2189How would you like to encounter these two tugs with their barges when going around a curve?IMG_2191Signage on most of the barges we pass.IMG_4547And on to more cliffs, the White Cliffs of Epes.  These cliffs are part of a formation called the the Selmas Chalk Formation and were deposited about the same time as the White Cliffs of Dover. IMG_2194More beautifully colored rocks.IMG_4557Sumter Recreation Area anchorage.IMG_4572This large lock lifts boats 85 feet.IMG_4575Birds often hang out in locks as they seem to be great fishing grounds.  I watched an osprey catch two fish while we rose.  But here, on the bottom of the right, in the horizontal bars, a great blue heron sat waiting for his chance to fish.  Can you spot him?IMG_4576Now can you see him flying as the water interrupted his stay?  He did this over and over during the time water was entering the lock.IMG_4605For those interested, these locks are slightly different than those we have used before as most locks give us a way to tie up bow and stern.  Here, however, just one tie is possible.  The line handler (John) wraps a line around this post that rises with the incoming water.IMG_4589The walls are rough and dirty and have completely destroyed our fender covers.  I will replace them when we finish with the rivers!IMG_4596Up 85 feet and onto the entrance of the Tennessee River!IMG_4604And the friendly great blue heron makes his last stop before starting on the descent.

We left Demopolis on the 24thand once again, we traveled long nine to eleven-hour days. Thankfully, the rivers were much more clear of debris, but there were still plenty of barges and lots of locks to deal with.  Our first night took us to Sumter Recreation Area, which really just consisted of a boat ramp and a tiny but beautiful anchorage.  Then, on May 25th, we arrived at a marina in Columbus, Mississippi.  We would have like to have stayed there, but, with Alberto churning in the Gulf of Mexico and making us hurry along, that town will be added to “On Our Way Back” list.  After yet another long day we arrived at Midway Marina on the 26th, and finally at Grand Harbor Marina on Pickwick Lake on the 27th.  Grand Harbor is a lovely marina with a great pool, courtesy cars, and nearby attractions.  We are happy to be here because it is from here that we will rent a car and drive to Jacksonville, FL next week for Madison’s recital and for a visit with Kelly and her whole family.

Our plans have changed now, for the summer.  While our original goal was to head up the Tennessee River to Kentucky, the reviews of the River from Pickwick Lake to Knoxville, Tennessee are just too glowing to pass up. There seem to be lots of towns to stop in and calm and protected anchorages along the way.  We look forward to a leisurely trip with beautiful sights to see as we make our way towards the Smokey Mountains.  Today we sit in heavy rain, but Alberto seems to have lost some of his steam; it’s peaceful on AfterMath now, although we have just gotten flood alerts on our phones. I guess the good part of being on a boat is that we can just float away if need be.  In the meantime, we will stay comfortable and cozy in our house on the water. And to all of you, stay safe this summer and make sure you take some time to enjoy every single day.

 

 

Almost a Month in Mobile, AL, with One Wedding in Arkansas and a Few Side Trips (April 20 – May 14, 2018)

Almost a Month in Mobile, AL, with One Wedding in Arkansas and a Few Side Trips (April 20 – May 14, 2018)

Who would have thought we would have stayed in Mobile, AL for almost a month?  Certainly neither of us had it planned that way, but here we are. Hopefully we will leave tomorrow, but we know better than to say that will happen for sure.  If we have learned anything on this adventure, we have learned to take one day at a time, and, I suppose, we have discovered how to find some good in every situation.

IMG_3862Mobile Yacht Club hosted a crawfish boil the first weekend we were at Dog River Marina.  The food was delicious and endless.IMG_3864

After leaving Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, LA on April 19th, we traveled 32 nautical miles to the Dog River Marina in Mobile, AL.  The marina is small, but safely tucked in on the Dog River, and, although it doesn’t offer anything in the way of entertainment, it does have a courtesy car to use.  The only restaurant in walking distance is at the Mobile Yacht Club, and there are no stores that can be reached by foot, so a courtesy car was a welcome perk.  Dog River Marina was perfect, however, for our main mission; we wanted a safe place to leave AfterMath when we drove to Conway, Arkansas, just north of Little Rock, for our nephew, Matt’s, wedding on the 28th.  Although we had a few days before we needed to leave for the wedding, we knew we could use the time on chores while we waited for our road trip to begin.

IMG_3870Part of our scenic Gulf drive took place on a ferry.  It was interesting to see the oil wells in the Gulf waters.IMG_3880Kirby liked riding with his head out of the window when the car was on the ferry.IMG_3887We were passed by this huge Navy ship.

We rented a car a couple of days before our drive and took a scenic ride around the coast of Alabama. Finally the time came to leave for the wedding; we loaded up our rental car, put Kirby into the back seat, and started off for Arkansas.  We arrived in Little Rock on the night of Thursday, April 26th, and took off early again the next morning for Conway.  Kirby was dropped off at Hounds Hideaway, where he was ready to have lots of fun with all of the other dogs.  We know he had fun, because Hounds Hideaway posts pictures twice a day on Facebook, and we spotted Kirby with other dogs, dripping wet from splashes from a kiddie pool and covered in mud from rolling in the dirt. Thankfully, we signed up for a bath before we picked him up.  For us, though, the weekend was far less messy, and absolutely wonderful.

IMG_3893Kate at the rehearsal dinner.
IMG_3898And Charlie enjoying his beverage.IMG_3904Madison and Michaela, all dressed up for the party.IMG_3905Kelly and Caroline, happy to be together again.

It was so good to see relatives we hadn’t seen for a few years as well as those we have seen more often, and, as always, Kelly and her family.  First we had lunch with some of the family at Hendrix College where the wedding was to take place.  Hendrix, in Conway, is the college Emily attended.  She and Matt, who is a pilot for the US Air Force, met when he was stationed in Little Rock and, after years of being apart while Emily attended grad school and Matt was stationed in Germany, they are back living there. Friday evening brought the rehearsal dinner, hosted by Kathy, John’s sister, and her husband, Steve.  We all had such a great time being together at this celebration of the wedding to come.

IMG_3914Left to right, Jim (John’s brother), Julie, Rich (also, John’s brother), Kathy, Carter, Michaela (in rear), Madison, Kelly, Craig, and John.IMG_3939Along the way at Petit Jean State Park, AlabamaIMG_3946IMG_3953IMG_3963

Kelly and CraigIMG_3966IMG_3968This is also in Petit Jean State Park.  A beautiful overlook.IMG_3977I love this picture of Craig, Kelly, Michaela, Carter, and Madison.  

The wedding was not to take place until 5 o’clock on Saturday, so we had plenty of time to plan some fun.  Kelly and family, Rich and Kathy, Jim and Julie, and we met at a state park about an hour from Conway and started out on a hike through the woods.  We thought we were taking an easy stroll, but ended up climbing up and down rocks, walking through the woods, and all together having a great hike.  John took the camera from me so I could concentrate on not breaking an ankle; this made him the photographer of the event, and I must say, he did a great job. Madison decided she would walk with me and tell me exactly where to put my feet, so I had my very own guide through the forest.

IMG_3982Emily’s brother and momIMG_3986Matt watching Emily come down the aisle.IMG_3999During the ceremonyIMG_4003IMG_4022IMG_4030Steve and KathyIMG_4037Left to right, John and Barbara, Steve’s brother and sister, Sarah, Jason, with Annie, Julie, Jim, and other guestsIMG_4060Annie and CharlieIMG_4064Kate and MarkIMG_4075Michaela, looking far too grown up already, Carter, and Madison.  We were so proud of them all the whole weekend.IMG_4076Madison with Aunt Kathy, John’s sisterIMG_4092That’s a fine looking family!IMG_4113IMG_4118IMG_4126Emily and her dad.IMG_4153Matt and Kathy

 

Five o’clock came quickly, and we were all so excited to see Matt and Emily get married.  It was a beautiful wedding in a lovely setting at the Hendrix College Chapel, and the reception at the nearby country club was beautiful as well.  Dinner was delicious, and everyone had fun getting ice cream from the ice cream truck that arrived soon after.  Then the dancing began and Carter was one of the first on the dance floor with his “other Aunt Kathy”.  Madison loved dancing with the groom, and then with everyone else.  Carter didn’t let anyone he knew off the hook; he’s got some dance moves!

Sunday morning brought us all together one more time for breakfast before the group began splitting apart.  Some the family stayed a couple more days, and some of us began the drive back home. As always, it was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but the time together will be remembered forever.

Back in Mobile, we had some work to get done.  Dog River Marina’s motto is that they can fix anything, and we decided to take them up on that challenge.  First of all, our freezer stopped working the day before we left for Arkansas.  The freezer is one of AfterMath’s biggest assets, as far as I am concerned, so we really needed to get it taken care of.  Also, it seemed that, as they can fix anything, it was time to deal with the chronic issue with the master bathroom head.  One last project was to have the boat hauled and to have the props removed, changed, and have the ones taken off repaired, as a diver had told us that one was slightly bent.   Like any boat work, everything takes far longer than expected. John ended up replacing all of the components of the freezer himself, thereby saving a ton of money, but this meant we had to wait for the parts to be shipped to us.  The props went smoothly, so that project was done quickly, but the hose that was sent to repair the head was the wrong one, so once again we had to wait for a shipment.  The men are downstairs working on that project as I write this entry. Hopefully it will be finished today.

IMG_4182Dauphin Island, ALIMG_4190IMG_4203IMG_4212IMG_4215At the Blessing of the Fleet in Bayou la Batre, ALIMG_4218IMG_4220IMG_4233IMG_4244These people served up tons of shrimp and fish IMG_4248My shrimp came with a little bonus!IMG_4250The land parade beginsIMG_4253IMG_4254IMG_4258IMG_4266IMG_4290And now the boat parade.  Here the pastor of the church is ready to throw the blessed wreath into the water.IMG_4300IMG_4304IMG_4307IMG_4311

So, while these repairs may seem disappointing, we have used our time well.  Last weekend we rented a car and made a trip to nearby Dauphin Island, AL, to see the beach and the sights there.  Later the same day, we drove to Bayou La Batre, a tiny shrimping town in Alabama.  Bayou La Batre was the hometown of Bubba in the movie, Forrest Gump.  It is a town that gets beaten down over and over by hurricanes but each time it picks itself up and builds again.  The attraction the Sunday we went, May 6th, was a 69thannual Blessing of the Fleet.  For this event, the town gets together at the Catholic Church and a festival takes place.  There are crafts and food, shrimp, of course, a land parade, and then a boat parade.  A bishop is in attendance and, after introductions, a short service, and the reading of the names of the people in town who were lost at sea, he boards a boat and goes out to bless each boat in the boat parade.  It was beautiful to see all of the decorated boats float past in this little town that has overcome so much and just never gives up.IMG_4315Along the Dog River

This past weekend was a busy one.  I was able to restock my freezer as John has it completely fixed and, believe me, it is now filled to the brim.  After getting all of the groceries put away, we took Tangent, our dinghy, for a ride up the Dog River.   The river is beautiful, long and winding, and full of cypress trees and beautiful lily pads. There are a few little beaches where boaters congregate, and the water is clear, clean, and fresh.  Our ride was a joy.

IMG_4318Mother’s Day in New OrleansIMG_4328IMG_4337IMG_4338IMG_4339IMG_4343IMG_4345IMG_4346IMG_4347IMG_4349IMG_4356IMG_4359IMG_4362IMG_4368IMG_4374IMG_4375IMG_4380IMG_4381

Yesterday, May 13th, was Mother’s Day.  John asked me what I would like to do for the day and the answer was simple.  From the marina, New Orleans was only a couple of hours away.  I have always loved New Orleans, so I asked him to take me there for lunch.  We had a wonderful time riding and walking around the French Quarter, dining on muffalettas in a great little café with the obligatory New Orleans band that, of course, ended their set with “When the Saints Come Marching In”, and just generally enjoying an outing that was unexpected.

It seems that this chapter in Mobile may be about to end, but we are watching weather again, of course. While there has been a dry spell recently, and that is good for traveling up a river that floods and brings debris along with the rushing water, seeing that the rains may start again is a little disconcerting.  We will go as soon as possible as we have new places to explore!  While we have been thinking about spending the summer in Kentucky and will still go there, the glowing reports we have been hearing of taking the Tennessee River all the way up to the Smokey Mountains are making that excursion very tempting.  And next month, I have plans to get to Jacksonville for just a short visit to get my last check on my eyes and to attend Madison’s ballet and tap recital; I missed it last year and vowed then not to miss this one!  I’m not sure how I’m getting there yet as who knows where we will be when it’s time to go, but as always, we will figure it out.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Henry David Thoreau