Saturday, October 4, 2008

Metropolis, IL, to

Saturday, October 4 -

A couple of things I've left out in previous blogs (at least I think I have.)

When we passed by Peoria, IL, we apparently also passed by a hotel called the Par-A-Dice Casino Hotel. How's that for a name?

We're pushing to get home at this point in the trip. Not that we don't have things to see in this area of the country...but this is our area of the country. Before this trip we had only traveled by boat as far as Chattanooga. We're already thinking about future (shorter) trips to areas on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.

So this morning...we woke up to heavy fog. We'd planned to get out around 8, but had to wait for the fog to lift and that was more around 9:30 AM. Blue Max called Lock 52 to see when they could get us through and they said to gather up at the lock around 10 AM. We did...and proceeded to wait about an hour and a half before we could get in...and then it took about another hour to complete lockage. Bottom line: we left the lock at 12:30 PM and had about 50 miles to do before reaching Green Turtle Bay Marina. Oh, yeah, and that would be upstream, a-gin. And we had one more lock to go through. We figured we'd be lucky to get there before dark. We were lucky.

We turned off the Ohio onto the Cumberland and things began to look more like home. Hills, trees beginning to turn (though more brown than bright colors) and curving river bed. We quickly went through the last lock and, with Kismet in the lead because they'd been here before, we wove our way into Green Turtle Bay.

There were a number of looper boats already there. Some had been there for days and others just arrived and were planning to spend more time. We were there for one night.

Sunday, October 5 - We took our time this morning getting up and ready for the day. We had a loose idea of where we wanted to end up and thought we'd decide on the way how far to go. I took a nice walk into the town of Grand Rivers, KY. We visited with people we'd met along the way and hadn't seen for a while...then pulled the boat around to the fuel dock to take on some diesel. I walked over to the little restaurant at the marina and picked up a couple of sausage biscuits then we left at around 10:30 AM.

It was a beautiful day on the water...and we were feeling the pull of home. We'd never been on Kentucky Lake before, but it is beautiful...almost as pretty as our lakes nearer home. There were some very attractive coves and bays that would have made great anchorages, but we wanted to get some miles under our belt. We ended up picking out an anchorage called Leatherwood Creek at mile 73.6 on the Tennessee River. A marked channel took us in and we anchored in about 10 ft. of water with a very few homes in the vicinity. As the sun went down it got nice and cool and we enjoyed time on the back deck after taking Lucy to shore.

Monday, October 6 - We were up around 7 AM and leaving Leatherwood Creek around 9 AM. Oh...yeah...and when we took Lucy to shore this morning I nearly stepped on a snake weaving it's way from the water's edge towards the woods. Lucy was dallying around ahead of me and didn't even see it. I called to Wayne and he came over to help me herd Lucy back our way. She must have gotten a smell of the snake because she stopped and started smelling around. She was so mesmerized that she wouldn't "do" anything and we had to take her back to the boat with a promise of a walk by noon. I think I've identified the snake correctly now as a Northern water snake, a native of Tennessee. Harmless, so they say....

Well, with the adrenalin pumping we left Leatherwood Creek, bound upstream to Pebble Isle Marina in New Johnsonville, TN. It was a short trip of 23 miles and we were counting on borrowing the courtesy car that afternoon so we could take on provisions. We were there by noon and I took off immediately for the grocery store. With our cupboard restocked we took time to wash off some of the Mississippi mud we were carrying.

Around 4 PM about 6 other boats came in, including Our Turn. The marina restaurant was opening that evening for the crowd and most of us gathered there for a great meal and camaraderie.

Tuesday, October 7 - Pulled out of Pebble Isle Marina around 8AM with Our Turn. It looked like we were going to have rain most of the day. We were just hoping the "chance of thunderstorms" would hold off until we got to Clifton Marina, Clifton, TN...and they did.

I've heard of dock-o-miniums, but I hadn't seen RV-o-miniums before....

We were tied up by 3 PM and Ellen, Nat and I took the courtesy car into town for a look-see. (We would have walked but it looked really rainy.) After a brief stop at the Dollar General and grocery store we parked on Main St. and walked to the few open shops. The town is cute as it can be...a step back in time.

A short walk down the river took us to the Clifton Public Library which shares an historic home with the T.S. Stribling Museum.

Stribling won a Pulitzer Prize in 1933 for his novel THE STORE in. I was interested in reading more about the man and the book, and found this biography on a University of North Alabama Libary website:

He wrote a lot of short stories and had a very unique way of crafting a plot:

Stribling developed an elaborate method to help him produce his short stories. The system involved taking a white sheet of cardboard and dividing it into columns. The columns would consist of various settings, weather, sports, characters, locations, bad habits and good morals. He would shut his eyes and randomly run a wavy line across the columns. This approach insured originality and created some very interesting stories. During this time, he wrote as many as seven short stories a day.

(Isnt' there some sort of party game based on this idea???)

THE STORE received rave reviews when it was published in 1932...and it beat out MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY for the Pulitzer Prize. Sounds like a book worth reading...

The library was having a book sale that day, so of course we partook!

That evening we gathered for supper on the deck of Our Turn. Roy, Nat and Ellen brought out a bottle of champagne to toast our crossing our wake tomorrow. (They are stopping at Pickwick and we're anchoring further upstream.)

Wednesday, October 8 - Our Turn and Segue left Clifton Marina just before 8 AM. I was hoping the marina office/restaurant would be open before we left so I could seek out some leftover cornbread or chicken and dumplings from their dinner the night before. Ellen and Wayne had said it looked really good.

It was a beautiful day of travel. A little foggy at the first, from the night of rain, but that soon cleared up. This is a shot of Our Turn as we left that morning.

There was a most peculiar sighting today. A naked (at least he appeared to be) man was standing on the left descending bank with a pair of binoculars focused our way! Wayne, Roy, and Ellen all saw him. I was on the phone and missed it. I think I was the lucky one. Welcome to Tennessee??!!

We passed by some really neat signs for Mermaid Marina...

Pickwick Lock was a ten minute wait and at around 1:30PM we found ourselves on Lake Pickwick. What a lovely lake! Funny how coming through this way last December it didn't look so pretty!

Our Turn pulled off at Pickwick State Park for a night "on the hook" and a meal at the park restaurant that has a reputation for great food.

We were waving goodbye as we continued on up the lake to Bear Creek and a beautiful anchorage.

We're hoping to catch up with them again in Chattanooga.

When we passed mile 215 and the turn off to the Tenn Tom we officially "crossed our wake" and have completed the Great Loop. Now we just need to make our way on up to Knoxville.

A shower came up just before we set anchor and we had the most beautiful rainbow arching over the creek.

We've completed the Great Loop Route and are headed home with memories that will last us a lifetime...and friends that we hope to keep as long. It seems appropriate that there was a rainbow for the occasion.

We'd left Choto Marina on October 8, 2007...also auspicious that we're crossing our wake exactly one year later...

Thursday, October 9 - As we returned to the boat from our morning trip with Lucy we heard the anchor alarm sound. Yep! The boat was on the slow slide to the bank. We'd had a lot of wind action during the night and it must have loosened our anchor's hold.

Wayne quickly started the engines and I held the boat in place while he pulled up anchor and hoisted the dinghy.

Today we went through two locks, Wilson and Joe Wheeler. Wilson is a large (read: deep) lock and it took almost an hour to get into and through that one. Joe Wheeler was a bit faster and we were anchored in another cozy cove near Joe Wheeler State Park by 4:30PM. No phone or internet connection in this cove...but so nice otherwise!

Speaking of internet and thinking of blogging...I'm using ScribeFire to blog with on days when I have no connection. A Firefox add-on, it records the blogging on my computer and will transfer to Blogger when we're connected again. Another tool I'm trying on this trip, at the recommendation of a speaker at the Charleston AGLCA rendezvous, is BookSmart. A free download, BookSmart "slurps" my blog entries from Blogger to store on my computer. (I've worried about having my trip "archive" on a site...) At the end of the trip I can organize the text and pictures in BookSmart to create a memory book. I have every intention of doing that. Question is, how long will it take??? :-)

Friday, October 10 - Traveled from anchorage near Joe Wheeler to an anchorage at mile 351 behind Goat Island. We didn't get into the anchorage until around 5 PM. Fortunately, there's no competition for anchoring at this time of year...despite the fact that it's the perfect time of year to anchor out!

Passing through Decatur, AL, we requested the railway lift bridge to open for us. the guy there is the same one we talked to in December 2007...a real character. We told him we'd gone under the bridge in December and he said, "Pretty long vacation!" Yes, it was!

Saturday, October 11 - Another good day of travel. As usual, we started out with a couple of options for the evening. We'd considered going all the way to Hales Bar Marina (not that that was our first choice, but marinas are sparce in the area). Instead we decided to go to an anchorage just above Nickajack Lock at mile 425.

It was 5 PM when we got to the lock...and by the time we got through it, anchored and took Lucy to shore it was after 6 and getting dusky. This anchorage is near a recreation area so we have a dock to use when we take the dinghy in to shore. Again, we're the only boat anchored here.

The scenery on the trip today was refreshing...the mountains showing up more and more every day.

And we got back into Tennessee today after traveling down a ways into Alabama on the river. One of our friends from Florida commented that she hadn't realized how far south we had to go to get back home to Knoxville by river! Certainly not the most direct route!

Approaching Nickajack Lock the current picked up so that we thought we were back on the St. Lawrence River heading into Montreal! The rpm's were up to 2000...and we were just making 9 miles per hour!

Our home is at mile 612 on the Tennessee River so we're still almost 200 miles away. Tomorrow we'll get to Island Cove Marina at Chattanooga, TN, where we'll stay for a day or two while they tweak some fittings on the fuel tank. Then we're home to Knoxville, hopefully by Saturday, October 18!

Sunday, October 12- I could swear the colors changed in this cove over night. At any rate, it's a beautiful morning. We're up and at 'em by 8:30AM...headed for Island Cove Marina.

The sky this morning was streaked with clouds making it easier to see the change in color from the horizon up. At the horizon level it's more cerelean. Further up it becomes deeper in color and more like cobalt blue. Straight overhead it looks much ultramarine blue. Thank you, Mary Baumgartner! :-)

They call the area we're traveling throught today the area they call the "Grand Canyon of the Tennessee." Eagles were spotted several times as we went through some narrow sections of the river.

Going by Signal Mtn. we could easily see some of the gorgeous homes there...

Passing through downtown Chattanooga we admired the bustle on the water and recognized a lot of changes have been made to the waterfront over the past couple of years. Chattanooga is a worthy destination for loopers...

Chicamauga Lock was something else! They are rebuilding the lock so the entrance was like a maze through water-bound construction machines. When we finally got in, there were eight boats that wanted to lock up and only 4 bollards, 2 on each side. We rafted off the remaining four...and the lock suddenly looked like some of the locks we saw in Canada!

Island Cove was ready for us and we nestled in on Houseboat Row for the evening. Tomorrow we'll talk to Terry, the service manager, and see how long we'll need to be here.

Wednesday, October 15 - We got all our issues taken care of and the hull cleaned and waxed. The boat looks great! We stayed a couple of nights at the marina inn while the boat was "on the hard." And I took Tuesday off to go off with Ellen, Nat and Roy for a tour of Chattanooga's most popular sites: Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Incline Railway. We had a great day, including a great late lunch at the Purple Daisy BBQ place in St. Elmo, TN.

We were back in the water today by 4 PM and made our way a couple of hours upstream to an anchorage just past Sale Marina on Sale Creek near Soddy Daisy, TN.