October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012    Day 172                                
at anchor on the Tenn-Tom                                                                
Total miles to date:  3429.2

One of the baffles on
the Divide Cut
We left our marina at Grand Harbor at 9:15 this morning with The Zone and headed south on the Tenn-Tom Waterway entering Mississippi. Limelight left later but caught up with us since they travel faster.  We spent most of the drive on the Divide Cut, a 25 mile manmade cut through a natural divide between the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee River.

Limelight catching up with us
We left the Divide Cut and entered Bay Springs Lake. We chose an anchorage in the Natchez Trace Recreation Area and rafted up with The Zone and Limelight.

We shared docktails and dinner aboard Carried Away and had a wonderful visit.

Tomorrow we will go through more locks and will make a call to the Whitten Lock before leaving our anchorage.  We will be locking down through 12 locks all the way to Mobile, AL.  The Whitten Lock is the tallest and will drop us 85 feet.


October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012  Day 171
Grand Harbor Marina                                                                                   Total miles to date:  3395.2

We stayed at Grand Harbor Marina again today as planned and used the time to go to Walmart with Ross and Laura and filled the back of the minivan we borrowed from the marina.  Bill also plotted more of our route as we prepare to head south down the Tenn-Tom (this is the Tennessee-TomBigbee Waterway).
Laura and Ross
Another lovely sunset on the water
Laura and Ross (The Zone) invited us and Anita and Don (Limelight) to their boat for docktails. We had a great time visiting with them!  We will all leave tomorrow and plan to anchor out near the Whitten Lock.

Bill, Don, and Anita
We returned to our boat for pizza and then spent the evening watching updates of Hurricane Sandy. We have been to many of the places being affected and it is hard to comprehend the impact of this storm.

October 28, 2012

October 28, 2012   Day 170
Grand Harbor Marina                         Total miles to date:  3395.2

Confederate Memorial
Many graves here
National Cemetery

We went to the Shiloh Battlefield as planned today and spent a memorable afternoon driving through the battlefields in which over 30,000 soldiers were killed on April 6 & 7, 1862.  This was the Civil War’s first major combat in the western theater.  We watched a movie at the visitor’s center that prepared us for the magnitude of the losses, and we borrowed a CD from Loopers on Muriel June that guided us as we drove through the site.  Stopping at Shiloh is a “must do” and we are glad we were able to see it although it is one of those places that you wish didn’t exist.

Speaking of Muriel June we were so surprised to see them today. We had not seen them since we were in Burlington, VT.  They are on their way back to Texas and will cross their wake when they reach Mobile.

When we returned from Shiloh, we talked briefly with Anita and Don on Limelight and Laura and Ross on The Zone. Both had arrived this afternoon while we were gone.  We will get together tomorrow. 

We will stay here one more day! There are high winds forecast, so we will keep the dock lines secure and hope to do some provisioning for the boat.


October 27, 2012

October 27, 2012   Day 169          Grand Harbor Marina                                  
                                                  Total miles to date:  3395.2

After enjoying a lazy morning at anchor, we finally departed our quiet cove on Bear Creek leaving the herons to watch the shoreline.  We only had 13 miles to travel today to return to Grand Harbor Marina where we will stay for two days.  It was cloudy, windy, and chilly today, and we are happy to be safely docked.  There are many Loopers here, many of whom were with us at the Rendezvous.

We had dinner on board and spent a quiet evening. Tomorrow we will use one of the marina’s loaner cars and visit the Civil War Battlefield at Shiloh.

October 26, 2012    Day 168   Bear Creek at anchor                                         
                                            Total miles to date:  3382.1

We cast our lines at 7:15 this morning ending a wonderful week at Joe Wheeler.  Making new friends, seeing old friends, learning what to expect on the second half of our loop, enjoying the perfect weather and scenery – all part of the Fall Rendezvous that provided us with great memories.

Leaving the beautiful
Joe Wheeler State Park
Sharing space in the Wilson Lock
We arrived at Wheeler Lock, the first of two locks, at 7:55 and locked down with Gemini Dream.  Five more Loopers, Proud Lady, Last Resort, Took the Plunge, Boot Scootin, and Lady KK, caught up with us at the Wilson Lock and we all locked through together. 
Our lovely weather changed today as we were met wiith rain, cooler temperatures and some wind this afternoon. By 4:00 we had located our anchorage on Bear Creek, off Pickwick Lake. The others went on to a marina, but we were ready for a quiet night. We cooked out on the grill and watched television – keeping updates on Hurricane Sandy as it approaches the east coast.

Tomorrow we will go back to the marina at Grand Harbor for two days.

October 25, 2012

October 25, 2012    Day 167                 Joe Wheeler State Park, AL              
                                                        Total miles to date:  3328.4

Many Loopers left Joe Wheeler today, but there are still several of us who stayed an extra day. Ten of us went to breakfast this morning at the lodge.
Potluck on the dock
Bill cleaned the outside of the boat and Joyce did laundry and worked inside. We also spent time visiting with the other boaters here. We all got together for a wonderful potluck dinner on our dock and had quite a feast and lots of fun talking.  Dave and Dianne on Boot Scootin arrived this afternoon and we enjoyed meeting them!

Guys on the dock

Most of us are heading out tomorrow – some are going to take the long but beautiful side trip to Chattanooga, and the rest of us are heading back down the Tennessee River toward Florence and Grand Harbor. It is time to move on again!

October 24, 2012

Oct. 24, 2012   Day 166   Joe Wheeler State Park, AL                         
Total miles to date:  3328.4

Today was the last day of the Looper Rendezvous and it was a full and fun day. We attended more seminars covering cruising Florida’s east coast and the ICW from Georgia to Norfolk. 
Bob Duthie won the Skipper Bob award!
We visited more boats on the Looper Crawl this afternoon and then watched the dinghy race. It was fun watching couples maneuver their dinghys around a buoy and back to the dock. The captain had to drive the dinghy blindfolded while the first mate gave the instructions.  We did not participate but it was a lot of fun to watch!

Joel, Eva, and Ron entertained us
Beatrice went trick or treating!

One of the couples on the loop has a young daughter not quite four and she put on her Halloween costume and went trick or treating up and down the docks today!
Bill and Joel playing at Music night

We attended a wine reception followed by the final banquet. After that at least thirty of us went to the lounge in the lodge for music.  Bill took his banjo, Eva and Ron brought their dulcimers, Betsy had her harmonicas, and Joel took his guitar. We all enjoyed listening to them perform and singing along on many of the songs.   Lots of talent in that group!

Many of the Loopers are leaving tomorrow and it was hard to say goodbye even though we will see them along the way. Some of us are staying at least one more day before heading back down the Tennessee River.  We have had a wonderful time being with so many terrific people who share our interest in the cruising lifestyle.

October 23, 2012

Oct. 21-23, 2012  Days 163-165  
Joe Wheeler State Park, AL                                 Total miles to date:  3328.4
This is a three day post!  We are so busy attending the activities at the Looper Rendezvous that we have not have time to write the blog. We attend seminars during much of the day, visit each other’s boats during the Looper Crawl, attend meals, and constantly talk with other Loopers.  We are having a wonderful time and are so glad we came.  We are learning about the journey from the Tenn-Tom River to Mobile – from Mobile across the Florida panhandle – making the 170 mile crossing across the Gulf from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs – the West coast of Florida – the Keys - the Bahamas – and up the East Coast of Florida.  Tomorrow we will hear about the ICW from Georgia to Norfolk. 

There is a musical concert in town tonight so we will join others going to that. Tomorrow is the last day of the Rendezvous and that means more seminars, a dinghy race, more Looper Crawls, and more meals!  The weather is beautiful here – in low 80’s.  We are having a fabulous time.
Joyce won one of the prizes last night – a free three night stay at one of the marinas in Mobile, AL – so that was nice and we will use it!

October 20, 2012

Oct. 20, 2012   Days 161-162  Joe Wheeler State Park
                                                                          Total miles to date:  3349.7

Following Water Music
into the Wilson Lock
This is a two day post!  We had a good trip from Florence to Joe Wheeler State Park on Friday. Both the Wilson Lock and the Wheeler Lock were open and we entered with seven other boats with no waiting. We arrived here just after 12:30.  There were several Loopers here when we arrived and we all had a good time seeing each other. This is a beautiful setting for the Rendezvous and we are happy to be here.

We had appetizers with Laura and Ross on The Zone and Joy and Jim on Jim’s Joy.  We came back to the boat and had a late dinner on board.

Today we took the shuttle to Rogersville along with other Loopers. Rogersville has a quaint downtown and they were hosting a chili cook-off, car show, farmers market, music, etc.  We had a fun time.  We tasted six kinds of chili and submitted our votes!  Joyce went grocery shopping with Laura and Joy in the afternoon to provision the boat.  We came back to find that many more Loopers arrived! The marina is full!

Bill on banjo; Joel VanderWaal on guitar, Bob Duthie
enjoying the music and singing along!
Looking down our dock at Joe Wheeler
At 4:00, Joel and Debby (Water Music) came over.  Joel brought his guitar and he and Bill spent almost two hours jamming on the guitar and banjo. Bob (Katy Leigh) came over and joined them too.  Many Loopers gathered on the dock and seemed to enjoy their music! We visited with many of them afterwards, then came back and had dinner on board.                                     

The Rendezvous starts tomorrow afternoon and ends Wednesday. It is like old home week seeing so many people we have met along the way. There also Loopers here who are just beginning their journey – that was our status last May when we attended the spring Rendezvous in Norfolk!  Life is good.

October 18, 2012

October 18, 2012   Day 160   Florence, Alabama   Total miles to date:  3328.4

Steam on the lake this morning as we were leaving
Last night’s storm was history and we departed under a mostly sunny sky and calm winds heading back onto Pickwick Lake – then the Tennessee River for Florence, Alabama. The Tennessee River is picturesque and we enjoy traveling on it.
We followed Bob and Mavis on Katy Leigh 42 miles to the marina. We were very happy they had room for us both.  There are so many Loopers in this area now and most all are headed to Joe Wheeler to attend the Rendezvous.  We saw many bass fishing boats today and when we arrived in Florence we learned why! There was a bass fishing tournament with over 100 boaters competing for huge prizes.  They came back this afternoon to get their catch weighed. They will continue again tomorrow, leaving here at sunrise and returning in the afternoon. 
Debby and Joel on Water Music stopped by early this evening when they heard Bill playing his banjo. Joel plays guitar and they are talking about getting together this weekend! 
We will leave tomorrow for Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville, AL.  We have to go through two locks so that will affect our travel time.  We will call the first lock before we leave the marina.

We look forward to attending the Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler Oct 21-24!  We will arrive a couple of days early to relax and see friends! 

October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012   Day 159  Grand Harbor Marina  Total miles to date:  3286.4

Today was a very windy day as we headed south on the Tennessee to Grand Harbor Marina in Mississippi.  We left Clinton, TN at 8am with six other Looper boats and arrived around 4pm.
We passed the Shiloh Civil War Battlefield and plan to see it on our return trip after we leave the Rendezvous next week.         

A lovely mansion
on the Tennessee River
Entering the Pickwick Lock
with nine others!
We approached the Pickwick Landing Lock (a lift of 55 feet) just before 3:00. There were 10 Looper boats in the lock chamber!
We exited the lock which put us in Pickwick Lake, and headed to the marina which was another eight miles. We waited for our slip assignment and then pulled in on a face dock right behind Katy Leigh. There are too many Looper boats here to count – most are headed to the Rendezvous. 

A few of the Loopers
At 5:30 we got together for Docktails and then 16 of us went to dinner.  It was very late when we got back to the boat, but we beat the thunderstorm that arrived soon afterwards.    

We hope to leave for Florence, Alabama in the morning but we will check the weather first. 

October 16, 2012

October 16, 2012  Day 158      Clinton, TN      Total miles to date:  3236.40

The scenic Tennessee River
Seven Looper boats left Pebble Isle this morning and headed to Clinton, TN. We had a beautiful day to travel on the Tennessee River. The sun was shining and the colors of the trees still demand our attention. The river is fairly narrow and is lined with trees and cliffs in many areas. There are also several sections of the river that are lined with homes.
More of the river views
We quickly noticed that the current was much stronger today and our slower speed reflected that.  We saw very little commercial traffic – one or two small tows and a dredge – but nothing like the Illinois or Mississippi Rivers.            
Nanseann on her 2nd day of the Loop
- and passing us by!
We arrived at the Clinton Marina just after 4pm. They have a very friendly staff here also.  We were not able to go into Clinton because it was so late. We visited briefly with some of the other Loopers then had dinner on board.  We watched the Presidential debate and that took up most of the evening.

We think Cliffton is a good name
 for the town near this spot!

Tomorrow we will all leave and go to Grand Harbor Marina in Mississippi.  We will have one lock to get through at Pickwick and it will be another fairly long travel day!        

October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012  Day 157  Pebble Isle Marina  Total miles to date: 3174.40

Following Katy Leigh
out of Kenlake Marina
We left Kenlake Marina at 0800 as planned, following Bob and Mavis on Katy Leigh, and with Linda and Tom Ray waving goodbye to us from the shore.  We had a lovely, sunny, calm day to travel the 54 miles to Pebble Isle Marina in Tennessee.  There were very few boats on the water today!
Many pretty trees on
 the Tennessee River
We enjoyed watching the fall colors of the trees as they continue to increase each day. There were also many white pelicans swooping around the river today.

Remnants of an abandoned RR bridge

We arrived at the marina around 2:20 and went straight to the fuel dock. We were happy to find diesel fuel at $3.99/gallon!  Then we pulled into our slip on the face dock behind Grand Cru.  There are at least twelve Looper boats here today.  We helped Nancy and Rik with their lines on Nanseann when they arrived and then learned this was their first day on the Loop! We took a walk with Bob Duthie to the Johnsonville Civil War site. We wanted to tour the museum but after walking for almost two miles we learned that it had been moved to a new site farther away.  At least we got some exercise!    
An interesting sign
for the marina!
We all got together for docktails at 5:45 on the patio of the marina’s restaurant. The staff even brought out free appetizers for us!  Most of us stayed there for dinner and enjoyed continuing our visit. 

The owner, Randy has also promised us cinnamon buns and coffee tomorrow at 8:15. We have been well cared for here!  After out breakfast treat we will leave for Clinton, TN.

October 14, 2012

October 14, 2012  Day 156       Kenlake Marina      Total miles to date:  3120.40

Today was another fun day!  Even with rain and wind most of the night that made sleeping difficult, and weather similar this morning, we had a good day. It remained windy but at least the rain stopped.

Joyce used the time to do some cooking and prepared two dinners ahead that we will use this week.  Bill plotted our course for tomorrow’s trip to Pebble Isle, and he also did some reading.

Bob Duthie came over in the late afternoon to tour our boat. Then Linda and Tom arrived to visit.  They actually managed to play a round of golf today in spite of the weather this morning!  We all got together this evening for pizza and to watch the Cardinals game at the lodge.

We will leave at 0800 tomorrow and follow Bob and Mavis on Katy Leigh. Tom and Linda will drive back to their home in Farmington, MO. They left their boat, Raydiance, in winter storage in Muskegon, MI and will complete their loop next fall!

October 13, 2012

October 13, 2012  Day 155     Kenlake Marina       Total miles to date:  3120.40

Today was a fun day!  We left Green Turtle Bay this morning and went a short 20 miles to Kenlake Marina, on Kentucky Lake. We left under a cloudy sky but the sun came out by late morning and we enjoyed a warm day!

Joyce & Bill with Linda & Tom
Tom and Linda Ray, Looper friends on Raydiance, invited us to their Yacht Club banquet at the lodge here at Kenlake.  We had a wonderful evening – great people, great food, and great entertainment!  Earlier in the day they introduced us to Bob and Mavis Duthie, Gold Loopers on Katy Leigh.  Bob and Mavis are also going to the AGLCA Rendezvous and we will leave here with them on Monday morning.
Mavis & Bob Duthie

October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012  Day 154   Green Turtle Bay         Total miles to date:  3100.33

Late last night we realized we had no water – at least no water was coming out of the faucet.  Bill made a quick trip to the engine room and unfortunately found water there. An improper connection to a water line had come apart. We quickly turned off the water connections and let the bilge pump take care of most of it.  So…. Bill went to a hardware store today to buy the necessary fittings, and was able to take care of it.  Another unplanned event – but these things happen sometimes!

This afternoon, Loopers Champs III, Blarney Castle, and Fandango, arrived at Green Turtle Bay.  Almost all of the other Loopers have left and are headed south. 

We got together with Don and Bernie on Snow Cat for appetizers and talked until almost 8pm. We had a great time visiting with them! It was a nice relaxing way to end a very busy day.

Tomorrow we will leave Green Turtle Bay after having been here for two weeks.  This was an excellent location to rest, have our grandchildren visit, take side trips, visit with many other Loopers, and enjoy great restaurants.  We made good memories here!

Today was another landmark – we have been on the Loop for exactly five months. It is hard to believe how quickly the days and weeks go by and that we have traveled over 3000 miles since we left Yorktown, Virginia.  We continue to enjoy each day – even the ones when unexpected plumbing problems happen just before bedtime.


October 11, 2012

October 11, 2012  Day 153    Green Turtle Bay      Total miles to date:  3100.33

Just a short post again this evening. Today was a work day.  Joyce did several loads of laundry on the boat and at the Laundromat here at the marina.  Bill cleaned many of the stains off the outside of the boat and worked on several other projects inside. Joyce borrowed a loaner car and went to the grocery store to get perishable items.  We are now fairly well provisioned!  The refrigerator and freezer are full.  Bill has also started plotting our course down the Tennessee River. We will head south on Sunday!

We were happy to see that Snow Cat Arrived. We had not seen them since Ottawa, IL.  They had been here earlier but left to go up the Cumberland River past Nashville and are just now returning.  We also met Don and Freya on The Last Resort. They had left their boat here for a few weeks while they went home to Canada and they have also just returned. We were happy to meet them!

We decided to stay here at Green Turtle Bay again tomorrow and get the final boat cleaning done. Then on Saturday we will make the 20 mile trip over to Kenlake Marina to see Tom and Linda (Raydiance) whom we have not seen since we were in Canada this summer.

We had dinner on the boat and spent the evening relaxing.  Work days on our boat are fairly typical when we are not traveling. It is just not as exciting to describe to all who read our blog!

October 10, 2012

October 10, 2012  Day 152   Green Turtle Bay       Total miles to date:  3100.33

Ashley and Nathan left this morning to go back to Mom and Dad and their brothers.  We took them to Nashville where they flew to Dallas and then on to Killeen, TX.  We all enjoyed a week full of activities that were both fun and educational.  We are so happy they could be here with us!!  Their enthusiasm was contagious!

After their plane left we went to lunch at Panera (conveniently located next door to West Marine and of course we had to stop there also. In fact, we had to go down every aisle!) From there we went to Walmart to buy non-perishable items since we still had a 2 ½ hour drive to get to Paducah to return the rental car.

When we returned to the marina, we discovered a huge exodus of Loopers occurred while we were out today! There are a few boats still here but also many empty spaces! Our plans are to stay here until Friday and doing major cleaning!! 

We did make a decision today!  We are going to attend the Looper Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler after all. We were happy we could still get a reservation! We are on a wait list for the marina but will anchor out in the lake if needed.

This is just a short post tonight but we are a little tired from the early and long day, and we think the adrenaline we had while the grandchildren were here is fading!

October 9, 2012

October 9, 2012  Day 151    Green Turtle Bay      Total miles to date:  3100.33

“And the turtles of course…all the turtles are free as turtles and maybe all creatures should be.”  --- from Dr. Seuss, “Yertle the Turtle”

This was our last full day to spend with Ashley and Nathan at Green Turtle Bay and what a day it was! We left about 8:30 this morning and went to the Land Between the Lakes. This is a National Recreation Area, land that lies between Barkley and Kentucky Lakes and offers many opportunities to learn about nature and the history of the area.

We started at the Home Place 1850, a farm that depicts life and work as it would have been during that time.  We watched a movie explaining life in Tennessee. Then we visited the house and watched the interpreter cooking a typical harvest meal. We walked around and saw the barns, cribs, gardens, and many animals. 

Our next stop was a horseback riding stable where we got information about their trail rides. Next, we drove to the Nature Center.  We walked around the outdoor area and saw coyote, deer, owls, a bald eagle, wolf, an opossum. We listened to a great presentation on wolves in the auditorium. Nathan and Ashley were able to answer many of the guide’s questions correctly! 

Nathan on Scout and Ashley on Dusty on the trail ride
Next stop – back to the riding stables! They chose a trail ride over the planetarium or watching the wolves being fed.  So for 45 minutes, the kids had a great experience riding Quarter horses, Dusty and Scout.  This was a favorite part of their day.

From there, we drove through the Elk and Bison Prairie, which consists of several acres where elk and bison roam. We did see several bison when we first entered, but as we drove through we saw only one bison along the road and one elk at a distance.

We finally got back to our marina at 6:30 and went to the Commonwealth Yacht Club for dinner. Then it was time to go back to the boat and pack for Ashley and Nate’s flight home tomorrow.  Our week with them has been fun and busy as we have tried to give them a variety of experiences!  We are so happy they could spend time with us!

October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012  Day 150   Green Turtle Bay Total miles to date:  3100.33

Nate at the pilot house simulator
Ashley's turn
The mural wall on the river
Wow – another busy day with the grandchildren!  Joyce took them in a golf cart to several of the little shops in Grand Rivers this morning. Then after lunch we picked up a rental car in Paducah. We took them to the River Discovery Center, with interactive, hands-on exhibits that let them pilot boats through a simulator; learn about tow boats and their barges; learn how locks work; watch a rain table and learn about the flood in the 1930’s, and much more.  It was a well-designed informative center and we all enjoyed it. It is right across the street from the mural wall that depicts the river life here. 
We walked behind the mural wall to see the Ohio River (we passed this point on our boat about 10 days ago!). Nathan was surprised to find it so narrow!  We drove past the famous Quilt Museum but did not have time to stop.

We continued on to a restaurant for an early dinner.  When we got back to Green Turtle Bay we stopped briefly to talk with some of the Loopers who were having their docktails. It was very chilly out by then, so we did not stay long. We came back to the boat and planned tomorrow’s day of activities.
We are headed to the Land Between the Lakes to a Nature Center and more!

October 7, 2012

October 7, 2012  Day 149     Green Turtle Bay       Total miles to date:  3100.33

Ashley at the helm
Eagle leaving the scene
While we were still at anchor, Bill noticed a bald eagle on the shore nearby enjoying his catch. It was interesting to watch the smaller black birds watching nearby but not daring to go too close.  After a while the eagle was done, and then six vultures swooped down to claim their share.
Leaving our anchorage
on Kentucky Lake
We got the boat ready to pull anchor. Nate and Bill did the honors of pulling the anchor while Joyce and Ashley took the helm and drove the boat out of the inlet.  Then Bill put Ashley in the Captain’s chair and taught her some basics of steering, the instrument panel, and then eventually the autopilot and AIS. She did a great job!  Nathan kept a sharp eye on the depth sounder!  We got back to the marina just before lunch and are grateful to Gay on Irish Attitude for helping us with our lines!!  We found that Loopers, Karma and Idyll Time had arrived while we were gone. Bob (Karma) came down to visit - we had not seen Karma since were in Canada. 

After lunch we got some things organized and did some laundry. Bill worked on his computer while Joyce and Ashley baked a cake. He also brought out harmonicas for the kids to play.  Joyce took the grandchildren for a walk down to the beach in late afternoon.  When they returned, Nathan and Joyce frosted the cake. Then it was time to fix spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. 
A frost warning is in the forecast for tonight so we will expect another cool day tomorrow. The colors are starting to turn and that is a good thing!