Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hello Tennessee!

The front yard at Clay Bay anchorage 9/29/2017

Friday morning (9/29/2017) we departed Green Turtle Bay, Grand River, Kentucky at the crack of 10:00 am…WaHOOOO!!!  We had plenty of time to get a few things done without the “fire drill” urgency that sometimes pushes our departure – very nice way to start the day.

We left the Cumberland River and transitioned to the Tennessee River – still enjoying the beautiful Kentucky landscape.  Before long we pulled into Kenlake Marina for fuel (lowest price around)…and a surprise lunch stop - YUM!  After a grilled chicken salad (me) and a catfish sandwich (he) we boarded The Lower Place and continued our southerly direction of travel.

It was close to 4:00 we were ready to stop for the day – milking every moment of every day as we approach the end of our journey.  Charlie pulled into a great anchorage, Clay Bay – no cell or internet service with Verizon.  There was only one sailboat anchored and a bass boat trolling/fishing*.  At 4:01, I turned off the engines and we sat in silence for a long time!!  After 10+ days of constant activity, friends and travel it was nice to just be quiet…ahhhhhh!  Before long we will be looking for friends and fun but today the solitude and quiet was very nice.

*According to the fishing couple we are anchored on the Tennessee side of the river but had lunch on the Kentucky side of the river – I love it when that happens!!

Saturday we will continue toward Perryville Marina in Parsons TN with a predicted Monday arrival.  We will see a few family members, YAY!!  By early October we will be in Pickwick and officially complete our loop…I have no words to explain our mindset – but every GOLD looper out there knows EXACTLY what we are feeling/thinking!!

We can’t wait to see family and friends but don’t be surprised if we cast off the lines again…sooner than you think!

God Bless
Our back yard at sunset - looking across the TN River-Clay Bay

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It’s funny – because it’s true!

This is a load of coal headed north...less than 90 days til Christmas. Just sayin'

 So I have been waiting to share this story in order to protect the parties involved…but it has to be shared!!!  There are no pictures to reveal the area…

Navigating the river system is an exercise in patience, courtesy and knowledge of the barge traffic.  As previously stated barge traffic has priority when it comes to lining up for locking through and we completely respect that.  Charlie & I have discovered the less pleasure craft in a group, the easier/faster we seem to get through the locks.  So we have tried to position The Lower Place in a small group when possible.  That being said – here’s a real-life event:

Traveling up (or down) an unnamed river one day we were having a good easy day…all alone, minimal barge traffic and nice weather – our destination required locking through only ONE lock near the end of our day.  We were about 6.5 miles from the lock when the AIS (barge alert software) indicated a barge 2 miles in front of us…headed to the same lock.

Charlie radioed the lock to ask if the barge was locking through (sometimes they “beach the load” until the next day). The lock master confirmed the barge was locking through.  Charlie asked the lock master if he thought the tow operator would allow us to lock through with him (it’s the tow operator’s decision) & the lock master said he would ask…here’s the dialogue – in general…

Lock master:  Mr. Tow Captain, can the pleasure craft lock through with you?

Tow Captain: Well, I have to break my load – they can come through with me on the second load. (gulp, sometimes that takes a couple hours and it was late in the afternoon). 

The Lower Place: Roger that, Mr. Tow Captain, thank you. (hey, you take what you can get sometimes).

Lock master: Mr. Tow Captain switch up/down one channel

Well – we aren’t stupid…we switched our radio to that channel too!!

Lock master to Tow: Do you have any margarine? (I thought that was a code word for something!)

Tow: Huh? Margarine? (sounding surprised)

Lock master: Yeah, I need some margarine…stick, soft I don’t care, I’m begging

Tow: Well, I suppose we can scrape something together for ya. (still sounding a little bewildered)

During this exchange, I tell Charlie “Hey, we have REAL BUTTER!! I’ll give him 2 sticks!!”

The Lower Place: Lock master, my wife says we have real butter and she will give you 2 sticks.

Lock master: Roger that! If you can get here before the tow, I’ll have the lock ready for you!

The Lower Place was full speed ahead (12 mph), we passed the barge & thanked him and made it to the lock!!  All alone we locked up (or down).  And before I pulled off the lines a bucket was lowered via L O N G rope, the butter (secured in a zip lock bag) was deposited – thank you’s were exchanged!

I pulled off the lines, we headed to the lock doors wasting no time – we wanted the lock turned around with minimal wait time for the VERY KIND and understanding tow operator.  Yes, kids, this proves that kindness is rewarded…sometimes in sticks of butter!!

We have several more locks to navigate before the end of our journey…I have more butter in the freezer!!

God Bless

Ever wonder where the empty rail cars are parked??

Nashville Road Trip!

Well fed fish greeted us at the Settlement
After the weekend of GOLD looper celebration was over – our friends Scott & Lorrie (Bad Habit), Jim & Kim (Kia Mae) and Tim & Anne (Ivanhoe-GOLD) threw off the lines and headed to Nashville for a great side trip!  The Lower Place stayed in the slip awaiting a package delivery and spending some quality time with the other loopers.

Mike was so impressed-this lady recited the entire dessert menu!!!
Monday afternoon Cathy (Southern Cross), Karen (Tranquillity III-GOLD) and I headed to “town”…1880’s Settlement.  We had a good time touring the shops and trying to stay cool – it’s Indian Summer in Kentucky apparently!  What a neat area…and reasonable prices – YAY!!

I returned to the boat and Charlie greeted me with “OK, here’s what we’re gonna do…”  I always know that leading statement indicates 1)any plans previously discussed are void and 2) whatever it is – it should be fun!

local wildlife in the Settlement
Long story short – since Tranquillity III crossed their wake & planned to leave the boat at Green Turtle for a couple weeks, they needed a ride to their dirt home.  Mike rented a car & Charlie agreed to “bring it back.”  Ummmm…they live outside of Nashville!!  Ok – road trip with T3!  AND BONUS….remember Bad Habit, Kia Mae & Ivanhoe left by water earlier in the day?  Yep…this road trip had the bonus of a looper reunion!! YAY!!!

Bad Habit, Ivanhoe & Kia Mae approach to Nashville Docks
We headed out by car on Tuesday being very careful of our texts and conversations with the unsuspecting trio cruising up the Cumberland River.  Wednesday around mid morning we predicted they would be at the Nashville City docks around 1:00-1:30.  And just like clockwork we were there on the pedestrian bridge watching them approach.  Pictures were snapped, then texted to some of them and the excitement started.

Bird's eye view of Kia Mae...
Once they were safely docked we greeted each other like long lost family – after all, it had been 2 days since we last saw one another!!  We shared the afternoon and most of the evening with them enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of downtown Nashville!!

Thursday morning we had a reality check…Charlie & I had to leave the respite of a dirt home AND the company of Mike & Karen to return the rental car in Paducah.  And Mike & Karen have to figure out “land life” once again…

...and Bad Habit
We are back on the boat Thursday afternoon and preparing to depart Friday morning heading toward Pickwick!!!  I can’t believe I’m saying this but we will cross our wake at Pickwick!!!  It’s crazy to think the “end” is so close…the closer we get the slower we travel!!  Normally, it should take 3 days from Green Turtle Bay to Pickwick…but we have a few side trips to consider.  AND the weather is getting cooler so all the anchorages along the way will be fun to explore.  It may take us 10 days to get there!!!

the lights of Broadway, Nashville TN
I will try to do better at updating the blog…we just get so busy when we dock in a marina, time slips by!!

Until we see you again – enjoy your day/week/weekend!!

God Bless

Green Turtle Bay – for the Weekend!

We eased right past Paducah KY - Bad Habit (center) found their sweet tea!
Friday the 22nd found us docking at Green TurtleBay in Grand Rivers, Kentucky…a wonderful marina full of loopers – bearing white AND GOLD Burgees!!!

But first I must say that I never thought we would celebrate 27 years of marriage with such a close-knit group of friends we’ve known less than 12 months…that’s what life is like in Looper World!  We shared a great meal at Bill’s with David & Kim from Overtime…thanks for changing your reservation time to include us!

Bill's starts decorating for Christmas e.a.r.l.y.
Saturday brought a “boat load of Loopers” into the marina and we were as excited as kids at Christmas!!  Tranquillity III, Ivanhoe, Bad Habit, Kia Mae, Skinny Dipper, Barefoot Shoes, Southern Cross, Time Out, Vahevala and a few others I’ve probably missed all rolled in late afternoon on Saturday.

...they kept rolling exciting!!
I’ve said many, many times this journey and the people we meet continues to amaze me…what other trip provides a friendly face at every stop – even though you’ve never been there before?!?!  Prime example…we pulled into the fuel dock at Green Turtle Bay and who was there to greet us??  Our friends Rick and Monica from Moni Jean…our Bahama buddies!!!!  What a welcomed sight – it felt like coming home!!!

Moni Jean at anchor near Thirsty Turtle
And now for the GOLD NEWS!!  Ivanhoe and Tranquillity III “crossed their wake” at Green Turtle Bay on Saturday the 23rd!  We have been so blessed to call these folks friend for many months!  You know when you meet someone for the first time & it feels like you’ve been friends forever???  Yep, that’s our connection with Tim & Anne (Ivanhoe) and Mike & Karen (Tranquillity III)!!!

Ivanhoe for the GOLD!!! 
Tranquillity III for the GOLD!!!
The Saturday night celebration at the ThirstyTurtle included just about every looper docked in the marina and a few not-yet-looping friends joined us as well.  A wonderful time was had by all!  A hearty congratulations to our newest GOLD friends!
Yep, gonna miss the T flags on the water & the marinas
We will continue our loop and making new friends...but the Lift Lock Gang is forever etched in our hearts!!!

God Bless

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ohio River - We're in Kentucky!!

The Lower Place underway at dawn on the Mississippi

We anchored off the Mississippi River on Wednesday evening with Kia Mae, Tranquillity III, Time Out, Southern Cross, Ivanhoe, Bad Habit and Salty.  We were safe and secure but it was HOT, HUMID and no breeze.  The Lower Place was up early on Thursday and pulled anchor at 6:45 traveling with Bad Habit and Time Out for most of the LONG day.  The rest of the crew will catch up at a later date…that’s the joy of boating – everyone at their own pace & independent!

We let the kids sleep in & slipped right beside them
We traveled 110 miles on Wednesday and 76 miles on Thursday including “lock 53”-which should be an embarrassment to the Corps of Engineers. We are anchored on the Ohio River, technically in Kentucky but across the river from the Joppa IL Power Plant.  We happily dropped the hook at 5:24pm and Time Out is with us - Bad Habit was really feeling froggy and continued cruising another 20ish miles to Paducah KY.  We were done for the day!

Bad Habit making his move...Scott loves to lead!

Friday’s plan includes another 60 miles to Grand Rivers, Kentucky!!  We are putting in some long days but seriously the MS & OH river areas are very industrial with heavy barge traffic.  Even though the tow captains are cordial - I think they just want us off the river and out of their way, I agree!!!  Since it’s been a long, hot day – I will let the pictures do the talking…

Cruised right past Cape Girardeau MO on Wednesday
No, not a wall - a 30 barge tow underway!

Common sights on the river - is there another way to move a front end loader?

We were escorted through Olmstead Lock - Time Out is loving the turbulence!

We continue to be blessed with good cruising friends, always a buddy boat around and smart, safe decisions.  As we venture closer toward home we continue to look for more cruising adventures albeit for a shorter time frame.

God Bless