Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Gold Burgee, T Shirt Quilt, Next Chapter

Goin' Gold - October 2, 2017

It’s been three weeks since we crossed our wake at Aqua Yacht Harbor on Pickwick Lake. Time is ticking by.  Several days after our crossing we rented a car, unloaded the boat with essentials and headed home.  Yes, it felt like moving from one culture to another but after the second trip and several days of unpacking and relocating “stuff” I think we are settled…sort of.

Before we embarked on the 49 week journey around the eastern US, Bahamas & Ontario, Canada we had very busy career lives.  So it’s been somewhat challenging to fill that time – doctor, dental, optical visits have been completed.  LOTS of visiting with family, friends, neighbors (past and present) and looking forward to a much-needed Thanksgiving reunion have given us the opportunity to really reflect upon the past year.  So…

We have decided that we are NOT DONE cruising!!
A few shirts I collected along the way - very therapeutic walk down memory lane
The Lower Place has been pulled out of the water and is currently receiving the required maintenance (bottom paint, strut, shaft, bearing, prop, etc.) inspections.  We have renewed our DTOPS inspection (customs fee) sticker.  Once the boat work is completed and The Lower Place is back in the water we will cruise to Columbus Marina, Columbus MS for staging!!

That’s right, after Thanksgiving (or the boat work is completed, which ever comes last) we will head south on the Tenn-Tom once again, heading to the west coast of Florida.  Only this time we will have leisurely cruising on the itinerary, planning to be north of the Demopolis AL before June 1, 2018 (hurricane season).  Several have asked if we plan to do the loop again and my standard answer is “not on purpose”.

The Loop was a trip of a lifetime and we are so blessed to have started AND finished without interruption (boat or health issues) so now we are looking forward to doing more exploration within a smaller geographic area.  But never rule out another side trip to the Bahamas or the Chesapeake Bay…it could happen!!  Have you met my captain?!!?

In closing…THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for riding along with us during this crazy adventure, I hope you enjoyed it – even if you didn’t quite understand it.  Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement – even if you thought it was the craziest thing you ever heard.  Thank you for taking care of our parents, adult kids and grandchildren during our absence – I felt better knowing that. And thank you for making this blog required reading – it pushed me to create a lasting memory.  Not every event has been documented (you can thank me later) but I tried very hard to hit the highlights.

This is the final entry for our Loop Adventure and while I’m not sure how we will document future random cruising fun, I can promise you America’s Great Loop is close to the top of the greatest trip I’ve ever had.

Step outside your comfort zone, look beyond yourself, life is worth living – don’t just exist.

God Bless
The future is out there...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Iuka, Mississippi – WE DID IT!!!

Our final Loop sunset at anchor 10/1/2017

Day 343 brings us to Pickwick Lake Harbor in Iuka, MS and yes…as of 2:47PM on 10/2/2017 we officially completed America’s Great Loop!!!  The time flew by, the challenges were conquered and our new friends are forever!  And the fun…oh, all the fun, fun, fun!!!  It will remain etched in our memories, pictures, t-shirts and social media.  

We've looked at a lot of real estate
This has truly been a trip of a lifetime – any bad day was minimized by the overwhelming good days.  Any mechanical issues was quickly remedied with a suggestion or hands-on correction offered by another looper or well-positioned professional. Any homesickness or emotional meltdown was cured with empathy, shared tears then laughter!

The Winter Pool puts waterfront fun on the ground
Yes, we saw a lot of the USA – 17 states and DC. We left the country twice – Bahamas and Canada.  We took LOTS of pictures and I tried to update the blog often. We ate some interesting food but the best meals we enjoyed were the pot luck dinners with other loopers.  We walked A LOT – sometimes for fun, sometimes dragging a wagon to the Laundromat, grocery store or dockside dinner!  We visited with people we would have never met, most became our friends and some feel like family!!

Completing the Loop is bittersweet because like most things in life – people move on and circumstances change – nothing stands still.

“What’s next?”  Right now, we will do what every responsible boat owner does…pull the boat out of the water for a “physical”!!  We know routine maintenance (clean & paint the bottom) and a few other updates will need to be done.  In a few days we will lock in the timeline.  Then we will off-load the vessel and head home by the middle of October!!  There’s a lot to do after a year on the water!  We also have to see about routine physicals (doctors, dentist)!!

And yes, we would like to keep cruising…there is so much more to see!!  The pressure of seeing everything according to seasons and weather has been accomplished – now we are ready to really take our time to explore a few areas we rushed through.

The Lower Place secured in the Pickwick lock - final lock of the loop!
In a few days I’m sure we will post the trip stats (engine hours, fuel consumption) but not tonight. Tonight we will rest easy, knowing how blessed we are to have this dream become a reality.  We are not promised the next hour on this earth…make every moment matter!

Of course we give all the glory to God for taking care of us throughout this journey!! This wasn't the easiest trip to undertake and for reasons yet to be realized He watched over us and brought us safely back home!!  Thank you Lord!

God Bless

Morning breaks on our final day of America's Great Loop 10/2/2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

River Boating and the Winter Pool

Signs of winter - geese flying south

After a great day of cruising, Saturday we anchored at Cuba Landing Marina.  A unique situation – we actually pulled into the marina, being VERY careful of the water depth and motored past the covered slips to find a well-protected part of the harbor.  Apparently we were the only boat to motor in this area for a while – fish were jumping everywhere!   It was quite a sight to see but of course I have no pictures – I was on the bow of the boat looking for “obstacles”.

Apparently the winter pool is already stabilized because we are on high alert for low water!!  Our plan was to make it to Perryville Marina in Parsons TN on Sunday.  We made arrangements to see a couple family members – so excited!!  Charlie called Perryville and the person on the phone was kind enough to tell us there was not enough water at their docks for our boat.  We need 4’. 
Water levels are very low - it's called Winter Pool\
We continued cruising to Mermaid Marina…Charlie called them & was told “yeah, we got 6’ here”.  Hmmm…upon arrival/approach to Mermaid we hit bottom…apparently, their version of 6’ is a result of delusion.  We were able to back off the sandbar, thankfully without damage to anything.  Charlie radioed the “fella” at Mermaid, explained what happened.  The “fella” acted like we shouldn’t have a problem…Charlie thanked him and we continued cruising.  So disappointed we won’t get to see the family but the last thing we need is to get stuck behind a sandbar at Mermaid Marina…until Spring!!

So the research continued…and now we are comfortably anchored at Swallow Bluff Anchorage south of Clifton TN.  It is only fitting that we anchor on this final night of our Great America Loop journey!!  It’s been a whirlwind of excitement, frustration, determination and love!  My emotions are all over the place but at the end of the journey…every single day – all 343 of them – was a day well-spent.

Would I do it again?  Hmmm…not next week – but never say never.
Today - just be still
Tomorrow we will arrive at Aqua Yacht Marina, the “technical” starting point for us since we’ve traveled from Pickwick to Midway Marina in Fulton several times.  So with nearly 6,000 miles under keel since October 23, 2016 we will bring The Lower Place to the dock.  Our not-so-white burgee will be exchanged for the GOLD burgee!!  Yes, the GOLD was certainly earned by all those who prayed for us, supported us (even though they secretly thought we were nuts) and most importantly our family – you guys ROCK!!  Thank you for loving us enough to allow us to be a little selfish and experience the trip of a lifetime!
Mondays were really never my favorite day of the week – but tomorrow is MONDAY and I’m a little excited about that!!
God Bless

For Sale by Owner - water views!