Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Colombus Marina, Mississippi

Today is Wednesday, October 23, 2013 and we arrived at this marina on Monday evening having stopped previously at Midway Marina along the Tennessee Tom Bigbee Waterway. We took a day to relax and replenish our food supply using the loaner car and making a trip to the local Wal-Mart. Bill Seward has been traveling with us in his boat but today we separate. Bill rented a car and is driving back to Green Turtle Bay to retrieve his car which he left there. Then he plans to drive back to San Antonio for a family gathering on Saturday. We had a nice evening last night as Bill came over and we barbecued his steak and our hamburgers (boo). Anyway, it was a beautiful night although a bit chilly. We plan to leave here shortly with a number of other boats heading south. There's a lock right after leaving but that will be the only lock we have to go through today. We plan to anchor out tonight and get an early start in the morning. Hopefully we'll arrive in Mobile by Monday giving us time enough to clean the boat before heading back to San Antonio.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cuba Landing Marina, Tennessee to Clifton Marina, Tennessee

Today is Friday, October 18, 2013 and this is the first opportunity I've had to add an entry to the blog as we have wifi at this marina. We stopped the first night at Parris Landing after leaving Green Turtle Bay. These marinas are virtually out in the boondocks with nothing around but the scenery is beautiful as the leaves are beginning to change. Last night we stopped at Cuba Landing Marina and discovered that was the first day they reopened after the government closed down all national parks. They're located in a wildlife refuge center. Once again, nothing around but natural beauty. We were fogged in this morning and had to wait an additional hour before leaving because visibility was nil. After a very cold start the day turned out to be warm and beautiful. Tonight we're at Clifton Marina and at least there's a small restaurant and we enjoyed dinner with several other couples who have stopped here. Tomorrow we're headed to Grand Harbor Marina which is located near Shiloh Battlefield and I'd really like to go there but we're traveling with Bill Seward and I'm not sure he's interested in going as he's already been there. We should have a little more excitement tomorrow as we'll be going through a lock. So far the engine is running like a top and we've been enjoying the Tennessee River.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day one of a New Cruising Journey

Today is Monday, October 14, 2013 and after a year of many surprises and happenings, we arrived back in Grand Rivers, Kentucky to take Queen Kathleen to her home state of Texas. We left one year ago for a knee replacement surgery and with the intention of selling her. After having two contracts fall through and the boat enduring one hard Kentucky winter, we've decided to go back to Texas, namely Kemah which is near Houston. We anticipate the first segment to Mobile to take approximately two weeks. Then we'll briefly return to San Antonio. Once returning to Mobile, we'll take the final segment to Kemah which will take another two weeks. We'll finally be able to fly the gold looper flag indicating we've completed the loop! The Kemah area is huge and we think we'll have a better opportunity to sell once we get there. Unfortunately I left my camera at home but do have my phone so I'll see if I can post some photos along the way. If not, I'll definitely have it on the last segment. The plan is to leave tomorrow with our friend Bill Seward who is moving his boat back to Texas also. His journey is going to stop at Colombus, Mississippi temporarily but it will be good to travel with another boat along the Tennessee River stretch as it's fairly isolated. Rain is expected tomorrow so we may have to wait until Wednesday before leaving but we'll see.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Year 2 Day 198

Today is Sunday, October 14th and we're back on Queen Kathleen having arrived last night.  We left San Antonio at 6:00 AM for Chicago and a long layover.   The flight was scheduled out at 1:11 PM but was delayed for 3 hours so we spent 7 hours in the airport.  When we finally got back to the boat in Grand Rivers, KY, we made the discovery that our electricity had been accidentally disconnected therefore losing everything in our freezer and refrigerator.  Imagine the smell after being gone for 3 weeks. We filled 3 garbage bags and put off the cleaning until this morning.  It's still hard to get rid of the odor. 

Well, things don't always turn out like you've planned so we've made a couple of major decisions concerning this trip.  Although we only have about 660 miles to travel to Mobile, AL where we would "cross our wake" or complete our trip, our completion will now have to wait.  First, I've scheduled knee replacement surgery for November 13th in San Antonio with a long recovery time.  Because of this, we've decided to try and sell the boat and then purchase a trailerable trawler to finish the loop and take additional short trips to places we missed along the way.  For the time being, the boat will remain in Green Turtle Bay here in Grand Rivers, KY while we put it on the market. 

Looking back on the past 1 1/2 years, I have to say that this has been an adventure of a lifetime.  We've gone so far and accomplished so much together that I'm sure later we'll look back with fond memories and perhaps wish we were still traveling.  And, we have found out how important and rewarding it is to work together as a team.  We've seen some amazing sights and met some incredible people along the way and plan to remain in contact with several of them. 

This country has so much beauty but Canada will take your breath away.  I still miss the Canadian geese and loons and their distinctive crys.  The Canadian people are so friendly and helpful and they love Loopers.  As beautiful as Canada is, I love America and was happy the day we reentered through DeTour, Michigan. 

I'm so glad we had the opportunity to take this amazing journey ....6,000 miles through 2 countries, numerous canals, rivers, lakes, and part of an ocean.  There were lots of good times and just a few not so good but overall, the experience was one we'll never forget.

Thanks to everyone who has followed our journey and I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog about our adventures. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Year 2 Day 177

Today is Sunday, September 23rd and we're currently in Bethesda, MD.  Our plan is to have my car serviced tomorrow and possibly Tuesday and leave on Wednesday morning heading back to York River Yacht Haven where we spent last winter in order to visit a friend.  After that we'll head to Hampton Roads near Norfolk to visit more friends before heading to South Carolina to visit Dataw Island once again.  We also plan to check out another development called The Landings near Savannah, GA. 

Next we head to Texas - first to Dallas to visit our daughter Kelly and then on to San Antonio where we'll stay with our daughter Sherrie and granddaughter Lauren until October 12th or 13th when we'll fly back to Paducah and the boat.  Hopefully we'll have a decision about my knee and a plan to finish the loop.  Check back at that time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Year 2 Day 172

Today is Tuesday, September 18th and we arrived at Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky yesterday afternoon - finally!  After we left Hoppies we only traveled about 4 1/2 hours to a place recommended by Fern to tie up.  It was on the wall next to the Kaskaskia Lock.  Actually, there was a Corps of Engineers barge there and we tied up on it.  We expected other loopers to be there but we were the only boat there.  The lockmaster told us to keep our VHF on channel 14 all night in case he needed us to move due to the release of water from the dam but it wasn't necessary and we had a peaceful night.

The barge we tied onto

Queen Kathleen tied on barge

The dam in the background

After leaving this spot we headed back out into the Mississippi River which by the way was the worst cruising we've experienced.  The scenery wasn't attractive, the river turned and twisted so much that you couldn't look away for a minute and the barge traffic was incredible! 

A typical barge we passed

You can see how low the water is
by this rock

 The one good thing about it is the current pushes you so you gain a few knots in speed.  We had read about this in all our cruising guides so were expecting it.  Also, there are very few anchorages or marinas along this stretch so prior planning is a must. 

Our first anchorage after leaving the lock was at a place called Angelo's Towhead which was near the intersection of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.  Actually, this wasn't such a bad spot and another boat joined us later in the evening.  We left at 6:30 AM and headed up the Ohio River against the current.  The first lock on the Ohio was dicey as the lockmaster seemed to need a Xanex - he was wired and screaming at all 3 boats waiting.  In this lock, each boat had to raft up next to the other because the walls were cylindrical rather than straight.  We were glad to leave and headed to the next lock.  One of the boats was a fast boat and once they got to the next lock they had to wait for us.  I'm sure they weren't happy about that.

Finally we reached our next anchorage at a place called the Cumberland Towhead.  Once again we were the only boat there.  This was a beautiful and peaceful anchorage and the only negative was somebody shooting in the distance but that didn't last long.

Mike on bow at Cumberland Towhead

Sunset at Cumberland Towhead

We left early once again and headed into the Cumberland River from this anchorage.  This River was very beautiful and serene and the only negative today was the weather - overcast, cool and drizzly. 

Heading into the Cumberland River

Small church alongside river

Fisherman holding up his catch to show us

We had one more lock to get through before reaching Green Turtle Bay - the Grafton lock. 

Preparing to go through the lock - cute?

Entering the lock

Holding on to the bollard inside lock

We have paid for a one month slip here at Green Turtle Bay Marina and plan to fly to Washington, D.C. on Friday to pick up my car at our son-in-law's house and drive it back to San Antonio.  I have appointments with 3 surgeons to discuss knee replacement the week of October 8th and once this is done, we'll make a decision about whether to finish the loop now or later.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Year 2 Day 167

Today is Thursday, September 13th and we're on the river near a town called Kimmswick, Missouri and parked at a place called Hoppies.  This isn't much of a stop but as they say, "it's the only game in town".  We're parked against a barge but at least we have power.  This is the second night for us to stay here as we arrived late yesterday and we wanted to see the town and have lunch at the Blue Owl which we've heard so much about.

Prior to leaving Grafton, we went up to the top of the hill and had lunch at a place called Aeries.  The view is absolutely incredible and you can almost see St. Louis from there.

Mississippi River looking south

Looking down at the marina from
Aeries Restaurant

We left Grafton on Wednesday morning about 7:00 and had two locks to clear before continuing down the Mississippi River.  Before reaching the lock we passed this statue on the side of the river which was built after the disastrous flood of 1951 as gratitude for the water stopping just short of flooding the village of Portage des Sious.  Mid July each year, the blessing of the fleet is held at the Shrine.

Our Lady of The Rivers

  The first lock was the Mel Price lock and we cleared it with no problem.  A little while later we approached the Chain of Rocks lock and ended up drifting around in circles for 3 hours waiting for a barge which was stuck inside the lock and then stuck trying to exit.  The river is down so much this year due to no rain.  In fact, the usual anchorages along the river are out of the question because of the depth.

Barge stuck in the lock

Once we cleared this lock we were on our way down the Mississippi River which will take us about 3 days of unpleasant cruising due to constant barge traffic and a very narrow river due to shallow water.  We passed St. Louis and saw the Arch.

The Arch with the old courthouse
in the background

Wait - are we in Missouri or Texas???

We arrived at Hoppies with 3 other boats and we got the last spot along this old barge.  They used to have room for other boats on the other side of the barge but as you can see, the water level is down so much that their business is way off.

In years past the water went
all the way up to the treeline

Every afternoon Fern of Hoppies gives a talk on what to expect along the river as you leave.  All boaters take advantage of this as she really knows what she's talking about.  This is a photo of those in attendance this afternoon.

Fern is the lady at the head of the table
in the white t-shirt

We leave in the morning at about 8:00 AM and the first night will be tied to a lock wall along the way and the second night will be anchored.  Then we should be leaving the Mississippi River.