Racoon Creek,  Alabama

“Come out and see the moon rising— now!”; a message from Celeste on God’s Grace.

A panorama of sight, light and color, embraced us as we emerged onto the flybridge.

Our anchorage, a hilly tree lined rotunda with two valleys, the moon rising in the east and the sun setting in the west created a vision our cameras could not reproduce; but we tried.

We are traveling up the Tennessee River with God’s Grace. “Locking” has reached the point of HoHum another lock. Finish your breakfast, it will only take a few more minutes for the water to flow in or out.  Catch that bollard.!  Hurry secure that line. One-hundred and thirty locks to date, each different but all the same. The Nickajack lock was today. It was large, low and  turbulent.  

A Conundrum:

Another anchorage further up the Tennessee River. What time is it? My phone says 5:30  but my computer says 6:30. Wait, if I go to the stern, my phone says 5:30, I walk to the bow, my phone says 6:30. What is going on here??  Who cares what the exact time is, either way it is cocktail time.

I think somehow we have anchored on the time zone change line. God’s Grace has no such problems. It has anchored about 100 feet from us. They seem to be in eastern time. We are in Limbo. 

What time is it???

Guntersville, Alabama

Reminiscent of the starlit skies in the BVI, we anchored by ourselves in a delightful cove off the Tennessee river. The only difference was the type of trees lining the cove; colorful deciduous or graceful palm trees. Spectacular!

The morning calm was shattered by the launching of the dinghy. Out came the cleaning equipment and Denny found Uncle Boo’s lost but not forgotten, magic potion. Miracle of miracles, with very little effort, DreamSeeker’s mustache is gone. I love you Uncle Boo!

The Dock in Guntersville proved to be right at the edge of town. An easy walk to restaurants and shops. The weather sunny and beautiful! Faces adorned with decorative piercings, voices with engaging accents and native Indian jewelry, are all part of the local merchants street fair. Elk burgers for five dollars and genuine confederate flags sold by the families of veterans of the Civil war completed the picture. The only thing missing was music.

Coon Creek, Mud Creek, Bear Creek or Elk River, the names are as vibrant as the trees. The wind is out of the north, the weather will turn. Denny’s looking for anchorages for the next few days. 

Woolen sweaters days are here again, the skies cloudy and the air wintry. I am beginning to miss Florida, I prefer hot and humid to cold and dismal.

Decatur, Alabama

Dream Seeker entered the colorful tree lined harbor at Joe Wheeler State Park in Alabama and docked next to Onward. Guy and Vickie are accomplishing the dual tasks of working from their boat while traveling the Loop. We will meet them again in Stuart, Florida where they intend to sell this boat and buy a bigger one. We were also greeted by our Harbor Host, Bill who shared lots of local knowledge with us.

An appealing town dock awaited us in Decatur, Alabama. We tied up and decided to walk to town towards the historic district. Decatur known as the River City is a major transportation hub of the southeast.

Carefully picking our way through soft soil, trash, mosquitoes, hills of fire ants, and threatened by an angry, barking pit bull, we trudged on. Fortunately I was only bitten by the fire ants.  Seven years of vaccines kept that from becoming a disaster. The first stop in the historic district was the Old State Bank.

His southern accent dripping with honey, a local judge touted many stories of life in this town now and in its’ torrid past, as he guided us through the Old State Bank. A stately home  built above the bank comfortably housed the bank president and his family. The rooms were furnished with period pieces worthy of the wealth it represented.

According to our guide, because of the actions of Stephen Decatur, a revolutionary War naval Captain, it was decreed that every state in the union have a town called Decatur. According to Wickapedia only ten states have a town called Decatur.  It is a puzzlement?

Perused a few antique shops and made our way back to the boats on a different path. Drinks on the dock watching the sunset. 

Cruising the Tennessee River

Torrents of rain cloud the windshield, music from a small speaker wafts across the pilot house and we are cruising down the river to Florence, Alabama; a little damp from hoisting the anchor but still comfortable.

TVA regulates the River system  to maintain the navigation channel while generating the most power possible with the amount of water available. It has been a pleasure to be able to cruise the nations waterways with relative ease and comfort.

As the rain lessens, bright autumn colors appear in the trees lining the river. Gods Grace was awaiting us at Florence Harbor Marina,  but not for long.  We gave them a big hello and they went merrily on their way to the next lock and and anchorage. 

Denny loved the VW minivan courtesy car with leather interior, 150,000 miles on the odometer and a terrific pick up. I wonder if it might make a good substitute for his 20 year old BMW sitting in our garage at home.

Another four-hundred dollar day at Walmart and more at the grocery store, we stopped at the liquor store too, but this is a dry county and the liquor prices reflected that.  

Gods Grace did not make it through the Wilson lock the night before so they called us early to get going and make the next Lock opening with them. The patient Lock master kept the gates open until we arrived and were lifted 137 feet.

The Wilson Dam, 137 feet high and 4541 feet long was completed in1925.  The oldest dam on the river boasts large arches and unique architecture and is designated a national Historic Landmark.

 Pebble Isle Marina, Tennessee

The heat was oppressive as we left Hardin, KY., cruising towards our rendezvous with Barbie and Volney Gay, Denny’s sister and brother-in-law.  We set the autopilot for a course onto Kentucky Lake, south towards Pebble Isle Marina and perspired until dinner.

Attention was diverted somewhere and we ran aground before entering the Marina. I guess that Navionics, our GPS software program, is not always perfect. It seems that sometimes you need to watch the channel markers too. Denny is getting more used to this embarrassment and carefully and gradually rocked us off the offending ledge.

I thought that the neighboring sailboat was being gracious and waiting for us to get out of trouble before following us in but we found out later that it was also aground.  The sailboat neglected to make the proper hand signal or call us on the radio so we had no idea about their distress. I just waved a greeting and once we were afloat again, went blissfully on by. 

The  sailboat was rescued by the marina staff and that is why they were unavailable to help us tie up; But again, other Looper boats came to our rescue.

I am not sure how excited Barbie and Volney were to be making this 150 mile round car ride from Nashville, just to see us, but I was thrilled to see them walking down the dock. Dinner was catfish and hush puppies and it was good but not as good as the conversation. There is never enough time.

Bill, the marina owner, who wants to be known as the “Cinnamon Bun Man,” delivered fresh cinnamon buns to Dream Seeker in the morning, put 600 gallons of diesel fuel in the tanks and pumped out the heads. He is the epitome of what I think of as good old boy, he has an impressive Tennessee drawl and a bit of a belly.

Grand River, Kentucky

Denny is at home here, they speak his language, everyone sounds like him. I rather like it.

We are slowly quieting down after almost a month of rushing to make lock closures and fighting tows and barges. The weather is blistering hot and humid but the Loopers are still partying; fire pits on the beach and docktails on Acquisition.

Grand River, a small town, is full of southern charm. The US Post office is open from ten to two. The village market and the liquor store open a little longer but not much. 

Delightful boutiques manned by beautifully coiffed ladies in long dresses, line a treed and sculpture filled garden leading to Patti’s restaurant, famous for its pork chops. Closed this week because of fire but soon to be reopened.

The Thirsty Turtle has beautiful vistas and questionable food.  Soft music and a colorful sunset  adds to its calming ambiance. This stop we spent a lot of time in restaurants and bantering with the natives. 

Knocking on the door, of the local restaurant Tuesday evening, revealed it to be closed. We were directed to another smaller restaurant but found they did not serve any alcohol and were closing, it was 6PM. 

On to Dream Seeker, fortified ourselves with a small libation, used the courtesy car and drove to the neighboring town of Calvert where we found a Mexican restaurant open and not to be missed. 

Perseverance goes a long way on the Loop as in life.

Green Turtle Bay and Paducah KY

Rest and recreation is on the schedule at Green Turtle Bay Resort and Marina. We will spend the week pampering ourselves. There is a gym, two pools and spa and I intend to use them all. After all this time on the boat I feel like I am sprouting barnacles. Covered slips provide excellent protection from the sun, and the restaurants have a lot of ambiance.

The City of Paducah is uniquely situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers and is perfectly located to enjoy the historic downtown and lower arts district. Two days ago we attempted to get into this charming city but Dream Seeker had rain cascading down the windshield and a marina on its starboard side just two hundred yards away with no space. We sadly soldiered on.

Yesterday, Harry Taylor, a life-long friend of Denny’s, and Brenda, both Kentuckians, visited us at Green Turtle.  Harry was kind enough to take us to Paducah over land. The town lived up to its hype. The Floodwall Murals span three blocks on the waterfront and are a series of life-sized panels showcasing Paducah’s history. The downtown boasted numerous shops, restaurants and galleries.

We had a late lunch in Paducah and returned to Green Turtle in time to see a wonderful live show of gospel music in the local Badgett Playhouse Theatre.  Harry and Brenda left the next day but we enjoyed their visit, especially the Chocolate Bourbon Balls.