Monthly Archives: October 2015

Loopers everywhere!

Loopers everywhere!

In the last week or so we have seen some spectacular scenery. The Kentucky Lake and Tennessee River are filled with limestone cliffs and the trees are covered with yellow, rust, orange and green as the fall foliage is coming into full bloom.  Of course pictures will not do it justice, but we have taken a few and will share.

And since this is the main route to Mobile and the Gulf of Mexico, there are lots of Looper boats – many heading to and then from the AGLCA Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park in Tennessee. Each day we cross the paths of at least 10 others while underway, or staying in the same marina as us. Therefore our evenings are filled with socializing and sharing stories or plans.  Nothing exciting, but fun nonetheless.

Here is what we have been up to:

Wednesday (10/7) – Pebble Isle Marina – New Johnsonville, TN – We opted to stay another day at Pebble Isle because it is such a pretty place and we were enjoying the company of the owners and other Loopers.  Denise started the day with a run that took her into the Johnsonville State Historic Park and up a few very large hills that were quite challenging.  This park is the location of a former Civil War era garrison and was named after Andrew Johnson. Denise saw the remains of the garrison and even a few white tail deer along the way.  At the top there was a lookout over the hill and onto the Tennessee River, and she was able to get a few pictures.  You can learn more about this beautiful park here.  Here are some pictures:

Johnsonville State Park

Johnsonville State Park

Johnsonville Garrison

Johnsonville Garrison

Johnsonville Battlefield

Johnsonville Battlefield

TN River at JSP

TN River at JSP

Mark spent most of the day reading and finishing his book (“War Lord” by Ted Bell) while resting his foot; he hyperextended it and is hobbling around a bit. Denise worked on cataloging pictures (now well over 5,000) and posted the last blog update.  It was really beautiful day and we were enjoying the scenery; not a bad view out our Island Office windows.

Pebble Isle Marina office

Pebble Isle Marina office

During the day, some of the Looper boats left, some stayed, but new ones arrived including some we had not met before. In the evening, the marina owners prepared free hot appetizers for our “docktail hour” and invited us to bring our own drinks or purchase them there.  At $2 per beer, we purchased our drinks from them as this was a generous offering and we wanted to patronize their business.  The owners (Randy & Tammy) were super hosts and make you feel part of the family.  Of course they are always encouraging all boaters to stay “just one more night”.

Loopers at Pebble Isle

Loopers at Pebble Isle

Other Loopers at Pebble Isle

Other Loopers at Pebble Isle

Thursday (10/8) – Clifton Marina, Clifton, TN. – We took our time leaving in the morning as we were not going too far and Pebble Isle was such a great spot. Plus, we had to get our second morning of cinnamon buns!

Cinanmon Buns

Cinnamon Buns

We headed out along the Kentucky Lake-Tennessee River and enjoyed the spectacular color of the leaves which have been changing each day.

Leaving Pebble Isle

Leaving Pebble Isle

Sign from TN River

Sign from TN River

We also passed our Looper friends Sid & Evelyn (“Something Special”) whom we tried to connect with in Green Turtle Bay, but were unable to.  They are still interested in having our nephew Johnny help them make the crossing from Carrabelle to Clearwater sometime in November, so we shared his contact information so they could get in touch with each other.

Along the way we only passed one tow and very few fishing boats, therefore we did not have to slow down hardly at all. This allowed us to make pretty good time, despite fighting the increasing current as we headed up-bound. We also passed through the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge where there was a plethora of small bass boats enjoying the day.

TN Ntl Wildlife Refuge

TN National Wildlife Refuge

It was really beautiful and surely the pictures will not do it justice.

TN Ntl Wildlife Refuge

TN National Wildlife Refuge

Stowaway enroute to Clifton

Stowaway enroute to Clifton

Our intended destination was an anchorage at Double Island that had been recommended to us at the AGLCA Rendezvous in Norfolk. So, we pulled in there around 1:00, set the anchor and thought we would enjoy a nice quiet evening. However, we had no cellular signal and had to return several phone calls received during the day. Previously we had been encouraged by Tim & Karen (“TiKa”) to join them at Clifton Marina – 10 miles further south, and where we had plans to stay on Friday night.  So we changed our plans.

We pulled up the anchor, cruised past boats we had passed earlier, and headed to Clifton. Of course we had to find out if they had space at the marina for us, which we were able to secure while under way. By 3:00 we had pulled into the assigned covered slip and met up with Tim, Karen & Mark- the younger (“TiKa”).

This marina is located in a “dead” town with nothing much to see. It is also not a spectacular place with one bathroom and shower for use by all boaters, as well as lots of spider webs, wasps and very stagnant water.  The transient space is limited, but they were able to squeeze in the 10 or so Looper boats who came in for the night. The people who own it are very nice and helpful, but they have been trying to sell it for a few years. There is a restaurant/snack bar onsite and the owners were offering hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner. However, since we were planning to anchor out, we had already prepared chicken for enchiladas and chose to eat on the boat.  However, we did participate in the Looper docktail at 5:30 and were able to share some fun times with our friends on “Endoxi”, “Sassified”, “Mitzvah”, “Coer de Lion”, “Moondancer”, “GimmeTime”, “Chimera II”, “No Zip Code” and of course “TiKa”.

Given the conditions of the marina, we opted not to stay a second night and made plans to leave in the morning and get to Pickwick Landing State Park. This will put us a day ahead of schedule and that is ok with us.  The weather is expected to change with rain forecasted and high winds on Friday night, so we would just as soon be in a protected marina to endure it.

Here are some other pictures from our cruise today  on the Tennessee River and in Clifton Marina:

Latter to no where

Latter to nowhere

Houses on TN River

Houses on TN River

TN River Bank

TN River Bank

Cotton bush at Clifton Marina

Cotton bush at Clifton Marina

Clifton marina office

Clifton marina office

Sunrise over TN River

Sunrise over TN River

Friday (10/9) – Pickwick Landing Marina – We got under way at 8:00 and headed down the Tennessee River encountering a bit of traffic almost immediately.  First was the passing of Looper friends (again) “Something Special”, “Tranquility” and “Alley Cat” – who were not in the Clifton marina as they chose to anchor out.  Then we passed two big tows and had to slow down for many small fishing boats.  Eventually we caught up and passed “No Zip Code” who had left the Clifton marina about 1 hour before us.

We had one large single lock to get through today at Pickwick Lake. It is a 51’ lock up and we were initially by ourselves, but AJ on “Gimme Time” came up as we approached the lock.  Together we only had to wait for the Lockmaster to empty the lock from the last lock-up as only one of the lock chambers (the smaller one) was working. Fortunately there were no tows to wait on and we were through the lock in 30 minutes.

Gimme Time waits with us

Gimme Time waits with us

Entering Pickwick Lock

Entering Pickwick Lock

Leaving Pickwick Lock

Leaving Pickwick Lock

Pickwick Lockmaster

Pickwick Lockmaster

We entered Pickwick Lake and were so impressed with the beauty of this inland waterway. There were very large houses on the eastern cliffs and the trees were really showing the autumn colors now.  There was a nice reflection of the shoreline on the lake and it was a really beautiful.

Homes on Pickwick Lake

Homes on Pickwick Lake

We arrived at this state park marina and were directed to a slip near the office, and down the pier from our friends on “Palmetto Paradise”. Shortly after we arrived, so did “TiKa” and “Harvest Moon” and then in came the rain.  It was forecasted to rain in the afternoon and the sky opened up right after we all had settled in our slips.  We had been trying to arrange docktails with the other Loopers, but “Palmetto Paradise” and “Harvest Moon” had prior plans on another Looper boat that was putting their boat up for the winter in this Harbor.  So, we got together with Tim, Karen & Mark – the younger for drinks, just like our Canadian days.

For dinner, all five of us had the Pickwick Landing Lodge come and pick us up for dinner. Like at Paris Landing, this state park has its own Lodge (hotel) with a restaurant on site which is located 1 mile from the marina.  They offer breakfast, lunch & dinner and have a very affordable buffet dinner for $13.  The food is not 5-star, but it is good and offers sufficient variety that we all could find something to enjoy.  The state of Tennessee does a good job of offering some very nice facilities and the staff are helpful and friendly. We would recommend staying at this marina as it is in a well-protected area and is really quite pretty and peaceful.

Here are some more pictures from Pickwick Landing:

Pickwick Landing Lodge

Pickwick Landing Lodge

Pickwick Landing Lodge

Pickwick Landing Lodge

Slip at Pickwick Landing

Slip at Pickwick Landing

Saturday (10/10) – Grand Harbor Marina – Counts, TN (mailing address – but really in Mississippi) – All night long it rained off and on and when we woke up in the morning it was still misty and there was an overcast sky.  The park harbor master told us that they recorded 2.5 inches of rain and we were grateful as it washed all the bugs off the boat.

Harbormaster Bob

Harbormaster Bob

We were not in a big hurry to get going as the next stop was only 8 miles away and would take us off the Tennessee River. Finally we left the dock after 10:00 and headed south across Lake Pickwick and turned into Yellow Creek; the start of what will become the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Here we pulled into Grand Harbor marina; home port for Looper friends Mike & Lois Fannon (“Inchin Along”) whom we shared time with up the Hudson River in New York back in June. Although this marina has a Tennessee mailing address, it is geographically located in Mississippi. So right before entering the river and marina, we crossed into our 16th state; Mississippi.

Pickwick Lake Home

Pickwick Lake Home

We had wanted to get fuel right away, but when we hailed the marina we were advised there were several boats ahead of us, and there would be a 30 minute wait. We wanted to get on with our day, so we opted to go directly into our slip and decided to get it on the way out when we leave.  Since we are staying here for the whole week, we were assigned a covered slip which is usually reserved for seasonal renters.  This was nice as it provided us better protection from the elements, and was closer to the nicer restrooms & showers located in the condominium building also on the property.

Condo at GH

Condo at GH

We settled into our slip and visited several Looper boats that were near the marina office, including Evelyn & Sid (“Something Special”), Tom & Julie (“Sum Escape”) and Tim, Karen & Mark-the younger (TiKa). We made plans for docktails and dinner with TiKa and went back to our boat for some chores, watch college football games, and to plan some other activities for the week.

In the evening, we had dinner with several other Loopers that Julie (“Sum Escape”) organized, including some we had not yet met. It was at a place called “Freddy T’s”, a local Tiki-bar style restaurant with water-themed decorations all over the place, including Jet skis, water skis, mermaids & pirates.  It has lots of televisions all over the place, so people were watching college football games, as well as the MLB playoffs.  The restaurant had a passenger van, but because there was such a large group of us, they had to make two trips to pick us up, and then two more to take us back to the marina.  It was a lot of fun and the food was good.  We all had fun and we got back in time to watch FSU beat the Miami Hurricanes one more time.

Freddy Ts

Freddy Ts

Above door at Freddy Ts

Above door at Freddy T’s

Freddy T's Entrance

Freddy T’s Entrance

Freddy Ts

Freddy Ts

Tim & Karen clowing around

Tim & Karen clowing around

Sunday (10/11) – Grand Harbor Marina – Because we had the Looper dinner last night, we had to make 8:00 mass at the only Catholic church in the area.  But this means we had to get the marina loaner car keys the night before as the office doesn’t open until 8:00.  Fortunately, we remembered to do this and were able to make the mass at Our Lady of the Lake. It is a small but welcoming church about 5 miles north.

Our Lady of the Lake

Our Lady of the Lake

When we came back to the marina, we noticed many of the Loopers had left, or were preparing to leave. Most were headed to the AGLCA rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park down the Tennessee River which starts later in the week, and most need 2 days to get there.

We spent the rest of the day working on the plans that would take us through the month of November. We did this in part so we could make tentative plans for going home at Thanksgiving and make marina reservations, recognizing Florida marinas are going to fill up during the high season.

It was a very low-key day and there were few Loopers around to socialize with and that afforded us some quiet relaxation. Later in the afternoon we noticed Charlie & Kay (“Plane 2 Sea”) had arrived in the marina, so we walked over to talk with them for a bit, mostly about boat insurance and our future plans. Eventually it started to get dark and we went back to the boat where we grilled some chicken on the bar-b-que for dinner.

In the evening, we watched television. One of the benefits of this marina is free cable and we have been able to watch some news and other shows. This is not something we get in a lot of places; usually we are streaming on our tablets or a notebook computer. Depending on the Wi-Fi signal at a marina this can sometimes be tedious as they rarely have the bandwidth for this, especially when there are many boats in the marina all trying to do the same thing.

Monday (10/12) – Grand Harbor Marina – Counts, TN – It was a beautiful cool morning, so Denise took advantage and went for a run. The hills around the marina proved quite challenging as they are very steep and there are many of them.  Additionally, the two lane road that runs around the lake perimeter is wooded and has a small shoulder with no sidewalks. But she found an area where there was a cluster of lake homes and one long mostly flat street that she looped several times to get in a few miles. It is difficult to do more than 3 – 3.5 miles without running buddies or plenty of safe areas.

Today was a work day on Island Office.  Mark spent all day on the phone with clients, doing work for clients, or doing office work.  Denise worked on filing all the quarterly payroll reports and getting some bookkeeping activities completed. She also had some bookkeeping work to do for the embroidery business, and worked on updating this blog.  We also firmed up more of our future schedule and made a few marina reservations in AL and FL marinas.

Later in the afternoon, we met up with fellow Loopers Al & Kaye (“Knot Home”), and Ron & Bev (“Sea Venture”) for docktails. We saw an awesome sunset over the marina and enjoyed the reflection on the banks across Yellow Creek. We were very grateful for the beautiful weather in such a beautiful place.

"Knot Home" & "Sea Venture"

“Knot Home” & “Sea Venture”

Sunset at GH

Sunset at GH

For dinner we cooked a frozen pizza we have had in the freezer. We supplemented it with extra cheese and sausage we had in the fridge. It wasn’t near as good as the pizza we had in Nashville, but it was quick and easy, and it worked for us.

Tuesday (10/13) – Memphis, TN – We made plans to get a rental car for today and drive the 2 hours to Memphis and go see Graceland (Birthplace of Elvis Pressley).  This was a logistics nightmare! We had to use the marina loaner car to drive the 30 miles to Enterprise – the only rental agency around, and no, they would not come get us.  Then we had to drive 30 miles back to return the loaner car, stopping to replace the gas beforehand.  Then we left to go to Memphis driving right past the rental car location we had left.  Additionally, we had wanted to be at Enterprise at 8:00 when they opened so that we could get an early start, but that meant we had to get the loaner car keys the night before. Unfortunately, we forgot to do this and had to wait for the marina office to open.

Eventually we got on the road to Memphis and drove through parts of Mississippi and, yes Tennessee again. We stopped at a Chick-Fil-A for lunch (Mark’s favorite) and shortly thereafter found our way to Graceland.

Graceland Entrance

Graceland Entrance

We had purchased our AAA-discounted tickets on line and arrived to find no lines at the ticket counter where we had to redeem them. There was no parking issues and there was hardly a line to get on the shuttle bus to tour the mansion. We definitely timed this well as there were fewer people behind us and we got to spend a lot of time at the mansion.

By today’s rock-star standards, the house is nothing. But considering the era and his humble background, this place was a palace. The biggest surprises for us was the beautiful horse pasture in the backyard, the trophy room, and the racquetball court. These last two rooms house all the record-setting awards and honors bestowed on Elvis.  It is here that you really appreciate his talent and contribution to the music industry – not just himself. You also come to appreciate his loving nature as he gave back to the community of Memphis with frequent donations to all types of charities. Graceland is a place that everyone who loves music should visit at least once.

GRaceland Mansion

Graceland Mansion

Living Room stain glass

Living Room stain glass

Shooting range - Graceland

Shooting range – Graceland

Shooting Range - Graceland

Shooting Range – Graceland

Smokehouse - Shooting Range

Smokehouse – Shooting Range

Selfie on Graceland tour

Selfie on Graceland tour

In the afternoon we checked into the Residence Inn downtown Memphis, passing the Mississippi River to our left as we went down Riverside Drive. There were beautiful homes on the cliff to our right, and crossing the river is a pedestrian bridge with a trolley that also runs underneath it.  Across the water is the state of Arkansas, beckoning us to cross to add one more to our list of travel states; but we resisted.

For dinner we went to a place called “The Bar-B-Que Shop” which had been recommended by a local we met at Grand Harbor Marina.

The Bar B Q Shop

The Bar B Q Shop

The place is not large and is located in the Mid-City area of Memphis. Because we didn’t want to move our car which was parked in a free spot, we took a taxi there and back.  Both drivers also said it was the best Bar-B-Que, and come to find out Bon Appetite magazine agreed.

Bar B Q Shop writeup

Bar B Q Shop writeup

After a sampling of their Bar-B-Que Spaghetti (something they are known for), we settled on a shared rack of ribs with 50% dry (rub only) and 50% wet (sauce).  While both were delicious we liked their sauce the best and bought a bottle to take home as you cannot buy it outside the Memphis area.

Bar B Q Spaghetti

Bar B Q Spaghetti

Bar B Q Shop

Bar B Q Shop

We did not have an interest in seeing Beale Street (famous for its “nightspots”). We are not really bar people and some locals we met at Grand Harbor had warned us of it becoming a problem area, even though it was not far from our hotel.  So we went back to our hotel, took advantage of the free DVDs and watched “The Fighter”, a true story about the boxing Ward brothers.  It was a great way to relax and end the day.

Wednesday (10/14) – Memphis, TN – We started the day with a trip to the Bass Pro store located in the Pyramid building near the Mississippi River.

Bass Pro Pyramid

Bass Pro Pyramid

We just had to see this place that houses 4 different fish tanks swimming throughout; one of which emulates a real marina with boats in the water and large carp swimming about.

Inside Bass Pro Shop Pyramid

Inside Bass Pro Shop – pyramid

Fish pond - Bass Pro

Fish pond – Bass Pro

In the middle of the store is a glass elevator that you can take to the top and see 360 view of Memphis. As Denise is scared of heights we did not think it would be worth the $10 per person fee, so we opted not to go up.

Elevator inside pyramid - Bass Pro

Elevator inside pyramid – Bass Pro

The Pyramid building also houses a Ducks Unlimited Heritage Center and as well as a shooting range and a Berretta-sponsored gun shop. But the most interesting thing is it also has a large hotel (called the Big Cypress Lodge) that has rooms that overlook the store (interior), the Mississippi River, or downtown Memphis (exterior) – depending on the room you get.  This was truly a sportsman’s paradise and makes the one in Orlando look like a 7-11!  You can learn more about this very unique place here.

Big Cypress Lodge Entrance

Big Cypress Lodge Entrance

Rooms overlooking store

Rooms overlooking store

Pyramid interior rooms at The Lodge

Pyramid interior rooms at The Lodge

Bass Pro Store entrance

Bass Pro Store entrance

After that we moved the car up the road a bit and went to the Welcome Center where we were able to park for free to explore some of the riverfront area. From here, we took the pedestrian bridge over a body of water called the Wolf River Lagoon to a place called Mud Island.

Mud Island sign

Mud Island sign

Ped Bridge to Mud Island

Ped Bridge to Mud Island

We could have taken a monorail that hangs on the underside of the bridge that is over 100 feet above the water, but someone in our party doesn’t like heights (see above). So instead we walked the 500+ meters to the other side and looked down on Mud Island.  Because we were high up, we could a lot of what this park had to offer.  In addition to the amphitheater it also has a shallow water feature in the shape of the Mississippi River that runs the length of the park. It is very cool and we wished we had bikes and more time to explore this area further.

Looking West over Mud Island

Looking West over Mud Island

Water feature on Mud Island

Water feature on Mud Island

Mud Island Ped Bridge

Mud Island Ped Bridge

After this adventure we left downtown Memphis and headed out to do some errands. We hit Costco and Lowes for a few things needed on the boat, and then to Supercuts right nearby for Mark to get his hair cut.  Afterwards we grabbed some lunch and then headed out for the long drive back to Grand Harbor.

Here are some other sights from Memphis:

Downtown Memphis

Downtown Memphis

Road signs on Memphis freeways

Road signs on Memphis freeways

We arrived in time for “docktails” with several Loopers including KelliRae & Bill (“Ocean Dancer”) whom Denise got to know in Michigan City, IN when Mark was in Wisconsin. As luck would have it, they were getting a rental car from Enterprise the next day and they were trying to schedule the marina loaner car to drive to Corinth to get it when we ran into them. We offered to coordinate departure time and take them in the car we had to return, if they would give us a ride back to the marina afterwards. This would negate the need for either of us to do the marina-loaner-logistics nightmare described previously (see above).  Since it was a win-win for both, they agreed and we set our plans to do so early in the morning.

But since we had a car for one more day, we opted for dinner off the boat and drove back to “Freddy T’s” one more time. We later learned that the reason discounts there are given to Loopers is because the owner of the marina also owns this restaurant. He also owns a 90’ yacht he keeps in the marina!

Thursday (10/15) – Grand Harbor Marina – We were up early with the fog and left the marina by 7:30 with KelliRae & Bill. The drive to Corinth and back took about 1.5 hours and had us back to the boat for a few chores.  Denise did laundry, which took the rest of the morning, while Mark put water on the boat and did a few other “honey-do” items.

Bill & Kellirae ("Ocean Dancer")

Bill & Kellirae (“Ocean Dancer”)

In the afternoon we moved the boat to the fuel dock to fill up our tank. We wanted to do this today as we want to leave before the fuel dock opens on Saturday, and didn’t want to fight the heavy wind forecasted for Friday.

Mark getting fuel

Mark getting fuel

We also made plans to meet with our Looper friends Mike & Lois Fallon (“Inchin’ Along”) whom we met on the Hudson River. They are from Memphis and have been taking 3 years to complete the Loop; leaving their boat (this time in Brewerton, NY) and returning to their home.  They recommended this marina to us as it is their “home port” and they wanted to come see us.

In the evening we got together with other Loopers for the usual docktails, including Al & Kaye (“Knot Home”), Dennis & Carol (“Reunion”), and Ron & Bev (“Sea Venture”). Some of the Loopers are leaving in the morning, and some are staying at Grand Harbor for the whole month of October.  It is a nice area, and a great place to hang out if you have to stay somewhere.

Carol & Dennis ("Reunion")

Carol & Dennis (“Reunion”)

Ron & Bev "Sea Venture"

Ron & Bev “Sea Venture”

During docktails, it is not uncommon for Loopers to share stories, but at this point in the Loop, discussion is frequently about boat insurance coverage, which dictates the plans for many to mover further south. While everyone is anxious to get off the rivers and into the Gulf Coast ports, many boaters have to wait until November (1st or 30th – policy dependent) due to their boat insurance. Since policies differ from carrier to carrier, and the FL coverage is one of the most expensive, everyone wants to compare policies and costs.  And as a result, many will hold up somewhere between Pickwick and Mobile Bay to wait for the special date when they are covered by their policy.  Since we live in FL we get the coverage we need for hurricane protection, however we won’t make it effective until we hit Mobile. This way we only have to pay for the remainder of the policy year (July 2016) and therefore did not have to incur the hefty fee for the whole year.  Comparing notes is like comparing presidential candidates across all parties; there are good and bad to just about all of them and there is no perfect one!

Friday (10/16) – Memphis, TN – Grand Harbor Marina – We woke up to cooler and slightly misty weather and the wind had picked up as expected.  We got the marina loaner vehicle and drove to Shiloh National Military Park, about 20 minutes away from the marina.  This national park is the site of one of the bloodiest battles during the civil war and is very spread out across miles of this pretty part of Western Tennessee. Denise was sorry she had not brought her running shoes to get a good run in as it had perfect trails in a beautiful setting along the river and provided the opportunity to go more than 3 miles without circling back over the course a few times; something she hasn’t been able to do in a long time.

Shiloh Welcome Center

Shiloh Welcome Center

Shiloh Visitors Center

Shiloh Visitors Center

In addition to the cemetery, there is a terrific award-winning video at the Welcome Center that documents the two-day battle at this location that had over 20,000 casualties. Throughout the entire park area there are markers that depict the locations of each battalion, company or regiment from both Union and Confederate armies. It is a great history lesson and was pretty overwhelming when you see how spread out the battleground is. You can learn more about this great park here.

Here are some other sights from Shiloh:

Cemetery Gates at Shiloh

Cemetery Gates at Shiloh

Shiloh Cemetery

Shiloh Cemetery

Old Shiloh church

Old Shiloh church

On the way back to the boat we went to a place called “The Outpost” located on the other side of Pickwick dam that we had been told about. It is combination country store, bait & tackle shop and bar-b-que restaurant.  We stopped in to buy a steak for cooking on the grill for dinner and some home-made pickles and then headed back to the boat.

The Outpost

The Outpost

The Outpost

The Outpost

We returned to the marina in time to meet Mike & Lois for lunch who then took us back to The Outpost for a delicious meal. We had a chance to get caught up on our Looping adventures since we last saw each other and talked of their plans to continue the loop next spring.  After lunch, they gave us a tour of the homes surrounding the area near the marina, and told us about some of the owners including the one who owns Grand Harbor Marina, and Freddie T’s (restaurant).  Then they took us back to the marina and said our good-byes. They are really fun and wonderful people and we were so glad they came to see us.

Lois & Mike ("Inchin Along")

Lois & Mike (“Inchin Along”)

In the evening we decided to stay close to the boat and prepare for our departure in the morning. Since our lunch was very filling and ran late, we decided to skip dinner and watched TV until we turned in for the night.

We really liked this marina and this area and can see why so many people stay here.  This is one of our favorite spots on the Loop!

Leaving Grand Harbor

Leaving Grand Harbor

Saturday (10/17) – Midway Marina – Fulton, MS. We were up and off the dock just after 7:00 with only bass fishing boats on the water with us.  Although it was cool and a little breezy when we woke up, once underway on the Tenn-Tom waterway we were more sheltered by the canal and hit some light fog. Fortunately it did not last.

Fog on Tenn-Tom Waterway

Fog on Tenn-Tom Waterway

When we left Grand Harbor we had called the first lock (Whitten) to clarify their opening schedule and to let them know we were headed their way. We received instructions to be there for what would be a 10:00 opening. That was per our plans and so we made our way south. When we got to the lock there was an up-bound tow that had just exited and he had the chamber filling for another up-bound waiting tow. We had to wait over an hour for this to materialize and then finally were allowed in this lock with two other boats (“The Bucket List” and “Lady KK”).

The Whitten lock is the first of 12 locks we will have to go through that will drop us over 400’ before we get to Mobile, AL and sea level. This particular lock is the largest drop of all at over 80’.  It has been since Canada and the TSW that we have encountered such lock heights and it can be intimidating when you first pull in and see the doors facing you.  It took about 20 minutes to lock down and be on our way.  Fortunately, the other two locks we had to go through were open for us when we arrived and we were in and out of them within 15 minutes each.

Tied up to cell waiting on Whitten Lock

Tied up to cell waiting on Whitten Lock

Whitten Lock - Looking forward

Whitten Lock – Looking forward

Some of the Tenn-Tom Waterway is more like a big ditch with high banks on both sides. During this portion there are baffles that are placed near neighboring creeks to prevent them from rushing into the waterway and affecting water levels. It is an interesting sight to say the least.

Creek baffles on Tenn-Tom

Creek baffles on Tenn-Tom

Along the way we also saw some evidence that we are definitely in the Bible belt!

On the Tenn-Tom waterway

On the Tenn-Tom waterway

We arrived at Midway Marine just after 2:00 pm and were quickly followed by the other two boats who had traveled the locks with us during the day. We exchanged boat cards and some pleasantries, and then we were off to shower and get to mass. We used the marina loaner vehicle to drive into the very small town of Fulton and attend Christ the King Catholic for their only mass at 4:30. We were elated that we could find a Catholic church in this part of Mississippi where Baptists and Methodists rule the roost.  There were less than 30 people at mass and the priest was a transplant from India, where Catholics are the largest Christian faith but only represent 1.5% of the total population there.

Christ the King Church

Christ the King Church

After mass we drove to the Wal-Mart, picked up a rotisserie chicken & salad fixings, and took it back to the boat for dinner. Although there is a restaurant up the hill from the marina, we had decided to eat on board instead. Walking down the docks we could smell the wonderful aroma of our fellow Loopers all of whom were cooking aboard their boats too. Great minds think alike.

Here are some pictures from Midway Marina:

Midway Marina

Midway Marina

Fuel dock

Fuel dock

IO at Midway

IO at Midway

Sunday (10/18) – Columbus Marina – Columbus, MS – Knowing it is easier to get the locks to open for a group of pleasure craft, we coordinated with our new Looper friends on “The Bucket List” and “Lady KK” and left at 7:45. We called the first lock (Fulton) to tell them we were coming and got their ok. So when we arrived there was no wait and that set the precedent for the rest of the day. There was only one lock of the other three that we had to wait at, and that was less than 10 minutes.

Wilkins Lock

Wilkins Lock

Bird at Wilkins Lock

Bird at Wilkins Lock

We arrived at Columbus marina just before 2:00 pm covering 50 nm, about the same distance as yesterday in about 2 hours less time. It is amazing how the locks can impact your plans.

After settling the boat and checking in, we went to work on assigned tasks. Denise had a blog to update and pictures to catalog and Mark had a very dirty boat that had to be washed. We showered in time to meet our new Looper friends for dinner.  Using the marina van we drove into town to Harvey’s restaurant with Larry & Sherry (“Lady KK”), and Gary & Ingrid (“The Bucket List”). Since Lady KK is a Gold-Looper and have run these rivers several times before, they already knew of Harvey’s. Of course we knew of the place from our days working for a client in Columbus so it was kind of like a trip down memory lane for us.  We stayed late at the restaurant talking and getting to know each other a bit before returning to the marina.

Gary & Ingrid ("The Bucket List")

Gary & Ingrid (“The Bucket List”)

Larry & Sherry Dufraine ("Lady KK")

Larry & Sherry Dufraine (“Lady KK”)

Mark & Denise at Harvey's

Mark & Denise at Harvey’s

Here are some other pictures from our adventures on the Tenn-Tom today:

Foliage in route to Columbus

Foliage in route to Columbus

Tombigbee River

Tombigbee River

Blue Bluff

Blue Bluff

Tomorrow Mark will fly to a client in Columbia, SC for work on Tuesday and will return on Wednesday morning. This means we will stay in Columbus, MS until at least Wednesday. In the meantime, Denise will be able to get the blog published and also get some much-needed boat chores done.

Stay tuned for more adventures!

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Back in the South!

We have left the mid-west behind and are now officially back in the South. Feeling more comfortable now that we are east of the Mississippi and definitely south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Here is what we have been up to over the two weeks:

Saturday (9/26) – Little Divergent Channel off Mississippi River (MO side) – We got up early and left Hoppies at 7 am with four other Looper boats all trying to head south down the Mississippi River. Although last off the dock, we (naturally) took the lead ahead of “Harvest Moon”, “JimKat”, “Sum Escape”, and “Camelot”. Since these boats are trawlers, they cruise at a slower speed (usually 8 – 10 knots) then we do at 15 kts. Add to that a 3 kt current from the Mississippi and NO locks to content with, and we covered the 100 miles in excellent time. By 1:30 we had secured our spot at anchor in Little Divergent Channel.

The cruise today had us pass only a few areas of interest, including Cape Girardeau, MO (birthplace of Rush Limbaugh) and home of the Southeast Missouri State University.

Cape Girardeau, MO

Cape Girardeau, MO

Old St. Vincent's - Cape Girardeau, MO

Old St. Vincent’s – Cape Girardeau, MO

Southeast MO State University

Southeast MO State University

The river is very industrial and we passed by many processing plants of all types, including rock quarries and cement factories where for excitement we would try to guess what they were. The tow traffic is constant, with us passing one about every 30-45 minutes or so. Just enough to break up the monotony of seeing nothing but trees, huge embankments or levees.

Rock quarry - MS River

Rock quarry – MS River

Rock quarry & plant - MS River

Rock quarry & plant – MS River

Passing Large (5x7) tow

Passing Large (5×7) tow

Then there are the wingdams and weirdams that you have to watch out for; jetty-like rock formations engineered to steer the river currents.   Wingdams jet out from the shore and run perpendicular to the river. Their purpose is to deflect the currents to the center off the river, thus preventing erosion of the river banks and create a self-flushing action that helps curtail shoaling of the channel. Weirdams are located at the bends in the river and are usually angled 20 – 30 degrees into the flow of the river. They are very long and their purpose is to control the flow of water through the bend. Both of these engineered structures create little tidal currents (think whirlpools) that make steering the boat a bit of challenge, especially in narrow areas and/or when passing a tow. It is not for the faint of heart, and this is a primary reason for staying off the rivers at night lest you stray from the channel and run into them.

Wierdam on MS River

Wierdam on MS River

Wingdam on MS River

Wingdam on MS River

There are parts of the Mississippi river that have pleasantly surprised us. The high rock cliffs along the Missouri side made for interesting landscaping, and occasionally we would see huge houses perched atop them. The Illinois side was more flat, but would have some nice sandy areas that were often part of a state park or wildlife preserve. When we passed by one area we saw a bunch of kayakers who had set up camp along the banks and we wondered if Leann and Alyssum were part of the group. (See last post in Port Charles, MO).

Canoers and campsite - MS River

Canoers and campsite – MS River

Around 3:00 in the afternoon the rest of the Looper boats began showing up, including two Looper sailboats that were in Alton marina, but did not go to Hoppies. We rafted together with Anne & Jeff (“Harvest Moon”) while the others either rafted in pairs or anchored individually. In total there were 8 boats in the anchorage for the night. Small john-type fishing boats were coming by and one mentioned to us that there were 7 boats in the anchorage yesterday; we guess we had them beat!

Little Divergent - looking East

Little Divergent Anchorage looking East

Little Divergent Anchorage looking West

Little Divergent Anchorage looking West

After all the boats were settled in, Jeff invited us aboard “Harvest Moon” for drinks on their fly bridge. So, after our showers and some dinner prep we went over and enjoyed the beauty of the anchorage and getting to know them a little bit.   That lasted for about 45 minutes until the bugs started to come out and the sun started to set. We went back to our boat where Denise made fajitas for dinner and we reviewed the charts and guide books for tomorrow’s adventures on Island Office.

Sunday (9/27) – Cumberland Towhead anchorage off of the Ohio River (Kentucky side) we left the anchorage with all the other Looper boats and made great time for the first 2 hours on the Mississippi River, with little excitement to speak of. However, once we complete the near 50 miles to the Ohio River, and turned to take it up river, well, that was another story. Since we were now traveling up the river and fighting a 3 kt current, our speed slowed down a bit.

Then we had to contend with 3 locks: the first one (Olmstead) is a newly constructed lock and will replace the other two locks, so it is really not operational. However, you must pass through it with permission and only if there are no tows coming down river. We went through with a short (15 minute) wait. The second (lock #53) we got lucky and three other pleasure craft were awaiting the lock opening as we approached. As we got up to the lock they were letting us all in, so we really didn’t have to wait at all.

Olmstead Lock

Olmstead Lock

Lock 53 - Ohio River

Lock 53 – Ohio River

The third lock (#52) was another story. We had a heads-up that they were going to make us wait at this lock for 2 hours, and we knew it would take us time to get there. We could have sped up and made the lock with another pleasure craft that was waiting, but we were told they would make them wait for us and the other 3 boats that previously locked with us. So we took our time cruising around 8 kts – which was still way faster than the trawlers, so we now had to wait for them to catch up. There was one other pleasure craft ahead of us, but they had pulled way out of the channel and anchored, which is what we should have done. Instead we motored in place near the edge of the channel because we were led to believe it would be just “a little while longer”. The other boats arrived and we all still had to wait over an hour before they would let us in.

Pleasure boat at lock 52

Homemade pleasure boat waiting at lock 52

This lock (like Lock #53) is very large and old with lots of hazards that can harm your boat. It is also s a very busy lock; the down-bound tow traffic was queued at least nine groups backlogged (one group is a full lock going up or down). It took a long time to fill so we could lock up, but eventually we all got through, grateful that we were going up-bound and not having to wait any longer than we did. We have heard stories of other Loopers who waited 8 -12 hours to get through this very busy lock.

Entering Lock 52 - Ohio River

Entering Lock 52 – Ohio River

Knowing we could not make it the last 45 miles or so to Green Turtle Bay in the daylight, we opted for a night at anchor behind a small island called Cumberland Towhead. Unfortunately, this meant we would not be anywhere to go to church and would mean we would miss mass this week – only the second time since we started our adventure that we have not been able to get to a church.

However, this was the night of the super moon and the eclipse so we were happy to be away from city lights that would pollute our view. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy and although our sunset was spectacular and full of color, we did not get a good view of the eclipse. Not that it would have mattered; we were exhausted and went to bed early. Mark got up during the night and saw the blood moon, but was not able to take any pictures of it, and he missed the eclipse.

Sunset at Anchorage

Sunset at Anchorage

Blood moon rising

Blood moon rising

Monday (9/28) – Green Turtle Bay Marina (Grand Rivers, KY) – We were up even before sunrise, so once we got a little bit of daylight, we pulled up the anchor and headed toward GTB. Within a few miles of the anchorage we left the Ohio River and headed down the Cumberland River. Again fighting the down-bound current as this river flows upstream into the Ohio. However, there was very little traffic on this river, which narrows and twists about quite a bit. We passed two big quarry areas with tows, but other than that we saw very few boats.

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

The water on this part of the river was incredibly still and the shores were quite beautiful. We noticed how the leaves were now changing here from the yellowish tint to the more auburn and red tint. In another few weeks this place will be full in color with fall foliage. At one point Denise asked “What is that on the water up there?” and Mark’s answered “it’s the reflection”! It really was peaceful and beautiful and we were celebrating the early departure and having this all to ourselves.

Cumberland River - Reflection

Cumberland River – Reflection

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

We arrived at the Barkley lock (the only one we have to go through on the Cumberland River) and only had to wait for the up-bound tow to finish locking down before we went in. While waiting we saw a whole school of Asian carp jumping in the air right near the lock & dam spillover. It was wild to say the least!

Asian Carrp jump - Barkley Lock & dam

Asian Carrp jump – Barkley Lock & dam

It had been awhile since we had faced such a huge lock-up (we had to go 50+ feet) and it was a little intimidating as it is a large lock and we were the only vessel in the place. It took about 20 minutes to fill and lift us up, but we were happy that we got through so easily.

Barkley Lock

Barkley Lock

In just over 3 hours from our anchorage we pulled into the fuel dock at Green Turtle Bay marina and added 100 gallons of diesel. Just enough to get us to our next (more affordable) diesel stop down the Tennessee River.

Entrance to GTB Resort

Entrance to GTB Resort

Beach at GTB

Beach at GTB

GTB Fuel dock

GTB Fuel dock

Coming here was like a class reunion. We saw Loopers we have met all long the trip, and few people we have not seen since the AGLCA Rendezvous in Norfolk. It was lots of fun to reconnect and tell stories, but it also became a big distraction. Without realizing it we had whiled away a huge chunk of our day.

Commonwealth Yacht Club

Commonwealth Yacht Club

Welcoming sign

Welcoming sign

In the afternoon we began the process of planning the next stops of our adventure. We had previously decided that we were not going to take the time to go down the Cumberland River and visit Nashville, and that we were not going to the AGLCA’s Fall Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park in Tennessee in October. We also knew we wanted to be ahead of the 50 – 60 boats that would all be leaving the Rendezvous at the same time heading to Mobile, AL filling up the marinas along the way there. We had a rough estimate of the time it would take to get to Mobile so we decided to extend our stay at GTB from the 2 days to the 4 days to get some boat chores and work for clients done.

Denise met up with Lola (“Sunny Daze”) who had reserved the loaner car and offered a ride into town to go to the local supermarket. So, off they went and returned with a handful of items, and a quick survey of the town. Mark had some work to do for clients so he stayed behind and got a few phone calls out of the way.

In the evening, we went to dinner at the Commonwealth Yacht club – located at the marina with access provided to anyone who stays at Green Turtle Bay. Our dining companions were Lola & Terry (“Sunny Daze”) whom we met in Michigan, and Brian and Janice (“Fugitive”) – whom we had met in Havana, IL when they let us in the gate at Tall Timbers marina so we could visit our friends who were there while we stayed at the free dock. The food was good and we enjoyed hearing the stories of these other Loopers.

Denise, Mark & Terry ("Sunny Daze")

Denise, Mark & Terry (“Sunny Daze”)

Lola & Terry ("Sunny Daze")

Lola & Terry (“Sunny Daze”)

Brian & Janice "Fugitive"

Brian & Janice “Fugitive”

Tuesday (9/29) – Green Turtle Bay Marina (Grand Rivers, KY) – It was a rainy morning for which we knew would keep us inside for a while. So, we decided to use the morning as a working day on the boat and get some chores done. Also, our original plan was that we were not going to go to Nashville, but today when we did some long range planning we discovered that we did have time to take the boat there. So we mapped out a plan to take the boat down the Cumberland River, go to Nashville for 2 days, then come back up the Cumberland, and onto the Tennessee River. This would require two long days on the water, a stay in a marina in Clarksville, and passing one lock….and then repeating the whole thing on the return. But, we figured we had time so we spent a good bit of the day making the detailed plans and marina reservations accordingly. Our friends Lola & Terry provided insight and some thoughts as they are from this area and will cross their wake in the coming days.

Once the weather cleared up a bit we went on an adventure into the small town of Grand Rivers. We used the marina golf cart which is available for use around the grounds or for the short 1-mile trek into town.

Golf cart selfie

Golf cart selfie

We did a little window-shopping through some of the stores and rode around to see the sights. Afterwards we went over to one of the docks in the marina and saw the reason this place is called Green Turtle Bay – we got these pictures of all the turtles that hang out waiting for people to feed them.

Turtles in water

Turtles in water

Turtles in the water

Turtles in the water

In the late afternoon we had Chuck & Vicki Stapleton (“Patriot”) aboard for drinks before dinner. We had not seen them since Norfolk and really enjoyed getting to know them then – they are both retired FBI agents. We spent nearly two hours getting caught up and discussing Mobile, AL where they reside. Mark had been researching where we could have the boat detailed there, and they provided some valuable insight. Because our time with them flew by, we had not put together anything for dinner and found ourselves going back to the yacht club to get a bite to eat.

We ran into Anne & Jeff (“Harvest Moon”) who had just sat down and invited us to join them, so we did. They were planning to leave in the morning for Nashville with several other boats (“Sunny Daze” & “Fugitive”), taking three days to get there. We made plans to connect with them when there as we were going to leave a day later, but arrive at the same time. We enjoyed spending more time with them and looked forward to this new and budding friendship.

Wednesday (9/30) – Green Turtle Bay Marina (Grand Rivers, KY). The rain from yesterday brought a little reprieve from the heat, so Denise started the day with a 3-mile run out of the resort property and into the town of Grand Rivers just a mile away. After showers and getting on with our day, we had office work to do (it is payday after all) and Denise made an attempt to get caught up on the blog, while Mark washed the outside of the boat.

In the afternoon our friends on TiKa arrived from their cruise down to Nashville, now with Karen back onboard (after an extended stay in Ft. Meyers). We spent some time talking with them about Nashville and the pros & cons of taking the boat there, versus driving a rental car and staying in a hotel. That got us rethinking the Nashville trip so we went back to the drawing board, and re-planned the whole thing. First was the marina: could we leave the boat another few days, or were they full up? Fortunately for us they could keep the boat, and they had a special going – stay 5 nights, get 2 free. Perfect! Next came the rental car; Enterprise in Paducah had a car. Then came the hotel; we were able to cash in Hilton points and got a room for Friday & Saturday night at the Hilton right in the heart of downtown. Bingo! We had a plan and felt the best about this one that allowed days to go to Nashville, and still kept us ahead of the crowds headed to Mobile, AL.

That evening we joined Julie & Tom (“Sum Escape”) and Jim & Kathy (“JimKat”) for dinner at a local restaurant called “Pattie’s”. We met aboard “Sum Escape” for drinks first, then a driver from the restaurant came and picked us all up as it was a bit too far to walk in the dark. The place is known for its 1” and 2” pork chops as well as desserts – which we managed to get a tasting of and enjoyed.

Patti's

Patti’s

Mark, Denise, Kathy, Jim, Julie & Tom

Mark, Denise, Kathy, Jim, Julie & Tom

Dessert at Patti's

Dessert at Patti’s

 

Here are some pictures of the town of Grand Rivers:

Downtown Grand Rivers

Downtown Grand Rivers

Downtown

Downtown

Shops in downtown

Shops in downtown

Downtown

Downtown

Pokey's in downtown

Pokey’s in downtown

Mr BB Q - downtown

Mr BB Q – downtown

Lite Side Cafe

Lite Side Café

Pedestrian Path downtown

Pedestrian Path downtown

Lighthouse Landing Marina - TN River side

Lighthouse Landing Marina – TN River side

Village supermarket

Village supermarket

Post Office

Post Office

Thursday (10/1) – Green Turtle Bay Marina (Grand Rivers, KY). We started the day calling marinas and cancelling or rescheduling our dates based on the new plans for Nashville. We encountered no issues in doing so and we felt really good about the new plan and our future itinerary.

We also did a little maintenance on the boat. We wanted to change the ventilation filter for the holding tank, which was located in the smallest possible space under the galley floor. This of course meant that Denise would be the one crawling into this space. Fortunately, it was an easy replacement and did not involve the actual holding tank itself.

A little description about Green Turtle Bay. This is really a total resort with condos, hotel rooms, marina with a full service boat yard, a full-service spa, a sandwich shop, boat rentals, beach with chairs, a bonfire pit, and more. And yes…there are even turtles in the water here. We have determined this would be a great location for a family reunion and Bill (one of the owners and harbormaster) advised they have them all the time in the summer months. Something to consider sometime if anyone would be up for a weekend of fishing, boating, swimming or just hanging out!

The resort is located in an area called the “Land between the Lakes” because it is located between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. There is a National Recreation Area that starts just south of Green Turtle Bay, and is really quite beautiful. There are lots of parks, campgrounds, hiking trails etc. and would definitely be a trip if you are into the outdoors. You can learn more about it here.

During the day Denise was able to book an appointment into the spa and get a much-needed pedicure. Mark worked on installing the latest IOS update for our iPhones & iPads, as well as some computer systems maintenance.

Denise's Pedicure

Denise’s Pedicure

In the evening, the owners of Green Turtle Bay hosted a bar-b-que as a way of recognizing the Looper community. They provided food: pulled pork sandwiches, salad, cole slaw, potato salad, and peach cobbler and some entertainment as well as a big thank you. Over 100 Looper boats come through this area most in a 3-week time frame. It is a great stopping point after the long run down the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers from Chicago. The marina is really nice with terrific staff and this was a very nice gestures on their part.  Even the deer came out to enjoy the party!

Mark at Looper Bar B Que

Mark at Looper Bar B Que

Pam & Pete ("Endoxi") - Looper Bar B Que

Pam & Pete (“Endoxi”) – Looper Bar B Que

Rodney & Sharri Hedeen ("Sassified")

Rodney & Sharri Hedeen (“Sassified”)

Kenny & Kathy Walker ("No Zip Code")

Kenny & Kathy Walker (“No Zip Code”)

Jim & Paula ("Palmetto Paridise")

Jim & Paula (“Palmetto Paradise”)

Kathy ("JimKat") and Julie ("Sum Escape")

Kathy (“JimKat”) and Julie (“Sum Escape”)

Tom ("Sum Escape") and Jim ("JimKat")

Tom (“Sum Escape”) and Jim (“JimKat”)

Entertainment

Entertainment

Billy Gray IV - Owner & Harbormaster

Billy Gray IV – Owner & Harbormaster

Deer at Bar B Que

Deer at Bar B Que

Friday (10/2) – Nashville, TN. We were picked up at 9:00 by the Enterprise rental car driver who then took us to Paducah to get our car.   What should have taken 35 minutes took over two hours as we had to wait on a car to be returned and Paducah is a 30 mile drive from Grand Rivers. However, once we got the car we made our way to I-24 for the easy drive to Nashville. Along the way we found a Chick-Fil-A at the Clarksville, TN exit so we stopped for lunch. What a treat! Since we could not check into the hotel before 3:00 and we were early, we located a Costco and picked up a few items that we just couldn’t live without (HA)!

We then headed to our hotel which was located in the best spot; we could not have planned this any better. Across the street on the west side was the Country Music Hall of Fame, on the North side was the Bridgestone Arena, one block away was Broadway Street with all the Honky Tonks; to our immediate South was the Johnny Cash Museum, and next to that was the Symphony Hall (beautiful building). We were within walking distance of so much, which was a good thing as it continued to drizzle and rain all night. To add to the fun, they upgraded us to a suite that was bigger than our whole boat!

Symphony Hall -from Room

Symphony Hall -from Room

View from hotel room - to River

View from hotel room – to River

Nissan Stadium

Nissan Stadium – Home of the Titans

We had been in touch with Looper friends Anne & Jeff (“Harvest Moon”) who had their boat on the wall at the city riverfront. We made plans to meet at “Jacks Bar-B-Que” on Broadway where we had a quick beer while waiting for them. Once we got together we walked around Broadway to locate someplace a little nicer to eat, and that included some type of entertainment.

Jack's Bar-B-Que

Jack’s Bar-B-Que

Eventually we stumbled onto the ACME (an old feed store building right on the corner near the river). This place had been highlighted to us by other Loopers, so we went in. On the first floor is a stage with a live band that was playing (yes, country music), a large bar along the whole side, and a counter where you order & pick up your food. On the second floor is a smaller bar and lots of tables, chairs and lounging sofas and recorded (not live) music that enabled conversation. Here we were able to secure 4 seats at the bar and then ordered our dinner which was quite good. It was a win-win for Mark (who doesn’t like Country music) and was not a touristy Honky-Tonk as our other options in the area.

Anne & Jeff Simmons ("Harvest Moon")

Anne & Jeff Simmons (“Harvest Moon”)

ACME feed Store

ACME feed Store

After dinner we walked to a place called “Printers Alley” which has a handful of bars and nightspots and has a very New Orleans feel to it. We opted not to stay here and walked back towards Broadway.

Mark taking girls picture - Printer's Alley

Mark taking girls picture – Printer’s Alley

In the meantime Anne had been in touch with Brian & Janice (“Fugitive”) and we connected with them at a place called “The Big Bang”. Here there were two musicians playing facing pianos and ridiculing folks from the audience like a “Howl at the Moon” show. However this did not last long after we arrived and the entertainers began taking requests for songs by the audience. During their performance, more musicians would come in and play different instruments (drums, guitar, etc.) and they would swap around. These were very versatile and talented individuals who played everything from hard rock, disco, Billy Joel, and of course country. They had the crowd singing and dancing and it was a lot of fun. People told us that we would see excellent talent along this strip of nightspots and they were not lying; these guys were great!

Big Bang Entrance

Big Bang Entrance

Janice & Brian ("Fugitive")

Janice & Brian (“Fugitive”)

Denise & Mark at "Big Bang"

Denise & Mark at “Big Bang”

We stayed up way past double-digits and finally called it a night. When we left there was a line out the door to get in and the town was just getting warmed up. We heard music and partying from our hotel room well into the wee morning hours.

Saturday (10/3) – Nashville, TN. Again we woke up to a light rain and cool weather, but that didn’t stop us from playing tourist in the Music City. We got a hop-on-hop off bus ticket and took the 1.5 hour tour around the city, only getting off at one stop due to the rain – the Farmers Market. This is a permanent structure which houses a food-court type of area as well as stalls for the typical farmer’s market vendors. We bought some micro small pumpkins and gourds to decorate the boat with, and had lunch at Bella Nashville Wood-fired Pizza. It was incredibly fresh and some of the best pizza we have had.

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market

Soooooo many pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market

Pizza lunch

Bella Nashville – Pizza lunch

The bus tour continued past the Bicentennial Capital Mall state park, and then through all parts of Nashville including Vanderbilt University and Music Row; an area where the music studios, production companies and royalty monitoring services are all located. We also went through an area known as the Gulch, where there are shops and some up and coming restaurants are located.

After the bus ride, we went back to our hotel to get out of the rain and watch the FSU game. We were happy to be able to see the entire game and to dry off for a while.

Hotel Selfie

Selfie in hotel lobby before dinner

For dinner we had previously made plans with Anne and Jeff to dine at a restaurant called “M” located in The Gulch. Brian & Janice had other plans for the evening, so it would just be the four of us. We met at our hotel first for drinks, then together took a cab to the restaurant. We had a delicious meal; probably the best meal we have had since starting the Loop – or at least since Charleston. Feeling a little stuffed and since the rain subsided, we decided to walk our way back to the hotel (and the boat for Anne and Jeff). We said good bye to them and hope we reconnect along the rest of our adventure as we have become friends and really enjoy their company.

Sunday (10/4) – Nashville, TN. We got up early and walked the 5 blocks to St. Mary’s of the Seven Sorrows Catholic Church. We assumed the 9:00 mass would be over in the usual hour, but we were mistaken. It was a high mass with most of it sung and many parts in Latin. It took 1. 5 hours and we came to the conclusion that all the masses in this church were like this. However, it was filled with many young families, including the one that shared our pew. This church is the one of the first Catholic Church buildings constructed in Tennessee and dates to 1848. Richard Pius Miles, O.P. (1791-1860), the first Catholic Bishop of Nashville is buried on the premises and there are efforts to have him beatified as a saint.

St Mary's of the Seven Sorrows

St Mary’s of the Seven Sorrows

St Mary's

St Mary’s

Ceiling of St. Mary's

Ceiling of St. Mary’s

After mass, we returned back to the hotel and checked out. We wanted to get back to the marina and the boat, and prepare it for leaving on Monday morning.

Other pictures from Nashville:

Pedal Tavern

Pedal Tavern – Nashville’s Limo Cycle

Bridgestone Arena

Bridgestone Arena

Broadway

Broadway – the Nashville “Strip”

On the drive back to Grand Rivers, we stopped in Clarksville, TN as they had a Wal-Mart and a Publix – a store we were so happy to finally be able to do grocery shopping in again. We picked up some things at both stores and then made the drive back to Grand Rivers, arriving in time to get laundry done and put water on the boat. We grabbed some to-go pork sandwiches from the Yacht Club for dinner and stayed on the boat for some “down time” for the rest of the evening.

Monday (10/5) – Paris Landing, TN. Knowing we were heading into days where it might not be possible, Denise started the day with another run around the town of Grand Rivers, using the hills to get in a bit of a workout. It felt good to get the legs moving again.

Because Enterprise Rental Car is not open on Sunday, we had to return the rental car to Paducah before we could leave Green Turtle Bay. Mark had coordinated with Larry (“Cheryl Lynn”) – a Gold Looper on a Sabre 52 that was in the slip next to ours – and they went together; Larry picking up a car and Mark returning one. This prevented the long wait for the Enterprise employee to take Mark back to the marina.

Once Mark returned to the boat we left Green Turtle Bay for the 38 mile cruise down to Paris Landing, arriving at 1:30. It is the end of the season and the dock master instructed us to just choose any slip we wanted when we arrived, so we pulled into one designated for a 60’ yacht. It was nice not to worry about sticking out too far.

IO at marina slip

IO at marina slip

After settling in at the marina, we hosed down the boat as it was covered with bugs from Green Turtle Bay and we were sick of having them around. Despite our best efforts, they get inside the boat and we are constantly vacuuming to get rid of them. On the outside the bugs and spiders poop all over the boat and leave a mess that has to be constantly cleaned or it will stain. We never want to hear anyone complain about the bugs in FL again – we have put up with our fair share in the last few states.

Along the way to Paris Landing we cruised through Kentucky Lake which is quite beautiful and eventually forms into the Tennessee River.   Here Island Office officially crossed into the state of Tennessee; our 15th since we started the trip in April.

Tennessee River

Kentucky Lake shoreline – to Paris Landing

TN River

Kentucky Lake shoreline to Paris Landing

Also along the way we passed Loopers Martha & George (“Aunt Aggie”), whom we had seen in Green Turtle Bay for the first time since meeting them in Amsterdam, New York in July.

Aunt Aggie

Aunt Aggie

When they pulled into the marina we laughed about there being so few boaters, and how we had our pick of slips to pull into. We made plans to get together for drinks with them later as they had friends on board and were in celebration mode; they will cross their wake in 3 short days!

The marina here is part of the Tennessee Parks system and there is a State Park across the highway and 1 mile up the road, with a golf course, conference center, lodge and restaurant. The park rangers will come to the marina and pick you up to take you to the lodge for dining in the restaurant or to use their pool (which was closed for the season) or other facilities.

Paris Landing Marina

Paris Landing Marina

After celebratory drinks aboard “Aunt Aggie”, we went to dinner at the Paris Landing Lodge restaurant and had their buffet. When we arrived we saw the chicken tenders, fried fish and ribs, as well as the extensive salad bar that was included and though this would be a pretty good meal at $10 each. However, by the time we ordered, ate our salads from the salad bar and went to get food, they were out of the ribs and were running out of the chicken. You see there was a big group of young college golfers (men) who were having a tournament there and they had started arriving before us. They were hungry and devoured the ribs before we even had a chance. Fortunately, there was still ice cream and apple cobbler, so we made up for it with dessert.

Paris Landing Lodge Restaurant

Paris Landing Lodge Restaurant

Paris Landing Lodge Buffet

Paris Landing Lodge Buffet

In the evening we found the marina to be eerily quiet as there were only us two transient boats. However, it was welcomed peace compared to the popularity of Green Turtle Bay.

Tuesday (10/6) – Pebble Isle Marina, New Johnsonville, TN – Dense was up early and was able to capture the spectacularly beautiful sky over the marina.  It was so breathtaking and reminded us that while violent at times, nature can be a great soother!

Sunrise at Paris Landing

Sunrise at Paris Landing

Although not in a hurry, Mark was anxious to get moving and so we left Paris Landing by 9:30 and made the two hour run to Pebble Isle Marina in New Johnsonville, TN. The trip was really quite nice as it was a great day to be on the water; the sky was really blue and there were no clouds. There was a little wind, but just enough to keep us cooled off. Along the way we passed the Old Danville grain elevator which was one time on land sits nearly right at the edge of the channel.

Old Danville Grain Elevator

Old Danville Grain Elevator

Old Danville Grain Elevator

Old Danville Grain Elevator

This part of the Tennessee River is very pretty with hills on both sides. There are parts of it that have big cliffs and other parts that are flat, even some areas with grassy marshes. There are houses now on both sides of the river, but they are space out and it is still very rural. The water is not crystal clear, but still is nice and with the changing leaves on the trees makes for some beautiful scenery.

Homes on TN River

Homes on TN River

Marshy Grass on TN River

Marshy Grass on TN River

Western Shore - TN River

Western Shore – TN River

 

Fishing on TN River

Fishing on TN River

We passed a lot of bass-style fishing boats and even a Looper boat or two, and made it into the Pebble Isle marina before lunch.

Pebble Isle Marina

Pebble Isle Marina

Here we saw our Looper friends on “Sweet Sensation”, “TiKa”, and “Plane 2 Sea”, as well as new Loopers we met in Green Turtle Bay on “Endoxi” and “Sassified”. Later in the day Julie & Tom (“Sum Escape”) pulled in, as well as several other boats we did not know. We also met a Gold Looper couple, Vicki & Mike Agee (“Drifters”) who are from Mississippi and are starting their second Looping adventure.

Kevin & Chris ("Sweet Sensation")

Kevin & Chris (“Sweet Sensation”)

Denise (aka social director) organized docktails for 5:00 and all were present for sharing stories and getting to know one another. It was truly a fun time and what makes the membership in AGLCA so worthwhile. Everyone looks for the Looper burgees when pulling into a marina or anchorage, and when one is spotted you know you have a friend.

Looper Docktails

Looper Docktails

The marina here is family owned and is pretty good size. It has a large dock space for transients, good fuel prices, and they love their Loopers. The restaurant is usually closed during the week this time of year, but when Loopers come through they will open if there is enough who want to eat there. So in the afternoon they come down the docks, tell you their specials and take a poll of how many are interested. If 20 or more people come they will open the restaurant.

Needless to say, we all said yes as we wanted to patronize the local small businesses. We headed to the restaurant at 6:00 and joined tables so we could all sit together. For dinner Mark got the bacon-wrapped sirloin special (no surprise there) and Denise got the Dungeness crab legs, both of which came with salad bar and a side dish. The food was really good, a great value, and we waddled away quite full. We had lots of fun and enjoyed talking with our old and new Looper friends.

Mark & Kay ("Plane2Sea")

Mark & Kay (“Plane2Sea”)

Stay tuned for more adventures!