Sunday, September 29, 2013

Last Train to Clarksville.... but nobody met us at the station :-(

We are now at mile 165, 25 miles south of Nashville.  Because of the Titans football game we couldn't get a space on the downtown dock until Monday so we've been inching along. Friday night we spent the night at the town dock in Clarksville, Tennessee's fifth largest city.  As is the case in the river towns if the town has a dock it is located close to the historic parts of the cities so we get a historical view of where we are. Clarksville is a large producer of tobacco, beef cattle and soy beans. I was once one of the largest tobacco producers in Tennessee and this area played a big role in the war between the states. Ft. Campbell, home of the Army's famed 101st Air Assault Division, is 10 miles no

It was a day for clouds

The view from our back deck at the first nights anchorage, Buzzard Bay, early evening  ....PERFECT

LOTS of bass boats here very quietly fishing and enjoying the beautiful weather.  

Clouds and the Cumberland..this is the most peaceful waterway we have ever been on.
It is in a word....Reverant

A wee little taste of the color change to come

Thursday night we anchored....Hickman Creek near the sight of Fort Donelson wherein 1862 Union forces encircled Fort Donelson and forced 13,000 Confederate troops to surrender. This was the first major victory for the Union and brought national prominence to Ulysses S. Grant. The fort is no longer there and unfortunately there was no water access to tour the grounds or the Ft. Donelson National Cemetery.

The next morning when the heavy fog lifted, this fisherman was very surprised to find two trawlers in his fishing grounds!  Kind of a scary thought, he couldn't even see our anchor lights...would have been pretty easy for him to run into us...but luck was with us and Bob & Judy had their generator running and he heard the muffled motor through the fog, but had no idea what it was.

His morning catch....2 not crap...but crop, as in "Croppies"

    The Dover Hotel....Sunday, February 26th 1862....General Ulysses Grant rode up to this building and accepted an unconditional surrender from Confederate General Simon Buckner.  The first and only time during the Civil War that a large army surrendered unconditionally.

Here we are passing a barge on a One Whistle.  (our port side)

Steam billowing from the stacks of the TVA's Cumberland River Power Plant. When it started operating in 1973  ( a very good year,  our son Kent's year) it was one of the world's largest.  Today it takes 20,000 tons of coal a day to run it and it produces electricity for over a million homes.  I was as you can see fascinated by it. 

Two sets of stacks, the original 1000 foot stacks are now obsolete and have been replaced with 600 footers with scrubbers that remove toxins from the gases.

A back view of the barge docks where they unload the coal that feeds the beast.

Close up of the black coal, Tennessee Tea, in front of the stacks

So....we took the last train, and here we are in Clarksville!!  (Monkey's circa 1966)

Actually this is a bad depiction of the waterfront. There is a beautiful park at the top of the ramps the entire length of downtown.

Gary and our friends Bob & Judy in Clarksville

An historic downtown street

Trinity Episcopal Church circa 1881.

 We went to the Clarksville farmer's market and loved this fall display!

And went to the Custom's House Museum where we saw this awesome train display, complete with airplanes a circus and a carnival kind of like the Christmas villages everyone sets up but fully automated.  Unfortunately they only do the complete show on Sundays so we had to be content with pushing the buttons to get a few of the displays to animate.  Like the Carnival seen below complete with lights and moving rides!

We passed the Queen of the Mississippi at the Cheatham Lock coming back from a cruise to Nashville

And had a lock tender take mercy on us. After telling us we would probably have to wait 5-6 hours for all the barge traffic to go through, he got approval from this tug for us to lock through with him. When he exited he hooked up to his barges and off he went....
We passed him about five minutes later   :-) after thanking him profusely for letting us slide through with him

Saw some unusual sights along the way

And the anchorages.....SPECTACULAR....don't you agree??  Does it get any better than seeing this at the end of the day from your "porch"....PARADISE

Tomorrow it's 25 miles to Nashville.  We hope to get there early enough to get a good spot on the town dock well away from the bridge where we have been warned people like to occasionally throw things down on the boats.  Grow Up!!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Photo Gallery

The fork in the rivers  Mississippi River Bridge on the Left, and the
Ohio River Bridge on the Right

Rainy windless days always spell calm waters the Ohio was huge compared to Ole Miss, but it was not a good photo day.

More Industry on the Ohio
Add caption

Lock tender at Lock 52 on the Ohio (our second lock on the Ohio) he told us it was the busiest lock in the United States. We waited from 6 am to 8:30 am to go through it after anchoring in the channel in front of the very turbulent spillway
over night to catch it early!

This barge was waiting to come through the lock as we exited and another one was in the other chamber of the lock.  They lock through barges 24 hours a day.

We were glad we didn't make it to Paducah Friday night  because we would have been stuck there for a while, on Saturday.  They were having some sort of morning boat races . 

Entering the Cumberland river.  The 'cells' (round rusty cylinders are for barges to lay on when waiting for traffic on the very narrow Cumberland River.

And THIS is TRAFFIC!! also looks like this....drop dead Gorgeous!

This is us passing a barge on the Cumberland....just before a bend in the river, you can see by our wake we were throttled up.

Our biggest and last lock before Green Turtle Bay Marina  The Barkley Lock where it took us 4 hours to get locked through!  Man I would not want to be a tow captain.  They are sitting along the banks up and down the rivers waiting for their turn to get through the lock.  It sounded like the lock tenders were giving them numbers to go through every few hours or so.... and we thought we waited a long time.  The bigger barges can't go through in one unit so the tug has to split them up up river from the lock.  Then they push the first half through and out into the river down from the lock, get locked back through to get the other half of their tow, get locked through again and reassemble the tow at the bottom end.  Just think about doing that more than once a day!  AMAZING!!!   Our hats are off to the tow captains of America!
We didn't get through the lock until after 7pm so we anchored and then went into Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky.  This is THE spot for Loopers to stop on their way south after a couple of hard days with no marinas on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.  It was so great we stayed three nights instead of two.  We met a lot of new faces, and few familiar ones. Last night the place was packed with 30 Looper boats.

Dinner with (brother) Loopers Bob & John from M/V 'Yinzer: On the Water' at Patti's Settlement, Grand Rivers, Ky. the first stop for every one staying at Green Turtle Bay.  Their specialty a 2" one pound pork chop.  Which was, I must say ,fabulous and NO i didn't eat one myself.  Gary and I shared one and we still had some for a doggie bag!. It was seriously big and seriously good!
(and an aside) Bob lives in Hawaii, he and John boat the boat to do the loop and are really enjoying themselves. Their wives pretty much said "have fun"

The 1st Mates of Green Turtle's Looper Docktails party.  FYI,  Carolyn in the burgundy pants is doing the loop with her husband at the spry age of 80!!!
Just proves my shirt:
'People don't stop playing because they get old
People get old because they stop playing'...

And the bug finder was our friend Denny Craig who commented on the blog that the hitchhiker from the other day was a Cicada!  Googled it and sure enough, big bulging eyes and all.

We are now headed to NASHVILLE with Bob & Judy on Sanderling......Yippeee!!!!  Gary says this is our last hurrah before we head home with our tails tucked between our legs.  :-) or :-(

Friday, September 20, 2013


From Cape Girardeau, Mo. to Metropolis (think Superman), Ill.
93 miles, 12 hours =

                          What were we thinking????

Thoughts on the rivers..

Some thoughts on the Illinois River.....not at all what we expected.  We had it in our heads that the shores would be treed and heavily lined with houses.  I for one wasn't really expecting a lot of barges until we got to the Mississippi.  I guess no one ever really talks about the Illinois so my preconceived ideas where way off the mark.  

Here Port and Starboard changed to LDB (left descending bank) and RDB (right descending bank) LDB being port if you are going south and starboard if you are coming north. (Get it?)

The river started out with heavy industrialization in the Chicago area, not pretty as you could tell from 
the photos but very interesting,

There was very little housing on the river the 320 miles we travelled and the few that were there were mostly on stilts about 30' off the ground because of the heavy flooding they get here.

There were very few towns on the waterway itself and if there was a town it was small.
Not many marinas and those that were there were small and often silted in so only shallow draft boats could get in.

There were even fewer anchorages because it shallows quickly out of the channel.

There were more birds on this river than anywhere we have been!  We saw Bald Eagles, Hawks, Martins, Geese, Ducks, Herons and more White Pelicans than we could count.  With all the industry you'd think they'd have three wings or two heads from the pollution, but they looked pretty normal to me!

The Mississippi has been far from what I expected.....I thought it would be this huge wide river "The Mighty Mississippi" with tons of barges hampering traffic, lots of towns and houses.  I guess I expected it to be busy and exciting.

We are almost at the end of our portion of the Mississippi and I would hazard a guess that it gets more exciting and bigger on the lower portion which we will not be travelling on.  Don't get me wrong it has been interesting, but again no houses lining the shores and the only cities we have passed are Alton, St. Louis and Cape Girardeau.  There are NO marinas on the portion of the river past Hoppies , which is three 100 foot barges tied together on the bank of the Mississippi run by Hoppie and his wife Fern who is THE person to talk to about the river.  Fern & Hoppie took the marina over from his dad in the sixties and their is nothing she doesn't know about the Upper Mississippi.  She is a trusted source of information for all Loopers.  Every afternoon she does an information session for all the cruisers at her docks about the upcoming portions of the river all the way through the Ohio portion to Green Turtle Bay, in Kentucky. The barges are tied to the upper banks of the river with steel cables.

Anchorages are again very hard to find because of the low water levels but because there are no marinas you have to make do.

We have not seen the number of barges I thought we would during the day, but at night they seem to move more.  Maybe to stay away from the hassle of the "Pleasure Craft" going south!

The Corp of Engineers has whittled the river down to a canal in places with their wing dams and weir dams which according to Fern at Hoppies are causing the great sand 'beaches' along the waterway. They started this to 'direct the river' and alleviate the need to dredge but now they are constantly moving the bouys because of the changing paths of the channels.  You can see that the river was once very wide but now you can see a lot of wide wide 'beaches' that go up to the tree line. 
This ever changing river makes it hard for the tows because they are often maneuvering in narrow spaces, but they are pros and make it look easy.

In a nutshell it is fascinating but not at all what we expected.

Met some great people at Hoppies though, especially Captain Scooter and Mate Jeff who are delivering a 61' Ocean Alexander Sportfish from Duluth to the Florida Panhandle.  They had us over for docktails on the Kaskaskia lock wall where we spent Wednesday night and we got a reprieve from the 85 degree heat on the air conditioned fly cool is that!  Great guys whom we hope to meet up with at a later date.

I know the pictures are what you really want so I made it easy.....

  Mississippi River Slideshow   again, click the  i  for the captions and the speaker for the music....if you need to be entertained  :-)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Can it possibly get better than this???

The view off our stern when we woke up Saturday Morning at this anchorage off the channel on the Illinois.  We spent most of the afternoon finding a suitable anchorage for our two boats. This ended up being a great choice.  Only one tug went by in the night and waking up to this was breathtaking!

Flat calm and a beautiful blue sky

The last of the barges lining the waterway

Bald Eagle Sighting....First one of the entire trip!!  

Hydraulic dredging operation keeping the shipping lanes open

One of the last bridges and industrial plants on the Illinois
An abandoned River/Boat.  

Bob...still hanging in there!
Sunday morning hundreds of white pelicans in the sky.  It's hard to "get it" in this photo but what an wonderful sight.  White Pelicans are rare and here they were flying up out of the Pere Marquette State Park which must be their summer home.  It started with about thirty birds, then about 30 more joined them, and 30 more, and on and was a truly incredible sight.  One just wondered if they were having a town meeting making plans to  head south. or just readying their flight skills with 'Zumba' for Pelicans...whatever they were doing it was AWESOME to see!

Our last anchorage on the Illinois, behind Mortland Island...18 miles from the Mississippi River

Our first sight of the mighty Mississippi River...which seemed very 'un-mighty' to us

The Illinois shoreline of the Missisippi

We made a right turn onto the Mississippi and arrived in St. Charles Missouri , about 20 miles north of St. Louis, yesterday along with Bob & Judy on Sanderling.  Gary & I decided to take the courtesy car and tour this historic town.
St Charles was the first settlement on the Missouri River in the 1760's. Daniel Boone lived here and Lewis and Clark started their expedition here. It was a starting point for many settlers that went west.  It is steeped in history, with well cared for buildings,  many that date to the late 1700's.  They now seem to house a myriad of stores and restaurants and the "country" theme is woven throughout. Main street is paved with bricks and the ambiance is of days gone by. A very nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Missouri is our first real taste of the 'heartland'....on our 25 minute drive into town from the marina on the Mississippi it was wall to wall farmland. Beautiful fields of yellowing corn stalks, dark green soy bean fields and silos and harvesters everywhere. This trip is an exceptional view into the America we only hear about on the is so much more than much more...and we are experiencing a minute portion.

St. Charles, Mo.  slideshow

Tomorrow we head out into unknown territory once again 

And so it goes........