The day is going to be a gorgeous one. We busy ourselves getting Barefootin’ ready for take off. Grand Harbor will not be forgotten.
We enjoyed everything about this area and make note to return, both by land and by “sea” in the future. If you are looking for a new place to explore, give the Counce, TN, Pickwick Dam, and Luka, MS area a try.
Turning right into the Tennessee River doesn’t take long. The sky is clear, the wind a pleasant 5 to 10 mph and the river is mildly choppy. It feels good to be back on the water.
There are so many great things to see on the river. For that matter, on any body of water where you can see land at least ocassionally. There are coots, herons, cormorants, gulls, and geese abundant. I have always had a love of the outdoors, I love looking for animals, plants, you name it. As we pass a mile marker in the river, I look to see, what I am thinking is, two cormorants standing on some twigs atop the marker. As we get closer, I realize it is two bald eagles. Me, I’m grabbing my camera, hitting the start button, leaning over to get my angle right. And, dagnabit, if this Sea Ray of ours hasn’t gone so fast that I have missed my photo of the day!! Yep, you guessed it, the Captain gets to hear me complaining for the next five miles.
I finally pull myself together, and we move on through the water. We go a few more miles upstream and I see what appears to be concrete forms/walls maybe, at both ends of what is now a very small elongated island. Again, I grab my camera, hit the “on” button, go to the other side of the boat and reach to get my photo…oh yeah, it’s in the far distance by now. Hmmmmmm…
Well, I bit my tongue. I know my Captain loves the speed, the wind blowing his hair, and all that good stuff. I know.
This time we pass another strange structure, apparently huge concrete or stone retangular blocks piled on each other. Lots of them. The above photo is all I could get of this structure.
Now mind you, I love our boat, it’s a great boat. But, I find myself longing to go S-L-O-W-E-R. I really do want to smell the roses. There is so much to see out here, so much to learn, so much that we are missing going full speed ahead. I still find myself wanting that trawler.
…I hear all you men out there groaning!
Today the water looks like a child has thrown silver glitter across it. The sun’s light is bouncing off every wave. What a great day to be heading up the river.
We approach Wilson Dam, we will be ascending 88 feet when we get there. Today, for the first time, I don’t feel anxious as we approach a dam.
Clint has called the lockmaster. He informs us that another vessel is locking through. As soon as they get through, he will drop the water and let us in on the downstream side. Therefore, we have some time to relax. I climb on up to the bow, get the fenders, lines and my hook ready. I do sit ups on the bow. I lean into the window and talk to Clint. I lay on my back and think about friends, my old friends and my new. I pray for one who I have just heard is hurting right now. I thank God for all the wonderful friendships through the years. I have been so blessed with friends. Wow! I lay there with my eyes closed, the sun feels so warm. The radio crackles, the lockmaster says to come on up, the doors are about to open.
The horn blows and the water begins to swirl. The bollard creaks and clanks and we begin our ascent. When we arrive at the top, rather than two doors opening, like at the other end, the front wall descends into nothingness below us. A rather strange site to watch. The horn sounds, we untie and move slowly out of the lock.
The sun feels so good out here on the bow, when I finish my chores on deck and lean down where the Captain can hear me, I say, “If we had a trawler, I could stay out here, enjoy the warm sun and take pictures as we go.” I say this with a smile, of course. He smirks back.
I climb back down and again, we’re off. Putting the pedal to the metal.
We pass three tiny, tiny islands. Each packed with about 3 trees each. The trees are still leafless from the winter. Yet, they seem to have black foilage as the cormorants fill their branches. (I guess I shouldn’t tell you that I tried to get a photograph of this too…)
By the way, a few interesting facts about cormorants (not ahingas, Florida boys). They have been recorded to dive as deep as 100 feet. They can stay underwater at least 71 seconds. This fact has also been recorded, but I am a faithful watcher of cormorants and I’m guessing they can stay under longer than that. (not that Leigh would ever question scientific “knowledge.”) And, their wings are not waterproof and this is why they love to sit in the trees and hold out their wings…to air dry.
I hope in the future, to find other sites of interest for our viewers, other than all the dams. But with that said, we are approaching Wheeler Dam (remember that it’s 6,342 feet wide…that’s over a mile for anyone who has forgotten their math lessons).
We call the lockmaster, who informs us that a tug and barges are going through now, with another to follow. It will be at least an hour and a half wait before he can get us in.
Alrighty then…forget lunch at Wheeler State Park. New plan (you have lots of those when you are boating), we will just float out here in the lake away from the channel and have lunch onboard. So, I head downstairs and fix us some sandwiches. We eat, we talk. Then Clint busies himself in the helm. I go below and get Old Faithful (my computer) and go back up to the cockpit and sit. I “skype” my mom right there in the middle of Wilson Lake, too fun!! Then I started today’s blog, checked my email and Facebook. (hear I would like to say a huge thanks to Cindy and Mick for telling us about the Verizon MiFi, which without it none of this could have been done today)
It’s an hour and 45 minutes later when the lockmaster calls. He says for us to move on into the lock.
Since we had such a long wait to enter Wheeler Dam, we have decided to change our cruise plan for the day. We will stay at Wheeler State Park today, have dinner in the restaurant and play golf there in the morning (oh NO! more golf…hopes it’s prettier than the last time we played!!) We only have a 5 mile cruise to the park from the dam.
We have discovered a mystery electrical problem this evening which will put a bit of a damper on comfort for awhile. The DC side of our panel is acting strangely. No inside lights, no potty (ugh!!), no DVD player (no biggy, we have the computer). So the night is spent as if we are camping as we dig out our flashlights. Am I complaining, no. There is a beautiful full moon rising in a clear sky. It’s glow lights the cabin with an ambiance that we could never have pulled off on our own.
We crawl into bed with the knowledge of how blessed we are. Our plan this time last year was to buy a boat when the farm sold and to do some cruising and exploring. Then, one day, it hit us, “Why wait?” But, we knew until the farm sold we could not afford the boat of our dreams. So, we found Barefootin’, a smaller boat, but she’s a start. Cruising and exploring do not take a large boat. And, one never knows what the future will bring, so we are enjoying life NOW.
So, if you want to boat, and can’t afford much, buy small. Who cares how small? Get something and get out on the water…a john boat has the potential of loads of fun! My girls can acclaim to that. If you want to see the world on land, get started, a small trip and a cheap trip is better than no trip at all. Camping is cheap and loads of fun and packed with the ability to create endless memories. Hike, bike, whatever. But, get out there and live and live NOW! There is a beautiful world out there waiting for you to explore it!
Today’s Question: I’m blank…
Today’s Travel Log: 62 miles traveled, gallons used 46, time on water 5 1/2 hours, mpg 1.34, locks 2, elevation risen 135 ft.