About Leigh

I admit to having a spotted past. One of painting lots, then not painting at all. I have worked for an ad agency, a printing company as art director, and have done free-lance and faux finishing work in past years. I have also had my share of non-creative jobs for the sake of survival (and health insurance). Painting was always something I did when I had some spare time. Being a mother took up my most cherished years. Now with children grown, and grandchildren far away, I am taking up my paintbrush and pushing myself to get down to the studio on a regular basis. I'm loving this long awaited time, feeling a bit like I'm exploring who I am - at 60 it's about time. I find myself soaking in whatever subject I am painting at any moment, but I am a people person, so figurative painting is probably my favorite. Each part of life's journey has rewards and challenges. Today, my challenge is to put on canvas the life that I feel so strongly in my heart. Thank you for visiting my blog. Smiling, Leigh

Here’s My Story And I’m Sticking To It

Well, somebody needs to pat me on the back, we’re at Goose Pond Colony Marina, I’m up before 6, coffee in hand, and struggling for over 20 minutes trying to get a connection, down below, then on deck, then back down below, moving the dogs with me (Lord knows they have to be glued to my side this morning) just so I can blog.  NOT that I’m complaining.

Okay, thing is, I gave up on connecting and just getting this down on paper this morning and will throw it online when I can…so here we go.

First, it just hit me this morning as I was pouring that first cup of coffee, that I had not explained something of great significance about our send-off last year by the Kuemmels and all that has followed since.  So, here’s the tale, we’ll begin with a short preface…

March 2010 Boat Trip to Mississippi

Last year in March Clint and I set off for our first Barefootin’ journey downstream. We traveled 452 land miles total, traveling down the Tennessee River, our last stop being Grand Harbor Marina on the TennTom, then back to homeport. We easily became addicted to this type of travel and I decided to begin my first blog (this one) all about our Barefootin’ travels.  I was actually faithful to write each day on this first trip (miracles do happen). After our journey had ended, we still went down to the boat for a few days each week. On one of these visits to Hales Bar to our boat is where this tale begins.

…We had packed up food, the dogs, and swimsuits and were back at the marina, to spend a few restful days on Barefootin’. Clint went to find a cart while I walked and pottied the dogs on arrival, our usual routine. The girls quickly took care of business and I headed down the pier towards Barefootin’. I saw a couple, around our age, pulling debris out of the water along the pier’s edge (a very worthy and notable cause at our marina).  I said “Hi” to the man as I passed. When I reached the woman I did the same and she turned around and looked at me. I had walked on past when the lady called out to me and asked if I was the one who wrote the blog and was our boat named Barefootin’? Amazed that some stranger knew this, I turned to answer “Yes.”

She and her husband had found our blog on the AGLA (American Great Loop Association) site that both us and they belonged to.  Now the fact that my blog site had even been put on the web site was new to me, though I was thrilled.  And, even more thrilled to find that this couple, Jim and Sue, had followed our travels day to day down the river.  Jim and Sue, on the other hand, seemed glad to meet the people they had been reading about.  : )

I tell you this little story for two reasons; one, to remind you and me that it truly is a small world, and, secondly, that these two were our “send-off” couple on our next trip in 2010 and have been our travel partners with us, aboard their trawler Fruition, for our two trips this year.

Jim and Sue giving us a send-off in 2010

Jim and Sue, and other great friends we’ve met through boating (Betsy, Ken, Laura, Roger) all up in Lynchburg for a weekender last fall.

Fruition with Sue at the helm, as we left Nickajack Dam yesterday after we locked through together.

So, there’s our story and I’m sticking to it!

On The Road Again…

This Thursday, the 28th, we’ll be packing up for another “road trip,” exceptin’ we’ll be on the river not a road.  We will once again be traveling alongside Fruition, and will be heading down river, making stops at Goose Pond Colony, Ditto Landing and Joe Wheeler State Park.

Earlier this summer, we took a great trip up river with Sue and Jim aboard Fruition.  Here’s our story on that trip:

Okay, this isn't Fruition, this is their dinghy...

I should post a photo of Fruition, shouldn’t I or should I, or shouldn’t I, should I, or shouldn’t I…?  Okay, here it is:

Fruition – 47′ CHP Trawler

After leaving Hales Bar (both Barefootin’ and Fruition‘s homeport), we spent our first night tied up in Chattanooga.  We met Laura and Roger, boating friends who live in Chattanooga, for a sushi dinner and then walked back down to the boat for a nightcap and relaxation.

Laura and I enjoyed cooling off, danglin our feet in the water, and feeding a goose family loads of stale Wheat Thins.  They were very appreciative of the snack.

The next morning, Laura and Roger came back aboard Barefootin’ and we all headed upriver to Agency Creek, off the Hiwassee River, to our Chattanooga Sail and Power Squadron Fish Fry. 

Anyone who has been out on the water has to agree that it is a freeing, relaxing feeling that is not easily put into words.  Whenever we take Barefootin‘ up the river to Chattanooga, as we round the curve at Mocassin Bend and look over at the backed up traffic on I-24, we smile at the enjoyment and peacefulness of water travel.Mackie enjoys some loving from Laura as we head up to the Hiwassee.Our dogs definitely enjoy boat travel as much as we do  : )

When we arrive at Agency Creek, we tie up to the dock.

Barefootin' tied up at Agency Creek for the night

 Fruition has already anchored out, as they left a day earlier than us.  Clint and I had hosted, with Mary and Dave, a Southern Tennessee Ladies’ Society Hawaiian Luau Wine Tasting at our home the night before, so Fruition had left homeport a day before us.

Dave, Kent, Mary, Clint, me, Gail and Gary at our STLS Luau Wine Tasting event

The CSPS Fish Fry was loads of fun; great food, lots of fellow boaters, and an informative but short meeting.  By late afternoon, all the members had left except Jim, Sue, Clint and I.  We would be staying the night on our boats. Changed into our swimsuits, Jim came over in the dinghy and took us out to Fruition.  It was a quiet and hot afternoon and we all enjoyed a long swim in Agency Creek.

Fruition anchored in Agency Creek off the Hiwassee River

After our swim, we all climbed back aboard Fruition and had a picnic out on Fruition‘s bow with the leftovers from the fish fry and toasted one another, celebrating a wonderful day together out on the water.

Jim later took us back to Barefootin’ where we tucked the dogs and ourselves into bed and let “visions of sugar plums” dance in our heads.  In the morning we would untie and head upstream with Fruition for a new adventure.

Now They’ve Both Had A Turn

We wake to another beautiful day, Clint walks the girls.   From below I hear him greeting our fellow boaters, I put the coffee on.  Fresh peaches, from our little tree at home, are cut up to share and we head nextdoor for breakfast. The blueberry Aretha Frankenstein pancakes are sooo good!

The Breakfast Club (minus the cook, John, and us)-left, Bob, Gail, Claire, Linda, and Lloyd

Breakfast cleaned up, we climb aboard Barefootin’, our friends untie our lines and shove us off towards our next destination, Blue Springs Cove on Watts Bar Lake.  We cruise out of Harrison Bay and head back up river.

The Captain

The stretch from here to Watts Bar Dam is quiet and beautiful.  We only see two items that stand out against the otherwise constant greenery.

Interesting rock formation and amazing clear azur water......................okay, just kidding, this is a photo from Antigua. ........just keeping you on your toes.

The first item of interest is Cotton Port.  Seeing it from afar, we have grand hopes of restocking our drinking water onboard.

Unfortunately, as we idle in closer to dock, we aren’t so sure we’ll be resupplying anything.

An obviously popular and thriving stop on the river...not.

The photo doesn’t do this place justice, the grass is a foot high, the lawn chairs are overgrown with vines, you can hardly tell the driveway from the yard.
We tie up, still hopeful.  Clint heads to the “store. ” I head to a shady area which was once a nice little sandy beach for visitors, to let the dogs swim and afterwards, relieve themselves in the shady grass.
Mission accomplished I meet Clint as he leaves the store, empty-handed.  He tells me all their refrigerated displays are empty, no water, no groceries to sell. But, the bright spot, he tells me is that the store has a few broken up 6-packs of beer. Clint goes back in and returns with two beers to go with lunch.
We get back to the dock, ready to board and enjoy a quick lunch onboard. This dock, like the one at Island Cove, is surrounded by milfoil.  I bend down, to unleash the dogs, Presley first.  As I work at unhooking Mackie from her leash, we hear an oh-to-familiar splash to my left.  Sure enough, this time Presley has decided to see if milfoil is solid ground and has disappeared beneath the grassy surface.  I’m panicking, Clint’s panicking.  We both hit the dock hard trying to get to her.  Clint succeeds at grabbing her as she pops up, wrapped in the viney stuff.

The end of the pier Presley jumped off.

With our knees, toes, and ankles now skinned and bleeding, and little miss Presley dried off, we climb back aboard Barefootin’ for more adventures.
Soon we see the Highway 30 bridge, the William Jennings Bryant Bridge, ahead.  And, as we cruise closer, we view our second item of interest.

Item of interest #2, the Washington Ferry

The Washington Ferry is the last commercial ferry still working on the Tennessee River.

Note:  On our return trip down the river, we had the thrill of passing the old ferry at work (parked to the left in the above photo), pushing a small barge with concrete blocks and some equipment, down the river.   Seeing it so close up was amazing, we are talking OLD here.

“The river village of Washington was once the largest town in Rhea County and its original county seat. During the Civil War, the Washington Ferry was an important crossing of the Tennessee River and Federal troops used it extensively during their occupation of the region from 1863 to 1865.”

From http://www.Trail.com – Whether your passion for outdoor pursuits take you to the mountains or the lakes, Rhea County in Tennessee has what you’re looking for. Steeped in history, Rhea County was home to the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial and once had the title of Strawberry Capital of the world. Located in the heart of southeastern Tennessee, Rhea County is the place to lace up your boots, toss out a line or retrace the steps of history.Read more at Trails.com: Natural Attractions in Rhea County, Tennessee | Trails.com http://www.trails.com/list_15595_natural-attractions-rhea-county-tennessee.html#ixzz0y0Vw1GLZ
If you’re a history buff, you would enjoy searching into more Washington Ferry history.

At last, we arrive at Watts Bar Dam.  No long wait before we see the green light flashing for us to enter.

View of Watts Bar from downstream

Our lock through is a hot, but smooth one.  As we untie, and head towards the opened gates towards the river, we see the lockmaster standing above.  We wave.  I notice he holds two frisbies in his hand and he yells for me to catch them.

Now, mind you, I’m months away from turning 60, on the bow of a not large vessel, and being honest, never was that good at “frisbie.”  And, this man is wanting me to catch a frisbee while I stand atop a moving vessel!!  Is he crazy?? I yell up to him, “No way can I catch one of those.”  But, he throws one anyways.  I miss.  But, he still seems to think I am underestimating my own abilities and throws the last one.  I miss.  I throw up my hands as if in despair. We both laugh, and Barefootin’ heads “frisbiless” our the gates and into Watts Bar Lake.  As I pulled in the fenders and put up the lines atop the bow, I couldn’t help thinking, “What a waste of two good frisbies!”

As we cruise into Watts Bar Lake, we are in awe of its beauty, small islands dot the both sides, the greenery is lush, the hills are multiplying as we go.  When we pass inlets on the left, we can see the Cumberland Plateau in the distance. The water is deep and cooler and the milfoil has disappeared (we are relieved for the dogs’ sakes and ours).  We cut through a long pass, taking a shortcut to the marina.  Soon we are turning south into a long cove, Blue Springs is just around the corner.

Arriving at Blues Springs Marina

We dock, and immediately go ashore to explore and let the girls take a relaxing swim with no milfoil.  Then it’s time to clean up and head for an early dinner.  The restaurant is fantastic.  We could have stayed here for a month, just so we could sample every great item on their menu.  Yum!  Dinner was followed with a walk around the docks, looking at all the different makes and sizes of boats.  It’s just something that happens to you after you acquire a boat.  ; )

Lights glisten and reflect off Barefootin'

Night falls, we sit on deck and toast a glass of wine to another beautiful day on the river.  Across the water, the restaurant lights glow in the dark.  We take it all in, recalling the days events.  The prize winner for today, we both agree, is our panic and Presley’s, when she jumped into the milfoil. Now they’ve both had a turn.

It’s A Rough Life

Waking with our usual morning routine, a light mist covers the water, a bird call breaks the silence, a fish breaks the water’s surface, we sit with our coffee mugs, soaking it all in.

Breakfast finished, we head across the bay to Harrison Bay State Park, to gas up ($1 cheaper per gallon there), and to get in a good walk.   It’s a scorcher of a morning, but, like most boaters, we know we need to stretch out the old muscles.  We head down a path marked “4.5 miles,” knowing full well we aren’t going to walk that far in this heat.

I figure this one is self-explanatory.

Well, you’d be proud, we did end up walking the full length, a few breaks for the girls (dogs) to take a swim and cool off.   As usual, we met people along the path and enjoy some good conversation.  Then, much sweatier than when we started, we climb back on Barefootin’, and cruise back to our dock at Island Cove.

Lunch, then a fun swim with the dogs (we did swim last night after we arrived also).  Then, it’s time to get cleaned up.  Our power squadron meeting and dinner is tonight, in the pavilion attached to the dock right beside Barefootin’.

Members start to arrive, some by boat, the visiting and laughter begins early.

Gail and Bob arrive with their granddaughter, Clair.

Norman arrives, he’s doing the cooking, jerk chicken, beans and rice, rum cake. Gail makes a huge salad with all kinds of goodies in it.  It’s a great night all around.

As we mingle on boats and the dock, some relax on John and Linda's "Southern Jewel."

Elizabeth and I meet for the first time. We have mutual friends, Sophal and Eileen at Hales Bar. Little did either of us know that soon we would become great friends.

Enjoying a wonderful meal and boat tales.

Laura, Sue (remember our great "send-off" at Hales Bar) and me...we're talking "Zumba," Sue and I commit to try it with Laura (our pro) at the Y in Chattanooga. Laura and Roger also have a boat at Hales Bar. We meet them for the first time here at the squadron meeting.

As the sun drops behind the hills, dark falls over the water, and the dock empties of its crowd.  All that remain are those who boated to the meeting.  We all enjoy a nightcap, talk about the meeting (oh, we and Laura and Roger all got sworn in tonight), the dinner, whatever.  A few more boat tales are shared, a little more laughter on John and Linda’s houseboat before we all head off to bed.  John has invited us all for blueberry Aretha Frankenstein pancakes in the morning.  Yes, I know, boating is a rough life.

Morning arrives, I cut up loads of fresh peaches, from our own little peach tree, we crab our coffee and walk nextdoor to the pavilion.  More laughter, boat tales with the added benefit of delicious pancakes, fresh peaches and juice.

The Breakfast Club (minus the cook John and us, to the left Bob, Gail, Claire, Linda, and Lloyd)

We help clean up breakfast dishes and prepare for another day heading up the river.  Our friends push us off and we smile.  We are blessed, truly blessed.

Is This The Life…?

We wake early Friday morning (whether we want to or not…we have Presley aboard, and she demands it).  Clint walks the dogs, I make coffee, we rush around doing all the things one does before taking off on a trip.  I batten down the hatches and we’re ready to head out.

Barefootin’ slowly creeps out and around the docks and alongside the cabins where we make our turn into the river.  We hear yelling on shore and look over to see our friends, Jim and Sue, giving us a “send-off” from shore.

We are so blessed with the greatest friends!

The air, I’m sure you can all relate, is already HOT, we’re sweating.  As the boat picks up speed and planes, we are thrilled to have the breeze hitting us in the face.  As we cruise towards Chattanooga, we continue to be awed by the Tennessee River’s beauty, though we’ve traveled this part many times now.

Cormorants, one of my favorite birds

Tennessee green, as my mom always says : )

My travel companions

We only passed two pontoons and a few bass boats by the time we see Lookout Mountain  ahead of us.

Mackie, checking out the progress we've made this morning.

We slow as we pass through Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga Aquarium

Chattanooga is a town of many bridges, each unique.

We are about to enter waters unknown (to us).  The excitement begins!

The Hunt Art Museum, first time ever to pass it by water. Pretty impressive setting, huh?!

Cruising past town, we begin to see lots of homes on the water, a golf course or two, The Fish House.

Do you remember my favorite part of cruising from our blog on our trip last March?  …you don’t need to strain your brain to figure this one out…come on now…

You guessed it. Locking through! And, here we go again. Chickamauga Dam is less than a mile from us. We're about to throw our rope over the bollard and rise 48' more feet above sea level. Shall I say "fun?"

Well, the locking through actually went fine…it always does now, it’s just the memory of that one “not so fun” locking through that continues to haunt me.

As we head on about 7 miles, we can see the tops of homes at Eagle Bluff, where we’ve played golf.  (talk about a hilly course!)  We take a starboard turn into Harrison Bay.  Soon we are at our destination, Island Cove Marina. Barefootin‘ will be tied up here for two nights.

Time to walk the dogs.  Clint and I both concur no need to leash them.  We’re the lone boat on this dock, what harm could be done.  It’s a pretty lengthy dock so we get into a rather deep conversation as we’re walking towards land, the dogs leading the way.  We are so engrossed in our subject that we stop about midway down the dock, facing each other as we continue our discussion.  (I know what you’re thinking, no, we weren’t arguing.)   ; )

Seconds later, a big splash comes from behind us, where the water is thickly covered with milfoil (an invasive water plant).  We quickly turn towards the splash, but see nothing…except that when we count, we are minus one dog!!  We rush to where the water is still settling and up pops a little black nose, then big brown eyeballs, it’s Mackie wrapped in milfoil.  Clint grabs her and untangles her feet and plops her back on the dock.

After the scare subsided, we both agreed she must have REALLY needed to “go” and just thought the milfoil was solid ground.  Lesson learned.

The dogs walked and safely back on the boat, we view a new friend from the Chattanooga Power Squadron heading towards us on the dock.  We are invited to join them and marina friends for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 6p.

Is this the life or what?

1 Friend, 2 Friend, 3 Friend…

After too many months of day trips, 2-3 day adventures and nights spent sleeping at our marina on Barefootin’, we are off again on a longer expedition. This time we’re heading UP the Tennessee River to see what’s there.

As hard as it would be to believe, this morning has been my first chance to start my postings of the events of this trip.  Trust me, there’s nothing boring about boating.

Our adventure began with us arriving at Hales Bar on Thursday afternoon.  Once the air conditioning was going, we turned some music on for the dogs and headed back to Jasper to reprovision for our trip.  We decided we’d run over to South Pittsburgh and enjoy one of Steverino’s salads for our dinner.

We arrived back at the marina, provisioning and walked the dogs.  (isn’t this interesting, HA!)  By then the sun was dropping over the hills across the river and it was time to walk over and join our friends on Fruition for a nighcap.   I stepped up on the ladder and reached, tapping on the window to let them know we’d arrived,  then we climbed the ladder to be greeted by the owners, Sue and Jim.

Now I’m going to tell you a little side story that I think is special.  We went on our last big trip back in March.  As most of you know, I did a post for each day of our journey.  Weeks after our trip had ended, we headed down to Barefootin’ for a few days.  As I was walking down to our slip, there were two people (whom I’d never seen to my knowledge) pulling debris out of the water with nets (I was immediately impressed, seriously).  I was walking by them and they turned and said, “Is your boat that one over there, Barefootin‘?”  “Yes,” I responded curiously.  Then they proceeded to tell me that they had followed our blog which had been posted on the AGLA (Loopers) site.  Amazing, because I didn’t even know it was showing up on the Loopers site and amazing, that strangers had enjoyed my postings.  : )   Since this time, we have become great friends with Jim and Sue.  Their boat, Fruition, is a 48 ft. CHP trawler that is now their home.  …1 Friend, 2 Friend

Okay, on to our first evening before takeoff.   Clint and I settled on the the couch and Jim told us that Betsy would be joining us.  Clint and I have met and talked to her husband, Ken, but we’ve never gotten to meet Betsy.  They are a whole ‘nother wonderful boat story.  (Every boater owner has so, so many interesting stories of their own specific adventures, it’s great fun to hear them, if you like boat stories)  Ken and Betsy’s trawler, created from a lobster boat scheme, was made from scratch by a man in Canada.   He did the basics, Ken and Betsy are completing it still.  (They have the pictures to prove it.)  Point being, cool boat, and another fun story.  (I could go on, but maybe you’ll meet them one day and they can share their own story with you.)


Betsy, Sue and Jim


So, we have cocktails and snacks (I can’t remember how to spell the “fancy” word, forgive me) and met Betsy.  Later, we all walked over for a tour of Betsy and Ken’s boat.  So cool!

…3 Friend.

Duck, Duck, Goose…Pond – Day 11

We head out early, the water is like a mirror in the cove as we pull up lines.  The fishermen are already out as we head into the river again.

he's got a small bass on the hook, about a lb. or so, good eatin'

off we go, into the wild blue yonder!

We’re headed back to Goose Pond, our last stop on our first extended trip on Barefootin’.  Once again, golf is on the agenda when we arrive.

the girls have become true river rats, they are sawing logs as we head down the Tennessee River at 27 knots

more cute cormorants - next camera purchases, a filter and zoom lens

We arrive at Goose Pond in plenty of time to tie up, get our breath and change for golf.  Jeff gives us the courtesy car keys and says keep ’em for the day.  Off for another round of golf.

Daytrippin’ – Day 10

This morning we awake at Wheeler State Park – good sign, as that’s where we were when we fell asleep last night!

Today is a beautiful day and it’s going to be a busy one.  We wolf down some nourishment, then we’re off to try our hand, again, at our golf game.  Thank goodness we play better today than when we were at Pickwick.  (not perfect, mind you, but better)   It was a perfect golf kinda day and we really enjoyed ourselves despite any errors in our game.

At one point, as we were heading to another tee box, I looked over, and lo, and behold, I saw, at a distance, Miss Tiggy Winkle scurrying through the dry leaves! And, I am not sure, but I may have seen a small clothes line with a few dainty handkerchiefs dangling out to dry.

Okay, okay, it wasn’t Miss Tiggy Winkle.  Just a puggie little groundhog, but it did make me think of Miss Tiggy Winkle and her cute ways.

At Wheeler, near where I spotted "Miss Tiggy Winkle"

This friendly state employee gave Clint a ride to the clubhouse to get a golf cart.

I really cannot tell you what Clint is doing in this photo.

Enough said about golf, we turn in our golf cart and pack up the boat, walk the girls, and we’re off.

New cabins for rent at Wheeler State Park.

So long Wheeler, we’re headed up river to Decatur, hoping to try out The Hard Dock Cafe for a late lunch/early dinner.

Enjoying the ride and all the sites

I cannot put into words the beauty and expanse of the Tennessee River.  I am not sure any writer could do it justice.  There is a feel that you get being out on that body of flowing water, it’s calm, it’s spaciousness, the impact of so much nature surrounding you.  It’s more than words can say, it’s something that you must feel for yourself.  It is a feeling I want to carry with me when we have to head back to the farm.  I don’t want to forget this river, ever.

Every mile marker we pass has a bird's nest on it

The L&N Bridge as we enter Decatur

The prize for “Most Personality” on this March 2010 trip most assuredly goes to this railroad bridge keeper.  The man had the cutest southern drawl and the friendliness that I wish all us southerners had.  You cannot talk to this man and not be smiling when you’re done.  Even the second time through, it still felt strange seeing the bridge lift for little ole Barefootin’.

The Hard Dock Cafe at River Walk Marina

We pull in to the Riverwalk Marina and tie up.  Steve, the owner of the marina and Hard Dock Cafe comes down to welcome us.  He informs us that he has told his wife we were coming because she wants to see our dogs.  It’s not long before she shows up, we all talk, they pet the girls, and we talk a little more.  (and I take the girls for a potty walk)  They tell us some of their favorites on the cafe menu and then we say our goodbyes.

The Hard Dock Cafe reminds us of Flora-Bama, down on Perdido Key, run down with loads of personality.  My kinda place.  Since it’s a beautiful sunny day, we choose an outside table looking over the river.  We are quite impressed with the choices on the menu and, decide right then that we will be back to try more of the dinners.  This time we both go for an appetizer.  Clint orders the crab balls (yep, we agree, funny name) and a side salad.  I order the buffalo shrimp and side salad. Both appetizers were really good.  The best buffalo shrimp I’ve ever had, and Clint vouched for his too.   The only downside was paper plates and plastic utensils, but they did go right along with the rest of the decor.

The Hard Dock Cafe opens at 3pm, Wed.- Sat.  On Friday and Saturday’s they have live music.  If you are ever in Decatur and want a place where you can just relax and enjoy, this is your place.

Heading back down to the boat from Hard Dock Cafe, the dogs are in the boat watching for us

Once again, today, we untie the lines and push off.  This time, our destination is Ditto Landing, a marina owned by the city of Huntsville.  Ditto is where we will be bedding down for the night.

It is 4:30 when we leave the Riverwalk Marina and move into the river once again.

To find this marina, we just follow the road signs...

We shared almost half a box of expensive crackers with all the cute ducks where we docked for the night

Peace and quiet at Ditto Landing

The night is uneventful with one exception, no water at the docks.  They had told us that they did have water…the marina worker comes down to apologize the next morning before we leave and only charges us $20 for the slip.

Ditto Landing is being redone by the city of Huntsville.  They are putting in new transient docks and a new marina office and bath and laundry facilities.  It is in a beautiful little cove, so it will be great when the renovation is completed.

There are loads of people fishing here at Ditto Landing.  Little inlets and islands dot the area and it makes for a great spot to bring your bait bucket, lunch and a rod.  I love seeing everyone enjoying themselves so much.  Only problem, the junk they leave behind is disgusting.  I can’t imagine coming to this beautiful spot and leaving my coke bottle and napkin on the ground when I leave.  Why do humans do that!!!?? I truly do not understand people who leave trash or throw it out their car window.

Ditto Landing also has camping facilities and a playground or two.  There is probably much more offered than what I saw.  I was limited to what was between us and the showers.  Too pooped to do any real exploring.

Sweet dreams all!

Today’s Question: What well-known animal will attack and kill a rattlesnake, copperhead or water mocassin, be bitten and survive the snake’s bite without any effects?   It is an opossum, they are somehow immune.  Every animal has it’s unique qualities, just like each person.  : )

“On the Road Again” – Day 9

The day is going to be a gorgeous one.  We busy ourselves getting Barefootin’ ready for take off.  Grand Harbor will not be forgotten.


Leaving H-Dock



The harbor is invitingly calm this morning as we depart



We were surprised to find the "William Tell," a 47' Nordhavn which we spent an enjoyable evening on last year, docked here at Grand Harbor. The owners we knew sold it months ago. Funny running into the young "William" again.



We head over to the marina office to gas up for the day's ride.



We look back as we pull out, leaving Grand Harbor behind. We hope to see her again someday soon.



With the sun beaming across Yellow Creek, we head out towards the Tennessee River.


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.


Notice my new turquoise ball cap : )


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.


Yep, this is my photo of the bald eagles. Like it?


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.


Can you see the interesting structure right behind those trees?


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.


I'm assuming this isn't Indians. My guess, Boy Scouts.


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.


Wilson Dam as we approach


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 Captain informs me that it's time to move into the lock.



That is a road way down there at the other end over the dam.



This is from down below where we have tied up, towards the far side of the dam.


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.


Weeeeee're baaack! (one of my favorite lines from Independence Day)



The bridge is close to where we will tie up to ascend



I wouldn't want these guys' job...we wave to them and they wave back as we pull out of 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.


leaving the dam and heading towards the park



The Captain at port



the two old ladies onboard "Barefootin'"



the girls about to bed down while we go have dinner


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!

Sweet dreams!

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.

Wash Day – Day 8

Today we are in no rush about anything.  Storms moved through all night, but being undercover, we were not really affected by the rains or the wind.  The remnants of the night’s storms are still present.  We are prepared for a dreary day, the menu; doing the wash, catching up on our blog, buying my turquoise ball cap, cleaning the bilge, and cleaning up the cabin.

First things first, the girls anxiously await their breakfast

After taking care of the daily chores, we start on our list for the day.  I do take a break when the youngest grandbabies ring in on Skype.  We have an entertaining conversation of sorts: they dance, they jump, they spell words, they show Grandmommy their feet, they show me their cars, their helicopter, the works.  Alexis is wearing a Duke T-shirt for church (it’s March Madness Sunday and she and Ken work with the Kids’ Praise Service).  They head off to church and I get back to chores at hand.

A few things that didn’t get quite dry (this photo should win some national contest, don’t you think?

Clint hard at work

We had lunch today on the boat, sandwiches and chicken/sausage gumbo.  Walked the girls again with sweaters on this time.  The wind is really whipping down the creek (I correct my earlier posts, this is the Yellow Creek – it’s the widest creek I have personally ever seen).  The creek is very choppy and there is a strong chill in the moist air as it bounces off the water.

We continue our chores at a very relaxed pace.  The day draws to a close, we eat snacks in the place of dinner, accompanied by a glass of wine.  Clint talks to a son-in-law, Steve, by phone.  He has a layover in Boston, and has flown his lovely wife, Stephanie (yes, we are prejudice, as we should be) there for the weekend.  They are watching March Madness in a sports bar there.

After again walking the girls, we go shower and head back to Barefootin‘. We crawl into bed early and watch (sorry folks) “Sex in the City” reruns.  Crude at times I know, but it can be so funny and we needed a good laugh or two to end the rather boring day.  (we are having “Mick-withdrawal” pains I think)

Oh, I had promised to tell you the latest “dog feat” aboard.  Presley has actually learned how to potty on command.  You have no idea what a wonderful thing that is to us…this dog has ADD and trying to get her to focus has just been useless.  (I have a hard time focusing also, so I understand her problem, but still…)  Now, after a week of constant leashing (she runs loose on the farm), she has “gotten it!”  She literally walks right off the sidewalk, squats and wah lah!!  Hooray for Presley!!

Quick reminder, tomorrow we get underway, heading back up the Tennessee River.  Weather permitting we will be attempting 3 locks and spending the evening at River Walk in Decatur.  Do you remember the name of the restaurant at that dockage?  I’ll report on the food their in Day 9’s blog.

Smiling. Hope you are doing the same.

Today’s Question: Did you find the answer to yesterday’s question?  I did…let me know your answers and we’ll compare notes.

Barefootin‘ Travel Log: No miles, no gas used, no nothing.