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.

An H-Dock Kinda Day, Day 7

Well, sure enough, Presley, the younger river rat, has accomplished sleeping until 7 a.m. now on a regular basis.   So, you guessed it, we awoke at 7 this morning…regular ole routine; climb out of bed, hit the coffee “on” button, Clint dresses and takes the girls for their relief walk.  I prepare our coffee so Clint’s cup is ready when he comes back below.  I also have the NOAA weather report up and running on the computer, so we can discuss our options.  One thing you quickly learn when cruising is “It’s not about you, it’s about the weather.”

The sun rose without a cloud in the sky.  The weather forecast was all good. Therefore, we have a decision to make, sit on the boat or go play golf.  It’s a hard decision, but we choose golf.


Winfield Dunn Golf Course at Pickwick State Park

Do you see any golfers on this course (with the exception of the guy having fun on the golf cart)??  No, right?  Well, Clint and I went to the golf course, spent the time it takes to play 18 holes of golf.  But, NO GOLFERS showed up in our golf shoes.  It was a sad, sad day.  I am worried that the two Barefootin’ boaters have stolen the two golfers that we thought had come along for the golfing.  We can only hope the golfers are back at the farmhouse.

Since we both seemed incapable of playing golf today, we decided to do something we were both capable of doing…kiss, under the mistletoe right above our golf cart. My motto, never miss an opportunity when it presents itself!


The mistletoe above us

After leaving the golf course we take a ride over the Pickwick Dam.  I need to study up on my dams.  They are an engineering marvel for sure.


These are some homes we could see from the dam. Please take note that the owners of these homes will be some of those lucky U.S. citizens that will be paying for our healthcare soon.

We have again borrowed the courtesy car at Grand Harbor.  We stop to put some gas in the tank.

I took this photo thinking that we could all conjure up the picture of someone that this sign reminds us of…hey, I’m desperate for material today…what can I say.

Come on now, work with me here


Now tell me, who wouldn't want to go inside this door??

Before we head back to the marina and Barefootin’, we take a ride around the area.


Aqua Marina, a short boat ride or drive from Grand Harbor Marina

We have decided on Jon’s Pier for dinner tonight so I snap a pic as we pass it heading back to the marina to clean up.


Jon's Pier


Grand Harbor Marina and Condos

Rough place to stay, but hey, somebody’s gotta do it…


H Dock, our home at Grand Harbor

You all know the routine by now, we get back to the boat, walk the dogs and then, off to the showers.  (Which reminds me, we will tell you another amazing dog feat in tomorrow’s blog…don’t wanta overwhelm you with too much in one blog.)

Cleaned up, off we go, again in the courtesy car, to Jon’s Pier.


Goodness gracious, look at the size of these martinis!!

Okay, I’m gonna close, looking way, way too desperate for material now, huh?

Sweet dreams and kiss your mate!!  (don’t wait for mistletoe)

Today’s Question: How much money did Andrew Jackson have to pay to ferry his troops accross the Tennessee river (at the Natchez trace) on their way back from New Orleans?  – this question was provided by Bill and Lynne Baggett, who, at the moment, are trying to stay warm in Maine.

Barefootin’ Travel Log to Date: We have gone through 4 dams, totaling 221 feet of decent, traveled 216 miles, used 157 gal. gasoline, mileage per gallon 1.375

Gettin’ It – Day 6

The night was a rocky one, Barefootin’ was slapped consistently throughout the night by the waves caused by the northern wind coming across the channel.  It wasn’t that it was worrisome, not by a long shot.  The problem was that our minds were not accustomed to this noise.  All four of us struggled with waking from the noise, falling back into the lull of dreams, only to be wakened once again.  The pattern continued throughout the night for all four of us.

Needless to say, morning light was a welcome sight.  We hit the “on” button to the coffee pot and rose with the sun.  We ate on the move.  The Captain checked off his list and the Rear Admiral checked off hers.  We took the dogs for one last “potty walk,” and we boarded, threw off the lines and headed, no, not off, we headed over to the gasoline and pump out station.  (fooled you, right?)  Gassed up and pumped out, yes, we headed out of the channel and into the river.

The Wheeler Dam was just around the corner.  And, yes, my pulse immediately skyrocketed at its sighting.


The Wheeler lockmaster had us in the lock in no time. Here, we are hooked up to the bollard and headed down 47 feet.


The highway bridge which crosses over the dam is St. Rt. 101.


The Wheeler Lockmaster lets us escape.


I don’t want anyone to faint, but we actually went through this lock uneventfully. This even with gusting winds.  Clint and I want to celebrate, but there is one more lock looming before this day is over.  Wilson Dam is ahead, we have 15 more miles before we can prove our “lock through” abilities might truly be honed down to perfection (or close enough).


The two geese cackled and honked at us furiously until we were far enough away that they could rest assured we weren't trying to take their nesting area.



cackle, cackle, cackle


As we enter into the expanse of Wilson Lake the words “Wide open spaces..” from a Dixie Chicks’ song play through my head.  I find myself in awe at the amount of water this river, with its many lakes, must hold.  It is an amazing sight.

The wind continues to blow with gusts that keep the water stirred up.  Clouds still fill the sky above us, the temp in the helm reads 54 with our windows closed.  But, despite the chill, there is a warmth that comes with this scene of beauty.  We enjoy every moment.

With 14 miles behind us since Wheeler Dam, we now see Wilson Dam raising its head in the distant.  This will be the test.  Have we “mastered” locking through, or was Wheeler a fluke?  Soon we will know the answer.

The Captain calls the lockmaster, he’s ready for us.  I put on my life jacket and climb to the bow, hang out the fenders and prepare my lines.   We slowly move into position.  The lockmaster comes out to watch (did someone tell him how entertaining our lock throughs are??).  I wave up at him, he returns the same.

We approach a bollard on the port side, three-fourths of the way down the far side of the lock.  I loop the line around the bollard twice.  Afterwards I take a seat on the bow with the boathook and wait until the horn blows.  I twiddle my thumbs.  Ha.

The horn sounds, the water begins to move as does the bollard.  Our decent is in progress as is our test of ability.


This is a view of us in the lock before decent.



After dropping 88 feet, I look up the lock wall to where this locking through all began.


Holy cow!  We did it!!  There was some work involved, some muscle applied, but smooth sailing all the way down every last 88 feet of Wilson!  Yes, we were quite proud of ourselves.


A relieved and happy Rear Admiral after leaving the Wilson Dam


I was so elated that I “asked permission” to stay on the bow at a slow speed for just a short while.  I told the Captain I wanted to see what it would be like on a trawler, to be able to ride up front, enjoy the ride a bit more.

So, I sat my booty down and we jugged along at 4-5 mph for a whopping 10 minutes or so.  The captain would never believe this next statement (A-Type Captain, remember?), but it was nice.  So quiet and you could watch each bird that flew overhead…


A blue Heron watches us with interest as we slowly go by. I figure he's asking himself the same question that the Captain is asking right about now. "What is a Sea Ray doing going 4 mph down the river?


Another nice advantage to drifting along down river is seeing exactly what is going on around you.  We pass this fisherman, I wave, he waves.  I say it’s a cold morning for fishing.  He says “yep,” (I could tell he was a man of many words).  As I study his boat a little closer, since we are going slowly, I see that this fisherman has 8, oh yes, I said 8 fishing poles perfectly fanned out around him as he sits at the bow of his boat.  Now, that my friends, is a fisherman!


This is not the multi-talented fisherman. This guy is just fishing with one pole. Should we say "B-o-r-i-n-g?"


* My apologies to our viewers today as my camera decided to act up, so most photos today are taken with my phone.  Therefore, not the prettiest or most detailed.

Well, my 10 minutes of luxury (4 mph) passes quickly and I return to the helm by the Captain’s side.  He hits the throttle (funny how men love that kinda thing) and off we go, leaving Wilson Dam and the quiet in our wake.


Another interesting part of traveling by boat is the many bridges we pass under. Each, obviously, has a different engineer as its designer. Each very unique unto itself.



A new bridge above, a very old bridge, partially gone, below.



Presley finds the bridges interesting, Mackie does not.


As the hours pass, the goal is 62 miles today to Grand Harbor Marina, the river widens again.  The wind continues to blow, and the 1-2 ft. waves are plentiful with lots of white caps.  Barefootin’ is truly a great riding boat…the bass boats that are staying in closer to shore are airborn often.  Mmmm, no, that’s not for me.  Bravery is not something I find exuding from my body these days.

We pass under the Natchez Trace Bridge.  We’re watching our miles markers as the clouds dissipate above us and a beautiful blue takes its place.  We will be turning left into the Yellow River/Tenn-Tom/Tom Bigbee Waterway at mile marker 215 today.

Aaah, there it is, our turn.  And, the Grand Harbor Marina and its facilities take a majestic stance on the western side of the Tenn-Tom, just a short ways from the mouth of the Yellow River.  In my excitement of seeing our destination I forgot to pick up my phone and snap a few photos.

We pull into the marina, a beautiful one, check in and find our assigned spot on H dock.  We tie up and settle in.  The rest of the afternoon is all about exploring our new surroundings.  We take a long walk, go inside a villa for sale which overlooks the river, potty the girls (our little river rats), etc.  When we get back to the boat, I head off to the showers and clean up.  Clint does the same.

We have made arrangements to use one of the marina’s courtesy cars to go to Freddy T’s for dinner.  We’ve heard good things about it.  We are not disappointed!


Clint has the crab (it's the real thing) lasagna and some kind of wonderful bread, oh so good!



I had the shrimp and grits.  I will just say "Oh, my!"

I have the shrimp and grits, ummmm, ummmm, good!


Not only was the food delicious, the atmosphere was like that of a beach club in the Caribbean and the people, both service and patrons, were fun and friendly.  Just a grand place…Clint and I pondered why there couldn’t be a place like this in a 30 mile range of our farm?  We will definitely return to Freddy T’s again.



A neighboring table that gives us the scoop about the area. Great people. Notice their huge pile of nachos!


As we arrive back at the marina I take the opportunity to take a few last photos to end a wonderful day on the river.


View from the docks of the Grand Harbor condos.



The sun sets on Grand Harbor


As the Captain and I view this scene above, we think over the events of today with a smile.  We both agree, we are finally “Gettin’ It!”

Travel Log: We have traveled 215 miles thus far, using 1.37 gallons of gasoline per mile.

Today’s Question: Who on earth is Tom Bigbee???

I Love Cruising! – Day 5

We woke to both dogs growling and barking at the thunder in the middle of the night.  We have a 2’x2′ window right above the bed, so after calming the girls, we lay there and watched the light show God was providing.  It wasn’t long before we were all sleeping soundly again.

When morning came, we awoke at 7 a.m. for the second morning in a row.  How can this be?  We dig under the covers and find Presley, our 11 mth. old Dachshund.  We check her for a pulse, is she alive?  Amazingly she is.  This puppy always, always wakes us up at 5-5:30 a.m.  Boat life obviously has some positive effects on animals as well as humans.

The morning was a gloomy one, raining on and off.  We walk the dogs when the rain lets up.   (…that must be a southern phrase “rain lets up,” doesn’t sound quite “proper” does it?)


A blurry Rear Admiral about to board after a walk


One interesting point to the day, while Clint is out on the swim platform, I am below, a census taker stops by.  She wants to know if we are liveaboards or have a permanent address somewhere else.  Clint informs her that we have already filled out our form, still she wants our names and address.  Maybe you’d disagree, but I found that rather eery…does she not believe Clint?  And, yikes, is this information more than just a basic head count?  (I know, I know, don’t be paranoid, Leigh…but, I find my mind drifting back in time to pre-WWII Germany for a few hours after she leaves.)


The Captain prepares to leave ship...for lunch


We do try to eat healthy, but with the rainy morning throwing off our plans to cruise, we decide we deserve a cheeseburger and fries at the lodge’s restaurant.  Great decision, they make a very good cheeseburger, and, oh yes, crinkle fries. (yes, friends, I did order mine extra well done)


Looking down on Barefootin' from the restaurant


By 2:30 the sun is shining behind thin grey clouds, it’s enough to lift the ho-hum feeling of the day.  Clint busies himself checking the engines and all that “guy-kinda-stuff” (b-o-r-i-n-g!) while the dogs saw logs below in the salon.

I will be trying to remember on today’s and future posts to give you gas mileage numbers, gas usage, and  miles per gallon.  Yes, b-o-r-i-n-g!   I figure it is only fair to write something that might actually be of interest to the males out there…an upcoming author has gotta pull in a variety of readers, right?  …I’m laughing here, tacky, but I just had a passing thought of what male readers would prefer to read about.  So sorry, maybe I need a walk and some fresh air??

Good idea…back later…

These two boys, in the photo below, are down visiting their grandparents who live in Huntsville.  They were fishing with a small hook with an earthworm, when boom, this bass hits their hook.  Clint watches them through our boat window, they are struggling with the fish in the water and, obviously, clueless as to what to do next.  Clint yells over for them to put their hand in the fish’s mouth and pull him out of the water…”Does he have teeth,” they want to know?  “No,” Clint yells back over at them.  They look flustered, I can hear Clint laughing on deck.  I yell to him from below,”Go help them!”



A catch that any fisherman would be proud of


The Rear Admiral has spoken…off goes the Captain…now he’s the boys’ hero.  He pulls the fish up, a very impressive catch!


My hero and theirs


With the hook cut out, all agree the fish should have his freedom.  The Captain tells the boys that his wife will email these photos to them if they will drop their email by the boat before they go.

And, such is why I love cruising!

Barefootin’ Boring  Operational Log To Date: 155 miles traveled (downriver), have used 111.7 gallons/gasoline, 1.39 miles per gallon

Shoo wee, that’s behind us…we all lived through that part, right?  The plan is that tonight will be rather uneventful, a light dinner, discussion and plans finalized for tomorrow’s cruise over a glass of wine.

I can tell you, that before we arrive at our next destination, Grand Harbor Marina on the Tenn-Tom, Barefootin’ will lock through at two more dams, Wheeler and Wilson.  This should produce some interesting material for tomorrow’s cruise blog. (despite the boring operational log that will, of course, also be updated and available for all our male readers)

Today’s Question: How wide is Wheeler Dam?

Share your great smile and always “Sweet Dreams!”

Below, a few extra photos from our 5th day, location: Wheeler State Park



One Watch Dog



Two Watch Dogs




Who can live without their cell phone?



Bliss – Day 4


The Captain is ready to play 18


After reviving from the miracle (getting to sleep til 7 a.m.), I hit the button on the coffee pot.  Clint heads off to shave (he’s A-Type).  I take the dogs for a leisurely stroll, noticing that it is going to be a magnificent day.

We get our golf clothes on and Clint heads off to the course to get us a golf cart.  He returns to get me (yep, you guessed it, I am NOT an A-Type).  The golf course awaits.


First hole, waiting to tee off



We take a bite of humble pie, crab the camera and act like tourists on the golf course. Oh, dear!!



Holy moly, don't show this to Hank Haney or Butch Harmon. I might have to sue ya! : )


The prettiest thing about our golf game was the scenery today.  We struggled, Clint not nearly as badly as me (well, duh!!)  But, (Cindy and Linda take note) we laughed lots, and had a ball…today it was truly a game to be enjoyed, not mastered.  Isn’t that what life is about?  How often I need to be reminded.

We finished mid-afternoon, headed back to the boat, Clint dropped me off and took the golf cart back.  I walked the girls, Presley and Mackie.  We met Clint as he walked back.

Then, time to shower at the bathhouse (most marinas have them).  Much easier than our squishy little bathroom for washing hair.  Boy, did it feel good to be all fresh!!

When we got back to the boat, I fixed a salad with mixed greens, feta, tomatoes, cukes, sliced chicken, kalamati olives, olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper.  We dined upstairs in the cockpit.  Wine, Sirius “Love” channel and great scenery.  Bliss.

Tomorrow the weather report says storms will most likely be moving through in the afternoon, so, we will probably pull anchor and head out early for Grand Harbor on the Tenn-Tom.  That means that we will be going through, you guessed it, TWO more locks.  I do not plan on thinking about this until tomorrow morning, why bring that on myself?

Let’s all dream “Sweet Dreams!”

Today’s Question:  Who was Joe Wheeler?

If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another…Day 3


Morning comes at Goose Pond


The above photo is one of the reasons that Clint and I love cruising (even though we are beginners for sure…I know, ask us this question in a year, right?).  For us, there is nothing like waking up to a view of one of God’s most beautiful gifts to mankind, water.   The birds making a pristine landing into the glistening water, the fish making swirls as they find their morning meal, the sun slowly lifting it’s head from beneath the horizon, it doesn’t get much better.  We add the human element of coffee and whalah, a perfect morning!


We aren't the only ones enjoying this morning on the water



So Long Goose Pond, See You On Our Return


We head out in calm waters, 28 miles to the Guntersville Dam.  I can hardly contain my excitement after yesterday’s locking through…


Watching for debris, AND the dam (damn)


Skies are still cloudy, the sun peaks through on occasion, more a tease than anything else.  The temp is rising, but moving through the water at 29 mph and the mid window cracked for a breeze, it was still chilly topside.  I’m not wearing my coat for looks.


Comorants enjoying a pier no longer useful to boaters in Guntersville



We arrive at the dreaded next damn, oops, I mean dam


Winds are calm, lake is calm, I climb to the bow, drop the fenders and we head into the lock with no problems.  Rope around the bollard, we’re set, the whistle blows and Barefootin’ begins its 37 ft. decent.


The Captain "checking" on the Rear Admiral before we start dropping



The Rear Admiral is ready for lock through


Locking through today was a breeze, I could’ve taken a nap up there it was so calm and uneventful.  I was one grateful Rear Admiral!


He's still watching, hmmmmmm...he trusts me, right??



The Rear Admiral's view looking up once we are lowered in the lock



Almost finished and ready to go



The lock doors are opening



Time to start the motors...almost...waiting for the horn to sound


We exit the lock and I put the fenders back in their holders, finish with the other “lock through” chores, walk back down the side of Barefootin’, step down and get back inside.

We move slowly away from the dam, and finally we are off again.  Next stop Decatur.  Another marina, River Walk, to explore.


We pull into River Walk Marina and tie off


We go under the U.S. 31 Bridge and take an immediate right into River Walk.  Calling the marina, we speak to Steve, the owner, and he comes over to meet us.  Nice guy and he also owns “The Hard Dock Cafe.”  Reminds us of FloraBama on Perdido Key, FL.  It opens at 3 p.m. so we will miss it this time through, but we know we will be back, by water and by land.  Our plan is to stop back by on the way back home, for dinner.  Maybe some friends will head down to Decatur and meet us there.  : )   Hint, hint.


The Hard Dock Cafe behind me...a definite must on our "To Do" list



The Louisville and Nashville Rail Bridge opens just for US!! Is that cool or what?? Interesting side note: As kids, Clint and I both rode a passenger train, the same year, over this bridge.



Be back later, Decatur! Here we come, Wheeler State Park



Well, here we are, all settled in at Wheeler State Park


Now, I’ve got to remind you, you can’t judge a book by the cover.   This was the dockage from hell…a story to be told over a drink, no, a few drinks.  (maybe a good story for our first “ho-down” at The Hard Dock Cafe on our return trip, huh?)  And, the odd part to the story is, guess what?  The Captain and the Rear Admiral were totally innocent!  Before we were so nicely docked and hooked up as you see above, we were docked four, yep, I said FOUR, other times around the marina…don’t even ask why…unless you have the time for the long version (there is NO short version) of the story.

We decided it was a martini evening after our “ordeal.”  But, the rest of the afternoon and evening turned out to be a beautiful.  Walked the dogs, ate dinner at the lodge, and relaxed until we both fell asleep.

AND, the dogs let us sleep until 7 a.m. the next morning.  Oh, my!!!!  (and people say miracles do not still happen!!!)

Today’s question:  Have YOU ever ridden on the passenger train that went over the Tennessee River in Decatur?  Tell us your story.

Sweet Dreams!

So Far, So Good…Day 1 and 2

After unpacking and putting away groceries, clothes, and odds and ends, we finally sat down, opened the computer and checked the weather.  It was already a gloomy, cool rainy day, so the Rear Admiral (me), after seeing no improvements in the forecast, was ready to relax and spend the night in our own marina.

Well, the Captain had other thoughts, so, I conceded.  We threw off our ropes, started the engines and off we went.

With Hales Bar to our backs we're off...

Now we head for the Nickajack Dam, I head below to find my rain gear, ugh.  I have this thing about wanting to be “barefootin'” when I climb to the front of the boat for locking through or other Rear Admiral (*) chores.  This would be my first work done with shoes on and I wasn’t looking forward to the thought of not feeling the “earth” beneath my toes.

We called ahead to let the lockmaster know we were coming.  We arrive, the waves have picked up because of the wind and the dam fighting against each other.  The light is red, we let the lockmaster know we are ready when he is.   The light turns to yellow, ah, green.   The waves make it hard for Clint to keep the boat straight, but in we go.  The doors begin to close behind us.  I climb up and get to the bow, getting the fenders over and set, grab my rope (I’m using gloves now) and my boat hook (mind you, we know this should have been done before we entered, but Clint didn’t want me on the boat while we were bouncing so outside the lock – I love that man!!) and we head to the starboard side of the wall…wrong decision…but, that we didn’t know at the time (duh!).  I throw the rope over the bollard, no problem.  The problem is that with the wind hitting our backside, my tying up at the mid-ship cleat, and a slippery boat all made for, I’ll be kind here, a stressful time.  (See!  That was so nicely said.)

Well, I’ll say no more, except we are both alive to tell the story, ha.

One soaked rear end, wet hair and freezing fingers and toes and we leave Nickajack behind.

Captain notice that he is dry.

The CSX Bridge

...and, yes, the dogs are both dry and warm...

So, we move along, keeping an eye out for debris.  I’m wet, but, I’m happy.  We talk, watch, laugh and continue on down the Tennessee River.

As time goes by, we do begin to see dark, dark clouds ahead.  As the darkness moves closer to us and us to it, a lone bass boat goes flying past us.  He’s hightailing it in the other direction in the pouring rain.  I make the comment that he must be crazy to be out in this rain in a bass boat.  And, the waves were beginning to pick up.  Like I said,”Nut!”

Well, no more than 5 minutes later the dark cloud and Barefootin’ met face to face.  It wasn’t pretty either.  The waves were seriously 2-3 feet at times, the wind was whipping past in strong gusts throwing spray up.  At one point we totally lost visibility, a scary thing on the river where a barge could be “trucking” straight towards you.  Barefootin’, she was a champ, the waves and wind no problem for her (she’s made for much worse…not that I want to test that statement…EVER!)

In 20-25 minutes, we had reached our turn off the lake (Guntersville Lake – part of the Tennessee River, meaning there’s another dam ahead.  Oh, boy!)  For now we were closing in on our “home” for the night, not one second too soon either.  We traversed the shallow water coming into Goose Pond Marina.  By the time we got the boat tied down, lo and behold, the rain had quieted to a light drizzle.  Now, isn’t that just how life is sometimes.  I had to smile.

Monday morning we awake to more grey skies, we both head up to the showers as the water is working for transients yet, due to winter weather.  Cleaned up and ready for a new day onboard.

The captain planning the next segment of the trip.

Monday afternoon, the sleet, yes, I said sleet, has finally stopped.

The phone rings, and, bless them, Cindy and Mick are calling to see if we’d like to be taken out to dinner tonight. Are we blessed or what?  We say “YES!”

Stevarino's in Scottsboro (Rear Admiral, Steve, the owner of Stevarino's, and Cindy)

The Captain, Jen (Mgr. at Stevarino's), and Mick

We found a great Italian restaurant, stuffed ourselves and had a great visit with Steve, the owner of Stevarino’s in Scottsboro.  (There is also a Stevarino’s in South Pittsburg).  Jen, the manager, was great too.  Great service, great food.  They have New York style pizzas too.

Our "Saving Graces" Mick and Cindy

What a great end to a low key kinda day.  Mick and Cindy were just what the doctor ordered.  Thanks you two, for such a kind gesture of your friendship.  You are two very special people!

Night all.  Sweet dreams.

*  I had chosen to refer to myself as the Rear Admiral (rather than 1st Mate) just to be different and I thought it sounded so appropriate.  Seems, in my mind, that “rear” would mean a little on the lowlier side, compared to the captain.  I received a phone call from my oldest daughter last night to inform me that the Rear Admiral is above the Captain, hmmmmmm, well, any lady knows that’s really how it is. : )