Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 27-8 (pretending to) rest at Grand Harbor

     Two days of rest? Well, by now you know better than that! We did get plenty of sleep, but during the days we were relatively busy.

Day 27.

     We picked up the loaner car about 2:30 pm, and we drove generally west to Corinth, TN to see a movie. We arrived a little early so we did some window shopping. We did go into several stores, for example a pet store, but we did not buy anything. The theater was a thoroughly modern one with 10 screens. We saw "The Huntsman: Winter's War" with Chris Hemsworth who smiled a lot and flexed his muscles even more. That is probably a bit of an unkind comment about the movie, which I actually found enjoyable enough, but in all honesty I did not think that it had much of a plot. The good news is that I found the popcorn at this theater to be unusually good. As you probably know, I will go see almost any movie as long as I can have a large tub of popcorn...  After the movie, we came straight back to Grand Harbor where Lucky was very happy to see us. My Fit Bit logged over 9 miles during the two "rest" days, and most of that was with Lucky.

Day 28. We picked up the loaner car 11:00 am and went east about 18 miles to Savannah, Tn. We first went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription for me, and it was there that we found out the actual location of the Mexican restaurant that we were looking to have  lunch at. The various applications like Yelp and Imap were both wrong with their locations for the restaurant. This happens often enough to be annoying when we are travelling. If it is a critical stop, we have learned to call to confirm the actual location in advance. We had some rather long bus rides, etc. to the wrong location on our first loop, which is when we learned to double check. Thanks to a clerk at Walgreens we learned the actual location of the restaurant. I was very glad that we found it since I had a great salad that amounted to a taco salad with fajita chicken and without the less healthy fried (flour) tortilla bowl. Definitely worth the effort to find this place! After lunch we had time for some shopping before Lucky's appointment at the veterinarian. We found a Tractor Supply next to a Goody's. So the Admiral and I split up for some "fun". Terry got some great clothes, and I bought absolutely nothing at Tractor Supply. By then it was time to head to the vet's office. Lucky need to get a booster shot for her flu vaccine. It needed to be within a 4 day window a month after the first shot. It is hard to believe that we have been gone from home for only 4 weeks. Not hard to believe in a bad sense, but rather we have done and seen so much that it seems like more time must have elapsed...


Well, that's the basics for our activities while here, except for the really fun stuff like doing wash, blogging, walking 5+ miles per day, mainly with Lucky, and the list goes on.

     The condo towers and home sites here are really nice with many amenities. My reservation is close access to a more "real" town, but then you cannot have everything.

    The first photo shows something of the condo towers, but what the trees hide tells more of the story...
     Just a short walk to the left from the location of the first photo reveals something more like the real view from many of the condos. Of course, the fiver and lake beyond would be visible over the marina from the higher units. Lucky is in her rain gear in this picture, but she really enjoyed several of the large open grassy areas.
      Unfortunately, the swimming pool was closed, but the setting and the plantings around it are beautiful.

     More of the plantings... In this view the pool is off to the left, and above the plantings is a children's playground. Rose plants are all around the grounds, and they are literally covered in blooms.

     A view of the marina store and office with some of the fuel docks, including Lucky Us at one of the fuel docks. This marina has absolutely the best pump  as part of the pump out system. Often the suction is poor and intermittent, but this one was almost scary fast! A definite big plus!

     One last view of Lucky checking out the nicely trimmed Mondo Grass around some of the many lovely shrubs.

     I hope that these pictures some of the beauty of this facility. It really is one of our favorite stops on the Loop. Tomorrow I will reveal the other reason why this is one of my personal favorites... Stay tuned!

Day 26 to Grand Harbor Marina, Counce, TN

     Yes, another early start, but this time we made the conscious decision to leave early because of possible late afternoon thunderstorms. Our trip today is "only" 56.1 miles, but it also involves 3 locks so there is about 7 hours of travel time plus the lock times. This will be the last lock raising us up until we are in the Mississippi River so the Tombigbee portion of the waterway will end today.
     Interesting sights today include this view of the of a barge terminal for a factory. This is interesting? Yup, the views for today are pretty much the same as the last few days..
     The other random picture of one of the local sights along the way is this sand loading terminal. It seems that a large amount of sand is quarried out of the local river sediments and shipped downstream. Aggregate (sand and gravel) are important in mortar, concrete, asphalt, etc. and as such are critical to large growing metropolitan areas. For example, Houston, Texas has no local source of gravel for construction, and in College Station you could go to a Texas A&M baseball game and watch trains pass just outside the right field fence. When you here the train first whistle for a crossing, they flash up on the screen a trivia game to guess the number of engines pulling the train. Something like 14 train loads of gravel destined for Houston pass through town every day. 
     The Rankin and the Montgomery are the first two locks and dams today. When the gates of the lock open for boats to leave, the permission to leave is signaled by either a loud horn or a siren. Upon exiting the Montgomery Lock we noticed this Osprey nest at the top of a pole. If you look closely, the nest is built on top of the four "horns" for this lock. Wow, the osprey chicks must be deaf when they are hatched...
     The last lock is the Jamie Whitten Lock, and it has a lift of 84 feet as compared to all of the locks in the previous days, which had lifts of about 27 feet. This made this lock chamber look like we were entering a big dark hole when the gate closed behind us. The picture at the right shows the approach to the lock and dam with a big highway bridge in the foreground. These structures need to be built on a strong, stable foundation, and you can see exposures of the bedrock along the left side of the channel.
     This is the last lock on the Tombigbee River, and after this lock, we will spend about 25 miles in a man made ditch that actually connects the Tombigbee and Tennessee Rivers. There are some bends between long straight segment, but this photo pretty much says it all... The portion was completed in 1985, and the trees that line the waterway reflect that. They are very uniform in height and no doubt, in age.
   Topographically, we are going across a drainage divide between the Tombigbee River that flows into the Gulf of Mexico and The Tennessee River. The Tennessee River flows into the Ohio River the flows into  the Mississippi River that also ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Streams flow into the ditch from the sides, but they enter at different levels above the ditch. An example of this can be seen in the photo at the right. They have built a spillway for the water from the stream to flow down as it enters the ditch. Before the ditch was dug, this stream would have flowed smoothly into whatever stream flowed down back into the Tombigbee. As we approach the end of the ditch, the depth of the cut decreases and the height of these spillways decreases until "magically" we are out of the ditch and into the Tennessee portion of the waterway.
In this case, we leave the ditch about 8 miles before our destination at Grand Harbor Marina when the character of the waterway abruptly changes back into the winding, natural, river pattern once again. Thus, we are now in the upper reaches of a tributary of the Tennessee River. It feels good to be back in a more scenic and familiar setting of natural river channels.
     We arrived at Grand Harbor Marina in mid-afternoon. We had hoped to arrive before the predicted late afternoon thunder storms, and we made it with just minutes to spare. When we docked, the sky back to the west was very dark and ominous, and the storm hit a short time after I had time to walk Lucky. Timing is everything... The photo at the right shows Lucky Us at her dock after the storm had passed and the skies cleared. You cannot see it in the picture, but the antenna for the marina wifi is on the side of the office/store and pointed directly at Lucky Us. Small wonder that we had the best wifi connection of any marina that we have stayed at on the entire Great Loop!
   We picked up the marina loaner car to use for the 8 mile trip into Counce, TN for dinner. The marina and its very extensive grounds are mostly in Mississippi, but about 200 yards past the main gate you are in Tennessee. The best and certainly most unusual local restaurant is "Freddy Ts". The photo at left shows just some of the colorful decorations. This is the actual stern of a boat that was sawed off and made into a booth. This jet ski hangs from the ceiling along with dozens of 3 foot long replicas of fishing lures, and the list goes on.... All that and very good food.
      Wow, I guess that when you are walking inside of Freddy Ts and look down and see a TV screen you probably need to walk home... Yup, it really is a TV in the floor with thick glass over the top (and yes, it really is both a bad attempt at humor on my part and a bad photo).
    ...and here is the happy couple after dinner in front of a carving of a fish on the wall. The eclectic decorations go on and on as can be seen in the next photo (below).
     Last, but far from least, here I am with old friends Sulley and Mike.  They hardly fit the overall theme of the rest of the decorations, but I am sure that they are popular figures with the kids as well as me. If it is not obvious by now, we obviously enjoyed this restaurant on our stop here about 18 months ago and were delighted to be able to come back again.
     We will be here for at least 3 nights. We intend to do the usual things (like I will sleep in), but also, the Admiral was able to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to get the final booster shot for Lucky's flu vaccine.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 25 to Midway Marina at Fulton, MS

     Once again we are off to an early start to Midway Marina, which derives its name appropriately enough from being about in the middle of the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Our trip today is 86.4 miles or about 10 hours plus we have 5 locks to transit, which will add some unknown amount of time. The first picture is once again a sunrise, which this time is looking back east over the Pirates Cove Marina. Sunrise this morning was at about 6:10 am just for reference.The first lock is the John Stennis Lock, and it is only 4.2 miles from the marina. The routine is to call the lock before starting the engines at the dock in the event of a delay. Fortunately, we were told that they would have the gates open and to call when we were secured to the lock wall.

     The sky started cloudless, but scattered clouds built up over the day. All in all it was a great start to the day. As we get closer to the headwaters of the Tombigbee River, the waterway spend very little time in the actual river channel and most of its time in a much straighter, man made channel near the actual river channel. The scenery was more of the same tree lined channel with little in the way of signs of civilization. However, Lucky did show up on the top of the flybridge console to look out one of the front windows. I suppose that most of the attraction is smells that come in with the breeze (?). Whatever the attraction, it generally only lasts a couple of minutes.

     Interesting sights along the trip today included this shipping container terminal. The large crane loads/unloads containers from barges. There is a railroad track under the crane as well a several of the large front end loaders that can lift and stack individual containers. The barges sit along the dock under the overhead crane that lifts the containers. There were several factories in the area so it may be that they are actually shipping out finished goods (?) probably down river to the major container terminal in Mobile.

     We also passed two different fuel terminals. They are most likely for gasoline and diesel fuel rather than heating oil. Heating around here seems to be natural gas or propane in general. The barges for the hydrocarbons that we have passed have mainly been tows of one or two barges rather bigger ones that are possible on this waterway. Perhaps they are regulated as to size?

     I mentioned the relatively small size of the flammable or red flagged tows carrying hydrocarbons above. This photo shows the Terah Huckabee with what seems is one of the largest tows that we have passed. The locks all have chambers that are listed as 600 feet long and 110 feet wide, This means that the lock chamber is three barges long and three wide, but that figure does not include a towboat at the rear, which would add roughly 100 feet to the overall length. To have 9 barges the tow would have to be broken down into smaller groups of barges at every lock, and then the towboat would have to make two trips through the lock before re-assembling the whole tow to proceed to the next lock. To get around this problem there are only 2 barges in the middle with the towboat tucked in where the third barge would be. This arrangement is able to fit inside a lock as a single package, which solves the problem.

     All of the locks today had graciously worked together and were ready for our arrival although we continued to follow proper procedure and call ahead, etc. This was very professional on their part, and it contributed to a speedy transit each time. All of the five locks had a lift of about 27 feet today, and the time from when the gate closed behind us until the gate opened for us to exit was about 20 minutes. The photo on the right was taken from the flybridge of Lucky Us and shows the Fulton Dam, which is the last of the 5 locks for today. We are in the lock chamber in the full up position about to exit the lock, and this dam has 5 flood gates that are capable of releasing a lot of water unlike the dams that we first encountered down stream. So, this dam can control the level of its reservoir to store or release water.

     The last photo was taken as  we exited the Fulton Lock. So far, all of the locks that we have passed through on the Tenn-Tom have one or two barges loaded with parts of a fixed lock gate either tied to the outside of the upstream entrance or moored close by. Some even have permanently mounted cranes to lift these segments into position. They fit into a slot on either side just outside the upstream entrance to the lock. When in place, they would allow the lock to be drained to work on or replace the lock gates. All part of ongoing maintenance (or in event of an emergency repair.

     After exiting the Fulton Lock, we were only 2.7 miles from our destination at Midway Marina. We finished the day about 6:00pm "only" 12 hours after we had started... Lucky and I had several nice walks around the very large, cut grass fields and roads within the marina with dinner and some TV in between. While we were gone on the long second walk, the Admiral set off to try out the hot tub, but it was just her (bad) luck to find that it had just developed an electrical problem. That is very disappointing after a hard day...

   Well, guess what? We are planning another early start in the morning. However, this early start is designed to get us to our destination at Grand Harbor Marina about 2:30pm and hopefully beat the predicted late afternoon thunderstorms. Here's hoping...

Day 24 to Pirates Cove Marina, Pickinsville, AL

     Today we have a long trip of 91.3 miles with two locks planned so once again we departed at 6:00 am in cloudy skies. Just after entering the river and heading up toward the Junction of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers we passed these gravel barges moored along the side of the river. I mentioned on our arrival that towboats fuel up at this marina. They leave their barges moored here while they go into the adjacent Demopolis Marina for fuel. I thought that the steam rising off of the gravel in the barges quite an interesting sight on a cool, damp morning.

     We had a rather uneventful trip of 50 miles to the Howell Heflin Lock and Dam. We have a second lock later, and both have a 27 foot lift today. We were a little nervous when we arrived at the first lock.  We had called about 4 miles out to tell that that we were north bound and would be there in a half hour and were requesting a lock through. They turned it around for us as it had been in the up position and we needed a lift and then started opening the gate as we approached.  One half opened and the other half opened only about half way.  We got the call from the Lockmaster telling us to hang out and that the boss has been called.  We were told that it would be a least an hour and could be as much as a day.  Since it was noon, we dropped an anchor, and the Admiral started working on lunch.  Only 20 minutes later they called us over to lock through - yeah!  The picture above shows the lock in the up position and about to open the gates on the other side. 

     We never knew what the problem was, but at this point we did not care since we were on our way again with only minimal delay. Lunch had to wait another 30 minutes, but we had survived what could have been a very unfortunate (and boring) experience.

     Earlier in the trip this morning we went past a number of river cuts in this same whitish rock unit, The river was meandering back and forth and these steep faces were nicely lit by the lower morning sun. I do not know much about the geology of Alabama, but I suspect that this is the Selma Chalk. Think White Cliffs of Dover, England (for Carita, the Admiral says "There will be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover")... The major chalk rock units of the World all are of Cretaceous age. This a really unusual happening and makes the Cretaceous Period unique for things other than dinosaurs, and their extinction at the end of the Cretaceous. Those can be your useless facts for today...  Anyway, these walls of rock were spectacular today. However, they were not so great that after a while I could break away and go down below for a much needed nap... 

     It was yet another day in which we passed little evidence of civilization. There were only a couple of bridges and several loading docks. It should be obvious about the slow day for scenery when I feel compelled to add a picture of a rather ordinary (but relatively new) bridge...

    On the other hand, the loading dock was interesting since we had seen very little evidence of any agricultural activity along the river. This facility had storage for grain as well as the equipment to load barges for transport. My guess is that the grain probably was shipped to the Gulf Coast for export.

     The first two days as we came up the Tombigbee River from Mobile we had water levels about 8 feet above normal. After passing through the first lock, the water levels were much nearer to normal. The photo at the right shows quite a lot of the river bed exposed on the inside of a meander. We were cruising along, and as usual, I was trying to stay on the inside of bends in the river where the velocity of the water is lower. One of those tell tale signs that we are in very shallow water is when I can hear the sound of waves breaking (or surf if you will). Sure enough, all of a sudden the shallow water alarm went off (at 3 feet of water below the keel), and when I glanced at the depth gauge, it read 0.6 feet and was still getting shallower. I quickly pulled back on the throttles and made a sharp turn away from shore. We never touched bottom, but we stirred up a lot of mud... I learned my lesson and started cutting the corners a little wider. You can see some of the waves breaking along the shore in the photo, and this is after my slow down and turn. You can see the gentle slope of the river bed away from shore here. The opposite side (or outside of the bend) has a very steep slope to it since it is being actively eroded by the river.

     The second and last lock for today was open and waiting for us because we had called them 30 minutes (or 4 miles) out to let them know we where headed their way. This is the Tom Bevill Lock, Dam and Visitor's Center. The U.S. Snagboat Montgomery in the photo at the left is one of last steam-powered stern-wheel boats to ply Southern rivers The Montgomery is on display at the Tom Bevill Visitors Center. Snagboats were very important in the early navigation on the rivers by steam boats. The rivers were full of snag, especially after floods. The snags were a complex tangle of logs that could not only block the river, but they also posed a significant hazard to the wooden hulled steamships (i.e. punch holes in the hulls). The Visitor's Center is housed in a reproduction of a Greek Revival antebellum home (circa 1830-1860), which can be partially seem in the right side of the photo.

     It was only 0.6 miles past the Bevill Lock for the turn off into the channel to the Pirates Cove Marina, and we arrived at about 6:00 pm for a surprisingly quick 12 hour day. We stayed at this Marina 1-1/2 years ago during our first Loop, but the Admiral does not remember it at all. In re-reading the old blog, she found that she was sick that day. She vaguely remembers tying the lines on the dock before she rushed below and took a three hour nap as soon as we arrived. She really must not have felt well because she has a regular routine of closing up the boat that she follows every time, and she did not do any of the work. After the nap she was awake for an hour before taking another nap, and then she went to bed for the night a short time later at 8 pm.  No wonder she doesn't remember this place since neither of us remembers her even getting off the boat since we left at first light the next morning. In retrospect, she may be the lucky one since this is not a great marina by any means. It is clean and well cared for, and the staff are great, but literally everything could use updating/replacing. Anyway, it is run by nice people, and the price is right...  Also, it turns out that there is plenty of room for dog walking in the trailer park and along the road into the marina so Lucky got a good workout.

Tomorrow we will be leaving at the crack of dawn again.  Our destination is Midway Marina in Fulton, MS.  This is an 87 mile trip and includes five locks.  Today's trip had very little current involved so we made really good time, and we are hopeful that tomorrow brings the same gentle current. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 23 resting in Demopolis, Alabama

     We are taking a planned day off with a 2 night stay in Demopolis, AL. Terry and I had visited Demopolis once during a road trip, and it was a planned stop on our first loop. The old town square and waterfront park are really quite pretty. The new Kingfisher Bay Marina has great floating docks, club room with laundry facility and nice bathrooms as well as a swimming pool. Unfortunately, the pool is not heated and was only 75 degrees. I am saving my "cool" water swimming efforts for the Great Lakes... Other facilities like a restaurant/bar, motel service and storage are accessible at the adjacent Demopolis Marina by free loaner golf carts. They also have a free loaner car, which really is necessary because most of the shopping and services are now about a mile south of the old downtown.

     With the junction of the Black Warrior River with the Tombigbee River just up river and the Demopolis Dam just down stream the area around the marina is pretty wet/swampy so it is an ideal stop for migrating waterfowl. Here are geese getting ready to group up into flocks and head out early in the morning. At night while walking Lucky the goose calls fill the air instead of road noise, etc. during the day, there would be a few geese flying low over the marina and calling as they did. All in all a wonderful the geese provided wonderful sights and sounds.

    The photo at the left shows the lovely sunrise over the marina. Since I was asleep, the picture was kindly taken by the Admiral who was out early walking Lucky. After I slept in, we picked up the loaner car about 11:30 am for a trip to a local super market and lunch. We picked a really good local (?) restaurant called Cane Cutters that features southern cooking. I had half a smoked chicken, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, beans and a hush puppy for $9.99, which also included iced tea. The food was great as well as the price, and I saved half of my chicken for a later meal. The roof at the left in the sunrise picture is over some covered docks. We had opted for an uncovered dock so that the satellite TV would work.

     We were talking to one of our neighbors and a fellow Looper before our shopping trip, and one of them recommended the local theater that they had seen "Steel Magnolias" at a few nights earlier. It just so happened that they were having a 2:00 pm matinee performance today, and he volunteered to drive us and pick us up. One of the disadvantages of marina loaner cars is that they come with a daily time limit, and our earlier trip had used up our allocation so his offer to drive was greatly appreciated. We arrived back in the loaner car with barely enough time to change and head back out. We arrived at the theatre with 5 minutes to spare. The photo at the right shows a greeting table in the lobby with the ticket booth in the background. The Canebrake Players use the theater in a former elementary school so the facility was excellent, and it has been upgraded with sound proofing curtains on the walls, and even with no sound system, the actresses could easily be heard by the audience.  One of the Admiral's favorite movies is "Steel Magnolias", and she thoroughly enjoyed the play as did I. At the intermission they had punch and quite a good selection of cookies, brownies, etc. I must admit that I did "fall off the wagon" for my diet. Well, to make up for my excesses we walked the 1.5 miles back to Lucky Us. The walk was great on a warm, sunny afternoon, but it hardly was enough to work off my excess calories...

     We had a quiet dinner on the boat along with several long walks for Lucky. She was effectively playing the guilt card for having been left alone so much of the day. I cannot complain too much as my Fit Bit recorded a much needed 6.91 miles for the day. The photo at the left shows some of the many rose bushes in brilliant bloom at the marina. They are part of two rows of roses that line the walkway from the parking lot down to the start of the floating piers.

     They had an extensive dog walking area along the side of the parking lot. They had mowed most of this area, except for large patches of Red Clover. The clover (photo at the right) obviously derives its name from the color of the flowers and not the (green plant). The leaves as well as the plants are much bigger than the wild clover that I am much more familiar with from other areas. The plants with the flowers must have been 18 inches high, and they have this beautiful crimson almost maroon color.

     Well, it was not exactly a restful day, but it was a busy, fun day in a really nice small town. It would be tempting to stay up late tonight, but tomorrow is a long day on the water with a departure planned for about 6:00 am. Oh boy, here we go again.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 22 off to Demopolis, AL

     We left the dock at Bobby's Fish Camp at 6:00 am, and we headed toward Demopolis, Alabama some 96.8 miles (and 1 lock) up the Tombigbee River. Now that we have passed the first lock on the river we are no longer subject to any tides or storm surge. Also, as we proceed up river and through more locks, we will soon pass the flooding that we had seen between Mobile and the first lock. The dams on the Tombigbee do not impound lakes (aka reservoirs) so they have virtually no storage capacity to absorb flood waters. The floods basically pass through at will. The current is still about the same as the first two days on the river or maybe a little less (about 2+ mph) so we continue to make good time when we get out of the main channel into slower water with a current of 1 mph or less. We only passed two tows going in the opposite direction and none going our way with maybe a half dozen fishing boats. The weather was nice, but there were enough clouds that I wore a light jacket all day over my short sleeved shirt. Also, I was wearing shorts so I had my legs covered until about lunch time.

     We did not take any pictures until we got close to Demopolis. The boat launch ramp in the photo at the left has to be the steepest that I have ever seen. Boat ramps can be slippery if wet, and if you back the rear wheels into the water, the algae growing on the ramp can be very slippery. The bottom line is that I would think that you would need very good brakes to stop and a very powerful vehicle to pull a boat up that steep ramp. Even though it is Saturday today, we did not see any empty boat trailer here so maybe it does not get used very much???

     On the southwestern edge of Demopolis we came to the Demopolis Lock and Dam. We only waited a few minutes before the gates opened and  we were allowed to enter the lock. We had been travelling 12+ hours by then so the quick lock through was very welcome. In the photo at the right the lock with the gate closed is at the right side. Most of the rest of the picture shows the dam. Half of the dam has white water at the base of the dam, and the other (left) has bed rock extending up about half of the dam with no white water. These lower dams on the Tombigbee have no gates to control the flow of water over the dam. This fits with the idea that these dams do not provide any flood control by being able to trap or release water.

      The city of Demopolis got started as cotton farmers moved west seeking more fertile land in the early 19th century. It also sites at the junction of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers so the city was important in transportation. The Tombigbee River was navigable about up to Demopolis, and river traffic could only go further up either river during floods. Speaking of floods, the original town was built on high ground back from the river. This large city park is situated on the slope between the old downtown and the Tombigbee River. We will go by this park on land tomorrow when we do some exploring in Demopolis.

     There is little industry left here on the river today, but Demopolis seems to be doing well probably as a mini (about 8 thousand residents) regional center for commerce. Just past the park we come to the old Demopolis Marina (photo above). It still provides haul outs, land storage, service, motel, and a restaurant/bar, but the boat docks seem to have been replaced by the new Kingfisher Bay Marina where we are staying. You can see empty boat dock on the right, which no longer appear to be used. The large, high pilings in the middle are part of the haul out for pleasure craft, but on the outside they also serve as a dock for large tow boats. The tow boats use this marina as a fuel stop so there is a steady flow of large semi trucks delivering fuel here.

     Our marina is essentially behind all of this, and the entrance channel is behind the tall tees near the left side of the photo. We arrived about 7:00 pm and when we docked at our slip, we had a dock hand from the staff as well as several other boaters show up to help. I will give you a hint as you can see from the nearly mirror flat water, there was no wind. Also, inside the marina there is no current so it could not have been easer to "nail" a perfect stern first docking maneuver. In fact it was so good that we were exactly in the middle of the slip and could not step off directly onto the dock. A little pull on a dock line easily solved that. Most of the other boaters offered their congratulations on my docking, and (of course) I did not tell them that it could not have been any easier... ha ha

     It was a long (13 hour) day, but we have scheduled a rest day here tomorrow. So, early to be once again, but tomorrow I can and will sleep in.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 21 a day of rest at Bobby's Fish Camp

     We have no real plan for today other than having dinner again at Bobby's. I am no expert on fried catfish, but my dinner last night was very good. I chose the filet dinner rather than the 1 pound whole fish dinner or the "all you can eat" whole fish dinner for only $13.99. I correctly surmised that with the whole fish they had done little more than gut and skin the catfish. A couple at a neighboring table had the whole fish version, and it included bones, fins, heads, etc. In my modest opinion I made the right choice! I could have dealt with everything, but I hate dealing with fish bones, including just the "odd" bone in what is supposed to be a boneless filet. So, now you know one of my many deep, dark secrets...

     I slept in until about 9:30 am, and it felt wonderful to do so. The Admiral had kindly gotten up earlier and taken Lucky on her first walk of the day, but my first assignment of the day was to log some steps on my Fit Bit with Lucky. After anchoring out the previous night she was a very happy puppy to be able to spend time on land even though it was still pretty wet from rain the previous day. Speaking of rain, another reason for a rest day today was a general forecast for 50% chance of rain during almost all of the daylight hours. This was to turn out wrong, but we did get a mid-afternoon shower.

     There were only a few tows that passed by today, and here is one in the background of Lucky Us (photo on left). This tow is 3 barges wide by 2 long, and it was a mix of heavy (loaded) and light barges. They were pretty quiet as they passed us since they are either slowing down or have already slowed down for the lock just down stream.

     In the photo above you can also see one of the beams that keeps the floating dock in place off of the shore. The beam can pivot at both ends as the dock moves up and down with the changing water levels. There is also a series of cables from shore to the dock that keep the dock from moving up or down river. It is a very simple system, but it looks like it has worked successfully for a long time.

     Well, that pretty well summarizes the day, except for another fish dinner at the restaurant. I had the same fileted catfish dinner, and once again it was very good. I even was able to get sweet potato fries instead of regular fries, which was definitely better. Once again, there was a couple at an adjacent table that had the "whole" fish dinner. I tried not to stare, but it was interesting to watch how they ate the fish. They picked up the whole fish in both hands and sort of nibbled away at the meat. It wasn't exactly pretty, but it seemed to be very efficient. Efficient or not, I would still never be tempted to try the whole fish version.

     It has not been totally restful today as I have spent a number of hours working on the blog today in an effort to catch back up. Some of these long days make it very difficult to keep absolutely up to date, and that's my story.

     Early to bed once again as we are planning a very early start tomorrow morning. Oh joy!