Sunday, October 29, 2017

Looking for some warm

October 24-27, 2017
        The next section of the trip is 200 miles down the Tennessee River.  A very picturesque journey but another of John’s green tunnels.  Actually the first day was mostly on Kentucky Lake behind the Kentucky Dam.   This looks like a really big boating area, kind of like parts of Florida, but it was really cold and while we were freezing on the boat, most of the other boaters were inside.  The wind was blowing enough to create a little chop on the lake but not too much.  We got in late to Paris Landing State Park Marina.  A very nice facility built by the state of Tennessee but not much to do, or restaurants this time of year.  I went for a walk and then cooked dinner.  Nice lamb chops from our friends on the Ohio.
         Got started next morning and got as far as Cuba Landing.  This marina had some people around when we got there, but it was really out in the middle of the Tennessee Natural Wilderness area and pretty well closed down for the season.   I went for a bike ride, a pretty hilly 5 miles and got my blood running and warmed up a little, but it’s hard to make up for high 30’s in the morning and mid 50’s all day.
          Next day another 50 miles to Clifton Landing.  This was more fun since about 6 Looper boats were here and the little restaurant was still open and we were docked 25 feet from the door.  Sat around and had beer and hamburgers with the other Loopers.  One was Bill Hauskins from Glenwood Springs who we had run into up on the Illinois.

Interesting excavation along the river

Lots of new construction along the Tennessee River

        Starting out early on Friday we are hoping to make it to the last lock on our trip on the Tennessee, but we are running into current and not making very good speed.
        Made it to Aqua Yacht Harbor after 1.5 hours at the lock below Pickwick Lake, at 5:30 in the rain.  But our friends Terry and Dorothy on Magic were already tied up.  They invited us for some Scotch and I brought the rest of a bag of popcorn.  We hadn't seen them since Portsmouth and we had fun comparing notes about our trips.

October 28, 2017
      John's golfing partner from Colorado, Wayne Perkins came up from Aberdeen, MS where he retired after Colorado and we went for a tour of Shiloh Battlefield National Park.
  It's been impressive to we some of these battlefields and get a feel for how the battles played out across the landscape.

Wayne at Shiloh Church

      At the same spot they have discovered some indian mounds of the Mississippi indians from 1300 and have done a good job of excavating and interpreting their finds .
       Dinner at Freddie T's.  Recommended by Wayne's friends and pretty good with an impressive wine list for a mostly dry state.

ROAD trip at 60 mph!!

October 16, 2017
          Our generator stopped working while we were anchoring out, not too good for life on the boat so we needed a mechanic to look at it.    We had called ahead hoping to have someone look at it to see if it was a simple fix, on Monday, but when no one had showed up by early afternoon, I stopped by and did my dumb wife, please help cause my husband might just be doing something like not pulling the right switch routine and Jeff came over.  There was more to the problem, but by this time we had decided to rent a car and do a week’s road trip to Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio.
     Enterprise Car Rental came out from Paducah to pick me up with three other boaters needing cars and I got to go into Paducah after getting the car to see the National Quilt Museum and the old town area of Paducah that had lots of restaurants and shops right on (40 above) the river.
Mural along the river in Paducah.  They wouldn't allow pictures in the National Quilt Museum

October 17, 2017

      We headed out of town with the idea of trying a road trip the way we had been doing the boat trip, on the backroads,, through small towns.  Our first stop was Hopkinsville where there was a neat little local craftspeople shop and a wonderful hardware store with all the old furnishings lining the walls with shelves and drawers full on nuts and bolts and hardware, accessible only from ladders that slid on tracks along the walls. 
Very old hardware store

Tobacco drying 

       We made it to Nashville in time for a lunch at an old comfort food restaurant in Germantown where we ate at family style tables with the other customers and passed the bowls of food around.  There was two kinds of salad, coleslaw and pea, pot roast, fried chicken, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, green beans and brownies for dessert.  All for $15 each!
New friends at lunch
    A short driving tour of the downtown and Honky Tonk street and we got to our motel in time for a short nap before going to the Grand Ole Opry.   Neither of us are country music fans and didn’t really know any of the performers, but it was fun to see it once.  It is really a radio broadcast, so between the acts there were commercials!

We had a good view from the balcony but there were huge TV screens all around

October 18, 2017
      We tried to see the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home, but it is a private museum and you can’t see much without taking a tour so we kept on going.  Took the scenic route over the Cumberland Plateau which got us up about 1,000 feet for a little view, but still mostly trees everywhere and lots of tiny little wide places in the road they can towns. 
      We made it to Chattanooga in time to catch the DUCK tour.  These are old refurbished army amphibious vehicles that head down the street from their parking lot and then down a very steep boat ramp at 40 mph and splash into the river.  A humorous captain gave us a tour of the city by boat and some interesting history.
Riding the DUCK
  We actually saw a Looper boat docked at the marina, a long trip by boat.
Neew water park celebrating the Choctaw indians

These Loopers took the long way to get here, on water!

Chatanooga Art Museum

Chatanoga bar with beer and Premier soccer league!
We had a snack afterwards at a downtown sports bar with about 40 beers on tap and went on to Knoxville. 
         Had dinner at a great Scottish Pub, rode the trolley around the downtown area and then went to a sports bar along the river (Tennessee) for a night cap.  They were broadcasting the coach of the Tennessee Volunteers team, recapping the season and commenting on the upcoming game against Alabama.   The Volunteers stadium is right in downtown Knoxville.
John was being a good sport while I enjoyed the romance.

October 19, 2017
      We were both eager to see Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the sites of the Manhattan Project.  John’s aunt and uncle had worked there during the war.  Most of the houses from the Secret City are still lived in.  They were building them at the rate of one every 30 minutes in 1943.  The museum was interesting and I learned some stuff I really didn’t know about the atom bomb production.  They didn’t have a bus tour the day we were there so we didn’t get to see a lot of the production sites. Most of them have been updated and are still in use for different research in nuclear power.  We went on a self guided auto tour but didn’t see much except to get an idea of how big the whole area was that they build from scratch almost overnight.  We finished they day by driving up to Lexington, KY.  We stopped in Danville to see some historic buildings downtown and see one of the earliest settlements west of the Alleghenies after they opened up the Cumberland Trail.  Had a flight of bourbon at an interesting restaurant and market.   I keep trying to like bourbon, but this was some good stuff and I still don’t like it much.  Give we Scotch any day.  My dinner was a grits cake covered with a gravy made with country ham.  Salty, tasty but " when in Rome". 
Lewis and Clark were here!
Above 1810 multifamily in Danville KY below 1943
multifamily in Oakridge TN

  October 20, 2017

          We thought we had enough time to play golf of Friday, so we booked a tee time at the University of Kentucky (Big Blue) golf course.  Unforturnately we started behind a corporate group of never evers who were playing a scramble.  Really nice course, but we had to quit after 14 holes to make it to Centerville, Ohio, for dinner with John’s cousins Carol Lee and Bill Herrick. 
      We had a nice visit with them and dinner at an authentic Lithuanian restaurant.  The names of the dishes were familiar German ones but they didn’t really taste the same.
October 21, 2017
        A short drive back west and we were in Chincinati at the Findaly Market to visit with my nephew Ben Gagne and his son Lucas.  We collected different kinds of food at an amazing market and then took the electric trolley to a great park where Lucas could run around and we could visit.
Cincinati looks prosperous and Ben seems to be doing well.

       After sending them off for Lucas’s nap we were off to Louisville and dinner with John’s cousing Pete Leonhardt and his wife Delores.  Good to catch up with them.

October 22 23, 2017

        More golf as we met with another cousin Mark Leonhardt and play at Fuzzy Zoeller’s course in Indiana, north of Louisville.  Mark is at least as golf crazy as John.  Ended up in Franklin, KY that night so we could play Kenny Perry’s golf course at the crack of dawn and still get back to Green Turtle Bay on Monday.  Kenny Perry is John’s hero and he has always wanted to play the course. Unfortunately we ran out of luck  weather wise and we started in the rain, I quit after 5 holes, John finished nine and we packed it in. 
Got back to the boat  with a generator working and new pipes for the plumbing system.   I got groceries and returned the car and we were back on the boat. It was only when we went to bed that we realized the hatch above our bed had leaked in the rain while we were gone so we had to dry the sheets before we could go to sleep.  But our trusty dryer did the trick and we got a good night’s sleep in our own bed after our road trip.

Huck Finning on the Mississippi

October 9, 2017
     We tried to take off early for a long day but the river was socked in with fog so we didn’t get started until about 10.  This time we caravanned with three other boats, Miss Lily, State of Bliss and ChaCha all headed at about the same speed to the same place, anticipating anchoring out.  Fortunately we were head down stream and were making 10-11 knots!!
        We pulled into a lock just off the Mississippi on the Kaskaskia River and were able to tie  up on the wall below the lock so we could get off the boat and walk around.  A neat Pilgrim boat, Miss Lily invited us all to dinner of a great crock pot roast.  I brought a salad and they were set up so 9 of us could sit around a table in their cockpit.

October 10, 2017
      Still on the Mississippi, not too interesting, or as John calls it a great green tunnel.  We anchored in the Little Diversion Channel with three other boats that had passed us during the day, but we had caught up to by evening.  This is really a tortoise and hare kind of scenario.  The difference between 7 nm and 10 just means the others get there sooner, but there are only so many places to anchor along any stretch of the river.  In order to fit all the boats in the area, there were now 7 or 8 we were showing off our shallow draft and headed farther up the channel, but forgot about our height and clipped our antennae on a bridge.  No damage, just a good reminder about everything we have to think about.
      Being on a small channel off of the river I got out my kayak and headed out in a cloudburst.  But since it wasn’t cold being wet didn’t make too much difference. 
      Cooked dinner on the boat and fell asleep to the rain pounding on the hatch over our heads.

October 11, 2017
         Up early we headed off for a long day.  Came off the Mississippi at Cairo and headed up the Ohio.  When we started this trip I hadn’t realized how little mileage we put in on the Mississippi.  We could have continued down the Mississippi, but it is about 750 miles farther from Florida that way and there are no recreational marinas, lots of huge barges and nothing but a very wide channel with vegetation on the banks.  All of the trip on the rivers has been somewhat like that.  The rivers natural flooding up to 30’ change in a year, and the real floods up to 50-60’  have moved all civilization back from the river banks. The locks on the rivers control some of it, but they have given up below Cairo on the Mississippi and the river goes where it will.  There were not even any recreational docks in Cairo, through there were tugs and barges parked everywhere, taking on cargo and waiting for locks. 
      Our first encounter with the infamous stretch of locks on the Ohio was at Olmstead Lock.  This is a lock that has been under construction of 20 years and is billions of dollars over budget.  It is supposed to replace lock 52 and 53 which should have been replaced 40 years ago.  These locks are actually used to raise the water level in the river in dry seasons to facilitate navigation all year round.  They have wicket dams made of timber (80 years old now) that they raise a lower when needed.  Needless to say they are a mess and always needing maintenance for just not working.
        When we got to the locks the remnants of Hurricane Nate had dumped a lot of rain the the Ohio watershed and the river was too high to use the locks, but instead of lowering the wickets to just let the boats go through, they were making everyone wait till the water went down.  Probably worried that they wouldn’t be able to get they up one more time.
         They were letting pleasure boats through the lock under construction and over the wickets of lock 53, so we only had to wait and hour or so for our escort boat through the area.  But it was getting really dark and we headed for the closest safe anchorage about Lock 53 at Bean Branch Creek.  Pretty quiet and not too much rocking and rolling from the wake of the barges. 

October 12 - 13, 2017
         We only had 10 miles to go, since Lock 52 was closed but we moved up to Metropolis, the hometown of Superman, and anchored with some other boats at a spot where we could get out our dinghy and go to a boat ramp.  Using the dinghy is always an option when we anchor, but the banks of the rivers are so muddy, getting out and going for a hike is not really an option.   It is really hard for Loopers who have dogs on their boats that they have to get off at least once a day. 

           John had to find a notary and then Post Office for some documents he had to send off, so I went to the Super Museum.  An amazing collection of memorabilia from Superman comics and the TV show.  They had the sling that he flew in.  Things have really changed in special effects in the movies.  We got back to the boat pretty quickly, we’re not really comfortable leaving the boat with no one aboard.                                                                              

Though the trip from St Louis  to Cairo on the Ohio is a very historic one,  there wasn't much to take pictures of till we got to Metropolis

         Not knowing when we would get through the lock, some people had been waiting for two days when we got there, one boat decided to head into town to rent a car and go back to St Louis. We were only three hours by car from their home.  Since they didn’t have a dinghy John ferried them in, but they said the fire department would have come to get them.  They cleaned out their freezer and gave us some good stuff for a few dinners.  We spent the night off of Metropolis and were settling in for the weekend on Friday watching the water level, when we got the word that they thought the water would be low enough on Saturday morning and they would let any pleasure boats that were anchored below the lock through first thing in the morning, so we headed up about 5 miles and anchored for the night with about 12 other boats. 

October 14-15, 2017
       First thing in the morning was about 9 am but they got all 13 boats into the lock (actually they could have gotten twice as many in) and up we went 3 feet to finish our trip on the Ohio.   We passed Paducah where we have wanted to go because it’s a neat little town with the National Quilt Museum, but we’d been on the Ohio long enough.  There are two ways to Kentucky Lake.  Either turn off on the Tennessee River at Paducah and go the commercial route, shorter but more barges to get through the next lock, or go up to the Cumberland River which is more recreational and not usually too much traffic at the lock into Barkley Lake.  But since the barges weren’t going anywhere on the Ohio, when we called the lock they said, no problem, no wait so we took the shorter route and got to Green Turtle Bay. 
         It’s a lovely resort, marina with a cute little town and restaurant and a good mechanical repair shop.  Had lunch/dinner at the Thirsty Turtle at the resort.  Great variety of grilled cheese sandwiches.  Next day we got out our bicycles just to get to the ship’s store since it was a huge marina and we were twenty five yards away across the water and a quarter mile walking.  They area was pretty hilly but we went into town for some groceries and dinner at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement.  It is an infamous restaurant, decorated on every square inch inside and out for Christmas with good pork chops and bread baked in a flower pot, and 15 different homemade pies to choose from.  Out in the middle of nowhere, in October, it was packed with waiting times up to half an hour.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

St Louis

October 4, 2017
      Again a short ride to Alton, Il. This is the best place to dock to see St Louis.  Unfortunately there are no marinas right in St Louis.  So we rented a car for two days.  We wanted to see Alex Harrison and his family and figured that St Louis had more to do with the history of our part of the country than most of the rest of the places we had visited on the trip.  I went into Alton that afternoon for a much needed haircut and to see what was around.  Another small town trying to figure out what it wants to be after the loss of the industrial jobs.
         I did find a used book store whose owner was selling his own book about abolition and southwest Illinois.  The store was one of the stations on the underground railroad and I realized that I needed to learn a little more about the history of the early 19th century.  The Missouri compromise was a very real issue in this part of the country, since Illinois was theoretically a free state and Missouri, just across the river was a slave state.  St Louis and Missouri was born of the fight over slavery .  It’s no wonder they are still fighting in ways that other states aren’t.
       We went to the famous Fast Eddie’s for dinner, actually fast food and lots of beer with music in a very distinctive building, originally an Anhauser Busch brewery and pub.
October 5, 2017
         Went into St Louis for a full day of sightseeing and big city living.  Alton in 20 miles north of St Louis and the drive in was through numerous small town, actually suburbs that were pretty sad.  St Louis itself if only about 300,000 people, but early on small municipalities formed for people to get out of the city itself which was highly industrial.  In 1840 St Louis was much larger than Chicago and full of immigrants from all over the world.  I have been wondering what would have happened in Europe if they hadn’t been able to send hundreds of thousands of their population to American in the early 19th century.   This area exploded with people over the first half of the 19th century. 
           Our first stop was at the Cathedral Basillica of St Louis.  John dropped me off for noon Mass and then a tour of the church.  There is no paint in the church, built in 1905-12, and the 83,000 sq ft of mosaics took over 80 years to complete.   They are really beautiful but the most amazing part is that they are very contemporary in theme and cover the history of the church in St Louis from it’s beginnings with Father Marquette in 1770 to the 1960s and Cardinal Ritter’s battles over desegregation in St Louis.  Of course all the saints and theology are there but I have never seen a catholic church depicting current events on its walls.


          John found a trolley tour for us to take for an overview of the city.  Showed mostly a lot of Forest Park with its Zoo, Art Museum and two golf courses along with lots of trails and open space.  Then we headed to the Arch.  Sort of a bucket list kind of thing.  It was a little off putting to have a video of the historical times that the arch was built. 1960’s don’t count as history in my book.  But the technology of the tram to get to the top was totally 60’s  I felt like I was an astronaut sitting in a space capsule.  Very creepy and claustrophobic.  The view at the top was cool, but not really amazing. 
John at the top of the St Louis Arch

          For dinner the TripAdvisor recommendation was the Broadway Oyster Bar.  Another total dive with memorabilia covering every square inch of the walls, but absolutely amazing food!!!

           We had tickets to Bodyguard, a musical based on the movie with Whitney  Houston  in the Fabulous Fox Theater.  I always enjoy most any musical, John not so much, but the music was great and the theater and its Wurlitzer organ an experience in itself. 

October 6, 2017
          I dropped John off at a golf course, went to the grocery store to stock up and then headed  back into St Louis for a food tour of the Delmar Loop, the “happening” place in University City, the original “white flight” suburb of St Louis, just a few miles north of downtown.   Great guide who took us to 5 diverse restaurants, really fast food type places, BBQ, Seoul-Mexican fusion, Jordanian middle east, pizza, amazing Italian bakery and Fitz’s Root beer, starting at the Chuck Berry statue across from the Bluberry Hill bar and restaurant.  And an interesting commentary on some of the history of the area. 
Chuck Berry and our guide

Shwarma meat created in house
All the restaurants have amazing bars, that's all just wiskey and bourbon.

           No need for dinner after that, though I went back to the Salt and Smoke and got some ribs for John.

October 7, 2017
             Alex Harrison and his son Arlo came for a visit to the boat.   A little shy at first Arlo (2 yrs old)
Arlo was soon running around the boat with Sally following.  Even with a life jacket on, I really didn’t want him falling in the water.   It was nice to catch up with Alex.  It is always fun to talk to the younger generation that you watched grow up and get their take on life and the world.  They moved to St Louis from Laramie because his wife is doing very well in an internet based tutoring start up but she had to work. 
Alex and Arlo Harrison

October 8, 2017
        We called the Mel Price Lock just below our marina first thing in the morning and they said if we could get there in ½ hour they would put us right through so we scrambled and got there in time.  The Mel Price Lock handles 1/3 of all the grain in the world on barges through St Louis!!!  And these barges are getting twice as big as the ones on the Illinois River.   
We cruised by the Arch and past lots of barges and tugs and made it to Hoppie’s Marina in time to visit Kimmswick, a wonderful little  19th century town with lots of shops and the Delta Queen (not a boat) for lunch/dinner.  John biked over to the Mastadon State Park where they first discovered Clovis points next to mastodon bones.  Pretty cool, but too many neat little shops to miss.
        That afternoon about 6 more boat had made it to Hoppie’s, the last stop for fuel until Paducah and we all got the benefit of a briefing from Fern as to the dangers and adventures we faced on the Mississippi to Cairo and up the Ohio to Paducah.
Delta Queen

Fog the next morning delayed our departure from our luxry marina.




On to St Louis

September 25, 2017
        Headed out of Heritage Harbor, well briefed about the low water and all the marinas and anchorages we wouldn’t be able to use.  Through some great scenery in the Starved Rock State Park area and made it easily through a couple of locks.  The only place to tie up and get off the boat was the wall of an old lock in Henry.  It would have been really hard to catch something to tie to, but another boat, Salty Dog, was already there and they caught a line as we were coming in.   There was a friendly bar at the marina there and we had some beers with a Canadian family on the Loop in a small sail catamaran, Binary.
Gourmet dinner on  the wall at Henry's

September 26, 2017
     Next morning I went for a walk around a pretty sad little town that had a lot of neat old buildings mostly boarded up. 
Pretty typical old building along the Illinois River
But I did find the most amazing hardware store with one old wall, about 75’ by 12’ that had old built in drawers for nuts and bolts and ladders attached to a railing on the ceiling for accessing.  The store had been in continuous use for over 100 years. 
There was also a little bakery with a good latte so I was set for the day.

                   Headed on down the river to Peoria and landed at Illinois Valley Yacht Club, that still had enough water for our boat.  We got in early and went into Peoria to see the Caterpillar Museum and the Riverwalk museum.  The first was interesting and had some really old dozers and one really big one, but was mostly an advertisement for Caterpillar. 

                        The Riverwalk museum had an interesting history of the Illinois River and the basin it is in, formed by the breaching of a land dam when the glaciers were melting about 10,000 years ago,  in the history of native Americans.  A flash flood of epic proportions.   Dinner at a avant garde restaurant downtown and we got some recommendation for good golf courses in the area from the manager who was an avid golfer.  The marina was quite a ways out of town and not too cyclist friendly so we used Uber a lot but at least its available.

September 27, 2017
        Played golf at Weaver Ridge.  A really nice municipal course and we started early enough that they let us off on the back nine first and we played along without anyone in front of us and got back to the marina in time for lunch in the dining room of the Yacht Club.  It kind of looks like yacht clubs are having the same problems that private golf clubs are, but they were really friendly and looking for new members.  Unfortunately they had already closed their pool for the season, as it was still pretty hot for September.

September 28, 2017
      We decided to stay in Peoria for a couple days to watch the President’s Cup.  We have to be in a marina for the boat to be still enough for the antenna to stay on track.  So that morning we gave the boat a good cleaning inside and out.  Spider season had started a few weeks earlier and these spiders drop a black gunk that is really hard to clean off the outside of the boat, and the dust was building up on the inside.  The afternoon was spent watching the US build up quite a lead in the Cup matches.

September 29,2017
       Golf early at Link Creek, a much harder track and back to the boat for more golf on TV.  One of the things we have enjoyed is meeting the Uber drivers that we use.  The one that brought us back from the golf course was a woman who had played at Link Creek till her back gave out, but she was really interesting to talk to about Peoria and what is going on in the city.  She also recommended an old  German restaurant that was close to the boat, the Hof Brau House, so we went back there for a great dinner and beer.

September, 30-October 1, 2017
      We got going early and decided on a long day to a tug company dock where they let us tie up to a barge.  It was pretty quite except when the tugs came in. But the TV antennae worked. The town of Logstown is only about 35 miles from Springfield and has some houses that people were fixing up and others that looked pretty run down.   Unfortunately when we get to some of the smaller towns on the weekend most of the restaurants and shops that are there are closed.  When I went into town things seemed pretty lively though, because it was Homecoming and lots of the kids were around the town square taking pictures.  At least there is usually a Catholic Church and this one was a nice little one with a Polish heritage. 
St Alexius
There was a Spanish Mass and at the English Mass there was a large number of blacks, obviously new immigrants.  It turns out that there is a bid meant packing plant in the town and both the Hispanics and the West Africans have come for the jobs.
    When I got back to the boat we had to hurry up a up to tie up the boat ond move the boat to a different barge because one of the tugs needed our spot to take on water. Unfortunately in the hurry to tie up the boat the cockpit door flipped off without our noticing and floated away durning the night.  Finished watching the rout of the internationals to end the day.

October 2, 2017
       With a very long day ahead we got off through the last two locks and 70 miles later tied up to a very small dock at a restaurant in Hardin, Ill.  Decent dinner and good pie, and we knocked out pretty early.
Parked behind a baby tug and a work barge.  They must like the restaurant too.

October 3, 2017

     Only a short day and we were finished with the Illinois River and entered the Mississippi. 
Finally the Mississippi
We decided to go to St Charles, a couple miles up the Mississippi where there was a really neat downtown full of 100 year old houses that had not fallen into disrepair or been torn down that had lots of fun restaurants and shops to explore.  It was the site of the final organization of the Lewis and Clark expedition and they had a pretty good museum there and a replica of one the keel boats that they used on the trip.  John met me for dinner at Mother-in-laws Restaurant in an old Victorian house.  One of the things I had not realized before this trip, was the amazing population growth in this country in 50 years from 1800 to 1850. 
Thirty years after Lewis and Clark