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Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday, September 25th, 2017. We make it back to Demopolis.

This morning we were awakened by the sound of a towboat, the "Terah Huckabee", passing downstream in front of our anchorage, and I realized that if she was going to lock through at Heflin lock, it would mean we'd have a wait at the lock. I radioed the Captain and he confirmed that he was locking down at Heflin, so we took our time getting ready and gave him about a 45 minute lead. It's much more enjoyable waiting while anchored in a quiet cove, rather than trying to keep the boat in one spot with the engine while in front of a lock.

Another sunrise shot by Glenda.

The vegitation was thick again today.

We pulled anchor about 7:10 and made our way toward the lock, while monitoring the towboat's position through his AIS signal. Our timing worked out great, and we arrived about 5 minutes before the chamber was finished re-filling from taking the Terah Huckabee down. This was our last lock of this trip, and I was happy to have it behind us. 

Seven miles downstream from the lock we caught up with the Terah Huckabee, which was pushing several barges loaded with coal. Another radio call to her Captain and we got the OK to pass her on the "one whistle" which means passing with the other vessel to my port side. The tow Captains deserve a lot of credit for safely maneuvering those huge vessels up and down the winding, sometimes narrow rivers, all the while being patient and helpful toward private boaters. 

The weather was fantastic today - just enough clouds and wind to keep us from getting too hot. The eagles also cooperated again today and we saw several juveniles as well as a couple of adults. Glenda also got a picture of a young wild hog, the first we've seen on this trip.  

A juvenile eagle. 

This young hog was limping and moving slow - maybe injured or sick.

Another juvenile eagle.

We arrived at Kingfishers Bay Marina in Demopolis at 3:31 PM - exactly on schedule! We radioed the marina and were answered on channel 9 by our friend Terry at the fuel dock, who welcomed us home and said that his wife, Anna Marie, was monitoring channel 11 and would meet us at our slip - the same slip we had before we left in May. It's good to be home 'where everybody knows your name'!

Glenda says:
Slept good again last night.  Even though we had a little trouble with mosquitoes.  After realizing we would be later leaving I decided to dinghy over to the construction site to let Daisy take care of her business.  I had worked on the outside of the boat yesterday as we were travling, so I was a little disheartened to find millions ( no exaggeration) of dead and dying williow flies all over the boat this morning.  I repeated the cleaning process again today. 

Willow flies (aka May flies) covered the boat this morning.

 I also continued my fight against all the spiders hiding in various places on the boat.  I promise I am not silly about spiders.  I have picked up dozens on this trip and tossed them overboard.  But today while cleaning I felt a movement on my arm and saw the uglist, fattest, most evil looking spider crawling up my arm, I started screaming.  Tom was actually concerned.  He thought it had bit me.  Once it was off me and on the floor it didn't look so intimidating.  I still thumped it into the water. 

 I managed to sweep my off the willow flies and enjoy the scenery of our last day.  I never get tired of seeing the beautiful bluffs along this section of the waterway.  

I don't know what kind they were, but these yellow flowers were beautiful!

We knew we were almost home when we rounded a bend and saw "the White Bluffs of Epes".

A closeup of the white chalk rock that runs through this area of Alabama.

I'm ready to be home but always a little melancholy because you never know what the future holds.  We hope to get south for the winter but we've got lots going on.  Oh well, Thy will be done! 🙏🏼

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017 - The eagles finally show themselves!

After yesterday's excitement with the flat tire and Daisy falling in the river, we were up late getting clothes washed and dried and writing the blog post. (Yes, as usual we were missing one sock after we got back with laundry. We still haven't found it.)

Anyway, 5:30 came early this morning, and after re-supplying the cooler with ice, I got the boat ready to leave. Before actually untying the lines, I radioed Stinnis lock and ask about locking through. They said they'd have the gates open for me in 15 minutes. The day was starting off good!
Water Hyacinths almost blanketed the water in places.

We slowly idled through the water hyacinths that seemed to have taken over the river. I worried that they might clog our cooling water intake, but so far that hasn't been a problem. As we left the marina channel and turned toward the lock, the gates were open and the green light was on.

After being lowered about 30 feet we were on our way to Beville lock, 27 miles downstream. When we got to Beville at 11:00, they were ready for us too! 24 minutes after entering we were leaving on the lower pool! It really is amazing how efficient the lock workers are in managing the traffic up and down the river. 

We passed several tows pushing barges today - more than any other day on this trip, I think.

We also saw more eagles today, as well as hawks and ospreys. I am including a few of the best eagle pics I got today.

I wish that we had stopped to talk with this paddler. His kayak was loaded down with gear and he was paddling (actually pedaling) downstream. I bet there is an interesting story there!

We are anchored in the "Warsaw Cutoff" tonight, and this will likely be our last night of the trip. There are only 60 miles of water and one lock between us and Demopolis, so we should be there in our home port tomorrow afternoon.

Glenda says:
Today went very smoothly.  Even though a bit of yelling at each other to "get the camera" occurs every time we see eagles, it is always awe inspiring to watch them.  I drove a good bit today and let the captain catnap.  I dinghyed over to what looked like a construction site and let Daisy potty after we got to the anchorage.  We are sitting on top of the boat now.  I've been watching the martins dive and swoop.  I hope they were eating all the mosquitoes.  But now all is quiet.  The birds have disappeared into the brush.  The tree frogs are just ending a song.  Now I'm watching for the stars.

I'm sure these two were dissapointed we didn't blow the horn--but we dont have one ☹️

Daisy is happy to be back traveling again.

Our last night on this river trip.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday September 23 or Sometimes you just have to laugh 😂

I woke this morning to the sound of an outboard engine going by us. Obviously we would not be the first boaters out this morning. In fact, it was about 7:30 before we pulled up anchor and idled out the 1/4 mile or so to the main channel. It was another beautiful morning to be out on the water!

Glenda took this photo before I was up and going this morning.

It was only 8 miles to Aberdeen lock and we got there about 8:45. A towboat was in the lock about to head up, so we had to wait for just over an hour. An early morning wait at a lock is much more pleasant than waiting when the mid-day sun is beating down.

We had to wait on this tow and barges to lock up before we could lock down at Aberdeen.

From Aberdeen lock to Columbus Marina was only 23 miles, but we'd decided we needed a "housekeeping" and "rest" day, so we would stop there. Both our marina stops on this trip have been made enjoyable by the friendly and super-helpful workers there. We were guided into Columbus marina over the radio (through unbelievably thick vegetation) and when we arrived two gentlemen caught our dock lines and welcomed us, offering help with anything we needed.

After we hooked up the power and got the A/C running for Daisy (bless her heart), we took the "courtesy car" and headed into town for an early supper and a stop at Walmart. Glenda commented that this courtesy car (a Toyota mini-van) was much nicer that we'd seen at most marinas. I think she jinxed us. As we approached Harvey's resaurant, the low tire pressure light came on. When we got out, the right rear did look a little low. We had a fantastic meal at Harveys, and when we got back to the van, the tire still looked just a little low. No problem, I'll add a little when we get to Walmart. 

I drove up to the air/vacuume station at Murphy Oil just across from the W-M parking lot. The sign says 5 minutes of air for $1.60. Glenda searches her purse and finds five quarters. We are 2 quarters short. More searching of the purse - no more quarters. Then I notice that the air machine takes VISA! I was torn between elation that we could get some air, and a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought about what our world has become. You have to PAY for air, but we are happy because we can put it on our credit card! So .... I buy $1.60 worth of air and start pumping it into the now completely flat tire. Nothing happens. The tire will not pump up. 

Plan B is to put the spare on. In the back of the mini-van was a lug wrench and jack. The spare must be under the rear cargo floor. Nope, not there. Maybe it's mounted under one of the 5 removable seats. Nope. Under the rear bumper like a pick-up truck? Nope. Feeling like a real nerd, I had to call the marina and let them know what was going on. The manager was very apologetic, and offered to come and pick us up, but I told I could a small problem like a flat, and that I would take the flat off and roll it across the W-M parking lot to the Automotive department and get it fixed (this is plan C). 

As I'm about to hang up, I notice what looks like tire tread under the right sliding door of the mini-van. I had found the elusive spare tire! We are now back to Plan B. After 5 minutes if searching for the spare tire release mechanism, Glenda found the owners manual in the glove box and I was able to locate the bolt that is hidden under a removable flap of carpet under one of the 5 removable seats that lowers the cable that holds the spare underneath the car. After cranking the release bolt with lug wrench (per the instructions) the spare was lowered to the ground and unfastened. As this photo shows, a close inspection of the spare tire sent us back to Plan C. 
The spare.

I jacked the car up and took off the flat tire. Then we put the spare in the rear of the mini-van and rolled the flat across the parking lot until I found a vacant shopping cart. At the automotive department I took the spare out of the cart and leaned it against the wall near the bay marked "Tire Service" and went inside. At the counter I waited as a customer in front of me was taken care of, then I explained to the lady at the counter that I had a flat tire that I wanted repaired. She turned and stepped into an office behind her where two other workers were talking. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but the lady pointed at me and said something to them. I took this as a good sign that maybe we were making some progress. Then the lady walked toward the window of the service area. I followed her. She pointed to the the service area and said I needed to talk to the man in the blue shirt. I walked back out and found the man and told him my pitiful story. He sighed and said he had two cars ahead of me, then he would look at my flat tire.

Having secured that commitment, I walked back inside and informed the lady that the man in the blue shirt said he would look at it, and did she need my name, or any other information. She ask another employee, who said they needed to do that outside. Back outside, I stand around for a few minutes and can't find the man in the blue shirt. Then I see a man and a lady looking at a tire near where I had left mine. I walked over. Now there are three tires laying against the wall, and the lady is punching information into that handheld device they use in the automotive department. When she finishes with the other man, she takes my information, informing me that they "won't fix it if the hole ain't in the tread". Then she puts a sticker in the tire and gives me a barcode slip. There are now 3 cars plus the other man with two tires ahead of me.

As I walk back inside it thunders so loud it sounded like the building shook. I had to laugh to myself as I thought about rolling that tire back across the parking lot in a thunderstorm. Of all the things I was concerned about when planning for this boat trip, I never imagined that I might have to change a flat tire in a thunderstorm.

Well, the thundersorm went in another direction, and after a couple of hours the flat was fixed and my name was called over the intercom by the man in the blue shirt. He said it was leaking around the rim, and they put sealant on it. The charge was $10.70. I reached in my billfold and started to pull out my Visa card. Then I had a flashback of me sliding the Visa card into that little machine to puchase air for $1.60, so I paid him with cash. 

Glenda says:
I heard our old fisherman come by about 6:15 this morning to check his string lines.  We decided we better get up and get going since the plan was for a short day of travel.  I was looking forward to a nice meal at Harveys, a short run to Walmart, doing the laundry leisurely and doing some cleaning on the boat.  Our lock down through Aberdeen was smooth.  The scenery was beautiful.  I enjoyed seeing where the old tombigbee river weaved in and out the man-made cut waterway.  We passed a couple of tows and saw lots of white herons, grey herons and blue herons.  

We arrived at columbus marina a little after 1:00. The folks at the marina helped us get tied up.  Tom went to pay and returned with the key to the courtesy car.  I had a fantastic meal of shrimp and grits at Harveys.  From there things went down hill.  1.  Flat tire at Walmart super center.  2.  Spare tire is in shreds. 3.  Apparently Walmart has hogtied people and forced them to work at the Columbus Walmart.  4.  Two hours in Walmart h#**.   
Tom went into the marina office to return the key and I hurried to let Daisy romp outside a little before being confined in the boat for 2 more days.  She was so excited.  She was running and jumping like a young pup again. Large green field right close to the boat, nobody else around, so I let her off the leash to run and play.  But Daisy being a dog could not tell the difference between grass growing in dirt and water plants growing in water and in she goes!  She was shocked needless to say.  We did get the laundry done and rinsed out the dinghy but no scrubbing tonight.  I'm just not up to it.  

I guess this looked like solid ground to Daisy.

A wet but wiser dog, after her swim.

There's nothing like a beautiful sunset to relax you after a busy day. God gave us a special one today.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017 -"YOU'RE GROUNDED"

Daisy and Glenda went over to the shore early this morning

Tom says:
We took Daisy to the shore again his morning, and then cranked the diesel about 7:15. I went out to pull anchor, and something didn't feel right. The rope was clearly hung on something, and I couldn't budge it. I had Glenda put the boat in forward and I wrapped the rope around the windlass so it wouldn't slip. I felt something give, but the rope still had too much resistance on it. I turned on the windlass and let it do the work. All the rope came up, and I put the chain portion of the rode into the windlass. After about 10 feet of chain had been taken in, I saw the problem - last year's Christmas tree was tangeled in my anchor chain. Crappie fishermen often dump piles of discarded Christmas trees to make fish habitats, and I had obviously found one.
Sunrise  at Five Finger achorage in Bay Springs lake 

We were only a few miles away from our first lock of the day, and when we arrived at Whitten lock, we went right in with no wait. By 8:08 we were leaving the lock on the lower side. The next four locks, Montgomery, Rankin, Fulton, and Wilkins locks, all operated like a precision machine for us. Everytime we exited a lock, the operator would call the next lock and let him know we were coming. When we got to the next lock the gates were open and we went straight in - no lines, no waiting!

Just after we exited Wilkins lock, the operator at Amory lock (the next lock downstream) called Genesis on the radio. He ask what our speed would be going to his lock. He had a towboat wanting to lock upstream, but since the chamber was full, he would wait and take us down first. This changed a few minutes later when he radioed again and told us we could slow down because he was going to take the tow up first. When we got about 1/2 mile from the lock we could see the pilothouse of the towboat slowly rising above the gates. We wouldn't have to wait long, so I pulled to my port side to get out of the tow's way and wait for him to leave the chamber. As he was coming out my "shallow depth" alarm sounded and our boat stopped. Not good. I had not run aground since I did it on my first day with Genesis. It was not a good feeling either time. The wake from the towboat did not rock us enough to free us from the mud, so I had to make the embarrassing radio call and tell the lock tender that I was grounded. I took a few minutes to assess the situation, and my beautiful AND smart wife suggested I try again to back the boat up. Ever so slowly the boat moved backwards until it was back in deeper water.  The lock tender tried to reassure me about the whole thing, saying that the water level was low and that I certainly wasn't the first person to run aground there. I appreciated his efforts, but it was still embarrassing!

We did make it through Amory lock, though, for a total of SIX locks today.

Its not quite autumn yet but you can see some of the fall purples and yellows beginning to appear

We saw our first eagle of the trip today.  He was not up for a good photo op, so this is all we got.

Beautiful tranquil view of our achorage in the "old Tombigbee "

Glenda says:
I actually slept till 6 this morning.  So by the time Daisy and I returned from shore time it was after 7 before we got away.  It was a pleasant day.  The river is narrower here and I feel like I can see the scenery better.  The stops at the locks made the time go by faster.  I radioed several of the locks to let them know we were coming.  It made me feel very capable.  We thought about trying Aberdeen marina but opted insead to anchor out again and I am glad.  The old river is beautiful and quiet.  One older fisherman stopped by to speak to us as he was checking his string lines for catfish.  Daisy did not go to shore but she seemed to be fine just going out on the deck.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017. Florence to Bay Springs lake.

The water looked great when we untied and idled out of Florence Harbor Marina this morning at 6:20, but we soon ran into patchy fog that reduced visibility to near zero. Just as we thought it was clearing up, we ran into more fog, so about 7:30 I made the dcision to stop and wait it out. We first tied to a dolphin (a big round docking structure for tows and barges) at a loading facility, but had to move when a tow boat needed to tie his load there. We then pulled across the river outside the navigation channel and anchored.
We stopped shortly after this picture was taken.

We anchored here to wait out the fog. A quarter mile downstream, visibility was zero!

I'm not sure what you call this - a fog bow or rainbow in black and white? It appeared when the sun was behind us and the heaviest fog was ahead. (No, it's not photoshop!)

I calculated that we needed to be moving by no later than 9:00 in order to get to Bay Springs Lake before dark. Just as if it was following a script, the fog started to clear about 8:55, and at 9:04 we pulled up the anchor and headed back down the Tennessee River toward the Tenn-Tom Waterway.
We passed this Nordic Tug on the Tennessee today. (Another one of my favorite boats)

Between Pickwick Lake and Bay Springs Lake, the Tenn-Tom is a man-made cut.

Glenda drove much of the day, and I took some short naps. We pushed Genesis' diesel engine to about 2000 rpms in order to maintain a speed of around 8 mph. This was a day of no locks to go through, so even with the fog delay, we covered 78 miles and anchored in time to take Daisy to shore in the dinghy before dark.

Glenda says:
So today was definitely a long day.  We did not sleep as well last night.   Daisy must have found something "yummy" to eat while we were walking last night because she was miserable sick from 11 until after midnight.  She was gagging and hacking and throwing up.  Needless to say the captain was not very happy.  She finally settled down.  But 5:30 came early.  I walked Daisy (and watched everything she sniffed at) and we were away before 6:30.  The fog did delay us but it was fascinating to watch.  There were times when it engulfed everything and we could not see either bank.  Reminded me of some of our tough times.  Tom slept on and off and I drove a good bit.  We finally anchored at Finger 1--in Bay Springs lake.  It is beautiful.  We took the dinghy over to the shore and let Daisy take care of her business.  As sun went down we heard the echo of the bird calls across the water.  God is really so good!
On the bank suddenly out of no where appears a nice reminder of who is really in control

I was so excited to finally catch a glimpse of some widlife

The view from the nice quiet cove we anchored in.

Our neighborhood for the night. It doesn't get any more peaceful than this!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday September 20, 2017 -- Decatur to Florence

We left the Decatur docks this morning at 6:15, hoping to put in an 80 mile day to a quiet anchorage that is only 15 miles from the beginning of the Tenn-Tom waterway. We knew that our plan would be dependent on getting through the Wheeler and Wilson locks with no delays. When we were about 3 miles from Wheeler lock we called on the radio, and the lockmaster's response was not what we wanted to hear - we could expect a wait of about an hour and a half. Jvessco, a tow pushing barges had brought half of his barges up, and was returning back down to pick up his remaining barges for the trip up. Once all his barges were locked upstream, he would connect them all back together and leave the lock chamber. Then we and another pleasure craft, "Prime Intrest" could lock downstream. The wait turned into almost 2 hours, but once in the lock, our trip down was smooth and quick.

The weather was great today - although it got a little warm in the afternoon.

The Brown's Ferry nuclear plant.

Lots of rocky shorelines on the Tennessee River.

The cormorants(?) could make great sea monster stories if they were only bigger. They appear, then dissappear for what seems like forever before popping up again. All you usually see is their head and neck.

At the Wilson lock we also had to wait on a commercial tow with barges, but this time the wait was only about an hour. Having lost 3 hours of potential travel, we decided to call it a day and rent a slip at Florence Harbor Marina for the night. The heat of the sun during our wait at Wilson lock had worn me down, and we could use the shorepower there to run the air conditioner. A great meal at the restaurant (the River Bottom Grill) confirmed that stopping here was a good decision!

Sundown at Florence Harbor Marina.

Tomorrow we will leave early and plan on anchoring in Bay Springs lake on the Tenn-Tom. We will run   42 miles to where the Tenn-Tom starts, then another 36 miles or so down the Tenn-Tom, anchoring just before we get to the lock at Bay Springs.

Glenda says:
Well we ended up with another short day.  Oh well.  I spent more time fighting the spiders and for now I think I'm winning.  It was warmer today and circling around waiting on the locks didnt give us much of a breeze.  The marina is very busy but everyone is nice and helpful.  We enjoyed a nice meal at the marina restaurant, then came back to the boat and took Daisy for her walk.  She is always very charming to anyone who passes by.  We sat by the river enjoying the view but Tom failed to tell me about the ceremonial cannon blast at sunset every evening and it almost gave me a heart attack.  His claim is "he forgot".  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - We head back to Demopolis

Glenda and I (and Daisy) drove to Guntersville yesterday afternoon and got Genesis ready for the return trip to Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis. 

We untied from our slip at 6:30 this morning and idled out of the marina just in time to see the sun peak out from behind the mountains.

Todays weather was a mixed bag. We started with this beautiful sunset, then ran into a stretch of fog that got denser and denser, before finally giving way to sunshine and finally disappearing about 10:00.

The water was glass-smooth in the morning, but about noon we met a nasty little thunderstorm head on - lots of rain and enough wind to kick up the water a little, but not scary-bad.

We travelled about 57 miles today, went through the Guntersville lock and under the railroad lift bridge at Decatur before docking at the City dock at Decatur.

Glenda says--
The sunrise photo is beautiful but the real moment was even better.  I got up about 5:30 and walked Daisy before we headed off.  I was able to get a little cleaning done as we traveled today and the heavy rain seemed to have helped get rid of some of the spider poop I missed.  I think we have a representative of every type of spider in the southeastern United States hiding here on the boat somewhere!  We stopped at the Decatur docks around 2:00.  (I'll get this off my chest) There is nothing around here to see.  The noise from a busy highway is just not as nice as the sound of birds in the trees as the sun begins to set (not to mention, you can smell the pet food factories in Decatur) . But Tom likes the security of a dock and his energy was level low.  So he took a nap and I cleaned some more.  When he woke up I fixed some chili for dinner.  The boat still draws a lot of attention.  We've already had one visitor and several people taking photos.