Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kentucky Lake & the Tennessee River

We left Green Turtle Bay Marina Monday, October 6th mid morning. It was a bright and clear fall morning as we departed with “C-Life”, “Sunshine”, “Southern Comfort”, and “Blue Max”. We were headed for Panther Bay, a great anchorage along the Kentucky Lake about forty miles down—a cove just off the lake enough not to get any wakes from other boats. It was a pretty day to travel on the water and when we arrived, we found “Freedom’s Turn” and “Voyager II” already tucked in the cove—great minds think alike! We quickly rafted up with “C-Life” and “called it a day” of traveling. We really like these “short” days of our trip—around 40 miles is just perfect—when traveling at 7.4 knots—are you reading this, Ed? Can you believe Louis is actually enjoying this speed?! We spent the night up in the cove with lots and lots of stars out—Louis and I have taken to setting up cushions on the bow at night and enjoying the beauty of it all. Without lights and noise—wow!

Tuesday morning there was rain “a-coming”—and much needed rain for this area too—can you believe that with all the flooding we dealt with on the Illinois and the Mississippi, that on these lakes there hasn’t been any rain to speak of in 4 to 5 weeks! It’s hard to imagine, but it is visually so—both hurricanes Hannah & Ike missed this area of Kentucky and Tennessee—and the water levels are down considerably—in fact, people here are in a “water conservation mode”. So with the impending rain, we scurried about and got our anchors up and washed off (lots of black mud on the bottom here) and headed for our next stop, Pebble Isle Marina—again about 40 miles.

We arrived at Pebble Isle mid afternoon after a huge thunder storm about noon. (One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three …) Thank goodness we were under our bridge cover and only got wet from our leaky top—not much though—and it was a damp and cool afternoon as we pulled up to the marina. With 8 other Looper boats tied up to the main dock, “Bella Luna” was given a spot under a huge tin awning—what fun it was to listen to the rain under that! But we are quickly learning that under these huge awnings, you have no cell phone, no wireless, and no TV signals! We were tied up where all the huge houseboats were housed—one having bright orange canvas all over—got that Jan?

We all had dinner in the marina’s store/office/dining room/main everything building—right on the end of the dock where all the others were tied up. Six of us had the special of the day, “home-made chicken & dumplins”, and it really was a perfect dish for the cool rainy weather we had experienced all day. This particular place is known for their huge desserts—“the cookie” being most famous—a freshly-baked hot 12-inch chocolate chip cookie piled high with three scoops of ice cream, pecans, whipped cream, hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce, and a cherry. If only we had had our camera as our friends at the next table ordered it—and I can’t believe Louis resisted ordering one. However, he did order a strawberry cake with ice cream weighing in at slightly less than 3 pounds (citing eating chocolate at night keeps him awake all night long!). We all had a great time laughing at the absurdity and abundance of both those desserts!

We left Pebble Isle Wednesday morning under cloudy skies with “C-Life” in the lead. “Mojo” and ”Grettatude” had left about an hour earlier—and the rest of the Loopers decided to remain at the marina one more night. With access to a courtesy car, haircuts and a trip to the grocery were on the agenda for those who stayed. (Wonder what the “special of the day” will be at the restaurant there & what dessert they’ll have tonight—can’t wait to hear when we catch back up with those friends in a few days!)

As the day has progressed (I’m writing this up on the bridge now), the weather has turned from cool to perfect. One of the highlights of the day for Louis has been crossing UNDER the I-40 highway bridge which crosses over the Tennessee River—the bridge that he crosses on his winter duck hunting trips to Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. He said he always hoped one day to be down on the water under that bridge taking a trip—some wishes do come true—just like the bridge near Belhaven, NC over the ICW that we cross over on our way to Hyde County—that was a wish for me to cross under that bridge one day—and we have.

We’re in such a beautiful area, the Tennessee River—others have called it the prettiest on the entire Loop—and Louis and I heartily agree. Earlier in the summer when we were going through the beauty and wilderness of Canada, we thought we had reached the “visual” summit of our trip. Not so, this area really is prettier to us than what we saw in Canada. So far, the Tennessee River is calm, narrow, green, and deep—the shores are hilly and green (just beginning to turn into fall colors) with willows and hardwoods and the occasional cypresses with their sprawling exposed roots. The hills are magnificent where the river has cut deep into the rock, leaving only the hardest of the rock exposed—we’re seeing trees growing right out of the rock up high as well as down low. It’s hard to think that a tree could survive in that space, but they do—none of these trees show any signs of being deprived of water! We’ve seen one eagle today too—always such a thrill, no matter how many we have seen on this trip so far. And the migrating white pelicans are following us south too—we’ve seen hundreds of them today. Louis has even seen a few flocks of blue wing teal—the first ducks to migrate south. More later.

We traveled a long day, and when we pulled up into a cove for the evening, “Mojo”, “Grettatude”, and “Party of Two” were already rafted together and at anchor. Way up in the cove ahead of us was “Barbarossa” a 35 year old, dark-green, concrete sailboat from England. We’ve been traveling some these past few weeks with Rob and Sue, and it was good to see them again—I have numerous pictures of this boat—she’s not like anything we’ve ever seen before! We got anchored and rafted with “C-Life” and were able to enjoy a gorgeous sunset, dinner with Robert and Kay, and a calm night.

Thursday, October 9th (Happy…..Birthday Nancy!) was spent mainly waiting for the TVA lock and dam at Pickwick to open. Barge traffic always takes precedence, and we had to wait almost 3 hours tied up to a “cell” waiting for the lockmaster to call us in and lift us up. But boy, once we got on this upper part of the Tennessee—what a show! Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee—what fabulous place to call home! We are now in the area where Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee all join borders. Huge “homes” (and I mean “movie star” status) dotted the very steep hills everywhere and most everyone had some kind of elevator from the house to the water! Beautiful boat houses, perfectly groomed and landscaped lawns were all around us—complete with railroad tracks from the lake to the top for the necessary elevators! The water level here was at pool stage, meaning the water hadn’t fluctuated like it had below the dam. And the houses up here evidently are not subject to flooding like the ones downstream—the ones below earlier in the day were all built on levees AND on stilts. Not on the upside of the dam here though—this is what we used to call “High Cotton”!

We tried to get in a small cove for the evening that had a waterfall in the back of it—but when we turned off the big lake, there already was a trawler in it. The lady aboard said she had been there a week—“why leave?’ she said—just a perfect spot. But it wasn’t big enough for two more trawlers, so we went to another anchorage just a couple of miles away recommended by Skipper Bob—and it was equally beautiful. A big, beautiful, white-chested osprey watched as we anchored and rafted; he was still there, standing guard high in his tree, when we closed up for the night on the Mississippi side. We will be in a marina for the weekend—Grand Harbor—on the Tennessee side. We can be in three states in just a matter of minutes—amazing, isn’t it!

1 comment:

Jan said...

Hey y'all,

So glad you are loving my part of the world. We grew up going to Kentucky Lake and I was in about the 3rd or 4th grade when they made Lake Barkley. Our old church camp is somewhere on the bottom of it now. I spent most of my summers on Kentucky Lake at Girl Scout Camp - fond memories! One of my high school boyfriends worked for a barge line the summer after our senior year, so I sent letters in care of the lockmaster and drove down to most of those places - Pickwick, Joe Wheeler, Guntersville...those were the days! It's a pretty, pretty river! Too bad you won't get to be part of the VOL NAVY and pull your boat up to Neyland Stadium for a football experience like no other! Keep having fun!