Wednesday, May 28, 2008

OK Boat Trip, Days 33 & 34, 05/27-28, 2008

Sorry to be so long getting these last 2 days accounted for but we have been busy since our arrival at Three Forks. The short version is that we are here and what a welcome we received. The Port Authority had TV and newspaper folks on site, including a news helicopter in the air covering our arrival. It's exciting to have a Port Authority with so much enthusiasm for a harbor facility.

I'm thinking we'll keep the last 2 days' report short and sweet with mostly pictures since the two days of travel were "uneventful" in the sense that we didn't have any unusual events, just nice cruising, enjoying the trip, with beautiful scenery for our viewing pleasure.

We had thunderstorms and rain on Monday night at Emerald Cove in Van Buren but got back underway around 9:30 after the weather cleared. Here's the city's River Park leaving Ft. Smith and the skies clearing from the storms.

Also, a few hills/mountains among the stretches of farmland.

The run from Fort Smith (Van Buren) had a little bit of a surprise though. We noticed a very strong current that we were not expecting, the strongest of our trip thus far. When we checked in at Lock 14, I asked the lockmaster what was up. He said, "Well, it might have something to do with the 4 inches of rain we got last night." Oh, we had no idea, must have slept through it. Anyhow, Lock 14 transitions you from a very narrow river stream to the wide open waters of Kerr Lake.

Just before leaving the Kerr Lock, we had a good view over the gate behind us to the water we just left. If you look closely, you can see the difference in water levels before and after the lock.

Applegate Marina is about 3 miles on the starboard side after you leave the lock. Here are some shots from there. Very nice marina run by Alon and Rhoda Carpenter. Rhoda loaned us her vehicle and we went to the Catfish Hole for dinner.

The ships's store at Applegate.

And HMR's final night out before arriving at Three Forks tomorrow.

More docks at Applegate. As you can see, this is a large marina.

Today was the last day of our trip and I must say the last 25 miles was the prettiest. Here we are approaching the last lock of our trip, #16!

As we entered the Webbers Falls Lock, note the trip mileage on the GPS - 1100 miles since we left Bay Hill on the TN River!

And leaving the lock, we had quite a logjam. With all the high water from the previous night's rain, some of the debris came off the banks, floated down the river, and stopped at the lock. We were apparently the first boat through the lock for the day and none of the debris had a chance to clear out yet.

While we had to pick our way through the mess, the barges don't bother. If you look closely, this barge runs right over an entire tree and never misses a beat.

From Webbers Falls (the town and the last last lock for our trip) the river is surrounded by a combination of usually hills (maybe small mountains) and deep sections of farmland. You also see more houses embedded in these areas than we've seen on other parts of the river.

And a train running right along the river at the foot of the hills.

I had given the Port Authority an ETA of 4 PM and we were early so we drifted around downstream for a while so all the media could be in place when we arrived, including the helicopter. If you look closely you can see it in backdrop of the clouds above.

Here are the camera crews on the banks of the entry to the harbor.

And some of their shots of us.

Finally after all the hoopla, HMR at the fuel dock and ship's store.

And finally at rest in her new slip.

A shot of our dock - notice the wide concourse down the center.

And some updated shots of the River Center.

In closing, we want to thank so many folks - our friends we left behind who have stayed in touch during the trip with emails and calls, our families, new friends, and acquaintances we made along the way, the Port Authority and Arrowhead folks who supported us in so many ways, folks we met at the marinas, those who helped us on our emergency day when the engine quit, the lockmasters (I know I had a little fun at their expense one day but they were great), and all of you who prayed for our safe travel.

We hit the ground running on Thursday after arriving on Wednesday and I'm sure we'll be busy for days to come. It was a great run, thanks for riding along with us through the blog, come visit when you can.

Wayne and Rhonda McManus

"Help Me Rhonda"

'41 Roughwater Trawler

Three Forks Harbor

mm 392, Arkansas River at Muskogee OK

Oh yeah, our new cell phone number is 918-348-1727.

And our new addres is 5311 Three Forks Road, Fort Gibson, OK 74434 (yes, we know, you thought we were in Muskogee. Well we are, but the Fort Gibson post office delivers the mail to this area).

Some parting shots looking west and back out to the river from our new home at Three Forks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

OK Boat Trip, Day 32, 05/26/2008

In addition to the goats on Goat Island at Spadra Marina, they have roosters. So we left Spadra at 5:40 AM. That's good because we've got lots of ground to cover today - 70 miles and 2 locks.

How's this for a gorgeous sunrise to begin the day?

And here's the longest bridge in Arkansas, 1.6 miles. This is the short end, about 1/3 of it before the rest disappears around the bend.

And the small town of Ozark, AR with the railroad along the shoreline at the base of the bridge. I was through here by bus last week - I believe I like this view the best. Notice the cut through the rock wall for the train.

And this was a typical view all day long. As you can see, the sky is clear blue, the woods are deep green, there was no humidity, and we had the river to ourselves. There is very little traffic on the river which is amazing to us for a Memorial Day weekend. We actually saw the 1st jet skis we've seen on the entire AR River.

Notice the beaches are more of a pebble texture and size versus sand previously.

This was very interesting as rivers are usually in the lowest terrain of an area - I wish the picture did it justice. The river is actually higher than the adjacent land here. You are literally looking downhill from the river between Ozark and Fort Smith into a valley.

The excitement for the day began about 8 miles from the Ft. Smith lock. We had not seen a barge all day long and we spot one about 3 miles ahead putting it only 5 miles from the lock, obviously ahead of us. We really don't want to wait so I handed the microphone to Rhonda, LOL (you have to have read previous days' logs to understand the humor there). Anyhow, just to be sure we had no delay, we advanced the throttle to the fuel-guzzling mode and passed the barge about 3 miles from the lock. No delay. "Yes maam, how can I help you?"

And gotta go back down memory lane again. Remember I was riding the bus last week. Here it goes, Jefferson Lines leaving Fort Smith for Ozark as we approach the Emerald Cove Marina at Van Buren.

Almost there. Frank the owner is waiting to assist with lines.

Help Me Rhonda docked at Emerald Cove. Ducks and geese in the area.

More pics of the Emerald Cove docks.

Tomorrow is a short run, 41 miles and 2 locks, to Sallisaw, OK and Applegate Marina. The AR River Cruise Guide says we should get everything we need in Van Buren as we are about to enter serious wilderness! I thought that's what we were in today! Looking forward to tomorrow to see what's in store. Remember Mr. Blackley at Memphis? He says the stretch leaving AR and entering OK is the prettiest part of the river. Should be good!

And before we close, the big news of the day - Adam and Jen are expecting baby #3. Congratulations, we love y'all.

OK Boat Trip, Day 31, 05/25/2008

Today was a very nice and easy day. We had to delay for a while early in the morning due to fog - you never want to be in the fog if possible, especially in unfamiliar territory. When we left, we fired up the radar just in case. We still had current keeping us down around 7.5 mph for the 1st half of the day but that was OK - the scenery was beautiful. Here's Petit Jean Mountain as the fog is lifting.
As we approached the Dardanelle L&D (#10), the city of Dardanelle was on the port side as well as Lookout Mountain, a lookout post in the early days overseeing the AR River Valley.

The shoreline in front of Dardanelle is solid sandy beach for a couple of miles with lots of 4-wheelers taking advantage of it.
And finally a L&D that raises us more than a couple of feet. This one was 45.
As we left the lock, everything changed. Instead of relatively narrow river channels, Lake Dardanelle is a huge expanse of water in all directions. Also, there was minimal current and we were back close to our normal cruise speed of 9 to 10 mph.

Here's Mount Nebo and the entrance to Dardanelle State Park and Marina.

We would like to have stopped here but felt we should press on – strong thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon and we need to get to Muskogee - this extra 20 miles to Spadra will make lots of difference tomorrow for our run to Van Buren. Russellville State Park is also located on Dardanelle - we'll just have to check these two out by car. As we near our destination for the night, Rhonda liked the cattails along the shoreline.

We are at Spadra Marina in Clarksville, AR. It's a perfect setting for a marina other than the fact that a railroad trestle prevents anything taller than about 20 feet from reaching it. Our clearance is 16. The docks are a bit run down but Larry has received a $100K grant for new docks. It will be next year before they are finished.
How about a walk down memory lane? This boat in the parking lot is almost an exact duplicate of our first boat purchased 30 years ago. Ours was a Newman and had an outdrive but same color, accent stripe, and other features. Adam and Scott, remember that boat?

And several places we have lived have had a Goat Island, Spadra does as well. Notice the two goats in the picture. In our early dating days, I took Rhonda to Goat Island on the Catawba River near my hometown in Lancaster, SC. My best friend, Mark Cauthen, and I had built a sailboat out of two airplane fuel tanks welded to a square metal frame. We used a shower curtain for a sail (honest) and had a trolling motor as our backup. We just pulled the battery out of the truck when we got to the river to power the motor. Lots of fun and here we are all these years later still enjoying Goat Islands wherever.

HMR docked at Spadra.

They have 2 small goldfish ponds.

Nice view from the ship's store.

And a view from the parking lot.

As I said previously, this was a nice easy day, 52 miles and 1 lock. Tomorrow is 70 miles and 2 locks which will take us to Fort Smith, AR. The marina is actually across the river from Fort Smith in Van Buren, AR.