Monday, May 12, 2008

OK Boat Trip, Days 14-18, 05/08-12/2008

For those of you following our blog and trip, we are still out here! With the AR river still raging and serious thunderstorms rolling through every couple of days, we haven't been able to make much progress other than we are now beginning to receive mail at the marina and we know everyone on the docks by their first names, occupation, how many children/grandchildren they have, political affiliation, favorite color - you get the picture. An example of an exciting day now is riding under I-40 in the dinghy - we really need to get going again soon!
In addition to the three cats traveling (sitting) on the boat with us, we have new pets now - two ducks that greet us with their impatient quacks and beaks open every time we walk out the aft deck of the boat. It's kind of like feeding the stray cat a bowl of milk but we hope they don't try to follow us when we eventually leave.

Actually we have kept ourselves busy. Rhonda's Mom called and said we should visit Neely's BBQ since she watches the show they have on the FOOD Network. We had the sampler - the waiter said it was enough for 2 people. No wonder this country has a weight problem – it was plenty for two people! That was Saturday and we're still nibbling on the leftovers. We even turned down fresh catfish from the MS River Saturday evening down at Donnie's boat since we were so full from lunch. (Donnie – welder/machinist at High Speed Industries, Inc., 1 son/no grandchildren, Independent, blue).

We've been getting a lot of PMs (preventive maintenance) done also. Boats are kind of like airplanes - you do the best you can to stay ahead of problems so your single engine craft doesn't quit on you unexpectedly, placing you at the mercy of whatever river (or airspace) you find yourself in at that most inopportune moment.

Another opportunity we've had has been to track down some water leaks on the boat. Ours has been residing under cover for years and we generally don't boat in the rain if we have a choice. So, little leaks/drips have sprung up here and there as the deluges have rolled through.

Rhonda is still organizing things - she managed to free up three drawers of new space and now we don't have anything to go in them. I think we're getting close on this issue.

We got our other vehicle moved here yesterday so we'll probably start moving at least one of those to Muskogee soon.

A neat story - we met a young man appropriately named Noah, who is traveling the Illinois and MS Rivers from Chicago to New Orleans by kayak. Not kidding - but he is much younger than us and his age group is prone to occassionally doing irrational things! Noah even agreed with that. Actually, what an adventure for him that he'll cherish forever! But for us, with many more years and less adventurous spirits, we prefer shelter, diesel power, hot water, TV, hot meals, a warm and comfortable bed at night, etc. By the way, his blog site is and I told him in advance I was going to make a comment about his irrational behavior – as you can imagine, Noah is a pretty easy-going guy and just laughed, said he didn’t mind at all and appreciated the publicity.

Here are some other really nice folks we have met, John and Stephanie. (John – retired from the railroad and also an aircraft A&P, Stephanie – Navy, 3 kids/1 grandkid, no political affiliation, just vote for the best candidate, green). They have a really neat boat, a 40’ Pilgrim Trawler. The boat has completed the Great Loop twice. John and Stephanie bought the boat in Titusville, FL and took it to New Orleans where she suffered some Katrina damage. They had the boat shipped to its original manufacturer in Canada and had some repairs done, then had it shipped here to Memphis. They eventually hope to relocate to “somewhere on the TN River.”

So, we are living the "have a schedule but be flexible" theme to a bit of an extreme, but having fun doing it. Honestly, we have never had more than a day or two delay in over 30 years of boating, usually due to lock delays or brief weather problems. So, if you are new to the boating world and can't be quite this flexible most of the time (or any of the time), this is not the norm.

Just so you'll understand the delay, at all the locks on the AR River the water is flowing at 135,000 to 160,000 cubic feet per second and is still forecast to remain that way for the next week. To better understand that figure, for every cubic foot per second, 75,000 gallons of water is going over the dam. How does that relate to current? About 5-7 miles per hour. A fellow boater at Little Rock who has traveled the AR river many times says he never travels the river unless it is less than 100,000 cfs. So, we'll be patient and try to stay in touch. I may actually take a few days and deliver a vehicle to Muskogee and get some preliminary things accomplished at the marina. In closing, had it not been for all the rain and current on the AR River, we would have arrived in Muskogee yesterday per our original schedule. Maybe we'll ride under I-55 tomorrow.

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