Rhonda and I have decided to retire again and initially relocate to the Gulf Coast. We are leaving some wonderful friends in Muskogee, both from our church and the marina. This is always tough leaving friends and we will also miss managing the marina at Three Forks Harbor, but are looking forward to new horizons and adventures in the days ahead. We are also excited about being close to the kids (the oldest son, Adam, and daughter-in-law, Jennifer) and grand-kids again, now in Austin, TX, as well as more freedom to travel and to visit family and friends back in AL, SC, and FL. The marina business does limit those possibilities as a 24/7/365 operation. Clint and Linda Bulkley, tenants and friends from the marina are traveling with us in their 46' Silverton, "Opus One."
I'm actually writing the blog after-the-fact. We had very little WiFi coverage and not much time to spend on maintaining the blog on a daily basis. We had many days of very cold weather (well duh, it is December) which is tiring, and some mechanical issues that made some of the days very long also. We traveled 19 days through 19 locks for a total of 1133 miles on the Arkansas River, Mississippi River, Atchafalaya River, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). Enough of that general stuff - let's get moving and show you some pics.
We departed very early from Three Forks Harbor on Wednesday, December 1, and encountered pretty dense fog about 4 miles downstream. We were familiar enough with this stretch of the river to continue in the fog, utilizing our radar to keep a check on the shoreline, buoys, and any other traffic. The picture below is after we got out of the fog and just before the beautiful sunrise that follows it.
We had hoped to make 92 miles and 3 locks to Fort Smith the 1st day, but we encountered a 3-hour delay at the second lock and had to duck into Applegate Marina in Sallisaw, OK. The advantage to this was getting to enjoy another meal at the Catfish Hole Restaurant as we have done on many trips in the past.
Day 2 was planned as an "easy" day with time to spare at WildCat Marina in Van Buren (Ft. Smith). Former tenants at Three Forks, Leroy and Beverly Foster, had relocated there recently on their way downstream aboard their Trojan, "Living the Dream," so we planned dinner with them. We arrived at 12:30 PM and then realized our generator was not running correctly and "Opus One" had a water leak in the fresh-water pump. So much for a nice easy day, at least for the guys. While the ladies enjoyed a sight-seeing walk in Van Buren, including a visit to The Fudge Shop, the men got busy with repairs. Our generator has a history of blowing a capacitor so I changed it first - no luck. Moved on to other possibilities like fuel filters - changed it, no luck again. Turned out to be air in the fuel line which is a simple matter of bleeding that out of the line. The only problem is the 5 things you have to take off to get to the bleeder plug. You also have to put those 5 things back on when you finish! Leroy took Clint to several hardware stores to find the parts he needed and Clint rebuilt all the plumbing for his water pump. Both repairs were successful and we departed early Friday morning for Russellville, AR.
It was a cold 30 degrees when we left and "Opus One" has no lower helm or any isinglass protection from the cold at the upper helm. Did I mention it was an even colder 25 degrees when we departed the 1st day? So, Clint and Linda are obviously tougher than me and Rhonda, as they endured the cold all day for the 92-mile run. It actually reached 60 degrees but we still felt bad for Clint and Linda. It was an uneventful (as in no trouble) and beautiful day and we had time for a walk at the state park that evening. Here's another nice sunrise leaving Van Buren. You can see the frost on the top of the boat.
"Help Me Rhonda" and "Opus One" Docked at Russellville State Park Transient Docks
It was hard to decide which of the sunset pics to post, but here are 2 favorites.