Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Little River Diversion Channel to Green Turtle Bay

Now that we’ve had a couple of days to recover from some serious miles in the past couple of weeks and the excitement of crossing our wake, I thought I’d go back to Little River Diversion Channel and catch up some details on the blog. 

By the way, I should mention one thing.  Crossing your wake and completing the Great Loop Cruise is kind of like “No, but I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express last night” – we feel like we can take on about anything right now!!!!! 

First and foremost I have an IOU out to Rhonda.  The entire run down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers we were listening to cicadas, lots of them, suffice it to say there were at least a gazillion of them, minimum, and Rhonda kept telling me to mention it in the blog.  Well, I kept forgetting it because it’s a little hard to get a picture of one of those little critters in the woods from the boat and without a picture, I don’t think about it!  So, having just completed the Great Loop Cruise, our camera seemed able to do unimaginable things also, so we zoomed in and got a shot of a few of those little critters. 

OK, now I’m out of the dog house with Rhonda (again) so I’ll get back to the blog and cover the last 48 miles of the Mississippi River, the first 57 of the Ohio, and the first 31 of the Cumberland River, basically Cape Girardeau, MO to Grand Rivers, KY.  Check out this really cool shot Becky got of "Help Me Rhonda" leaving Little River Diversion Channel.

Lots of beaches on the Mississippi in this stretch.  Got a couple of folks out digging in the sand for whatever.

Always love the white pelicans wherever we find them.

Here’s a picture of us actually crossing our wake – Becky took the picture and emailed it to us later – this is the real thing while we were moving up the Ohio River!  But wait a minute, who's driving the boat?  Love that autopilot!

When we were making the trip out to Oklahoma a few years ago, the rivers were in serious flood stage and there was no safe place to anchor.  I called the resident engineer at Ohlmstead Lock and Dam, which was under construction at the time (and still is 5 years later) to see if he would allow us to tie up to a wall there.  By the way, when Ohlmstead L&D is completed, it will replace locks 52 and 53 on the Ohio River.  The resident engineer  works for the Federal Government and I already knew what the answer would be – NO!  But he surprised me with this – “You know I can’t approve that but I will say that we sometimes see boats pulling up to the lock wall as we are leaving in the evening and they are always gone before we arrive the next morning.”  I’m pretty good at ciphering anyone speaking this kind of “good-ole-boy talk” and we spent the night there.  The amount of construction and activity has increased tremendously since then. We decided not to try overnighting there this time.

Lock #53 was not in use when we got there.  They have a wicket system there where they can lower a section of the dam 17 feet and you just go right over the top of it.  That funnels all of the water through that section and it reduced our speed to 3 ½ miles per hour running against the current.  It was a bit traumatic for Wilson – he occasionally has flashbacks of going over the dam at Lock #11 on the Erie Canal right before we rescued him from the floods.  We found him with his head buried in the seat.  It's really sad to see him like this. 

But he recovers quickly and seemed to enjoy the rest of the day, but he still didn’t say much.

The industrial scenes are interesting – this guy has his work cut out for him moving that coal pile around.

I mentioned previously how we timed Lock #52 perfectly with no delay.  Actually, Jonathan and Brooke had lots to do with that.  They had gotten ahead of us and had been waiting over 2 hours – we got to go through with them!  Thanks “Salty”!  These locks were built in the 1930s – pretty simple and I bet it didn’t take 5 years plus to build them either!

We docked at the free city dock and had a nice welcome from Paducah.  They have a really unusual riverfront.  The whole thing is a parking lot/boat ramp combination.  You can drop your boat off of the trailer into the water at any point.  Many other folks just drive through or park to enjoy the view.

Paducah was a surprisingly nice little town.  Surprising because I don’t recall ever reading any great write-ups about it.  Everything is walking distance from the free dock. Becky and Rhonda took a walk through town after dinner. 

They have a flood wall just like Cape Girardeau, MO, Cairo, IL, and Morgan City, LA, but they have really dressed theirs up with nice murals on the town side of the wall. 

We spent just one night in Paducah and had a nice dinner to celebrate our crossing.  Thanks Galen for treating us!  It’s only about 14 more miles up the river to intercept the Cumberland River.  Rhonda and I would normally use this route anyway to avoid all of the barge traffic at Kentucky Lock but it is necessitated for everyone right now by maintenance currently in progress on the Kentucky Lock which is the shortest route to the Tennessee River.

“Rocks” appears to be the business/industry of choice for this 31-mile stretch.  There were a couple of nice rock quarries and lots of associated barge movement.

We were anxious about the delay at Barkley Lock with all of the Kentucky Lock traffic directed here also, but the cards and planets were aligned for us again.  The lockmaster told us to pull right on in to the approach wall and tie up there – he would get us through in about 30 minutes.  We had passed numerous barges in the last couple of miles waiting for their turn.  I think the lockmaster might have heard that we “stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night” – Oops, I mean “completed the Great Loop Cruise yesterday.”  He was probably a little scared to delay us.  Well, it’s OK to “play like” for a few days, isn’t it?  Barkley raises you 57 feet but you Looper rendezvousers shouldn’t get too excited about that – there’s a 93-footer at Wilson L&D two locks from Wheeler State Park – third largest in the world!

As soon as you come out of the lock, you are 1 mile away from Green Turtle Bay.  Lots of green turtles around for some reason?  Ya think?  Well, if we hadn't just completed the Great Loop Cruise, I might not have made the connection!

Speaking of just completing the Great Loop Cruise, our gold burgee was waiting for us and, we got the old swapped out for the new.  Because of our lengthy time to complete the Loop along with our long side trips, we’ve actually gone through 2 white burgees.  This last one has been flying from Galveston, TX to here.

And just about the time we think there’s not much else new the Loop can throw our way, Jonathan and Brooke drive up with a borrowed car to get us all to dinner for the evening.  THERE IS A CAGED WALL BEHIND THE FRONT SEAT!!!!  

 Apparently the owners did not know that we stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, I mean just completed the Great Loop Cruise.  Anyhow, you can imagine the fun we had with this and we finally got Galen in a spot where he couldn’t cause much trouble for anyone.

We found a great little BBQ spot in Grand Rivers.  I know, everyone eats at Patti’s but the BBQ was outstanding and the waitress had a great sense of humor.  Galen prides himself in being able to handle any hot foods – you know, the hotter the better, so he loaded up his pulled pork with a healthy dose of their hottest sauce.  His face turned bright red, beads of sweat were rolling down his face, and he was having trouble breathing if that helps get you the visual.  The waitress walks up and says, “What’s the matter with him?  Is he a wimp?”

We’re going to miss Galen and Becky tremendously and here’s probably the last shot of us docked together – they decided to park the boat at Green Turtle Bay for a week and make a trip home and we need to press on  to our home on the Tennessee River. L

 I know it's hard to see, but did you notice the gold burgee flying up front on Help Me Rhonda?  In case you are wondering, that means we just completed the Great Loop Cruise!

If you have any doubt about the quality of the facilities here at Green Turtle Bay, check out the indoor pool and spa (that’s in addition to the outdoor pool).

 Lots of docks, huge ship store, any kind of maintenance you need, 2 restaurants on site, etc..

Speaking of ship stores, I have to tell ONE MORE Galen Dunmire story.  Galen is apparently a cheapskate when it comes to buying shoes and his current pair of boat shoes was literally falling apart.  So, we had been riding him about getting some new shoes for days.  We’re in the store and I see him eyeing a pair of Sperry dock shoes.  He’s always looking for a “deal” so I told him if he could get those for $60 he should buy them.  The store clerk checked with the boss (by phone) and said they would be $61.  You guessed it – he tries to deal for that last dollar and tries for a long time – we’re feeling sorry for the lady who keeps saying, “I don’t have the authority to drop the price anymore.”  Finally she’s had enough and in the spirit of the BBQ waitress says, “Well, I could just sell you a roll of duct tape – that would be cheaper.”  Well, of course Galen loved that and if you can get him smiling, you’ve got him.  He bought the shoes.


So, we said our goodbyes the next morning and Help Me Rhonda made a whopping 21 miles to Kenlake State Park.  We’ll pick up there later.  Oh yeh, did I mention that we recently completed the Great Loop Cruise? 

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