This page contains all stories posted since 2003 in reverse chronological order starting with the most recent. Use the indexes found under tabs RV TOURING and BOAT CRUISING to find where trips begin. Use the search box to locate specific information contained in any of the over 775 posts. Subscribe
We had most of another day on the Santa Fe Trail. When you think about it the route follows the Arkansas River. Man first walked on the Prairie beside the river to find a way west. In the 19th century wagons traveled the route. In the 1880’s the railway was built on the route, then finally in the 20th century the road was built. All 4 modes of transportation followed the river. Unfortunately it was not navigable. Leaving Garden City the route changed to US50. Crossing into Colorado we stopped in Lamar to get maps and directions at the visitor’s bureau. Its 72 miles From La Junta (The Junction) to Walsenburg. The road slowly climbs until we were at 6,000 feet. It was the most desolate part of the trip so far. There were no stopping places along the highway, so we wound up going into the driveway for a cell phone tower and had lunch.
At Walsenburg we were at the edge of the Rocky Mountains. The View took the La Veta pass to 9,428 feet at 54 mph without missing a beat. We arrived at the National Park at 3:00pm CDT, 2:00PM MDT. It turns out we are early in the season so there were lots of good sites in the campground. There is pretty fair Verizon Internet access here but no power in the campground. The sand dunes are the highest in North America at 650 feet above the base Tomorrow we will climb the smaller dunes and then move to San Luis state park just few miles from here; no more 300 mile days until the return trip.
Who would have thought we would drive almost 1,000 miles to see the world’s largest hand dug well . . . and that’s not all; it is one of the 8 wonders of Kansas! Well it turns out to be quite a story. The city of Greensburg, KS needed water and dug the stone lined well in1888 to get water from the Ogallala Aquifer. The well is 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. Over the years some three million visitors have descended the stairway into the well. On the night of May 4, 2007 an E-5 tornado wiped out the entire downtown of Greensburg including the water tower beside the well and the gift shop. The town got together and began an amazing rebuilding program with new public buildings, energy efficient homes, and a beautifully architected museum with gift shop over the big well. After Greensburg we passed through Dodge City and really understood the movie statement “get the hell out of Dodge”. It is a regional meat packing center with a large area of plants as you enter from the east. However, they have worked hard to create a downtown on Wyatt Earp Avenue beside Boot Hill. Our last stop was to see the Santa Fe trail used by pioneers heading west between 1822 and 1872 when the railway was built. The trail went from Independance, MO to Santa Fee, NM. The ruts left by wagons are still on the prairie hills. There is not much to say about Garden City, but the RJ RV Campground is a retired KOA and the full service sites are level. Tomorrow we hope to get to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
We drove 360 miles today arriving at Fall River State Park at 4:00PM. It took an hour to find the Corps of Engineers Campground that had full service campsites with a view of the dam out our front window. The host told us that this was the first time in 2 years they were letting water spill through the dam. A most interesting place was our lunch stop at Avilla, MO. The town is clearly declining. While we were trying to take pictures of the cat on the porch it decided to turn away from the camera. A young man came along on his bike and asked what we were doing. I said trying to get the cat to turn his head. Right away I got my picture. He then proceeded to describe the history of the town as it is on Route 66 and his grandmother is the mayor. He went on to tell us that Ford Trucks were built in the factory building, and the building with the cat was once a hotel. He said he had seen an indoor pool in the building one time when it was uninhabited. Tomorrow we will try for Garden City, KY after we “get the hell out of Dodge City”.
This was the start of the Four Corners Loop. We drove the car to the shed in Murray, packed our stuff into the View, and headed for Kenlake Marina. We met with our marine technicians Tami and Rick. They are installing a new AC Unit in the main salon and had some questions about where to put the control panel. The 32 year old unit sounded like a diesel engine when it was running. We then took the Katy Leigh over to the pump out facility which is now working very well and put the boat back in its slip. It seems a massive catfish had passed away under our neighbor’s boat Harmony and was stuck under the stern. With some effort it was dragged out, floated to the channel, and hopefully will wind up under someone elses boat. I was tempted to take a photo but it would have been too disgusting for our audience so I forgave the opportunity. By 3:00PM it was time to get started on the road and we drove to Poplar Bluff arriving at 6:10PM. Today the sky formed the most exciting scenes on the trip (see photo). We are in a very good campground called Camelot. Tomorrow I hope to get to Falls River State Park near Wichita.
In 1950 my family took a 2 month loop from Toronto to Los Angeles to Vancouver BC and back to Toronto via Banff and Minneapolis. On our return my father, who loved to write, hand wrote a blog of our trip. I found it in his papers several years ago and typed it up for him. We drove over 10,000 miles in a 1950 Studebaker sedan. Besides me, Bob, the other characters in the story are my mother, Marion, and sister, Louise. I often refer to this document when planning routes for our next adventure. Click here to download a PDF copy and enjoy. It has lots of humor and observations of government organizations of the time.
The blue ox photo is at Trees of Mystery in Klamath CA. It’s still going strong after 63 years and has added Paul Bunyan. I don’t see the claim made on the sign on their website. In 1950 it said “Unbelievable but true. “World’s Largest Group of Nature’s Living Wonders.” Wow!
We took 2 days to cover the 672 miles stopping overnight at Tupelo. The main purpose of our route was to follow the Natchez Trace, a National Scenic Parkway, from Jackson to Nashville, a distance of 476 miles. The Trace is incredibly relaxing to drive with a speed limit of only 50 miles per hour. There was hardly any traffic in either direction. The tree leaves were just starting to come out along with a few redbuds in Tennessee. Due to the slow speed we averaged 19.7 mpg a new record. There are many places to stop and see nature or historical places. The pictures tell the story best. A few years back we camped beside some art boats going down the Mississippi River. The Art Camper reminded us of those boats and gave us a name to use. The camper was owned by an elderly man that was camped in the free Meriwether Lewis Campground. There is a map of the Trace at the bottom left of the page here. Click on View Park Map.
Sunday was the last day at the boat show. It was much slower than Saturday, but we had a group of about 15 for my Great Loop talk. We left at 3:30 for an easy 70 mile drive to New Orleans. We had reservations at the French Quarter RV Park. The park is just north of the French Quarter and is surrounded by a 7 foot concrete wall with sharp barbs on top (see photo). Taxis are recommended at night but we walked everywhere in daylight. We walked to Royal St and had an early dinner at Pere Antoine’s. They put us in the window so as to attract other guests. For entertainment, we had a great view of a man on a balcony across the road. He must have spent an hour hosing off the balcony as his two dogs used it as if it were a park. The water dripped down on the sidewalk through cracks and overflowed onto the road. Nice. Dinner was very good. I don’t think there is a bad restaurant in New Orleans as the competition is fierce.
This morning, Monday, we walked to Café Du Monde and had their famous coffee and benes for breakfast. It was mobbed and we shared a table with a couple from Houston. It’s a tradition in our family and we go there every trip to NO. Then we walked over to the new WWII Museum. Mavis wasn’t interested so she continued West on Magazine St to the antique store area. In total Mavis walked 7 miles today. I did 3.5 not counting the museum walking around. This museum is new and well worth seeing. They are still completing additional buildings which are due to open in 2014. I watched the 4D cinematic experience titled Beyond All Boundaries. The 4th D is the vibrating seats that turn on during bombing raids. The 3D is to show objects that rise up from the floor during the movie, and the 2D is the large screen movie. After that I went to the Boeing Center where they have the B-17, My Gal Sal that crash landed due to weather on the ice in Greenland and remained frozen in the ice until 1995. It was dug out of the ice and restored in 2012 for the museum. There are 6 large touch screen interactive displays in one area. Each has a huge database of information on various battles and the equipment used. For example you can compare the statistics of the Japanese fighters to the German fighters. To me the most interesting fact was to discover that dozens of ships were sunk by German submarines in the Gulf of Mexico. People could see the ships burning from the shore line. We had lunch in the American Sector restaurant. My shrimp salad sandwich was very good. We were back at the RV Park at 4:00 happy to get off our feet. Tomorrow we will drive to Jackson MS and then get on the Natchez Trace headed for Nashville.
The Gulf Coast Yacht & Boat Show had to open a day late due to the 70 mph winds on Wednesday that blew down all the tents and signs. It was a mess but by working all night they managed to get it all back together and opened on Friday at 10:00AM. We got a place to park near our seminar tent inside the grounds. We were able to relax in the View in between shows. Our co-presenters were Captain Chris & Elise Caldwell. They give 3 talks per day and during the whole show will give 8 different talks on the boating life. They have to earn their living doing this whereas Mavis and I would starve doing this for a living. There were 35 chairs in the tent and attendance varied from 35+ to 6 depending on the time of day and content of the talks. My Great Loop talk drew about 30 people. Keeping in Touch attracted 8. There was lots of competition to be heard in the tent with the park’s constant country music, planes taking off, trucks going past, and people talking in the next exhibit. A sound system was brought in and that evened the score somewhat. We finished the day at 6:00PM and went to the Beach Boulevard Steamer for dinner. It’s an old restaurant that has survived many hurricanes. Dinner was very good. I had shrimp and Mavis went for oysters Rockefeller. This morning we got to our parking place early. My first talk is at 1:00PM but there is a chance to move some merchandize before Captain Chris starts at 11:00AM
Today’s post has to start with apologies to our subscribers. If you enjoy reading your email announcements with almost nothing but HTML gobble then go no further. However, you can click on the title and go directly to the post on the website. I was just advised by ICG-Link that is HTML for a non-breaking space. They got in there when I was trying to get the captions lined up under the photos. I hope ICG-Link will suggest another way to do captions. The second apology is for readers of yesterday’s post which talked about the campsite Shady Grove Campground at Laurel. The proper name was Sleepy Hollow RV Park a name that suggested a quiet place. My prediction was right; it was right beside a freeway with trucks running all night. It was in a hollow. Last night we stayed at Paul B. Johnson State Park 10 miles south of Hattiesburg. This is a really fine campground surrounding a large reservoir. There are 125 sites with power. Ours was overlooking the lake on a concrete pad with power, water and sewer. The office has a lounge and they hope to have food service this summer. If you are over 65 it costs $14 per night. You can make reservations via ReserveAmerica. It was less than 60 miles to Gulfport. The road is like a roller coaster that must be travelling over ancient sand dunes. Gulfport suffered major damage from hurricane Katrina because it was on the east side of the eye when the storm passed over. There are many vacant lots along the coast and the buildings downtown are mostly new. There is not much to do in Gulfport but one of the attractions listed in the state guidebook is the Busted Wrench Garage Museum and Gift Shop. It’s really a car restoration business with room to keep the owners’ car collection and a souvenirs gift shop to give it some revenue as it is free to see the museum. I talked to the owner for a while and he said if you expect to drive these old cars you have to own three, as two will always be in the shop being fixed. True to his word he had three 1960’s XKE Jags and three similar vintage Porches. A couple of old wood Chris Craft launches were hanging from the ceiling. Much of his life he spent sailing and living on a 49 ft wooden ketch. He has spent the last year restoring an old 30 ft Class C motorhome. He and his cat plan to travel on it sometime soon for two months. He is another example of a boater moving to a touring motorhome.
Top L-R: The Busted Wrench Garage, Water over Bridge at Paul B. Johson State Park, Rolling Hills 30 miles north of Gulfport
Bottom L-R Three XKE Jags, Boats, Chrysler Imperial with lid up, Gulf and Ship Island RR Office downtown Gulfport
Can you name the cars that had these hood ornaments?
We slept in late, answered emails, and after breakfast headed for the Tupelo Automobile Museum. Unlike most auto museums housed in old factories or abandoned Walmarts, this one was in a specially built 120,000 sq.ft. building put up by the car collector, Frank K. Spain. Frank was an electrical engineer in the early days of television. He founded the Tupelo TV station in the 50’s and built the equipment and tower himself. He went on from there to own other TV stations and amassed a fortune. His passion was car collecting. We left the museum around 1:00PM headed for Meridian. However, it was not to be as there was no room in the campground it being totally occupied by crews building a nuclear power plant nearby. We went another 60 miles to the Shady Grove Campground at Laurel. My guess was that any campground with that name would be right beside the interstate. Unfortunately, I was right. The good news was we werre put beside another View from North Carolina and we had a nice time comparing notes. The owner had bought it for use in going from NC to Texas to visit the grand kids. He also owned a big 5th wheel trailer. They have booked 2 weeks in the Blue Mountains this summer. He thinks he will sell the 5th wheel after that and tour the country in the View. The answers to the hood ornament quiz are L-R 1929 Duesenberg, 1917 Pierce Arrow, 1926 Hispano Suisa. You should have guessed the Pierce Arrow for sure, and maybe the Duesenberg, but you are forgiven if you didn’t guess the Hispano Suisa. The latter, aSpanish company, was in business from 1904 to 1968.
US 45 at Mississippi Border Benchmark Coach & RV Park Tupelo
We are taking a 10 day trip to Gulfport MS to speak at the Gulf Coast Boat Show. It's advertised as the biggest boat show on the Gulf Coast. That says a lot when you consider the Gulf Coast provides the shoreline for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We left Nashville at 8:30, stopped at the boat to pick up some stuff, packed the View in Murray, filled up with water and were on the road again at noon. The 189 mile route from Murray, KY to Gulfport went to Paris, and Jackson, TN where we got on US 45. This is a great 4 lane road that runs almost straight south to Meridian MS. If you stay on US 45 it goes to Mobile, AL From Meridian we will take I-59 and US 49 to Gulfport. Diesel is selling at $3.79 the best price we have seen in long time. The Mississippi visitor center on US 45 is very nice and friendly. However, most visitor centers are on the right side as you enter the state. This one is on the east of the highway requiring 4 left turns to get to it. We stopped at Tupelo for the night at a very nice campground, Full service sites at $29 cash or check. This area is Civil War country with sites at Shilo, Corinth, and Tupelo. Tomorrow we will visit the Auto Museum here and maybe Elvis birthplace.
A few years ago an AGLCA member planning to cruise the Great Loop asked a series of excellent questions that confront all boaters when looking for a boat to do the Loop. The questions, my reply to the questions and a comment from another boater form a white paper you can download here.
We took a brief tour of Homosassa Springs before heading north. The town is old Florida with some neat homes and the series of springs. One attraction is a sugar mill built in 1849. Sugar was a big crop in the 19th century and because of the large amount of waste in extracting the sugar from the cane it was done close to the farms. A steam powered press extracted juice from the cane. The juice was then boiled in big iron pots eventually producing cakes of sugar. We arrived at St Josephs Peninsula State Park Tuesday at noon. The weather was clouding and there was lots of wind. Today was a repeat of yesterday's weather, a good day for beach photos, and to get work done. We are in a wilderness with no TV, and almost no Internet. But, we do have power and water at the campsite.
Captions: Top Row L-R: 63 Hampton Lucky Enough, Homasassa Springs RV Park, Hampton Pilot House Door Hardware
Middle Row: L-R: Hellas Bakery, Dimitri’s Beer, Grand Banks Manatee
Bottom Row: L-R: Anna Maria Bayside Home, View at Doc & Eileens, 42 Nordic Tug True North
For the past 4 days we have visited with friends and parked in driveways. We have enjoyed fabulous home cooked meals with many stories and laughs. Stop #1 was with Great Loopers Tom and Patsy on True North, a 42 Nordic Tug, at the Legends Marina in Fort Myers. At the same marina we welcomed Butch and Kelle on Lucky Enough, a 63’ Hampton. Butch and I had corresponded about blogging while he was selling his Ohio River tow boat business and getting ready for some long distance cruising. He formerly boated at Eddie Creek Marina on Barkley Lake. His boat had the most rugged pilot house door hardware I have ever seen. (see photo). That evening we stayed with Fred and Joanie at their Cape Coral home. Fred is the writer of the CruiseGuides we reprint. Then it was on to former Kenlake boaters, Doc and Eileen. We just managed to catch them in between world travels. Most recently they flew to Australia and took a cruise around New Zealand. Next Eileen wants to take the train from Moscow to Beijing. Mavis and Eileen went Goodwill shopping for most of Saturday morning while I finished editing and posting a video for a client. We then drove 18 miles west to Anna Maria island to visit Gary and Carol, in their new home, with a dock for their 36 ft Grand Banks, Manatee. Gary and I made a major new discovery about the boat. We couldn’t figure out why water was pouring out a through-hull with everything we could find that pumps water shut off. It turns out the fridge and freezer use a sea water heat pump to cool. We walked along the bayside road and checked out the fancy homes. Dinner was fresh flounder that was delicious. After breakfast we checked out marinas in Dunedin that Tom had talked about which provide an alternative port to Tarpon Springs when cruising across the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle. We had a big lunch in Tarpon Springs at our favorite restaurant, Dimitri’s on the Water. On our rough 24 hour Great Loop gulf crossing in 2003 we had our first meal there. That meal is one of our fondest memories. Our last stop was at Hellas Bakery for baklava. They make the best we have ever enjoyed. For the next 4 days we will be enroute to Fairport with a 2 night stay on St Joseph’s Peninsula State Park.
It's just 33 miles from Ft Lauderdale to Key Biscayne but we probably traveled 50 mileswith all the bad advice the GPS gave us. There was new construction on the way to the Florida Turnpike and the GPS got all mixed up. We spent the afternoon with Greg and Susan on their boat in the Yacht Club and watched the sunset. The next day Susan and Mavis went to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables which they reported to be beautiful, but Mavis forgot the camera so we don't have any photos. I worked most of the day while Greg took it easy. We had pizza brought in that night. Today we stopped at the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades. We took the traintour which lasted 2 hours and learned just about everything you ever wanted to know about alligators and the birds that live in the park. The tour guide talked the entire time and was very good. There was lots of wild life. The big event for the past month has been the python roundup. There are an estimated 100,000 pythons in the Everglades but so far only 50 have been captured. There are cash prizes and 1,000 people registered for the contest. Tonight we are at Collier Seminole State Park and attended a lecture on pythons. We even got to pet one. It was just a baby at 12 feet.
Peach Melba at La Bonne Crepe We split the trip from Blue Spring to Ft Lauderdale and spent one night at a huge, 452 sites, RV Park in Ft Pierce called the Road Runner Travel Resort. It actually was quite nice, quiet, and well maintained. There are lots of park homes and a few transient sites. Friday we arrived at Yacht Haven RV Park and Marina. My Nikon S9300 camera was acting up taking more out-of-focus photos than in-focus. We stopped at a Costco and I broke a 10 year promise to never buy another Sony product. I made the promise after buying a Barbara Streisand CD that could not be put on my iPod. I got the Sony DSC-WX150 that is smaller and lighter than the Nikon and so far in over 200 photos there was only one out of focus due to movement. Today's blog photos were all taken with the new camera. Saturday I gave my Great Loop talk to a standing room only crowd of 62 potential loopers. It was a great crowd and almost all stayed to the very end. Yesterday we took the water taxi tour around the harbor. We had lunch with our friends Marsha & Larry for the third time now at La Bonne Crepe. The new camera has a special setting for food photos. How much better it makes food look I don't know because the photo here was taken with the scene setting. We watched the SuperBowl at Larry's timeshare suite. What a game!! I held out for the Ravens to win against three others in the suite. Larry's theory was that the 49er's caused the power failure, however, it didn't let them win. Our next stop is with Susan & Greg in Key Biscayne.
The Veranda at Blue Springs' Thursby House A second reason for this trip was to visit the Welaka Marine Museum. We had heard Jim & Lisa Favors talk about it at some length last fall at the AGLCA Rendezvous and wanted to see it. I am sorry to report that the owner passed away last year, the museum is closed, and all the property is to be sold at auction on March 6th. You can see Favor's photos of the museum here. A Welaka police officer came buy while I was talking photos of the museum and asked if I was a Nazi spy or something.
I had decided with the museum closed we would go to lunch at a restaurant on the St John's River we had just passed. "Closed", he said, "You can't have a successful restaurant that is only opened 3 days a week." We went around the corner to the Shrimp R Us & More and had a pretty good lunch. Then it was south to Blue Spring State Park where the manatees come every winter to stay in the 72 degree water of the spring. The word was they had counted 3 this morning. We didn't see one. We were here in December 2007 and there were 172 manatees. Last year we saw 2 manatees. There is a cold spell coming this weekend so there will probably be hundreds here. The picture show the verandah at the Thursby House at Blue Spring Landing that was built on the plantation in 1872. What a great place to relax along with the manatees. I also learned that the house sits on a 4,000 year old indian midden (garbage dump) that contains human bones eaten by early American cannibals.
Four seagulls and Mavis on 1.5 miles of beach As I write this we are beside the beach at Hanna Park, Jacksonville. The temperature here is 75 degrees, just about perfect. We picked up the View in Murray on Saturday. It was in the low 30's and the View refused to start. Coach-Net came and got it going with a booster battery. We filled up with water but found the pump wouldn't work; followed by the fridge, and even the gas heating. When we got home the interior lights were very dim. I plugged in and everything worked. It seems the engine alternator had not charged up the house batteries which must have been dead. A meter showed the house batteries were at 8 volts . . . which is pretty much dead. Sunday morning the house battery was charged up and we left at 8:30 AM for the 342 miles to Byron, GA. At Byron the batteries were all changed up so I think the problem has disappeared. There is a solenoid in all the connections that may have some dirty contacts which could have cleaned themselves with some operations. Today we drove 258 miles to Hanna Park. This park is beside the Atlantic and the beach is much like Cumberland Island. At this time of year we had the entire 1.5 mile beach almost to ourselves. We'll spend another day here and then on to Blue Spring for the manatees on Wednesday. Saturday morning I speak at TrawlerFest in Ft Lauderdale. That's the main reason for this trip.
A good friend of mine, Joe, sent this Mississippi River photo taken December 14th at Commerce, MO. Commerce is 39 river miles above the Ohio River junction.
Commerce, MO by Google Earth
Joe took the photo standing at the second M in Commerce facing southeast. The tows are tied up on the Illinois side of the river as the Corps has made the river one-way from Cairo to St. Louis. The strange lumps in the river are either be wing dams covered in silt or recent dredgings. Joe grew up in this town population <100. There are no levees on the shore in front of the town as the residents prefer the view of the river and put up with the frequent floods. The bushy land in the forground is underwater in the Google photo.
Night View of A Dock at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina LeeAnne and Hui joined us for a short but pleasant cruise to Joe Wheeler State Park. We had to shoe horn ourselves into a narrow slip beside a PDQ catamaran from Tobermory. We had lots of help and didn't hit anything. Bill and Joyce were a few slips away and were having a banjo and guitar concert with Joel and Debby from Water Music, a 40 ft Fathom trawler. I filmed them playing Crooked Creek and made a video for YouTube. Internet access was so slow I had to give up uploading. After 16 hours it had only loaded 65%. I'll try again when we get home. The events started on Sunday afternoon. It was great to see many people we knew and so many happy people. About 250 people attended. Every attendee introduced themselves and told interesting stories about their boating experiences. One guy kept getting lost and restarted the loop several times. He finally bought another boat and started all over again. I counted over 60 boats but they became difficult to count when the looper boats were mixed with resident boats. There were some really great seminars. The ones on buying and selling boats were given by broker Curtis Stokes. Steve Zimmerman, another broker, talked about structural issues that can found in buying a boat. Bottom line it's a lot more difficult to buy a boat than to sell one. The big horror stories are with fiberglass cored with balsa wood. If water gets in to the balsa it rots and is very expensive to fix. Tuesday we were bused to Rogersville where we shopped and attended a concert on the grounds of a B&B. The music was so loud, we moved farther and farther away until we wound up on the B&B's veranda and sat in a porch swing. Our friend Jerry from Charleston came with us . Jerry's wife sat in row 2 because she liked her music loud. The band, KGB, played country music and rock and roll and were very good. Wednesday night was the final dinner. After dinner I was astonished to be given the Skipper Bob 2012 award for "Making It Better". I was recognized for the CDs, TrawlerFest talks, reprinting Fred Myers' books, and the new Chartbooks. The award is an embroidered signal flag that belonged to Skipper Bob before he passed away a few years ago. His tombstone is engraved with "HE MADE IT ALL BETTER". Bob's widow, Elaine, was there for the presentation and gave me a nice shirt with the Skipper Bob Award logo and my name on it. I'll have to wear it as a conversation starter at a Grand Lakes Yacht Club events.
Chalk Bluff (really clay & sand) Every morning we leave at 8:00AM with Carried Away following. Soon we are passed by several other faster boats. Our cruising speed keeps dropping as we approach Pickwick Dam due to the current there. We went from 8.6 mph to 6.0 mph just before the dam. The fast boats get several miles ahead then have to wait for a tow in the lock. When we get to the lock we just sail right in and the lockmaster closes the gates. Lockmasters will always wait for the slow boats so they don't have to do another lockage which is work and wastes water as well as the energy in the water. Tuesday night we stayed at Clifton Marina with 8 other looper boats. They have seen more loopers this year than ever before. One more sign the economy is improving. Marina owner Gene Anderson and I watched the debate on a big screen TV. Gene and I are pretty much on the same wave length as far as candidates. Wednesday night was at Grand Harbor Marina where even more boats were shoe-horned into the docks. It was party night again with cocktails on the dock. Thursday night we cruised to Florence Harbor arriving about 2:00PM in the middle of a fishing derby with 160 bass boats. Fred Myers (famous writer about the rivers) and Joanie who live in Florence picked us up about 4 and we went to their home. They have been in the same home 45 years in a subdivision built on a farm. Fred planted his own forest in the beginning and now the house is completely surrounded by tall trees. Dinner was at Ricatoni's Italian Grill. The name comes from the two owners Rick and Tony. It was really good!! The place was jammed with people and a line into the street on a Thursday. Mavis had pizza and I ate the spaghetti and meat balls. Tonight we are the only transient boat at the Turtle Creek Yacht Club. It is quite windy and the dock is exposed so we are rocking and straining at the lines. Tonight is the Brazilian Churrasco Barbeque Night with traditional barbeque served table side as the Gauchos roam the room with skewers of meats. As long as you have a green marker on the table the Gauchos keep coming. A red flag says you have had enough. Tomorrow our friends LeeAnne and Hui are driving here from Nashville and coming with us as we cruise to our final destination, Joe Wheeler State Park Marina. They will get to experience one lockage on the way. Wilson Lock (mile 259) Formerly World's HIghest Single Lift Lock at 90 ft Waiting for the start at Florence Harbor Fishing Tournament Pickwick Lake Heading for Grand Harbor Marina 1830 Cherry Mansion in Savannah played a role during the civil war battle at Shiloh
The weather was perfect cool, sunny, and light winds. We left exactly at 8:00AM with Carried Away following.
Tom (left) and Linda (right) came to the harbor entrance, waved, and wished us bon voyage.
At one point we passed this canoe that was resting while paddling upstream. The letters on the side say "Protectâ€¦.." Comment if you know what this traveler is all about. Canoeing the Great Loop??
A beautiful Palmer Johnson yacht, Captivator, followed us for miles at a little more than our speed and passed us just before we turned into Pebble Isle. The captain was extremely polite when making his request to pass by.
We walked 2.3 miles to the New Johnsonville Historic State Park in order to see the museum. Then we learned they had build a new museum on Hwy70 that was several miles in the opposite direction. When we got back about 7 boats total doing the loop had joined us on the dock and it was party time. One couple had just started out from Green Turtle Bay. While they didn't have a procession following them like the Katy Leigh in 2003, we had a great party at the marina to celebrate.
Tennessee River, Pine Bluff, Mile 54.5, Facing Upstream For the first time since 2007 we are going to spend a lot more time than a weekend on the Katy Leigh, our 36ft Grand Banks Classic Trawler. The trip will take us 225 miles up the Tennessee from Kenlake State Park Marina to Joe Wheeler State Park Marina in Alabama. At Joe Wheeler we will spend 4 days with new and old friends cruising America's Great Loop. We drove to Kenlake on Saturday for the Annual Commodore's Banquet and spent Sunday getting the boat ready. We also saw a really great movie, Argo, at the Cheri Theater in Murray, KY. Sunday night we had pizza at the hotel with our friends Tom and Linda. They have now suspended their Loop trip storing their boat in Muskegon, MI. We also got to know loopers Bill and Joyce on their 45 ft Californian, "Carried Away". They will travel with us for at least part of the trip. Departure is at 8:00AM and we expect to cruise 55 miles to Pebble Isle Marina near Waverly, TN.
This is an excellent campground. Our destination was Conshohocken, PA. In case you have never heard of this town, it is a mainline suburb of Philadelphia.
We spent two nights camping on the street beside our friends Corin and Brian's apartment. Touring gardens and eating in great restaurants were the major activities. The Morris Arboretum was first. It has a unique garden and a beautiful 19thcentury fernery.
Thursday we toured a friend's private garden, followed by Chanticleer Garden with its vast array of different plants and two large homes. We also spent time at Valley Forge National Park learning about the place where George Washington and his army camped for the winter of 1777.Friday, on our way to Baltimore, we stopped at Longwood Gardens, the home of Peirce du Pont with its enormous conservatory. One could spend a couple of days at Longwood, but we had to get to the boat show in Baltimore Harbor. We were surprised to learn our friends from Key Biscayne, Susan and Greg were docked on their Krogen Whaleback at the harbor but on the other side from our parking space. We walked nearly 3 miles to get to their dock. A huge fund raiser with at least 1,000 people was being held on the dock. Greg guided us through security and the mob to the boat. Greg is an expert on public transportation and told me about the free bus service, that goes all around downtown Baltimore.
Saturday I gave my talk on the Great Loop to a crowd of 47 people and toured boats. That evening we had scheduled another trip around the harbor to Lighthouse Point to see Nashvillians, Bob & Julie, on their new sailboat, "Doc Holiday". We rode the free bus this time. Bob and Julie now spend 6 months in Baltimore and 6 months at home in Nashville. The cost of docking is about the same as Kentucky Lake, but they have a gym, underground parking, and access to 10's of great restaurants, entertainment, etc. all within walking distance from their dock. And they have the free buses. It is an 11 hour drive door to dock. Bob has his office on the boat and works for a medical records company. This lifestyle is well worth researching. Sunday we headed back on I-81 to Nashville, stopping overnight at the really nice, quiet, Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia. Monday we were back to Nashville by 2:00PM. There is some work to be done on the View on Thursday and Friday we will return the unit to our shed in Murray KY.
It was time for another trip on the View, this time to Baltimore for TrawlerFest. I will be giving my Cruising America's Great Loop talk on Saturday, Sept 29th. But first we had signed up for a Grand Lakes Yacht Club 35 mile cruise on the Katy Leigh south to Leatherwood Marina and Resort. It meant packing for the boat and the View. Friday we drove to Murray, dropped the car off in the shed and drove the View to Kenlake Marina where the boat is moored. As it turned out it was easier than we first thought. Overall we only forgot a couple of things like a sweater and gloves for the early mornings. The cruise to Leatherwood took place on an absolutely perfect, clear and sunny day. We led the way by leaving an hour ahead of the other 8 boats.
Once docked the Katy Leigh drew a crowd of Leatherwood boaters who apparently had never seen a Grand Banks trawler. Mavis and I toured about 6 couples. Then it was party time from 4:00PM till all hours for many in our group. Dinner and the bands started at 4:00PM. Leatherwood is in Tennessee and has a full bar at the Pirates Cove bar and restaurant. The next morning we were up at 7:00, had breakfast at Pirates Cove and were underway at 8:00AM. It was another perfect day with a little fog on the water. Since it was cold we ran from below rather than the fly bridge.
My new chartplotters, radar, and AIS got a good workout. The AIS shows the name, position, speed, and heading on the chart plotter for any tow boats within 15 miles on the river. We got back to Kenlake at 11:45 and were on the road by 12:30 heading for Elizabethtown. Today,
Monday, we stopped briefly at La Grange KY ( 20 miles east of Louisville) to meet a new client, Randy Troutman, at the corporate headquarters of United Marine Underwriters. His office building is on a beautiful horse farm. Tonight we are at a very good RV Park called Spring Valley, in Cambridge OH.
While I haven't caught any burglars yet, my good friend, Russ, after reading my previous blog bought the D-Link DCS 932L like mine. The first night he tried it on his patio behind the house on Barkley Lake he was able to identify the intruder in the photos here that had been bothering him for months. He has now ordered a Contech Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler, a form of water cannon. It should keep that big raccoon away from his garden. If it works really well, we might get one to keep the bass boaters from casting lines against our boat at our marina.
This photo shows a Krogen Manatee trawler at anchor just above the I-24 bridge around 2008. Great Loopers can save 19 miles by waiting at the Kentucky Lock vs. going 19 miles further to the Barkley Lock. There is no place to anchor at the Barkley Lock as the current has swept the bottom clean..
On I-74 in Indiana today I was attracted by a low price of $3.66 per gallon at the Crawfordsville Pilot. I pulled in only to discover at the pumps there was a sign "Auto Diesel $3.96". After filling up I was charged $3.98. Looking back at the big lighted pricing sign I noted in very small letters "Exempt Trucks". A little farther along I-74 I noted the same kind of pricing and fine print at Love stations. The fine print on some signs says "#2 Diesel". Tax free pricing is common for agricultural and off road vehicles but never for road vehicles. Beware of low prices in Indiana. Is this false advertising? It's not close what you will pay.
On Tuesday at the rally I participated in a presentation on the iPad. One of the features one of the other speakers demonstrated was how you can take dictation on iPad and if you're connected to the Internet the dictation gets translated by Apple into text. It does a pretty good job. I wrote this using the dictation feature. To use this feature you have to go to Settings>General>Keyboard>Dictation. Sorry, it doesn't work on the iPhone
Thursday we took the North Iowa Farm Bus Tour. We saw a brand new hog raising farm with happy 6 week old hogs. The farmer challenged us to find a stressed hog. He was very concerned about the public perception of hog farms that smell and cram in the livestock
Then we went to a wind farm. Each windmill generates up to 1.5 to 2.5 Megawatts. The wind has to exceed 5 mph but the generator loves 20+ mph. The pod behind the blades is the size of a 1 car garage. The tower is 80 meters (262 ft) high and has a ladder inside. Some windmills have a hoist for the technician but being slow they prefer to just climb the ladder.
The 3rd stop was an ethanol plant where we learned how rapidly the technology is changing to make the plants more efficient. Of course they want to see higher mixers of ethanol in gasoline and blame the lower mpg on the gas engines. They are building a plant that will use the currently wasted stocks to make ethanol leaving the cobs for food.
Friday we drove 140 miles to Woodbury to visit our grandkids that range from 5 to 16. They have all grown and are providing lots of grandparent bragging rights for their awards in academics, art, sports, and even duck stamp art.
Saturday we fired model rockets in the school yard behind the house. The big event on leaving Graham and Cathy's driveway was to discover a flat rear outside dual tire. The valve stem had a hole. A call to Coach Net produced a truck repair service that had it fixed in under an hour. Tonight we are camped in the Wisconsin Dells area. We expect to arrive in Nashville Tuesday evening.
Monday was the first day of the Rally. I spent most of my time in seminars learning about the maintenance I should have been doing every year on the fridge and holding tanks. I bought LED replacement lights and now have replaced all but two lights with LEDs. In total we have 21 LEDs. Monday I explored a used 2009 View like ours that had some good new features but in the end decided against it. Then I found a 2013 model that looks interesting and has all the latest stuff. Mavis was not too keen on switching and I decided that there was no point until 2013 when we hope to go to Utah and maybe Northern California. The entertainment Monday night was a magician. He was wearing a suit and tie and looked pretty miserable. The best tricks were mind reading. In one he had a lady from the audience pick 16 cards at random. He then guessed everyone correctly and wrote their face values down on a spreadsheet. Each row, column and diagonal added up to 21. This afternoon there was a car show with 3 Studebakers. The most exciting moment was when a beautiful 1958** Corvette's brand new engine exploded with a bang and a great cloud of white smoke. It seems a frost plug had not been installed correctly and opened up ejecting all the antifreeze. Tonight's entertainment was the Surf City Allstars a group drawn from the Beach Boys. They were very good.
** Corvette experts: please provide correct year if 1958 is wrong.
We arrived at the Winnebago Grand National Rally, Thursday around 2:30PM. We will be here for 8 days. It's the only time we ever just sit in one spot along with about 1000 other Winnebago motor homes. We have power so we can run the AC just about full time. Friday was the Lion's Club pork sandwich with corn on the cob dinner in front of the county courthouse, and Saturday was the great Puckerbrush Days Celebration. It started with a parade of some 80 floats (I use that term loosely) that went on for over an hour. We sat on a residential street beside a couple of locals who knew everybody in the parade including their own son so they were able to tell us who was who. They filled shopping bags with candy and 3M sponges that were tossed by the parade participants.
It's something our club should think about doing as a fundraiser and community service. That night there were really spectacular fireworks.
Sunday morning the Police Association had a breakfast in a hanger at the airport. About 10 high school/college girls cooked omelets to order. There was a long line but people got through quickly. Two people at the table I joined flew-in in their own plane. Another man at the table is the father of the Iowa Governor.
This afternoon I walked over to Heritage Park where there's an enormous collection of steam and internal combustion old tractors. One steam tractor powered an ice cream maker. Naturally I had to try it and it was very good.
The road today led us to Independence MO, the home of President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess. We visited his winter home in Florida in February so it was only fitting we visit his summer home in Missouri. Just about every street in the area is either named after him, has a building named after him, or was owned by him.
We started in the visitor center which shows a video with the highlights of his life. You then go 5 blocks west to his home at 219 North Delaware. The home was built in 1879 by Bess' grandfather. The couple married in 1919 and moved into the 8,000 sq ft house with Bess grandmother and mother. The Truman's lived there until Harry died in 1972 and Bess died in 1982 at age 97. The house was donated to the government and contains all the Truman's furnishings, books, china, etc. The home tour provides a good view of life in the 50's and 60's.
The government also owns the home across the road where Harry's cousin's lived and he stayed while courting Bess. The front room window looks out at Bess's house and some writer invented that it was the "window to the future". We had a great lunch at a the Rheinland German restaurant across from the visitor center. The draft beer was very good and the lox with capers, German bread, and horse radish sauce was excellent
Our last stop was the Truman Museum and Library. There are many exhibits laid out in chronological orders. There is a full scale replica of the oval office with the president's furniture. The large globe was given to Truman by Eisenhower.
Mavis was impressed to find that Truman was not as short a man as other photos had led her to believe. The room with his statue looks out over a large courtyard surrounded by the library and museum.
The high temperatures only rose to 94° so the weather was much more comfortable. US 60 took us to Springfield, MO and then it was a straight shot south to Branson. The road is lined with mammoth signs advertising the various shows. We followed all instructions on the GPS and tourist map to go through Branson but never did see a theater. Before we knew it we crossed a river and were past the town. The best photo we got was the Hook & Ladder Pizza Co. It was not really worth a 500 miles trip from Nashville. We were now well into the Ozark Mountains. The area is a summer place with large lakes, mountain views, and lots of tourist attractions.
Eureka Springs is well worth a visit. The town dates back to 1879 and was a place to visit for the healing waters from a number of springs. The old hotels are still there along with lots of shops and interesting Victorian homes. Today we moved and first stopped at the spectacular Thorncrown Chapel just west of Eureka Springs. It is regarded by the architects association as the fourth most significant building architecturally of the 20th century. The chapel was built of glass and wood and finished in 1980. E. Fay Jones was the architect. There are 425 windows and the ceiling is 45 ft high. The wooden beams that form the crown of thorns also serve as flying buttresses in reverse and put inside the chapel. The light fixtures are like something Frank Lloyd Wright would have designed.
Then it was on to Bentonville, the home of Walmart and the site of the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This was expected to be the highlight of our trip but was a big disappointment as it is closed on Tuesdays. We did get to walk around the grounds and see the buildings that look like a group of Quonset huts sitting in a pond. A dead tree made of polished stainless steel greets each visitor. Then we decided to visit the Walmart Visitor Center. It was not easy to find with few street signs to guide us. It turned out to be right in the center of downtown with no parking anywhere. That was it for Bentonville and we headed north enroute to Forest City, IA, the home Winnebago.
We are off again in the View on a 2,000 mile, 17 day journey to Branson, MO, Eureka Springs, AR, Bentonville, AR, Independence MO, Forest City, IA and Woodbury, MN.
We traveled most of the way on US 60 which is now a 4 lane divided highway almost all the way to Springfield. Two years ago there were many detours when we came across from Joplin to Wappapelo State Park. It is very hot in the 90's and 100's. Right now at 4:30PM the outside temperature in the shade is 98. The inside temperature with the AC running flat out is 85. So much for the weather. Tomorrow we will visit Branson just to take some photos and be able to say we have been there, and then it's on to Eureka Springs to see the old Victorian town and the Thorncrown Chapel. Nashvillian's don't take too kindly to Branson for stealing some of our country music singers 20 years ago.
Last night we had a bon voyage party on Jennifer and Brandon's boat with 8 in attendance. Jennifer cooked a fabulous quiche on the boat. Then we played Cranium, a game cleverly designed to make men look stupid and women look good. Predictably the men lost by a vast margin. During the game we had a call from Tom and Linda who are doing the Great Loop and were spending the night on the Rideau Canal in Ontario. Tom needed some advice. It seems that there are big 200 year anniversary celebrations recognizing how Canada won the war of 1812. American's don't feel quite the same way and are ignoring the celebration since they believe the war ended in a stalemate. So picture Tom & Linda tied up beside a beautiful lock hand built by Irish and French Canadian stone masons and completed in 1832 as way to help defend Canada against the threat of an attack from the US on the St. Lawrence River that would cut off Quebec from most of Ontario. 1000 lives were lost during construction. The other 3 boats at the lock were all Canadian and their crews didn't take too kindly the notion that the war ended in a stalemate. This in spite of the fact that Raydiance was flying both a Canadian flag and an Ontario flag. My advice was to visit Fort Henry and learn more about the conflict.
I had decided to get a nice gift for Roger at the marina who made the platform for the new radar dome on the Katy Leigh. We stopped at a liquor store in Richmond, IN for fine bottle of Kentucky bourbon and was told the best stuff was in another liquor store back a mile. We turned around and drove back only to find out the the best was $305 per fifth. Very fine indeed but they were out of it, and there was a waiting list, and new stock rarely came in. I settled for a more modest bottle of Blanton's single barrel that I could have bought in the first store. From Richmond we took back roads to Spring Mill State Park. This is a marvelous campground in a virgin forest with huge tall trees. A CCC project in the 1930's restored the original 1860's grist mill and other buildings and built the Spring Mill Inn. We had a buffet dinner at the Inn and next morning toured the Pioneer Village as it is called. The grist mill is very interesting with its long flume carrying water to a 26 ft diameter water wheel. All the gears inside are made of wood and the grinding stones came from France. Check out the video below that shows the mill in action . We got to Kenlake at 3:30PM and moved into the boat for the weekend
Tuesday we spent the entire day in Pennsylvania heading west on I-81 and I-76 to the Pittsburgh KOA. It was being renovated and was very muddy. However, it still had the typical high price for a KOA. Wednesday we stopped to see the Columbus Park of Roses. All kinds of trees helped set off the roses. There were acres of roses.
After Columbus we continued west and south to Spring Mill State Park in Indiana. What a great place. Lunch was at a Jewish delicatessen in Germantown as we couldn't find a German restaurant. The tower in the photo at left was across the road from the delicatessen.
Then we drove to New Paris, Ohio and stayed at an excellent park built around a quarry called Natural Springs Resort.
Friday and Saturday were nonstop partying with my classmates from Engineering '62. Quite a few married Queen's girls so Mavis had a great time as well. We parked in the Holiday Inn parking lot beside Lake Ontario and went overnight to a very good campsite at nearby Rideau Acres. Friday night was a class party with a slide show. It started on a somber note showing photos of all the class members that are no longer with us. One wag came up with the perfect line when it was over "I'm glad I didn't see my name." Saturday I was re-convocated by the University at a full scale ceremony with robes, a piper, Scottish dancers, and the Queen's brass band. I played in the same band 50 years ago. (See photo with the dancers). We all received gold medals. I think I will wear it to Rotary and write it into my resume. I can't think of any other uses but feel free to make suggestions. Saturday night was a huge banquet for the 50+ year graduates. We learned that Queen's will have the biggest fund raiser in history this fall. Surprise, surprise! Chancellor David Dodge is the former president of the Bank of Canada and spoke several times during the day on innovation and how it requires risk and acceptance of failure.
Sunday we headed for Brockville our home for 13 years and visited old friends. We rode in Herbs beautiful 1997 Jaguar Vanden Plas. We stayed at Lou and Marg's home on the St. Lawrence River and admired their newest boat, a 45 ft BlueWater. The Tall Ships Landing condo project on the waterfront is well underway. We received the sales pitch and toured the model home 4 years ago. It will make a spectacular addition to the waterfront. The Katy Leigh would look great beside this building. Today, Memorial Day, we headed south on I-81 and wound up at Hop Bottom.
Near here we went under the largest concrete railway bridge in the USA. It has 10 arches and is 2375 ft long by 242 ft high. Built in 1915 it is named the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct. The best photo was on a poster in the campsite's bingo hall which modestly declares the bridge as "One of the True Wonders of the World".
Friday and Saturday were nonstop partying with my classmates from Engineering '62. Quite a few married Queen's girls so Mavis had a great time as well. We parked in the Holiday Inn parking lot beside Lake Ontario and went overnight to a very good campsite at nearby Rideau Acres. Friday night was a class party with a slide show. It started on a somber note showing photos of all the class members that are no longer with us. One wag came up with the perfect line when it was over "I'm glad I didn't see my name." Saturday I was re-convocated by the University at a full scale ceremony with robes, a piper, Scottish dancers, and the Queen's brass band. I played in the same band 50 years ago. (See photo with the dancers). We all received gold medals. I think I will wear it to Rotary and write it into my resume. I can't think of any other uses but feel free to make suggestions. Saturday night was a huge banquet for the 50+ year graduates. We learned that Queen's will have the biggest fund raiser in history this fall. Surprise, surprise! Chancellor David Dodge is the former president of the Bank of Canada and spoke several times during the day on innovation and how it requires risk and acceptance of failure. Sunday we headed for Brockville our home for 13 years and visited old friends. We rode in Herbs beautiful 1997 Jaguar Vanden Plas. We stayed at Lou and Marg's home on the St. Lawrence River and admired their newest boat, a 45 ft BlueWater. The Tall Ships Landing condo project on the waterfront is well underway. We received the sales pitch and toured the model home 4 years ago. It will make a spectacular addition to the waterfront. The Katy Leigh would look great beside this building. Today, Memorial Day, we headed south on I-81 and wound up at Hop Bottom. Near here we went under the largest concrete railway bridge in the USA. It has 10 arches and is 2375 ft long by 242 ft high. Built in 1915 it is named the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct. The best photo was on a poster in the campsite's bingo hall which modestly declares the bridge as "One of the True Wonders of the World".
Clayton was one of our favorite towns along the Great Loop and here we are again minus the Katy Leigh. We are still early in the season so it is not crowded. We parked at the Antique Boat Museum and walked downtown to Bella's Bistro for a late lunch on the deck overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It was excellent and I had the silk pie (silk=chocolate + whipped cream) for desert. I spent the afternoon at the boat museum and Mavis went shopping. The museum is better than ever with a neat new exhibit on canoes.
I also spent time aboard a 1924 42 ft Elco raised deck cruiser with a trunk cabin aft and an enclosed deck house. It is a lot like our boat the Katy Leigh. The galley was in the v-berth where the servants were housed.
On the way up we took the coastal route along the eastern end of Lake Ontario. We stopped at Henderson Harbor and admired the fancy summer homes and gardens along the harbor road. We received the great news tonight that the Eggner's Ferry Bridge knocked down by a large ship on January 26th will open Friday at 1:00PM just 4 months after the disaster.
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