The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

We left Clifton early on what looked to be a bright clear morning.  But, as we turned up river we were greeted by what looked like very dense fog ahead.  We turned on our radars, planning on slogging it out in the fog until it burned off.  Happily, the fog was not as bad as it looked from a distance and happier yet, it was gone within a half an hour or less.  We enjoyed a gorgeous ride up the Tennessee River, marred only by our rooky performance at the Pickwick Lock, detailed in my previous post.
We reached Pickwick Lake, and turned off at Yellow Creek to stop at Grand Harbor Marina.  If we were headed straight for the Gulf of Mexico, this would be the turnoff for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  But we are going back onto and about 60 miles further up the Tennessee to our Looper Rendezvous, so we will have to backtrack and pass through here again in a couple of weeks.
At Grand Harbor, Once Around got a covered slip assigned (a first since we’ve owned her).  This slip was a fair haul to the other end of the marina where the office and store were located and where most of the other Loopers were berthed.  Not a problem, the marina issued us a golf cart for our two day stay.  The docks were wide enough on which to drive and park them, although it was a leap of faith for either of us to trust the other’s driving.  Naturally, the Admiral pulled rank on me and insisted she drive.  The first time she drove out on the long dock, I reminded her of a story Tom (the former owner of our boat) had told me about his loop trip.  One evening, after a few too many, he had tried to coolly skid his bicycle to a stop out at the end of the dock.  However…you got it, he made a slight error in judgment about the distance, and Tom and the bike ended up in the drink!  Tom said he and a buddy successfully “fished” the bike out of the 12’ deep water after a couple of hours of grappling.   I told Carrie if she just drove the cart into the river it would make a heck of a story…which earned me that dreaded Admiral glare.   She never really came close to going into the water, but she darn near drove right through a gate crossing arm at the access road.  When I yelled and she skidded to a stop within a foot of the arm, she claims to have had it under complete control the whole time.  Right!  Lying is a privilege of rank, I guess. 
Saturday (college football is HUGE in these parts) we flew our colors...this one's for you Dad.

Lots of Loopers at Grand Harbor...believe it or not, this held.
Saturday, Gene from Free to Be reserved a huge van and the eight of us took a tour of the Shiloh battlefield which was nearby.  This Civil War historical site was remarkable, if you like that sort of stuff (which both the Admiral and I do).  Some fifty years after the battle, historians assembled as many survivors as they could find and precisely marked the troop placements of individual regiments.  They also placed cannon exactly in many of the spots they had fired from and marked the various important battle lines with monuments.  We had a CD audio in the van that explained the flow of the battle as we drove the hundreds of acres, stopping at many of the sites to read more.  There were over 100,000 men fighting here for two days, and the combined dead, wounded and missing from both sides was 24,000.  It was one of the bloodiest battles of a particularly bloody war.  It was sobering, even 150 years later.

This little cabin was at the site of some of the most intense fighting.  It survived, although full of bullet holes!

Sunday morning Moonstruck and Once Around took off at dawn headed for Joe Wheeler.  It is a 60 mile run with two locks.  We would make it easily if we didn’t run into delays at the locks.  Big IF.  We were stalled for about three hours at each of the locks.  We made the last two miles across Wheeler Lake and into the harbor in the on a dark and moonless night, followed in by Blue Skies.  We are not practiced at navigating at night and were a little white knuckled as we approached the dark harbor entrance.  The whole process would have been made a lot easier, if we had remembered to charge our Flir night vision camera that the Admiral had given me last Christmas.  Of course, to charge it we would have had to remember it sooner than exactly eight minutes before we reached our destination.  We felt like Dumb and Dumber.  Luckily, we pulled into our slip without incident and were greeted by a bunch of other Loopers who had arrived in the daylight apparently.  Where’s the challenge in that!
Along the Tennessee River

The "house" pic of the day

Real rural Tennessee, or possisbly Alabama

The Emma Kate, our nemesis this day

The next morning we cleaned the boat in and out.  Here's my First Mate caught scrubbing my big balls.  What a gal!

I guess that in case you're there.

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