Riding the Big Grey Dog

Our dilemma was how to get back to Michigan without spending a months worth of Social Security.

We check flights from Paducah, out of the question.

The train was a possibility, however, the closest train station was almost 2 hours away by car, and we don’t have a car.

I checked into a driver to just drive us up in a personal vehicle and had someone who would do it for a couple of hundred dollars, but that didn’t work out either.


Do the Google search for cheap travel. It brought up rental cars, only 30 dollars a day, but the one way drop off fee made the rental almost as much as an airline ticket.

Then I looked at Greyhound. Midweek, one way, only $57.00 each.

It had been a long time since I’ve ridden a bus any distance and Cynthia never. I hesitated to even bring it up to her. I offered to ride up by myself and bring her car back, but she wanted to see people in Michigan as much as myself.

It was a done deal.

Two tickets leaving Paducah Tuesday evni ng at 6:30 and arrive in Holland, MI the next day around 3:00 in the afternoon.

We booked the marina courtesy car for our trip into Paducah and asked friends on another boat to go along and return the car. We packed lightly with only 2 carry on cases and one suitcase that would ride below the passengers.

We arrived early enough in Paducah to have a late lunch at a brew pub downtown. It just happened to be located in the old bus station. They left some of the decor of the station that gave the place a retro look. Paducah Beer Werks ( offers a limited “pub food” menu with the usual Stouts and IPAs. Not interested. I did find a brew called “the Dude” that satisfied my taste.

After a light diner, not knowing how it would set for the ride, we headed to the current bus station to wait for our ride.


At the station waiting for our ride

We arrived about 5:45 and the office did not open until 6:00. The only bench outside was taken by an older gentleman that proceeded to change clothes along side of the building. He must have been waiting a while. Another person waiting was a younger man late 20’s or 30’s. He was on the phone and stayed there all the time until I lost track of him in St. Louis.

The bus arrived just a little early, passengers and drivers got off and promptly lit up. This made a haze that had to be passed through to board. Tickets in hand and the bag marked that it was heading to Holland MI we headed toward one of the drivers to board. It was hard to get either one to talk, but finally I showed one our tickets and was told to put the suitcase underneath and that “We would be on this bus all the way to Chicago”. We found a seat and tried to get comfortable.



Our bus to Chicago and one of the drivers to St. Louis.

We were now on our way. Out of Paducah and headed toward St. Louis, with stops in between.



Still excited about our adventure.

There was a sign in the front of the bus that basically said, don’t talk to the driver unless necessary. We passengers didn’t talk to the drivers, I don’t know why there were two but, the lady drivers kept up a running conversation that included passing phones back and forth while moving down 2 lane roads.

At our second stop quite a few people left the bus. A rider across the aisle commented, “The population of this town just doubled.” it lightened the moment.

I noticed that one of the departing passengers was moving around like he was looking for something, checking all the compartments underneath the bus. Seems that his suitcase was missing. Undaunted, the drivers pointed toward the door of the bus station, U haul, and pay by the week/month motel. “There’s an 800 number to call in there to let the company know.” Then got back onto the bus and we headed out again.

Onward toward St. Louis. After 2 or 3 more stops we crossed the Mississippi River, saw the Arch, the baseball field, and the arena for the Blue’s. The bus station was just across the street and included local train service and Amtrak. It was about 10:30P.M. And our bus was scheduled to leave shortly after 12:00 midnight.

While leaving the bus I asked if we should take our suitcase with us into the station and was told it would stay on the bus. Cynthia would have liked it better if I had brought it with us. She was now worried that our suitcase would not be with us when we arrived in Chicago.

The bus waiting area was away from the Amtrak waiting area down a corridor wing. Our first requirements were a restroom, some water and then someplace to rest while waiting for the bus to begin our next leg of the journey.

It was uneventful just sitting or trying to sit on some of the most uncomfortable benches ever. Comfortable benches make a good place for homeless to sleep. Announcements broadcast that security people would be moving through checking for tickets. I noticed a pretty female traveler had plenty of security making sure she was safe. I, on the other hand was asked,”you good?”, I was.

Our bus was announced and we queued to reboard. Our driver on this leg, “Captain Jeff”. Jeff was younger maybe 30’s and in full uniform complete with hat. He took his job seriously, and he looked good doing it.

Upon boarding Captain Jeff checked our tickets and said that he would get us to Chicago in plenty of time for our connection. He was a 180 degree turn around from the last section of the ride. I started for the bus, Cynthia was alongside the bus making sure our suitcase was still in its designated area. It was.

Well before our adventure began I had checked the travel tips on the Greyhound website. One I noticed was that the buses would be air-conditioned and they hoped that everyone would be comfortable.

I, being known to get cold, dressed in long pants, socks, and a fleece pullover. Cynthia had brought a lap blanket.

Not long into our trip from St. Louis to Chicago, Cynthia spotted a pair of open seats and headed off to be more comfortable. I rested my neck pillow against the window and tried to rest. I woke shivering and spotted Cynthia all snuggled under her blanket. Sliding in next to her, “I’m FREEZING”. She unenthusiastically offered some of her blanket. To me it was snuggling, but Cynthia thought I was crowding her. I tried to not lean on her, but the seats are not made for someone with a “mature” body frame.

I don’t know how long we had been riding when I told Cynthia “I smell something”. At about the same time “Captain Jeff” pulled the bus over to the side of the road. I thought “Oh no something is wrong with the bus and we are going to stuck in the middle of Illinois”. Jeff stopped the bus, straightened his tie, put on his bus driver hat, got out of his seat and proceeded to march to the back of the bus.

BANG! BANG! BANG! On the restroom door.







Now put that out and get back to your seat and behave yourself.

Captain Jeff made his way back to his driver’s seat and pulled the bus back onto the highway heading toward Chicago. Jeff used the intercom to apologize to the rest of the riders for his actions. Then explained, again, the rules about smoking on any bus. The rest of the trip to Chicago was uneventful. We arrived about 5:00A.M. As we exited the bus both Cynthia and myself thanked Captain Jeff for getting us from St. Louis to Chicago safely. Then made our way into the waiting area for a 4 hour layover.



Queuing for tickets to America.

Again, the benches in the waiting area are the most god awful uncomfortable things ever. After a while we moved from our “iron throne” to the cafeteria aluminum freezer seats to spend the rest of our wait in frozen bliss.


Charging station and Cafe

The bus station waiting areas hold a real cross-section of America. There were, young families, new Americans, singles heading to a job and a new life, Grand parents holding newborns, workers traveling to job sites, students, and us.


Three generations waiting for their ride.


The next leg of our trip was with a partner line, Indian Trails bus line. Cynthia was immediately impressed with the newer, cleaner, more comfortable buses. Our driver was not as structured as Captain Jeff, but she knew her job and did it well. She and a helper loaded our suitcase into the carrying area and told us to get comfortable. We had only 5 more stops to make till the end of our bus adventure.

Two stops down and on Interstate 94 headed for Michigan, the sun shining, we were making time and right on schedule.

I had dozed off….KA BOOM!


HOLY SHIT WHAT WAS THAT! First thing we thought we blew a tire but our driver had it under control and moved the bus to the side of the road at Mile Marker 16 in Michigan. There we sat. For some reason the air conditioner would not work and was now blowing hot air. It got uncomfortable very fast. The driver let us know that she had called in to the office and they were working on a solution right away. The driver also had checked the tires and found them all OK. She figured that one of the air suspension bags had ruptured. This let the bus settle down on the tires and also made it so there was no way to air up the brake system. We were stuck on the side of the road until another bus came to get us.


Sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

We were close to an exit ramp and could see the “golden arches” from where we sat, but, company policy would not let us get off the bus. Driver did what she could to get some air moving inside. Opened emergency hatches and windows and doors. It was better but not very comfortable.

Word came that there was a bus in Kalamazoo, about an hour and a half away that was being dispatched. But they said they may have another solution. Sure enough there was a bus in Benton Harbor only 15 minutes away that was rerouted and sent our way. Within a half hour of the rupture we were on another bus and heading to the next stop.

Our driver was obviously more than a little geeked about what had happened and was doing a lot of talking with one of the passengers that happened to be a driver also. Cynthia, tired and ready to get off the bus was sitting with her head down behind the seat in front of her. I asked what was the matter. Through gritted teeth came “I want quiet and to get off this bus.” Only a little while to go, just a few more short stops and we arrived on schedule or very close to it in Holland.


New bus dropping us off in Holland, MI.


Cynthia trying to smile after 20+ hours of travel by bus.

We were tired and vowed this was our last bus adventure. We waited for our ride on into Grand Haven to rest and prepare for the next part of our weekend adventure.



A Momentary Lapse of Common Sense

How many times have you done something, then thought back and say to yourself, “I was lucky something bad didn’t happen.” Personally I’ve had many experiences that could’ve turned out worse than they did. Even now just putting my thoughts together many memories come to mind.

Boat living makes you think and act safely on a daily basis. I can say that the times I end up regretting  have been when rushed or thinking “I’ll just hop over that”, or  “I’ll just jump down and get that.”

Well, lesson learned.  I’m going to relate my latest experience in hopes that you, the reader, will think first before just hopping or jumping.

Our day started out fine, beautiful  “let’s go for a boat ride” weather.  We took Bright Angel to the fuel dock at Green Turtle Bay Resort and Marina, did a pump out and headed out onto Barkley Lake. We traveled to a nearby marina, stopped for lunch, had a great ride, and headed back to the slip. Hoping to enjoy our local area even more I set the dinghy down from its cradle to prepare it for a sail or just a row around the marina. Moving the dinghy along side Bright Angel I saw a line on the floor. “I’ll just hop down there, grab that line, and get back on the dock and move the dinghy, so it’s ready to go.”



How I wanted the dinghy to be so we could easily go for rides.

What happened next was quick. I stepped down into the dink, it moved, I lost my balance, went into the side of Bright Angel, crashed down onto the gunwale of the dink and over into the water. My first thought was to grab my glasses, no strap to hold them in place. They were OK.  Steadying myself using the transom of the dink, I began to think of what to do next. By this time Dearest (my wife, Cynthia) was up on the big boat checking out the commotion. “Do you have your phone?” was her first question. Later after things had calmed down I asked her why she thought of my phone before me. Her answer was, “You were above water and breathing so I figured you were OK.”

After the initial shock we both started to act more responsibly. Cynthia’s next comment was, “What can I do to help?” My first request was for Cynthia to switch off the power from the power pedestal to the boat.  (Lately we have heard of people killed by stray electric.)  With the power shut off I moved toward the swim platform on Bright Angel while Dearest lowered the ladder into the water. Back on board we evaluated injuries. No blood, that’s a good thing. Right arm sore, must have hit it on the way out of the boat. Next into the shower to rinse off. By the end of the shower my right arm was becoming difficult to move and more sore. We applied ice packs and did a more extensive evaluation. The arm just above the elbow was starting to bruise, and we knew that it would get worse as the night progressed. We continued with ice and took some acetaminophen.


First night after the fall

Daily progression of bruising.

By early evening bruising was getting worse. I could hardly move my arm, and the pain was becoming intense. I went for a more heavy-duty pain medication that we keep on board, for that “just in case” event. I kept the arm elevated and the ice packs rotating  throughout the night. The next morning we headed for Paducah, KY and Urgent Care.  X-rays taken, no broken bones discovered, but the bruised area was expanding down the arm and the bicep was looking strange. The Physician Assistant prescribed an anti-inflammatory and said if it wasn’t better in a week go to the Orthopedic Institute of West Kentucky.

Here we are just over a week later, another trip into Paducah and a visit to the Orthopedic Urgent Care, diagnosis;  torn ligament in the right bicep. Arrangements were made for a MRI to see how extensive the damage and a new prescription to help with the pain.

Currently the MRI has been performed and I have an appointment with a doctor to schedule surgery to attach the ligament.

All this because of “I’ll just hop down and get that line.”

I am not looking for sympathy or prayers. I’m passing this along so that maybe someone else will stop before hopping and move more cautiously and avoid lost weeks of fun.

Thanks to all the people at Green Turtle Bay Marina for the help scheduling the courtesy car, so we can get to doctors appointments and procedures.

Special thanks to Cynthia, for putting up with my whining about how much it hurts, and the fact that I will never be able to do dishes again.


That “Mom face” when I said that I would never be able to do dishes again.



Moving on up

We are currently in Grand River, Kentucky at Green Turtle Bay Marina/Resort. While here at the dock and around the area we’ve met and talked with many people. We’ve also passed out quite a few boat cards. When handing the card to someone I tell them that our blog site is on the back side of the card, however, I have not been too diligent about updates but plan to add more soon.

Now I am keeping my promise.


Heading out of Turner Marine meeting some others that are heading north also


We are now heading UP river.


Here’s what we’ve been up to;

Mid-April we left Turner Marine in Mobile AL, after spending the winter, and started North. Our first night we anchored in Bates Lake and had a couple tell us that when the tide went out it would be too shallow to get back into the river. So, up anchor, and back downriver a couple of miles to the Alabama cutoff. Now, many others anchor here and sing its praises, however, when we dropped anchor it would not set. After pulling it back up we realized that somehow our anchor chain had wrapped around a log. Cynthia kept the boat in place while I was tried to get rid of the log. Finally we got the log alongside the boat and loose. Now, we were able to set the main anchor. Then climb down onto the swim platform to set the stern anchor.  (Setting a stern anchor keeps the boat from swinging.) We were alone in the anchorage and had a pleasant evening. I was real tired and had no problem getting to sleep.

The next morning we pressed on up river and made it to the Coffeville Lock and Bobby’s Fish-camp for the night. An easy evening with dinner at Bobby’s and another early night.


View of Bobby’s Fish-Camp from the boat, It’s rustic.


From Bobby’s it’s 100 miles to Demopolis, the next fuel and dockage. We decided to stop in between. We passed a good anchorage at Bashi Creek before noon, but did not want to stop that early, so we pressed on looking for a another spot to anchor for the night.

We found Chickasaw Bogue and bumped our way across the bar into deeper water. We anchored in about 7 foot of water, but when the boat would swing the depth would vary. It was decided to set the stern anchor again, so back onto the swim platform and another toss of the stern anchor. While I was on the swim platform Cynthia noticed we were moving, the main anchor had not set properly.  With Cynthia at the helm we raised the main anchor and moved forward to make another attempt at setting the anchor. This time we let out extra chain and gave a good tug to make sure it dug into the mud. Then back to the swim platform and a toss of the stern anchor.  To set the stern anchor I went back to the front and pulled in some of the extra chain to set the stern anchor. This had us staying in one place and not moving too much.


Looking into Chickasaw Bogue


Checking the movement of the boat

Tired I sat on the back deck and watched a tree to make sure we were not moving. We were glad that we spent the extra time getting the anchors set because, later that evening a storm front passed through. The winds gave the anchor chains a good tug, but we moved some but stayed pretty much in the same place. That was our first Thunder Storm at anchor. Not something I would like do on a regular basis.

In the morning we reversed our anchor process to release the stern anchor then moved forward to pull the bow anchor. With Cynthia at the helm we started out of Chickasaw Bogue and promptly ran aground, and of course, here comes a Tow as we are trying to get off the bottom. I took over the helm while Cynthia contacted the Tow on the radio. With some extra reverse thrust we backed off the sandbar and with help from the tow captain we angled our way back out into the main river. Demopolis was our stop for that evening and the rest of the weekend.

I had developed a cough and told Cynthia that it was from breathing exhaust fumes while trying to set the stern anchor, she didn’t believe me.  From the beginning of our trip up river we had set our sights on Columbus, MS as a rest stop, because we both like the area and the people. Neither one of us thought our stay would last as long as it did.

The day after we arrived in Columbus Cynthia took me to an Urgent Care facility to figure out what was the matter with me. We found out we both had this seasons flu and bronchitis. Me about ten days ahead of Dearest. After lots of tests and armed with prescriptions we arrived back at the boat,  medicated, and went to bed, for a week.

Our first week in Columbus was gone before we knew. We put our heads out for short periods after that but for almost 3 weeks we stayed on the boat and tried to get over our sickness. Finally we started to feel better and thought of moving up-stream again.


Making waves again, it feels good.


From Columbus north, the Tom Bigbee river has plenty of marinas to make easy days of 50 to 60 miles. Allowing us to be in and tied up well before the sun has begun to set.  We entered Pickwick Lake through Wilton Lock and found the current changed direction and is now running  with us, adding extra speed for less fuel. We made Aqua Yacht Harbor in Iuka, MS our address for the next couple of nights.  

From Aqua Yacht Harbor we entered the Tennessee River,  Pickwick Lock and Dam took us off Pickwick Lake and continued the Tennessee River. Two 60 mile days have us at Pebble Isle Marina, and a great place to spend the weekend.

The last few days of travel has Cynthia having back pain, making it hard to move around and giving her problems while handling lines.  By the time we reached Green Turtle Bay on the North end of Lake Barkley she was in serious pain. Now, with chiropractic care and after a couple massages, she is on the mend, but we don’t want a relapse. Because of this we have signed on for a month here and will remain at Green Turtle Bay until after July 4th. That should give us time to heal.

In the mean time we are trying to figure out what to do, and where to go next. But that is another story.


Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614


Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.


We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.


Cruising; Cumberland River and Kentucky Lake

Our last entry had us at anchor just up river from lock and dam 52 on the Ohio River. We started our evening ritual, dinghy down, then Toots into the dinghy. We’ve been working on how to get Toots off the back of the boat and down the 5′ to the dinghy.
We tried three different ways;
The pass between Dearest and myself, that didn’t work. Toots seemed to grow extra long toenails and hold on to everything.
The Life-jacket on and use it as a carrying strap with me trying to carry Toots one-handed and climb down the ladder, that didn’t work either. Toots wiggling around at the end of my arm and me swing around on the ladder.
Dearest suggested we use the dingy crane and hook the handle of the life-jacket and lower her down. This seems to be the best so far. Toots doesn’t really care for the idea, however with me below and Dearest above we try to keep hands on her at all times. I have to say it’s the best so far. Toots goes up easier than down but she is getting better and more used to flying and we seem to have solved the on/off problem for the mean time.

Sunset on the Ohio

Sunset on the Ohio

We spent a peaceful night anchored, had a beautiful sunset, that I posted on Facebook.

We found an anchor alarm app from Active Captain. (Anybody that does any cruising should check out the Active Captain web site, it will help.) The anchor alarm uses GPS to triangulate onto where you set the anchor. Just a hint try to start the alarm close to where the anchor is dropped, and give yourself some room to swing. Sometimes if the GPS signal is lost the alarm will sound. With our first attempt Dearest could walk around the boat and if she got to the back of the boat the alarm would sound. We reset the alarm from as close to the anchor as possible and had a quite night.

We were in a good spot tows coming south would be slowing for the lock and tows coming north would be still leaving the lock and moving under the nearby bridge. This gave us a night of very little rocking.

We left our anchor weaving between tows that were waiting for the lock and proceeded towards Paducah, Kentucky. After our lecture from Fern at Hoppie’s we decided to bypass the Tennessee river at first and head for the Cumberland River a little farther north. This would add a few extra miles but less tow traffic and a more pleasure craft friendly lockmaster.

Tow waiting for the lock

Tow waiting for the lock

Tow waiting for us to move and the lock to open

Tow waiting for us to move and the lock to open

The Cumberland River is much narrower and on a Sunday we only saw one tow boat working a staging area and just a few small pleasure craft.

Entrance to Cumberland River from Ohio River

Entrance to Cumberland River from Ohio River

Entrance of the Cumberland River from the Ohio River

Entrance of the Cumberland River from the Ohio River

The Cumberland is a scenic ride with many turns and a current that is surprisingly strong, and slowed us 2-3 miles per hour. Dearest helmed the boat for the first part of the day and I took over a little later. While taking my turn at the wheel I found myself playing riverboat captain, with visions of Mark Twain and old style steam boats with paddle wheels trying to find the part of the river with the least current. Constantly watching the depth and the banks of the river. It was a fun ride.

Steep banks and deep water

Steep banks and deep water

Looking for the best spot in the river to travel

Looking for the best spot in the river to travel






We came to the Barkley Lock and Dam, the highest lock we have seen so far on our adventure. The lock has a lift of 58 feet. From the pool waiting to enter we could see birds flying below the top of the dam. It reminded me of a scene from movies like “King Kong” or “Tarzan” with birds flying along the edge of the escarpment. I was impressed.

Once inside the lock the ride up was quite fast and we covered the 58 feet in a shorter time than the 12 feet in lock 52 the day before.


We arrived at Green Turtle Bay Marina (GTB) and Resort shortly after leaving the dam and found our slip and were ready for a few days at the dock.

We found the people of GTB very helpful and accommodating. It was time for some routine maintenance on engines, so we scheduled the work to be done while we were there. Our stay went from 3 days to a week with special prices the longer we stayed. If it makes a difference if you have fuel enough for the additional trip up Kentucky lake it is worth the money to wait to fill your tanks at Pebble Isle Marina on the South end of Kentucky lake, Fifty cents a gallon less plus Boats US discounts.

Toots enjoys a wiggle after a dip

Toots enjoys a wiggle after a dip

Toots takes a cooling dip

Toots takes a cooling dip

Gazebo on grounds at GTB

gazebo on grounds at GTB

Yacht Club restaurant at GTB

Yacht Club restaurant at GTB

Upon leaving GTB we proceeded South on Kentucky Lake to Paris Landing State Park. Just a short distance, 40 miles. Wind was blowing right up the lake at between 15-20 and with a long distance gave the lake some pretty good chop. Nothing real bad but Dearest did mention that it was like being back on Lake Michigan and she would be happy to get back to river travel.

Another boater pushes through the waves

Another boater pushes through the waves

There was lots of room at Paris State Park, attendants didn’t assign spots but told you to pick a good one. It seemed that the attendants were more interested in the Football game on TV and the nice looking lady behind the desk. It happens. Our stay was not bad but we heard from others that had little of no help at all. It is a pretty place that could be handled better. However, we did have an attendant that was interested in fishing from the dock next to ours.

looking for fish

looking for fish

on patrol

on patrol

very close

very close





From Paris we went to Pebble Isle, as spot we had planned to skip but stopped for other reasons. I would now make it a primary stop. The owners were very helpful and with extra people coming in called for a cook to open the restaurant. We stayed an extra day due to weather and the owners put out free snacks for travelers that evening. A car was available to use, with stores close by, great fuel prices and less than a dollar a foot slip rental, makes Pebble Isle a great stopping point on the trip.

Pebble Isle  Satellite dishes look like mushrooms growing

Pebble Isle
Satellite dishes look like mushrooms growing

Pebble Isle That's us at the very end

Pebble Isle
That’s us at the very end

We have made a longer day today, 70 miles, with great weather and beautiful scenery the day went faster than we had expected. We are now in a nice small marina in Bath Springs, Tennessee.

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, we move south again. We are starting to realize that we are moving into the real south. We should pass the Shiloh Military Area. Even the charts are showing Civil War areas. We are following history now.

Until next time we are having a great time and hope to be able to do some more sight-seeing once we finish with the Looper rendezvous. Schedules can be so confining.


Cruising; Rolling down (or up) the river.

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you to what we are doing and the places we’ve been to and seen. I’m going to start to correct that now. We are now in Green Turtle Bay Marina located in Great Rivers Kentucky. It’s located on Barkley Lake and we are very close to the Kentucky Lakes region. But first let me tell you how we got here.

In the slip at Green Turtle Bay Marina

In the slip at Green Turtle Bay Marina

GTB decorating for the season

Green Turtle Bay decorating for the season

Last time I wrote of our travels we were in Illinois at Tall Timber Marina. Tall Timber Marina is in the town of Havana IL, still on the Illinois river. We have traveled on three additional rivers since that time. The Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Cumberland rivers and when we leave Green Turtle Bay we will be entering the Tennessee river.

Every day of travel is new and different. The Illinois river was running quite fast due to runoff generated by rain. Traveling down river with the current we were able to get great fuel mileage and speed From Tall Timber Marina we made a long day and set our destination as Grafton, IL a distance of 120 miles. We did this because there were no marinas in between and with the current flowing as fast as it was I did not feel comfortable with anchoring for the night.

On our big push to Grafton we saw flooding and some debris. The one thing that we didn’t see a lot of are the Asian Carp. We know they are around but we did not encounter the jumping and crashing into the boat that we had heard so much about. I was a little disappointed. We did hear stories from others that had encounters with the fish. Like one sail boating couple were pulling their dinghy behind the boat and at the end of the day found over 30 fish in the bottom of the dinghy.

We had become accustomed to the tow traffic and thought we had the meeting and passing pretty well down pat. At least until we got to the Mississippi river. The Mississippi tows are much bigger than the other rivers. The largest we saw on the Illinois were three barge wide and three long, approximately 600 feet. On the Mississippi the barges were bigger and the tows were 4 and 5 wide and up to six long. Some over a 1000 feet long. We were glad that the Mississippi is as wide as they say.


Union electric Light & Power co.


Compare the arches

St. Louis Archway to the West

St. Louis Archway to the West

Towboat traffic

Towboat traffic

As we traveled south toward St. Louis MO. We passed the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, which without it being on our charts would have been easy to miss. There are no great signs or landmarks to advertise it existence. St. Louis has no pleasure craft marinas and we were warned by other travelers and by all our travel books that it could be very busy and congested with working boat traffic. However, when we passed St. Louis about noonish traffic was light and we had no problems. We ended our day at a Looper destination Hoppie’s Marina in the town of Kimmswick MO.

Hoppies w/ Fern's awning in background

Hoppie’s w/ Fern’s awning in background

Mississippi river from Hoppies

Mississippi river from Hoppie’s

Kimmswick is the second oldest town in MO. It was suggested that the explorers Lewis and Clark used Kimmswick as a gathering spot before their great adventure. Just up river from Hoppie’s there is a tall tree that is said to have been a land mark during the Lewis and Clark time. That would make the tree over 300 years old.



Lewis & Clark Landmark tree

Lewis & Clark Landmark tree

Hoppie’s is owned by Fern and Charles Hopkins, the two have lived on the river their entire lives. Now in their late seventy’s Charles “Hoppie” Hopkins has some health issues that don’t allow him to tie and pull boats against a strong current. But is seen from the river walking off the distance and calling to the boat captain to “Just bring it in here”. (I never had to parallel park a 46′ boat before.)

In the evening Fern gathers river travelers under an awning with well-worn but comfortable chairs and shares her knowledge of anchorages and river conditions. Fern’s knowledge is gratefully accepted because from their marina it is a trip of almost 250 miles until the next fuel stop or marina. That means a trip of 2 to 4 days and nights at anchor, depending on the cruising speeds of the various boats. Fern provides the travelers with locations of safe anchorages and a suggestion to travel a little farther up the Ohio river to the Cumberland river to by-pass the first lock and dam on the Tennessee River. She said the lock master at Kentucky Lock and Dam does not like pleasure boaters and is known to hold them for up to eight hours to make sure an oncoming tow will be able to pass through the lock first.

“Hoppie” has been a river-man his entire life and assisted his father in “lamp-lighting” while growing up. Lamp-lighting is the lighting of the night-time aids to navigation along the shores of the river. It is suggested that Hoppie could be the last living “lamplighter” in the United States. I found this information in some of the literature we have gathered, not from either of the Hopkins, who were down to earth and quick to smile people, glad to share their accumulated knowledge and stories about the river to the travelers.

Leaving Hoppie’s and continuing our run down the Mississippi we decided to pass the first anchorage and proceed further to Little Diversion Anchorage just south of Cape Girardeau MO. Entering Little Diversion the current pulls the boat past and we needed to power up river and into the small river inlet. We found it without much current and we were not affected by the big river traffic. We anchored with about 6 other boats and had plenty of room.

Little Diversion looking toward the Mississippi

Little Diversion looking toward the Mississippi

Little diversion looking up stream

Little diversion looking up-stream

This was our first night at anchor and Toots’ first night of having to go ashore by way of the dinghy. We were still learning the best way to get Toots from the back of the boat down and into the dinghy. On our second sortie to shore Toots and I tried the other side of our anchorage river, less rocks, but a lot more mud. Dearest was not happy with the Mississippi mud that we brought back to the boat with us. We were able to wash most of the mud off Toots, but my socks and shoes were a different story. I spent quite a while on the swim platform scrubbing and trying to get mud out of the soles of my shoes. The dinghy was also full and until I had time to really clean it we carried mud out of the little boat on our clothes and fur. I guess that’s part of the adventure also.

Our second day from Hoppies we left the Mississippi and entered the Ohio river. It is amazing the difference between the two rivers. There is a line of sand and silt at the confluence of the rivers. Also there was almost no debris in the Ohio. After a week of dodging logs, stumps, and entire trees on the Illinois and Mississippi the clear traveling of the Ohio was appreciated.

Island of debris

Island of debris





Now we are traveling up river and against the current. No more just idling and making speeds of 8 and 9 mph. Now we are running at our factory suggested 75% throttle and making 8 to 9 mph.

We found a lot of tow traffic on the Ohio but for the most part not the huge 1000 foot tows we grew accustomed to on the Mississippi. Up river we passed the new and under construction Olmsted lock and dam. When I hailed the dam to get instructions on passing the construction zone we were advised that the lock and dam 53 was open and we could pass through without waiting. We proceeded north to lock 52 and locked through with three other boats. This was our first lock with the water going up.

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam construction

Olmsted Dam construction

We had planned on our anchorage to be just a short ways north of the lock and found our spot. We snuggled up behind a Corps of Engineers set of barges and tugs and set our anchor.

Sunset at anchor

Sunset at anchor

This is enough for now, until next time we are enjoying the adventure and meeting many people and making some new friends.

Up next the Cumberland River and Barkley Dam.