Who hears the rippling of rivers will not utterly despair of anything. -Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 40 thru Day 43

Good Friends, Old and New

Day 40. After getting my copilot David to his plane in Louisville, I went to visit my dear friends from my Navy days, Tom and Glenda Bumpas. We had a lovely evening reminiscing about those times, when I was a junior supply officer on a guided-missile destroyer and Tom was the chaplain for our division of three of these ships. He was and is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I've known, and is one of the few Navy folks I've had contact with since that time. He is now retired from a career as a minister and counselor, and Glenda has been a teacher in Louisville schools. They were gracious hosts and fun company.

After breakfast Tom gave me a driving tour of Louisville, and I was delighted to see neighborhoods of spectacular nineteenth-century homes. The city's cemetery is the largest and most beautiful that I have seen, including a substantial region of gravestones from the civil war.

At lunch time I took my leave and drove up the river a few miles to meet a classmate from high school (Western Military Academy in Illinois). Don Higgins had emailed me and asked if my boat trip would bring me anywhere near Louisville, and I replied that this side-trip certainly would. We had had no contact since graduation 49 years ago, but I felt like we were still close friends, and we had a great visit learning about each other's lives. Don has retired from a career mostly in the printing industry, and still pursues his long avocation as a flight instructor. Interesting guy.

In the afternoon I returned to Paducah for a night alone on the boat. While I relaxed there, in a covered marina slip, there was a substantial downpour. Soon after, kids arrived to feed bread to the turtles in the water. These turtles arrived in force, and they are as big as a plate. (All the little dark spots in the water are turtle heads.) But, the geese arrived and ate the bread, and kicked water in the turtles' faces. There was no contest.

Day 41. This was a laid-back marina day, which I have grown to really enjoy in the course of many days of pushing to stay on schedule. I had a leisurely breakfast, drank a lot of coffee, did laundry, straightened things up on the boat, and worked on the blog (really, I did). Green Turtle Bay is a well-run, well-equipped, and clean marina to spend time in. One of the best I found on the trip.

In the afternoon I went to the Paducah airport, eager to see my daughter Rachel, arriving to spend the next week of the trip with me. I was even more eager to see her after the several-hour delay caused by big storms between Chicago and Paducah. When the commuter flight came in it was late afternoon, so we went down to the cute riverfront area and had an early dinner at the very good Whaler's Catch seafood restaurant.

As it got dark we walked over to the river-wall, a protective flood wall to keep the Ohio River out of downtown Paducah. Now, the very cool thing is that along a few blocks of the town side of the wall are murals depicting the history of the area, the river, and the city. There must be over twenty-five large murals, nicely done, with little signs explaining each one. Here is a sample (I liked the view from the towboat pilot house).
I am sure you can google Paducah river wall or something and see more examples. We joined the promenade there, and it was dark before we drove back to Barklay Lake and the boat in Green Turtle Bay Marina. We organized Rachel's gear on board, set up our bunks, and turned in for the night.

Day 42. This was another quiet marina day. We did some errands, looked around, turned in the rental car, emailed, planned the coming week, and read. Dinner in the on-site yacht club was very nice. We slept on the boat, anticipating a fairly early start south up Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River.

Day 43. Some days earlier I had received an email from a fellow named Larry McPhail, who owns the DuroBoat company in Huntingdon, Tennessee, that makes aluminum boats. His regular web search "aluminum boat" had come across my blog and he invited us to meet him on the water as we went south up the Kentucky Lake. He mentioned that his two daughters had done the Great Loop around the eastern U. S. in one of his boats. I replied that I knew of the girls' amazing feat (6000+ miles in a 16' open outboard boat in about 75 days) and that we were most interested in getting together with him and his daughter(s) on our way south. This was the day we would meet them at a marina in Tennessee.

First, though, we made our way through the canal from Barklay Lake to Kentucky Lake and turned south. It was a calm morning, and I turned the helm over to Rachel right away, as she had done some time with the boat last year in Colorado lakes. We were immediately struck by how beautiful the scenery was, particularly along the Land Between the Lakes on our left side. This is a pristine nature preserve that separates the lakes in the valleys of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.

By early afternoon we were in Tennessee and met Larry, his daughter Elizabeth (the younger of the two "loopers"), and their friend and boat builder Sammy, at the Breakers Marina near Buchanan, where we arranged to dock the boat for the night.

There are a number of marinas in this area, and since it was Sunday, several drew large crowds with live music in their open-air bars. So, we spent the afternoon inspecting several of them and enjoying running the boats around the lake.

Larry and Sammy took turns at the helm of Little Sadie, and Rachel and Elizabeth raced along in a bright yellow DuroBoat -- the very boat Elizabeth and her sister Katy had used to cruise the Great Circle. (They had gotten to the Mississippi from Wisconsin, then followed the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to the Gulf, crossed Florida, went up the east coast to the Hudson, and followed the Great Lakes back to Wisconsin.)

We spent a totally enjoyable afternoon, learning about their business and picking up many tips about sections of the trip yet ahead of me. Here we are with the DuroBoat gang and this particular marina owner (2nd from left). After the DuroBoat gang went home, Rachel and I spent a nice night on the boat at Breakers, guests of Robert "Rookie" Edwards and his wife Terry.
A few days later, Elizabeth published an article about our visit and my expedition on the website the sisters maintain with information useful to river and coastal boat travelers. The link is

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