Days 44-45. Daughter Rachel and I headed south out of The Breakers marina early, up Kentucky Lake past the broad mouth of Big Sandy River. I was happy to have the GPS display of the channel up the Tennessee River, because it would be easy there to go up the wrong river valley. Our boating friend Larry McPhail had armed us with a list of marinas ahead, and after some research we decided to make it a long day and go for one he recommended at Clifton, TN, with the idea of laying over there for a day. We could afford that luxury because we really did not have too much distance to travel to our weekend destination near Tupelo, Mississippi.
In a few hours we saw the lake narrow as we approached the inflow from the river itself. On the river we saw practically no other boater activity, perhaps because it was a weekday. As we made our way up the river we passed a few towboats, but we had no problems passing in the fairly narrow channel.
The scenery was beautiful (I should be able to sell this shot to Mr. Honda for the big bucks, I think).
I had gone through four already on the trip, so at this point was fine-tuning the boat's approach to a bollard along the wall to which the deckhand would attach a line.
The lock at Pickwick Lake steps a boat up, as the travel is still up the Tennessee River. Once on the Tenn-Tom, a long descent begins, through about thirteen locks stepping down to the Gulf. So at Pickwick Lake we were at a high point in our travels since leaving the Ohio valley. Also, since this is a popular pleasure-boating area, there are several good marinas to choose from. We settled in for the next two nights at the Aqua Yacht Harbor Marina, soon after leaving Pickwick Lake.
Immediately as we pulled in to the fuel dock there, I saw a familiar sight. Tied up along the dock was a large towboat, under conversion, named SUPERTUG. I had run into these folks a week earlier at Hoppe's Marine on the Mississippi, south of St. Louis. After we got the boat tied off in our assigned slip, Rachel and I borrowed one of the marina's courtesy vans and went down the road to a fish restaurant. After we sat down at our table, the people at the next table got our attention. I realized they were the SUPERTUG crew, recognizing me from Hoppe's. We chatted there, and then went aboard for a tour after we got back to the marina.
Day 47. This was a layover day at Aqua Yacht Harbor, and we spent a good bit of it sightseeing, using a courtesy van. We were very impressed with the nearby national military park at Shiloh. The park is beautiful, with drives that take you around through the various battlefield sites, set with plaques, statues, and shiny refurbished cannons. I was most impressed with the 20-30 minute film in the vistor center about the Battle of Shiloh. In very graphic action it puts you in the middle of two days in which over 23,000 men and boys were killed or wounded.
Day 48. Today was Friday, and our goal was Midway Marina on the Tenn-Tom at Fulton, MS. This was only about a 50-mile run, but included the first three of the thirteen or so locks that step the Tombigbee River down through Mississippi and Alabama. The first of these is the most impressive, dropping the water level 84 feet. All the others step down about 30 feet each. You are way down in a huge box by the time you are let out of the first one.
That evening Rachel and I had a nice dinner in the restaurant next to the marina, and then spent some time with other resident and transient boaters, sitting on the dock swapping stories over beers. One young man broke out his guitar, and I found that I could still finger some chords and croak out some lyrics, even though I hadn't touched a guitar for most of two months. The evening was cooling pleasantly, the setting was mellow, and the folks were great. Here's a shot I took over the marina on the way back from dinner.
After we retrieved Adam from the airport, we had a barbecue dinner at The Rendezvous that stood up to all the rave reviews we had heard. Wonderful place. By the time we reached Beale Street, it was getting dark and Saturday night was in full swing. They block off three or four blocks, where all the blues bars are, and the street is full of people.