Holy smoke, we are finally at the end of the Midwest river system. We cruised 1,251 nautical miles (1,438 statute miles) from Chicago to Mobile, Alabama. It took us two months, but for one month of that we rested & and took care of a sick kitty. If we ran hard, we could have finished it off in 30 days but would have collapsed in exhaustion.
The photo below is pretty much what it looked like for the past couple months. The sameness with no interesting places as a reward at the end of the day wore on me. Craig didn’t mind, he enjoyed chatting with the tow boat captains and floating along. And therein lies the difference between us: I do this to see new places – he does it for the thrill of being underway on Joy Girl.
We didn’t realize it at the time but Green Turtle Bay in Kentucky, where we took our two week siesta, is exactly half way down the rivers. The second half was much more enjoyable than the first with cool, gray, Fall weather instead of sweltering heat, and peaceful waterways instead of rushing currents. We were amazed at the lack of residential or commercial development – for vast stretches there was nary a soul to be seen, with intermittent cell coverage and no internet connection. As we sailed south, we swore we heard banjo music a few times and saw images of Deliverance, especially in the most gnarly marinas we’ve ever seen. Yikes!
We anchored near the Heflin lock and Craig caught a video of a tow entering it. I sped up the video – these tows are actually incredibly slow and only travel about 5 knots and even slower while carefully entering a lock.
Our next “marina” is the only stop in the 240 mile stretch between Demopolis and Mobile, Alabama. Because they only have one relatively short dock, boats raft to one another for the night. Craig was blown away that everyone had to pay full price even though most of us couldn’t access the dock without crossing other boats and couldn’t hook up to electricity. It’s his least favorite marina of the entire trip. There’s potential for boat damage here but the weather was quiet and there were no wakes from passing tows.
Although the sights were few, we met the nicest locals on this leg of the trip. Everyone went out of their way to assist us in any way possible. We appreciated their southern hospitality!
Columbus, Mississippi was a welcome surprise for me 🙂 Home of the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tennessee Williams (Streetcar Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof), it is filled with breathtaking antebellum homes. During the Civil War, the residents turned their mansions and churches into hospitals for the wounded and in 1866 the first Memorial Day began when southern ladies placed flowers on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers. Many of the homes were for sale (I can’t imagine the upkeep of an 1800’s historical palace) and, surprisingly, under $1M. The Waverly Mansion plantation sold for $2M fairly recently but it needed restoration, which it has received! The antiques were gorgeous.
Our last anchorage was in the Big Bayou Canot North. The photos don’t do this freaky jungle justice with its fog, Spanish Moss, and end of the world atmosphere. No gators here but we did see one sunning himself on the sandy shoreline earlier in the day.
Here we will visit with friends we met in Michigan, do follow-up blood work on the Admiral’s kidneys, and enjoy civilization again (yes, champagne will be involved!) Then it’s off to the GICW (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway), which will take us east along the Alabama coast and the Florida Panhandle, where I am promised beautiful beaches (can’t wait!) And next week Craig will fly to Chicago for his mother’s 90th birthday while I babysit the kitties in Pensacola.
Hope all is well in your world!