Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blue View 11 Oct - 22 Oct 2013

22 Oct 13.  

I got up and was moving by 7:30 am this morning. Notice I said "I " because Miss Linda was happy staying in bed reading while her Skipper was going down the river as we wanted to be in Demopolis tomorrow. By the way, since we started traveling the south Linda has been called Miss Linda several times by locals.  She now wants to believe that in a previous life she must have lived here and hopefully was a bell of the south but as she suspects probably a tart chamber maid with big bosoms. Hum. By the way we do know we are getting close to the south as we saw I first alligator today.  I guess no swimming for us I these parts.  

Mile Marker 236! 

21Oct 13

The good newsIs we didn't get kicked off the docks and had a great night for free.  The bad news is that we planed to be here today so we could visit the tourist center and the steam powered Snag-boat Montgomery. Well our timing was off as they are closed sunday, monday and tuesday.  Today is monday.  I still got a chance to go on it and look in all the windows but thats all. So after our quick tour we pulled the dingy motor and started our day.  The lock was lifting a barges and we only had to wait about a half hour to be drop down.  We did about 30 miles and as per Skipper Bob we stopped at a great anchorage Warsaw Cut Off at mile marker 274.8.

20 Oct 13

We left Columbus at about 10:30 am and only did about 19 miles today as this time it's my turn to do some sightseeing.  I wanted to stop near the Tom Bevill lock and visit the US Snagboat Montgomery.  This was the last steam powered sternwheeler to travel the inland waterway of the south and is open to visitors during the week. We arrived at our anchorage location around 2:30 and as usual the water level is to low. Across from our to be anchorage is the Pinkensville recreation center and beach. Linda saw some fishing docks and we decided to see how much depth there was.  Believe it or not this was a 25 ft fishing pier and we had 15 ft of water.  We tied to the dock as the park is empty.  Hope we don't get kicked off.  

19 Oct 13

Today we visited the Waverley Mansion.  We had the courtesy car booked for first thing in the morning and drove the 15 minutes to tour this old Southern Mansion.  Even for me this was a WOW. Not only the building was impressive but the story behind the family that build it and now the family the owns it.  A must see.  We only had the car for two hours so we had to rush back and as it was we were 15 minutes late returning the car.  When we got back to the marina we had to proceed through the Stennis Lock.  One important thing we had to plan is weekend timing for the locks.  During the week they are open 24 hours a day and will lock you on request. On weekends they run them every two hours on the hour. Some are on the even hours and others are on odd hours. As most of the locks are approximately five miles apart and you  travel five miles an hour you should be able to start on an even hour and hit the next lock on an odd hour. If all goes as planed. We are finding out not much ever goes as planned. We only traveled four miles to the town of Columbus and dropped anchor in a side river.  We are only a short dingy ride (paddling) to the town pier and went for a walk and dinner. We tried alligator and crawfish for the first time and believe it or not this beef eating boy actually liked it but I still had to have my small burger and fries.  Anyone in Columbus must stop at Hucks restaurant.  Awesome food and service.

In case your wondering Linda pointing to DevOcean at Anchor. 

Although I had alligator & crawfish I still needed my little 3/4 lb burger

18 Oct 13

After a great sleep and of course waiting for the fog to lift in the morning we continued down the waterway to the Aberdeen lock.  After doing the lock we traveled and a little more then 20 miles to the Columbus Mississippi Marina. On route we had a great arial display because of the Columbus Airforce Base. The Columbus Marina was a good location and surprise surprise we meet up with about 10 looper boats.  The marina channel has lots of water and provided a courtesy car for two hours. That evening we met up with other loopers for a drink and compared notes. We heard of a few nice spots to stop in on and of course exchanged boat cards.  By the way I have to explain boat cards.  When traveling by boat you have boat cards made up (same as business cards).  When ever you meet new people you exchange cards.  This is great as you get boat info,email and blog info.  This is how most people keep in touch. It is unbelievably how many people are retired and living on boats and even who some people are still working via Internet and doing the loop. 

17 Oct 13

Big day today.  We had almost half a dozen locks to go trough within a 40 miles run.  So before we raised the anchor we radioed the first lock master to request going trough.   Not a problem we are told. Another pleasure craft Lauren Grace called in to join us through the lock system.  The first lock was a breeze and as we left the lock master called the next lock to informed them we were on our way. In the next 30 miles we have a lock at about every five miles or so. Our goal was to do five locks then stop and anchor for the night at Amery.  As it was, no such luck. The channel didn't have enough water for us, so we called the Lock master and requested to continue on trough the Amery lock. We then proceed to Acker Lake for our anchorage.  The problem is that this years water levels are low and any information we have on charts, books or guides are off by as much as five feet sometimes.  No major issues other than to be very careful when going into shallow areas.  

16 Oct 13

Today was different story.  We woke up to rain and debated either staying dry and warm or moving on.  Well guess what!  I got wet.  Both by taking a swim and then sitting in the rain.  We did need to put some Miles behind us so we completed 39 nautical miles. We also had no choice to travel this far as there is a 25 mile canal strech that you cannot stop and anchor.   We dropped anchor at a great spot 1/2 mile before our first of many locks for the next day. 

15 Oct 13

While having a chat with new acquaintances Bobbie & Les Perkins. They told us of a wonderful anchorage not too far from the marina but it's going the wrong way.  Still we decided it was going to be our first stop.  So we traveled a whole two miles back and dropped the hook at the Redneck Marina.  Perfect location we went for a hike and had a drink with our new friends.

12 - 14 Oct 13

We only had a couple of miles to travel to Grand Harbour Marina.  It's a fairly new marina but open to the channel with limited transients slips and washrooms.  This marina is again entirely floating but no posts here.  They are anchored in the water with winches holding the marina in place.  As the water level goes up or down it's adjusted with the winches.  Great people and they do have 10% off everything for Loopers including fuel.  At over $4.00 a gallons it's over .40 cents off.  Great deal.  The other nice thing we found at most of the marinas, is that they provide curtesy cars at no cost making it easy to resupply, visit or pickup rental cars. While here we did rent a car and traveled to see Memphis and Graceland.  It was nice to see but very commercialized and I think I'm countried out and maybe even musiced out.  

Oct 11th

We left Double Island and were planning on staying at a good anchorage behind Diamond Island about 10 miles before the Pickwick Dam.  This was going to be 40 nautical miles and a big day considering we were going against the current.  When we approached Diamond Island there were already five vessels in the anchorage and it was only 3:00 pm.  The Dam was another 10 miles so we decided to push on and anchor 1/4 of a mile on the other side of the dam. What we didn't plan on was waiting over an hour at the dam.  By the time we went through is was dark.  No problem, the anchorage was supposed to be toward a marina with a well marked secondary channel.  First rule: Don't believe everything your charts and GPS tells you.  Second rule: " See first rule". The markers were virtually non existent but luckily the path on the Gps was accurate and Linda did find the anchorage as I was on the bow looking for markers.   So what did we do wrong?  We didn't expected to wait at the lock.  Always leave lots of time for the lock.  

Columbus Mississippi 19 Oct 2013

I woke up this morning and had to sit down and write about my day yesterday as I think that Columbus Mississippi has to have been the highlight of my trip so far. Was Columbus so much more special than anywhere else we visited? I would have to say no. But have you ever had one of those days where everything just fit together perfect. The people, the experiences, the sights, the sounds? The 19th of October 2013 in Columbus Mississippi was just one of those days.

As I have said in my blog before Miss Bobbie Perkins pointed out some stops that we just had to make. The Waverley Plantation Mansion was number one. So off we go to this 1852 Antebellum Mansion. I expected to find a pristine tourist spot. Shiny and cordoned off to the public. Young staff reciting by rote stories generated from shiny desks. What I got was this lovely Plantation Mansion where the gracious, lovely owner had to take a moment to tidy up before coming to welcome us to her lovely home. 

A house is a house is a house. Not so with The Waverley Mansion.  The Waverley Plantation Mansion is about two families the original owners who built it in 1852 and the Snows who restored it some 100 years later. The fact that it is claimed to be haunted is an extra bonus. But what makes this house a truly unique experience is Miss Melanie Snow. Melanie spent two hours of her time with us telling the history and stories of the mansion with the  softest southern accent and a passion that no one could deny. The Waverley Plantation Mansion has been featured in numerous magazines and articles (architecture digest, national geographic and the list goes on), people stop in constantly, but Melanie shared with us as if she hadn’t been able to share her passion for the mansion in eons. Seeing the mansion with her was a unique experience. 

So on with telling you about The Waverley Plantation Mansion. I just hope I do it justice. The mansion was built by Colonel George Hampton Young, a successful lawyer from Georgia. When he moved to Mississippi his wealth increased and he decided to build a elegant mansion for his family. Construction went on for many years but Waverley was at its full magnificences in 1852. The main Mansion was 8,000 square feet situated on 50,000 acres. Totally self sustaining it had its own cotton gin, tannery, shoemakers shop, saw mill, stables, slave quarters, family graveyard, swimming pool, guest houses, gardens, live stock, ice house and post office.

Front of The Waverley Plantation Mansion (Named for the Novels of Sir Walter Scott)
Central Octagon looking up
Waverley’s architectural style is Greek Revival and even to an untrained eye is quite extraordinary. It is built in a rectangle with a central octagon opening rising 65’ think H shaped. Four stories high. Each corner of the mansion had a room that had windows on two sides and every room had an opening to a balcony. The fourth floor dome shaped had 16 large windows. It is designed so amazing. Natural light and natural ventilation as warm air rises. Can’t you just imagine the southern bells dancing with the dashing confederate soldiers, lavish parties, mint juleps on the balcony in hot Mississippi summers.  “Why Colonel this mint julep must just be going to my head, what did you ask me to do?” 

I pilfered this photo on line as I saw the original and was amazed at the transition
The plantation began to decline in 1913 when the last surviving son of Colonel Young passed. For the next 50 years Waverley sat empty enduring sumer sun, winter rains, occasional vandalism, hunters and fishermen. Pledges from Mississippi State Universities spent haunted nights in the house and young lovers courted. There were briars, vines, weeds. The front porch was rotted. Bats, birds, squirrels, possums inhabited the house. Bird droppings were every where. Graffiti covered the walls.  

In 1962 Robert and Donna snow discovered the mansion by chance. They owned an antique shop. A salesman came into their shop and told them of seeing a massive house abandoned near the Tombigbee River. Mr Snow packed his kids in their station wagon and went on an adventure. No plumbing, no electricity, no water, disrepair of all kinds but somehow the Snows saw the beauty. Miss Donna Snow called it a magnificent mess. They bought the house and began restoration. 

The Snows were not of money and did much of the work themselves. Renovating the space became a family project that took years. They slept on mattresses in the dining room because they couldn’t get up the stairs.  Surprisingly though many people tramped through the old vacant house there was relatively very little malicious damage. Eight Marble fire places were still intact, the original french gasoliers and large gold leaf mirrors still hung. There were 1000’s of cigaret butts found in the house. How it didn’t burn they don’t know. 

Melanie shared that when they went to the attic they found the original family journals and record books. People began returning artifacts that were removed from the dwelling when it was vacant. In one room there was a 27 pigeon hole mail system. When the Snow’s moved in they found notes from the original Waverley’s were still there. Stories after stories, how two irishmen were courted to do the original plaster work, the hours the young Snow’s spent repairing it.  Knowledge on each antique piece that was lovingly placed into the mansion. How young men with a little to much alcohol still like to visit late at night. How the house is haunted. 

Off upstairs balcony

The haunted room
When the Snow’s first arrived at Waverley there was unexplained noises and crashes in the night suggesting the presence of spirits. One day Miss Donna was sweeping an upstairs balcony when she felt a presence and an angelic voice called mama? Mama? No one was there. Periodically the snows would see an indent in the shape of a small child on an up stairs canopy bed. Later in the day it would be straightened. It seemed the child liked afternoon naps. Family, friends and visitors have reported seeing the small girl. Melanie says she is about three, petite, blond, very timid with folded hands wears a bluish dress with high top buttoned shoes. It is said that during the civil war a family from a visiting plantations young daughter got hung in the banisters on the second floor and passed. 

Miss Melanie Snow (Named after the character in Gone with The Wind)
 Now as I look this over my ramblings I could never do justice to the warmth that surounds this Plantation, and Miss Melanie. She, the plantation, not the red haired blue eyed Miss Melanie still needs a little TLC.  My idea of a perfect way to pass time would be to spend spring days there puttering in the gardens, smelling the magnolias. Helping repaint the blistered face of this amazing old home. Sipping mint juleps in the evening. Miss Melanie with her soft southern bell accent bid us farewell with “ it was so nice of you coming to visit our home. I sure do hope you come back and visit us again” The pleasure was all ours.

One of the oldest Magnolia Trees in Mississippi. It is guessed to be between 200 & 250 years old & Found at the Waverley Plantation Mansion

I wish I could have shown you each room and beautiful furnishings but inside pictures were not allowed. And, I have to admit I feel horrible as I snapped a couple while left alone after Miss Melanie had been so gracious. Please forgive me. 

We left the Waverley plantain mansion, untied the boat and went a whole four miles to the Town of Columbus. Originally known as the possum town. In the1800’s it was one of the richest cities in the old black prairie cotton belt.  If one antebellum home was great, well... What we did discover was the birth place of Tennessee Williams famous pulitzer prize winning playwright. Street car named desire, Cat on a hot tin roof. Both stories set in the south. While touring his birth place we had the opportunity to meet Barbara Stillery story teller, historian and author of The Haunting of Mississippi and received an autographed copy. 

Tennessee Williams Birth Place home of his Grandfather. Williams was raised in this house the first three years of his life. 

So on we wandered. We stopped at a small bar for a cold drink and tried our first alligator. A little chewy but not bad. Have I told you that we are now in alligator country! Plus snakes galore. Ew! Rattlers, cotton mouths, you name it. The alligators prefer the back waters and grow to eight to ten feet. A 14 foot monster was found last month. Look for red eyes at night. The locals told us that as with any wildlife if you don’t bother them they wont bother you. But that doesn’t stop me from shaking out my sheets or checking the deck in the morning. I also want to point out that I am a big wussy about going swimming because of all the creepy crawly’s that are new to me but we see where the locals swim, have swings into the water for hot days.  


Next we stopped at Huck’s a popular local restaurant.  We shared crawfish nacho’s and they were excellent! Home made potato chips with crawfish, cajun sauce, tomatoes, onion. sour cream, jalopeneos, and tons of cheese. As you can see from the pictures I am growing with each passing day. We ordered hamburgs that I have to admit I never even bit as I was so stuffed (todays lunch for two) but I did eat the bourbon sweet potatoes. Marc is boating through the US. I on the other hand have been eating my way through. 

Crawfish Nacho’s
Just a little hamburg

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Memphis (Elvie, Beal St, National Civil Rights Museum), Grand Marina, Red Neck Marina 12-16 Oct

The deal was that after a wonderful sleep in a cove at the Pickwick Landing State Park we would visit a marina so that we could explore the Shiloh Battle Field in Savannah Tennessee. Much to our disappointment because of the Federal Government the park was closed to visitors. So second choice Memphis...

Entering Memphis Tennessee

Going to Graceland, Graceland Memphis Tennessee

Me & Elvis 
Marc on Elvis’s Plane the Lisa Marie
For Jacob

Well we went to Graceland and I have to say I was happy I went but...just a little to commercial for me. Graceland was small by todays standard for stars but 1970’s beautiful. I had to laugh my mother had a white couch (exactly same material) and blue drapes at 2017 Mc Keown Ave North bay. The only thing he was missing was her gold crushed velvet swivel chairs. I can remember brushing the shag carpet so there were no feet marks. I digress LOL. 
Any way I didn’t add to many pictures  but I guess I will 

Awards Elvis had award after award and in relation to the ones at the Grand Ole Opry Elvis wins hands down (fact: Elvis was told not to come back to the Grand ole Opry). Tacky though, they had big posters of canceled cheques that he wrote to needy people or organizations to prove that he was a philanthropist

I took pictures of the meditation gardens but not his or his family plots as it was a little to creepy for me. What did amaze me though was that around Graceland there was  a typical stone privacy wall but every inch was covered with signatures and condolences. Elvis passed in Aug 1978 35 years ago. 

The National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum was the highlight of my trip to Memphis.  The Civil Rights Museum located at the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King Jr was shot. We also visited a small interesting women civil rights museum 

Sanitation workers on strike from Memphis were frustrated with unfair treatment and low wages so the local clergy asked Dr. Martin Luther King for his support. At that time King was planning a Champaign to bring attention to poverty and economic injustices. Dr King came to Memphis many times is support of this strike. The Lorraine Motel was were Dr King and his team worked on civil & human rights campaigns. Dr King was assassinated while staying at the Lorraine April 4th 1968  

Beal Street Memphis


Grand Harbor Marina

So this time we are staying at the Grand Harbor Marina. The reason for this choice was that they had a loopers special. The reason for me posting this is to share with anyone doing the loop. The setting was lovely. The price was $1 foot for loopers plus 10% discount on everything including fuel (great deal). Spa, pool (closed first weekend in Oct). As always excellent staff. The problem was that the transient dockage was at the fuel dock and this was a busy weekend marina with allot of traffic. Also, the bathroom facilities were public with one shower for a 300 slip marina! This would be a good overnight marina but not for a long stay. 

Side Note: So the first night we were in  Grand Harbor we smell this foul smell that just about killed us. I had to turn on the fan full blast in my face so I could sleep. We thought it maybe there holding tanks. In the morning it was gone. While checking out the local sights we spot a large pulp & paper mill, much like Espanola Ontario. Smelly mystery found. 
8296 Gator Gar attracted by lights in the water at the marina

Red Neck Marina 

We met this wonderful couple Bobbie & Les Perkins of the house boat Moon Dance and there friends/relatives Sam & Elly Bates (no relation to Norman) at Grand Harbor marina. As is with so many people here they were lovely and shared a few great spots to stop along the way. One was an out of the way anchorage on Pickwick lake. So off we went on our side excursion. It was by far the nicest anchorage we have been to. We hiked, Marc swam and we had drinks with the Perkins & Bates. In the summer this anchorage has held up to 50 boats and there is a house boat that comes and sells Hamburgs and Hot Dogs. Im glad we had it all to ourselves and got to enjoy how beautiful it was. As a side bar the Perkins just downgraded from a 75’ to a 40’ house boat. I definitely had space envy and enjoyed watching (and smelling) Bobbie & Elly cooking away in the kitchen.  

Moon Dance Les & Bobbie Perkins

Marc Skinny Dipping