Friday, June 1, 2012

Harpeth River to Green Turtle Bay

  After the storm passed through when we were anchored in the Harpeth River, we were treated to this pretty view as the storm made its way to the East.
  We didn't make any effort to get up early the next morning, but a passing bass boat did the job for us. I was glad that they were able to see us in a very thick morning fog.

  I called the Cheatham Lock and Dam to find out what their schedule was like as far as locking commercial traffic and learned that the closest tow was 17 miles downriver and they were socked in by the fog too. The lockmaster remembered us from a couple of weeks ago and said we would most likely be able to lock through before anyone else if we got on the move when the fog lifted, as we were only about 3-4 miles upstream.

  We pulled out of the confines of the Harpeth River and used our radar to poke our way down to the lock. Just as I called the lock on the radio, the lockmaster said that he was just about to call us as the gates were open, ready for us to enter when we got there.
  We had a clear sky by the time we slipped into the chamber after getting a warning about some big logs partially blocking our path. I told the lockmaster that we would just nudge them out of the way and we took up a spot on our starboard side along a floating bollard and waited. The lockmaster rolled up in his cart for a chat and we reported on the last two weeks we had spent upriver. He gave us a goodbye and told us to stop by again some time and said it would be just a bit before we were on our way.
  Rosie remarked as to how the wait seemed a bit long when we were contacted again and told that there was a minor hangup and it would only be about ten minutes or so before we could lock down. I replied that we were hanging tight and then shut down the engines to wait. A minute or two later I heard a loud banging and turned around to see a guy with a large hammer taking the upriver gate to task. It's amazing to think that this large structure could be brought in line with a hammer. Soon enough, the gate closed and down we went. With the gate open we pulled out and gave a friendly toot goodbye; no more locks between us and Kentucky Lake now, over 100 miles away.

  Rosie set to work on her morning ritual of mopping the dew off of Swing Set. We had only officially washed the boat two times since our departure on May 8th, but the boat is staying clean using this free water from nature. Holly watches Rosie to insure there is a thorough job being done.
  Clarksville, Tennessee was coming up again and I figured to arrive mid-morning, but a dip or two in the river was putting us behind and a check on the weather report promised a repeat of the storms we had on the previous day.

  The sun was still shining brightly as we made our way past the new Clarksville Marina entrance just upstream from McGregor Park and the municipal dock. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful marina. As we found our way along the dock and tied up the boat, clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, and we were glad to be in a secure spot.
  I did some figuring and came up with a plan to do some provisioning since we were in a town with a nice dock and free electricity. Did I say free electricity? We still had two days to get into Green Turtle Bay and less than 100 miles to go, so I thought we could take our time to provision, ride out the rain, and get an early start the next day.
  By the time we hooked up our electrical cords and changed into street clothes for our shopping spree, the sun was back out and it was baking. The air conditioning was switched on so it would keep Holly cool and be a welcome thing for us when we got back to the boat.
  I tried to use various programs on the iPad and iPhone to find out what was where but gave up when the most promising program kept trying to send me to a grocery store in Quebec, Canada. With the abundance of retail places along Riverview Drive, I figured that groceries couldn't be too hard to locate.
  We walked up the hill to the busy thoroughfare and the first place I saw was a BP gas station that advertised a food mart. Lucky us. The pickings were slim in the BP and the woman behind the counter confessed to "not getting out much" when we asked about the nearest grocery store. I approached a nice policewoman that was getting her lunch fix and explained as to how we were traveling by boat and was looking to get some groceries at a place not too far to walk to.
  She directed us to a place "about 3 miles up the road", and I said, "I'm 57 years old. If I do a 6 mile round trip walk, you'll have to be calling an ambulance." When she mentioned a closer place, "only about a mile up the road", we asked if it was before or after the bridge.
  "Oh, it's before the bridge", she said.
  We exited the shop with some of the stuff we bought there and with loaded arms we cautiously stepped up to cross the busy street. The name "Riverview Drive" may give you the impression of a pretty tree lined lane along a lazy river, but this was a four lane 50 M.P.H. speed limit racetrack. I grabbed Rosie's free hand and told her she was going to have to hurry. I had no intention of coming this far to die in the heat on this busy street with a loaf of Wonder Bread clutched in my hands.
  We made it safely back to the boat and dropped off what we had and set out again to get the stuff we really wanted, only now in the opposite direction. After walking over a mile we stopped into yet another convenience mart at a gas station and was told that the Big Lots store was another mile or so up the road. We know when we are licked, so we both said "forget it", and started our way back to Swing Set. We stopped at a sandwich shop to get lunch and was happy to sit in the cool dining area for a while before venturing back out in the heat and dust of the busy highway.
  We made it back again to the safety of the boat and as we contemplated our nearly two hours wasted effort to get provisions, it occurred to me that getting groceries has proven to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The oddest thing was that had we wanted to get a tattoo, or the brakes done on a Buick, there was a place to have both things done about every block or so, but no where to get something to eat unless it was fast food, or licorice whips and HoHo's.
  I was regretting my decision to hole up at the city dock there in Clarksville, but a nap and a couple of beers later, all seemed better. As late afternoon gave way to early evening, a cool breeze brushed over us as we sat in the cockpit and watched all the people using the park and boat ramp.
  Of particular interest was a young girl that walked onto the dock with three little kids in tow, all about the same age. We guessed they were triplets. Apparently a younger brother of hers came by shortly later and we were wondering what was up when what looked like the father of the two older ones came motoring up in a jon boat that was about 12 feet long and looked like it had fallen off the trailer at least a couple of times. We watched with some trepidation as they all piled into the tiny boat for a late evening ride. I'll give the guy credit as he pulled out three tiny life jackets for the youngest ones, and was even more impressed as he kept pulling out lawn chairs from I don't know where on this little boat, for the adults to sit on. I was about to ask if they had sufficient life jackets for the rest of them, but thought that it might be an insult. I had second thoughts about not saying anything as they let loose of the dock before he started yanking on the starter cord on the tiny outboard motor. They didn't drift away too far before the Mercury sputtered to life and they putted happily away, all of us waving at each other.
  Rosie and I buttoned up Swing Set and set off to stroll to an O'Charlies at the opposite end of the park. It was a nice walk and lots and lots of Clarksville residents were out enjoying the evening.
  We walked into the restaurant and were quickly seated and we ordered a couple of big draft Bud Lights in frosty glasses. We chuckled as we were carded by the pretty waitress and we struck up a conversation with her about our trying to find a grocery store. A woman was setting behind me and jumped into the conversation to help, even to drive us when we got done eating. I did a quick study of the circumstances and noted that her and her date were finished eating and I didn't want to rush our dinner, especially if I had to continue talking to her with my head turned around and my food in front of me. We thanked her profusely for her offer and settled in to a nice meal.
  In each of the nice waitresses visits to our table, we found out more about her and her life of going to school and trying to make ends meet for her young child and fiance. When the bill came, Rosie was so impressed by the cute thing, she wanted to tip her about 35%. I put the brakes on her generosity and we settled on just over 20%, our normal amount. Rosie is not as cynical as I am, but no waitress is worth her salt if she doesn't have a sob story or two in her arsenal, just for saps like us.
  By the time we walked back to the boat, the sun had set and we retreated back to the cockpit to get what was left of what turned out to be a good day. Our friend in the jon boat had successfully disembarked his passengers, with a proper head count, and as he passed by, he said, "I'm curious"...
  I was ready for a question about our travels, as he might have noticed our "Port of St. Louis" on the transom, but he said, "How much does that boat cost?"
  A phrase I use when a question is not appropriate, or when I just don't want to tell, is one I learned from a good friend a long time ago when I would ask him a similar question, is the one I used here; and it was, "I can't tell you". Add a smile at the end and question time is over.
  By 7 A.M. the next morning we were again on our way. It started out pretty but the forecast was a sour one, predicting severe P.M. showers. We passed Bumpus Mills, our anchorage that we stopped at on our way upstream at about mid-day, and the weather was holding out, but the radar was promising rain later on. I calculated that at our rate, we could be at Green Turtle Bay by about 6 P.M., so we called our friend Madge Koerner, and asked if she would be around; she held our package sent from Tom at the Good Windlass Company with our circuit breakers in it that we ordered.
  As we entered into the widening part of  Lake Barkley, the clouds started moving in and we knew a storm was eminent. We had some sparse showers as we made our way past a couple of tows going in our direction, and when we got to within 4 miles of our destination, the sky opened up and we got plenty of wind, rain, and lightening; only the chartplotter and radar kept us on course. I kept one hand on the wheel and the other was gripped around my bourbon and Coke, like any good captain would do.
  The rain had settled down to a sprinkle by the time we pulled into the marina and was greeted by Madge and her son-in-law Brett Thompson. We told some stories of our last few days and were invited to go on a shopping spree the next morning with Brett.
  We have traveled about 900 miles in the 23 days we've been gone so far and have really enjoyed it. Our plan is to catch some drag races over the weekend that our friend Little John is in over in Kentucky Lake, and then just chill out for a couple of weeks to build up the fuel fund some. Payday is on the 1st for us and we had just about scoured the bottom of our checking account on the 31st. No big deal. If things come too easy, they're not appreciated as much.