Friday, August 25, 2006

I tried, unsuccessfully, to add these photos to the previous blog posting, but if you've read it you'll understand the setting. This first photo is of Todd jumping off the top of the sundeck when we were in Whetstone with Dave Yurchak and family. Dave's wife, Cindy, took the photo.

This is a photo of us at Ricatoni's Italian Grill in Florence, AL.

This is a photo of us with Bud, the infamous "Iceman," at Cajun's in Florence. We were honored to have Bud as our first official overnight guest since becoming liveaboards.

When we last left you, we were headed back to Aqua Yacht Harbor to pick up our chest freezer that they had been working on and to settle our bill with them.  We arrived last Tuesday evening and when Todd went to settle the bill Wednesday morning, we weren't able to because the Shop Foreman, Tony, was off that day. So, we ended up staying at the marina until Thursday. Bud, the Iceman, called Wednesday afternoon while we were at the marina and we made plans to go to his house for dinner that evening.

We had heard that Bud had a nice place, but we weren't prepared for how nice it really is - wow! He has a spectacular house and a beautiful and spacious lawn right on the lake with an absolutely incredible view in all directions. Todd was disappointed that we hadn't thought to bring the camera so that we could post a picture on the blog. Hopefully we will still be able to do that before we leave Pickwick to head south for the winter.

After a wonderful evening of great food and conversation with Bud, we got things squared away with Aqua Yacht the next morning and were able to head back out to Waterfall Cove around noon. Kelly called as we were underway to see if we needed anything and said that he was on his way to the waterfall as well. Kelly's friend, Mike, followed the pontoon on Kelly's waverunner, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon chatting and hanging out. Todd even took the waverunner for a little spin before Kelly and Mike left to go home.

While we were sitting on the sundeck Friday afternoon enjoying the sights and sounds of the waterfall, a couple in a nearby boat swam over to our boat to chat with us. We had seen them in the cove several times but hadn't ever spoken with them. Bo and Terri introduced themselves and told us that they really want to become liveaboards, so we spent some time answering questions, talking about our experiences thus far and showing them the boat. We have since e-mailed with Terri and few times and hope to get together with them again when we return to Pickwick.

We left the waterfall Saturday morning to go to Grand Harbor to pick up Dave and Cindy Yurchak, Dave's daughter (Tila) and her husband (John) and their two boys, Will (12) and Reed (2). Dave's daughter lives nearby in Corinth, MS and Dave and Cindy had taken a long weekend to drive down from Springfield to pay them a visit. For those who don't know, Dave was my Senior Buyer when I was the Director of Procurement at Missouri State University and has been running the show since I left. We toured past Waterfall Cove, which was already filling up for another busy Saturday, and went down to Whetstone where it is a little less crowded for a day of fun on the water.

Will had a good time jumping off the top of the sundeck and even got Todd to join him a few times. We also took the dinghy over to find the waterfall that is buried in the back of Whetstone. It is smaller than the waterfall in Waterfall Cove and is not visible from the lake, but it is every bit as cold! Will and Todd were the only ones brave enough to stick their heads under the fall. We took Dave and family back to Grand Harbor Saturday afternoon and then headed upriver to a neat little cove we had stayed at last fall with Duane and Sue. We spent a couple of peaceful evenings there and decided to leave for Florence, AL on Monday morning.

Shortly after we got underway, the port engine began running hotter than normal and we were still having problems with the shaft overheating on the port engine, so we decided the prudent thing to do would be to go back to Aqua Yacht and get these issues taken care of. Once again, we found ourselves at Aqua Yacht for the evening. Todd quickly located the source of the overheating engine - a bad impeller - and was able to replace it. He had replaced the impeller while we were in Demopolis, but the impeller he installed was a spare that the previous owners had left on the boat and it dated back to 1989! Impellers are small rubber wheels, shaped something like a paddlewheel, and the rubber had gotten old and wasn't able to withstand the pressure of the water being pumped through it. As a result, the flaps (or paddles) on it had basically disintegrated and it wasn't pumping enough water to keep the engine properly cooled.

At any rate, we were relieved that the engine issue was an easy fix. Tony, the Shop Foreman, wasn't able to get down to the boat on Monday afternoon to look at the port shaft, so we decided to go back to Freddy T's for a quick bite to eat that evening. The next morning, Tony came down and helped Todd adjust the alignment on the port shaft - again - and by noon we were ready to go. We decided to go back to Waterfall Cove for the evening and start the journey to Florence on Wednesday. It was quiet at the waterfall, but then Bud showed up around 5:00 p.m. in his pontoon and we spent a few hours visiting with him before calling it a night.

We started out for Florence again on Wednesday morning around 10:00 a.m. and had an uneventful trip upriver, arriving at the Florence Marina about 3:30 p.m. We got situated in a slip and prepared to go eat at Ricatoni's Italian Grill, a place we have heard nothing but good things about from a number of people on Pickwick. The marina didn't have a courtesy vehicle available, so we called a cab since we were told the restaurant was about two miles away. After having gorged ourselves on fresh bread dipped in olive oil and Ricatoni's signature herb mixture, along with a fair amount of our main entrees, we decided it might be a good idea to walk back to the boat.

Neither of us had paid much attention to how we got to the restaurant, but we managed to find our way back to the marina easily enough and the walk did us both good, even though we were still stuffed when we got back to the boat! For the record, we think it was probably only about a mile from the restaurant back to the boat and at least half of it was downhill, which was good considering how full we both were.

Buddy, our nearly 15-year-old male Pomeranian, woke up Thursday morning with an issue that required medical attention. At some point during the night, his penis became fully unsheathed and it wouldn't go back inside! After calling around to several veterinarians to see what could be done, we made an appointment to take him to the animal hospital. Since the appointment wasn't until 2:15 p.m., we borrowed the courtesy van - a unique experience in its own right! - made our Wal-Mart run, came back and put the groceries away and then took Buddy to the vet.

While they were attending to our child, we went back downtown and visited Trowbridge's Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop. We had been told by the waiter at Ricatoni's that Trowbridge's has the best ice cream in town, and ice cream is a real treat for us now since our freezer on the boat isn't cold enough to keep it (and we probably wouldn't have room to store it anyway). Trowbridge's is an old-fashioned back-of-the-drug-store kind of establishment and, as promised, the ice cream was very good. Todd was quite enamoured with the place and ended up ordering a pimento cheese sandwich to complement his chocolate-strawberry malt. I stuck with a double scoop of chocolate marshmallow almond ice cream in a cone and it was delicious!

To backtrack just a bit... shortly after we arrived in Florence on Wednesday afternoon, Bud called to see if we were still at Waterfall Cove and, if so, whether we needed anything. We told him we were at the marina in Florence and invited him to join us here for dinner. He said he couldn't do it Wednesday evening but maybe Thursday. Before we left to go to Wal-Mart on Thursday, Bud called and said he was going to ride his Sea Doo to Florence - a 47-mile run - go out to Cajun's with us Thursday evening, and spend the night on the boat. Cajun's is another local establishment we were told we needed to visit while we are here, and it is one of Bud's favorites.

Bud cruised into the marina around 5:00 p.m. and we had a few cocktails on the boat before taking a cab to Cajun's where we feasted on both baked and fried crab claws and seafood gumbo while sitting at the bar watching the chefs work their magic on the grill in front of us. The food was wonderful, and we really enjoyed the neat environment and friendly atmosphere. It was a pleasantly cool evening, so we returned to the boat and sat on the sundeck for a while before retiring for the evening.

Friday began with coffee on the sundeck followed by a few Bloody Marys to start the day off right. We tried to talk Bud into staying with us another night but he decided he needed to head back to check on things at Pickwick, so I fixed breakfast and we sent him on his way shortly after noon. The main lock above Florence was damaged recently when a barge was locking through, so they are using a two-stage auxiliary lock until the main lock is repaired. Since barges take priority over pleasure boaters, we will need to call ahead to the lockmaster to see when he can get us through. However, I think the Captain has decided to stay here another night and head out in the morning, or whenever we get the green light from the lockmaster. Our next marina stop will probably be in Guntersville, AL which is about 100 miles upriver.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cheerleaders, Friends & Doctors

Well it’s 6:00 a.m. on this Tuesday morning, and since the Admiral is still snoozing, the Captain thought he might take a shot at the blog, especially since it’s been another eventful week on the water.

Last Wednesday evening while we were still at Aqua Yacht Marina, we went out to dinner with our good friend, Bud “Ice Man” McNeal. Bud is the gentleman who helped us move trucks and boat trailers after Duane’s accident last fall, a true southern gentlemen! We had a nice dinner just a mile from the marina at Freddy T’s that included duck & seafood gumbo, which was out of this world!

The evening before our dinner with Bud, our other good Pickwick Lake friend, Kelly Greer, stopped by on his pontoon boat just as we were getting ready to leave for a Wal-Mart run. Since we were not really excited about driving the 20 miles to Wal-Mart, we ended up hanging out with Kelly on his boat for a late night of cocktails and boat rides, although some of us had a later night than others.

I guess we got started about 5:30 p.m ., drinking, chatting, and listening to music on the pontoon. Just after dark, since there was a full moon, we decided to take a pontoon ride back to Waterfall Cove. As we passed by Grand Harbor Marina, the marina that was so helpful during and after Duane’s accident, we stopped in to see if we could find Chip Lucas and his boat, “Chips Ahoy.” Chip is the gentleman who came out in his dinghy last fall when we got on the radio and May Day-ed for help in transporting Duane to the mainland where the ambulance was waiting.

Chip, who also lives aboard his boat, was not on the boat but we did find him on another dock driving around in his golf cart. We spent some time with Chip catching up and thanking him again for all his assistance last fall. I just can’t say enough good things about all the fine folks in this part of the world! After leaving Grand Harbor we boated the three miles to Waterfall Cove only to find that it had clouded up and we were not able to see the full moon. We enjoyed the trip, though, and arrived back at Aqua Yacht sometime around 11:30 p.m.; however, since none of was feeling any pain I can’t swear that the time is accurate.

The Captain had to call it quits about 12:30 a.m., leaving Kelly and the Admiral on the pontoon to tough it out until 2:30 a.m. Needless to say, the majority of the following day was spent recovering from the previous night’s adventures! We finally made it to Wal-Mart on Thursday morning and were joined in the courtesy van by another couple who lives aboard their 38-foot sailboat and were headed into town (Corinth, MS) to rent a car. This couple has put over 20,000 miles on their sailboat over the past eight years, spending time in areas from Canada to South America. I wish we could have spent more time with them; however, I’m sure we will see them along the waterway another time as I’m finding out just what a truly small world it is out on the water.

After returning from our Wal-Mart run and waiting out a rain storm on the docks, we were once again headed out to Waterfall Cove for more adventure on Pickwick Lake, and adventure we found! After a very quiet and cool Thursday night, I went out early Friday morning and caught some fish for another (future) fish fry. This photo is of a nice Pickwick Lake smallmouth bass caught and released within sight of “Life’s2Short” at Waterfall Cove.

Shortly after I returned from fishing, we started our Friday off with visitors from Memphis, and you could hear them coming down the lake from a mile away. We were blessed (some more than others) with the arrival of the University of Memphis cheerleading squad aboard their rented 70-foot houseboat... are you getting the idea of who was blessed and who was not? ;-) We counted at least fifteen folks on board the houseboat but it was hard to really tell how many were on board because they were never all together at the same time.

Now, for the record, there were both male and female cheerleaders and hard bodies abounded all over that boat! “Life’s2Short” had a front row seat for the next 48 hours of the cheerleaders partying and their air-show. After they got their houseboat anchored, which was an ongoing affair, the group had a big time jumping off the roof of the houseboat and swinging off the 25-foot rope swing at the waterfall. The music was loud, the Jungle Juice was cold, and by late afternoon I’m sure the group was feeling no pain, except those who managed to belly-flop in the water when they jumped off the waterfall and the top of the houseboat.

The group actually settled down a little bit about dinner time but I could tell it was going to get “ugly” after the sun went down and they got their batteries recharged... and they didn’t let us down. After dark the music went back up and the clothes came off. I won’t go into details as I’m sure your are getting the picture. :-) One of the nice things about “Life’s2Short” is that when you close up all windows and doors it becomes pretty soundproof so we were able to get a good night’s sleep.

The following morning I was up about 6:30 a.m., and lo and behold some of our cheerleaders were actually up. I’m not sure they had been to bed yet as a few of them were holding and drinking cervezas... ah, to be 21 years old and that tough again. Kelly and his dogs, Harley and Lucky, also stopped by early and were gracious enough to bring us ice - again! Kelly spent a few hours with us and then went back to pick up his wife Melissa and daughter Caroline so they could come back out to the waterfall for a BBQ.

Shortly before Kelly left, I heard that the cheerleaders were in need of some supplies and since I had fresh ice and Bloody Mary mix but no vodka, I rowed the dinghy over to see if I could make a trade. After a brief discussion, a deal was made - they had their supplies and I had a fresh quart of ice cold vodka. I love the barter system, especially when it involves cheerleaders!

The rest of Saturday was spent with Kelly and his family watching all the boats in the cove and enjoying a wonderful feast that Kelly put together. By Saturday night the cheerleaders were much more mellow and we were entertained by karaoke from the top of their houseboat. Lord knows, some of them could have used some singing lessons. :-) Late Sunday morning our weekend entertainment pulled out and then we were joined again by Kelly and Melissa as we enjoyed another leisurely day at the waterfall.

Before Kelly and Melissa left for the day, Kelly and I agreed to meet early the next morning to try our hand at some catfishing. About dinner time, as most of the boats were departing, our friend Bud stopped by on his Sea Doo and brought us a sweet treat from Memphis: two Krispy Kreme donuts. By Sunday evening everyone but “Life’s2Short” had gone home so the Admiral and I spent a quiet evening relaxing and reading in our now private cove.

As planned, Kelly showed up in his pontoon about 7:30 a.m. Monday morning and we headed up the lake to try our luck. After about an hour with no bites we came back to the waterfall and cast our rods off the back of the boat to see if we could catch some catfish right out our back door. After just a few minuets I had a bite and up came a small catfish, this was going to be easy... or so I thought. Well, the catfish had swallowed the hook and, in the process of trying to get the hook out, the fish slipped from my grip and the sharp, spiny, toxin-covered barb on the catfish speared my palm, driving the barb an inch into my hand. This was not going to be easy after all!

After a few attempts to pull the barb out while my hand and arm went numb, we decided it would be best to run to the doctor’s office to see about getting it removed. Kelly and his pontoon came to the rescue, and a short time later I was in Dr. Peters’ office getting the barb pulled out and receiving a prescription for an antibiotic to keep the wound from getting infected. It’s always an adventure on “Life’s2Short” and I am usually the reason for such excitement, much to the Admiral’s dismay. I now know why I don’t catfish much, but since I promised the Admiral a catfish dinner I guess I will still keep trying, either that or find a good catfish restaurant.  After paying the doctor bill, the Admiral decided a catfish restaurant would have been much less expensive!

To spare any additional trauma to my injured hand, the Admiral offered to row Buddy to shore in the dinghy late that afternoon for a potty break. It was rather amusing watching her rookie attempt at maneuvering the oars. Below is a shot of her as she neared shore. You can barely see the top of Buddy’s head in the front of the dinghy.

It is now Tuesday morning and we are once again enjoying our private view of the waterfall. The hand seems to be healing fine and we plan to head back over to Aqua Yacht Marina later this afternoon to pick up the chest freezer they have been working on and download this edition of the blog. After that, who knows what will happen next in this wonderful live-a-board life. All we know is that it’s a new day and we are blessed to be alive and healthy and enjoying each day to its fullest.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The final three locks on the Tenn-Tom went well, even the “big” one which is three times higher than the others, although we spent a few anxious moments fighting to keep the bow rail off the lock wall. That’s typical of many of the locks, but this one seemed to have more power behind it than any of the others. And I suspect it did given that it takes 46 million gallons of water to fill it compared to about 14 million gallons, on average, for the other locks on the Tenn-Tom.  Regardless, it was a great feeling to finally be in Bay Springs Lake when that whistle sounded and those lock gates opened!

As soon as we got out of the lock, we radioed “Miss Pip” to see where she was anchored. “Miss Pip” belongs to Chuck & Pip (a.k.a Jan), a couple we originally met on the water when we were limping into Demopolis on one transmission. Actually, we didn’t officially meet Chuck & Pip until later, but they passed us on the water and Todd and Chuck talked on the radio for a while. Shortly after we pulled in to Midway Marina last Sunday, “Miss Pip” pulled in behind us to get fuel. Unbeknownst to us, Chuck & Pip had been staying at Midway for several weeks and were getting ready to go to Bay Springs before heading up the Tennessee River to Chattanooga.  Anyway, we went over to see them last Sunday evening on their dock and made plans to get together on Bay Springs.

Upon entering Bay Springs Todd began to scout out some possible anchorages he had located on the map. We spent some time doing that and then headed to the area where “Miss Pip” was anchored, called Five Fingers Cove. We located “Miss Pip” and explored that area a bit trying to determine where we wanted to anchor. We were surprised to find the lake several feet higher than it was last fall when we were there. The lake is about six feet lower at winter pool than it currently is, so most of the sandy beaches we saw last fall are not currently exposed.

After some exploration, we decided to go to the spot where we beached our Sea Ray last fall, drop the anchor, and back in to shore so the swim deck would be close to the beach and we would be able to swim from the boat to shore relatively easily. Well, that turned out to be quite an ordeal. We dropped the anchor far enough out from shore so that Todd could back toward shore while setting the anchor and then we were going to secure the back of the boat by tying a rope to a tree on shore. After dropping 75 to 100 feet of anchor chain, Todd began backing toward shore but the anchor wouldn’t catch and he was getting too close to shore to continue. So, we wound the anchor chain back in and tried again.

In the meantime, storms are popping up all around us and the wind is not helping matters. We go through this drill three times before it appears that the anchor is finally holding. Of course, the wind is not allowing us to keep the stern pointed toward shore for very long and the anchor chain kept pulling us forward, so Todd wasn’t able to shut down the engines and get a rope tied to shore to hold us in place. Since I was not about to try to back us into shore while Todd jumped off the back with a rope, the only alternative was for me to take the rope to shore. When Todd got the boat positioned the way it needed to be, I jumped off the swim platform, rope in hand, and started swimming toward shore.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my visor off before jumping in the water, so I was swimming with a visor in one hand and a 100-foot rope in the other, trying to get to shore while the wind was blowing the boat around and the anchor chain was continuing to pull us forward. I also had to keep the rope taunt between me and the boat so that it didn’t get tangled up in the props and this turned out to be quite a challenge, all things considered.

I finally made it to shore and was trying to get the rope to a tree, but the darned boat just kept pulling away from me and I was screaming at Todd to “Give me some help here!” (among other things)! I know he was doing what he could, but I also knew I couldn’t hold a 15-ton boat in place with the wind and anchor fighting me. Todd finally got the boat back into position and I got the rope tied around the tree and then had to stand in the water panting for several minutes, trying to recover, before swimming back to the boat. As it turned out, the water below the swim platform was only about 5-½ feet deep so I walked most of the way back!

After recovering from the anchoring ordeal, we got the dinghy down and boated over to see Chuck & Pip. We spent some time chatting with them over a few cocktails and then invited them over to our boat the next morning for Bloody Marys. They arrived with a beautiful platter of freshly boiled shrimp in tow and we proceeded to spend a few hours chatting and drinking Bloody Marys and snacking on shrimp and grapes. Chuck toyed with the idea of taking his dinghy to the marina (about three miles away) to get some ice but since we were probably going to pull up anchor and move to a different location the following day, we decided we could wait.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, me reading and Todd scrubbing his dinghy. It had gotten quite a lot of river scum on it from the Tenn-Tom so he wanted to clean it up and put a coat of protectant on it. About 5:00 p.m., Chuck called and said he was going to the marina for ice so he brought his dinghy over and he and Todd took off (you can never have too much ice). When they got back, Todd informed me that Pip was cooking Chicken Parmesan for dinner and we were invited, so we got ready and went over to their boat for a wonderful evening of conversation, excellent food, drinks, and watching the stars from the upper deck of their boat. It was definitely one of the most enjoyable evenings we’ve had on the water.

Chuck & Pip were planning to leave Bay Springs the next morning (Wednesday) and start heading toward Chattanooga. Even though we had planned to spend several days on Bay Springs, we decided to go with them as far as Pickwick Lake and spend more time in Bay Springs when we head back down river this fall since the water will be at winter pool by then and more sandy beaches will be exposed. Besides, we learned that Chuck & Pip had never been to Waterfall Cove and we wanted to make sure they experienced it before leaving Pickwick.

About 10:30 Wednesday morning, we pulled anchor and started the 35-40 mile journey through what they call the Divide Cut which separates Bay Springs from Pickwick Lake. It was a very hot day and we were more than ready for the trip to be over by the time we reached Pickwick; however, we needed to make a stop to pick up a few essentials before going to Waterfall Cove. When we were on Pickwick last fall we learned about the Sportsman’s One Stop, a little convenience store just up the road from the bay outside Aqua Yacht Harbor.

Last fall we were able to tie the Sea Rays to the small courtesy dock just down from the store and walk up to it, but the dock isn’t large enough for “Life’s2Short” or “Miss Pip” so we had to anchor in the cove and lower the dinghy to get over to the dock. Todd went over and picked up Chuck in our dinghy, and Pip and I stayed on the boats while the boys went shopping. The owner of the One Stop was just bringing some people back to the dock in his golf cart when Todd and Chuck arrived, so they hitched a ride to the store in his cart, got what they needed, and then he brought them back to the dock.

We put the dinghy back up, pulled up anchor and headed to Waterfall Cove, which was about five miles away. When we arrived, there were several boats pulled up on the gravel point where we wanted to tie up, so Todd maneuvered his way around them and we got situated while Chuck & Pip waited for enough of the locals to clear out so they could come in next to us. By the time we were secure, several of the other boats had left and “Miss Pip” was able to come in. The photo below shows us nudged up on the gravel bar.

Waterfall Cove is a very popular local hangout and is a big party cove on weekends during the summer, so we planned to stay there through Friday and go somewhere else for the weekend. The cove itself is not terribly large, but there is a nice pea gravel point big enough for several boats to pull up on and the cove is big enough to accommodate quite a few boats and people. But, as you can imagine based on the photo below, the main attraction is the waterfall that cascades off a high bluff at the back of the cove. It is entirely spring-fed and runs year-round, and the water as you get closer to the waterfall is noticeably cooler. If you’re brave enough to actually get under the waterfall, you’ll see how truly cold the water is! There is also a rope tied to a tree near the top of the bluff that people of all ages climb up to, swing out on and drop into the water below. Todd swung off the rope several times last fall but the rest of us were content to sit back and watch!

As I mentioned, it was a very hot day and by the time both boats were secure, it had turned into a long, hot day for all of us. Cold drinks and rest were in order! As the sun began to get lower in the west, we sought out available shade on the fronts of our boats and chilled for a while. When the sun was finally behind the trees, we moved to the back deck on “Miss Pip” and spent the evening enjoying the cool breeze coming off the waterfall, which is one of the nicest things about being there on a hot summer evening. Since none of us had eaten for several hours, Chuck & Pip offered to grill some Bubba Burgers they had in the freezer. We contributed a large can of baked beans and had another great evening hanging out with Chuck & Pip, enjoying their company, the waterfall-cooled breeze and beautiful scenery.

Since we had been treated to dinner two nights in a row by Chuck & Pip, we invited them to dine with us Thursday evening. They told us they both love fresh fish, so our hope was to be able to have a fish fry. Todd had caught some fish about a week ago but needed to catch a few more to have enough for the four of us. Being the great fisherman he is, this turned out to be an easy assignment. He promptly went out Thursday morning and caught more than enough fish to supplement what we already had, so the fish fry was on.

Thursday afternoon, Kelly surprised us by showing up at Waterfall Cove in his pontoon boat. We had met Kelly and his dog, Harley, in Waterfall Cove last fall when we first met Mike & Mary of “WhatDazeIt.” Kelly has kept in touch with Mike & Mary and they told him about our plan to become liveaboards and gave him our blog site address. Kelly sent us a comment from the blog site when we first set it up, but we didn’t have a e-mal address for him and weren’t able to even acknowledge that we had received the blog comment, so we were hoping to run into him while we were at Waterfall Cove.

We spent most of Thursday visiting with Kelly, Harley and his new dog, Lucky, on the pontoon, and then we prepared dinner for Chuck & Pip after Kelly headed for home. Todd was in charge of frying the fish and I fried potatoes and made a salad since I didn’t have any cabbage to make cole slaw. Chuck & Pip contributed their world famous hush puppies which were made with onion and jalapenos and were outstanding!  Chuck & Pip were planning to leave Friday morning and spend a few days in Florence, AL, about 30 miles upriver, so we didn’t stay up long after dinner. Of course, it was after 9:00 by the time we ate, so it wasn’t exactly an early evening any way you look at it!

Chuck & Pip left Friday morning before I was even out of bed, although I did wake up as they were pulling out of the cove. Todd had suggested that they pull their boat over to the waterfall before they left so that he could take a picture of it with the waterfall in the background, and having done that, they were on their way. This is one of the photos Todd took that morning.

Kelly came back around noon on Friday and brought us some much needed ice for the cooler. He mentioned that there was a chance for rain that afternoon and sure enough, we got quite a storm a few hours later. We were on the sundeck on our boat, so we stayed nice and dry while the storm raged on the main lake in front of us. It looked like rollers on the ocean as the wind blew and the rain poured down, but we were nice and secure in our waterfall anchorage with bluffs protecting us from the north wind. After the rain was over we went with Kelly in his pontoon to pick up his wife, Melissa, at a dock near their house.  Kelly showed us some nice anchorages along the way before bringing us back to Waterfall Cove, and then he and Melissa visited with us a while longer before heading toward home.

By noon on Saturday, the cove started filling up with boats. We had originally planned to leave before that happened, but we had also planned to join Bud, a.k.a. The Iceman, in another cove that day and hadn’t heard from him, so we stayed where we were and watched as more and more people gathered in the cove. As with Kelly, we met Bud last fall at Waterfall Cove and after the accident with Duane, Bud was instrumental in helping us get our trucks and boat trailers from Saltillo, TN, where we originally launched the Sea Rays, back to Pickwick.

Bud is affectionately known as “The Iceman” because he travels around the lake on his Sea Doo and can’t carry much ice with him, so he reportedly asks people if they can spare some ice for his drink (Stoli & grapefruit juice) after his supply of ice runs out. Anyway, Bud finally showed up on his Sea Doo about 3:30 or so and was on his way to an annual gathering of Parrot Heads (Jimmy Buffet afficionados, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term) in a cove on the other side of the lake, but by then we were pinned in so we decided to just stay there and watch the festivities at the waterfall (see photo below).

By late afternoon much of the crowd has dissipated, and just before dark Bud pulled up in his pontoon, Sea Doo in tow, with several friends of his from the Parrot Head gathering. We visited with them for a while and bid them ado as it was starting to get dark and we hadn’t yet eaten dinner.

Late Saturday evening, a young couple in a small cuddy cabin with a Golden Retriever on board came in to the cove after we had gone to bed and pulled up on the gravel bar near us to spend the night. When they got up Sunday morning, Todd offered them some coffee, for which they were very grateful, and we visited with them for a while before pulling up anchor to find a new spot for the day. After spending Saturday in Waterfall Cove, we wanted to leave while we still could and try out another cove a few miles up the lake called Whetstone which we had been told was a good anchorage.

Prior to us leaving for Whetstone Todd was out picking up litter on the gravel point and found a $10 bill that someone had apparently dropped the day before. Todd commented that his old boss, Fred, would be very jealous of his find! We spent Sunday in Whetstone in relative peace and quiet, which was a nice change of pace after Saturday. There were actually a number of boats in Whetstone, but it was nothing compared to the masses in Waterfall Cove.

Late Sunday afternoon Bud came cruising through the cove in his pontoon with his Parrot Head group from the evening before, plus a few more, and they pulled over to the boat to chat for a while and tour “Life’s2Short.” Shortly after that, we pulled up anchor and headed for Aqua Yacht Harbor, where we are currently, to have some work done. I’m not sure how long we’re going to be here, but I’m hoping we will be able to leave by tomorrow afternoon.

Being back on Pickwick and renewing the acquaintances we made last fall has really brought back memories of our time here with Duane & Sue. Most of those memories are wonderful, but obviously many are painful as well, as this is where we lost Duane just a little more than ten months ago. In fact, we spent our final night together at Waterfall Cove before the accident that claimed his life occurred the next morning.

Even though the return to Pickwick and to Waterfall Cove is bittersweet, we also realize that we wouldn’t be here now, pursuing our dream, had it not been for the loss of our dear friend last fall. We don’t really have any definite travel plans at this point, but we want to spend more time at Waterfall Cove (during the week), and we also want to go to Florence, AL where we’ve heard there are a number of good restaurants to check out. However, we also want to spend more time with Kelly and Bud, and we still need to stop in to see Jason, the Dockmaster at Grand Harbor Marina who was so helpful to us both during and after Duane’s accident, and Chip Lucas who lives on his boat at Grand Harbor and who responded to our May Day call and transported Duane in his dinghy to the ambulance waiting at the Grand Harbor boat ramp.

So, we’re not sure when we will go to Florence or if we will continue up the Tennessee River toward Chattanooga once we get to Florence. Todd spoke with Chuck & Pip today and they are upriver from Florence and would like to meet up with us again at some point. The main lock above Florence is going to be closed for the next month or so to repair some damage caused by a barge and they are using an auxiliary lock to move traffic upriver, but the auxiliary lock is causing delays of several hours for boaters trying to lock through, so we may wait until the main lock is back in operation before trying to go beyond Florence.

At any rate, that brings you up to date since our last post. We plan to do laundry and restock with groceries while we’re here and then we will decide where we’re going, probably on a day-by-day basis. We have not been able to access the Internet while on the water since we got to Pickwick, so unless we get lucky and happen across a really good signal on the Cingular air card, we probably won’t be able to update the blog or answer e-mail for a while. Please check in from time-to-time, though, just in case!