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Our Great Loop Blog 2017-08-28T06:16:39+00:00

In 2015, we completed the Great American Loop on the Estrellita, a 6,000 mile, 364-day cruise around the eastern half of the U.S. Our blog is the story of this wonderful adventure. By reading and looking at the photos, we hope you are inspired to spend more time on the beautiful waterways of our country.

108, 2014

Navigating through the White Rocks of the North Channel

August 1st, 2014|

Stel and I were on our own again as we slowly cruised through the western end of the Georgian Bay and into the North Channel. The emerald colored water turned clearer and colder with rock formations growing into mountains of white stone due to its quartz content. The remoteness of the area required that we spend many of our nights at anchor, which was a pure pleasure, dropping our anchor in the midst of some of God’s most beautiful creation. Navigating through some of these areas created some tense moments as we passed clearly visible rock formations just under the surface of the water, but we are extremely thankful for the well-marked channels that allow access to these special places for spending a night or two in the wilderness. After dropping the hook, the dinghy was our means to visit other boats, fish, hike and pick blueberries.

There were a few places where we would spend two nights at anchor, but we typically would pick up and move to spots that were recommended by other loopers or folks with local boating knowledge. All of the people that we met along the way were extremely willing to share knowledge of their local waters and encourage us to visit their favorite villages or anchorages.

We’re having a wonderful time, with all kinds of new experiences, but the seemingly simpler life of living on a boat comes with its challenges. A great deal of time has been spent getting access to current weather forecasts, battling the weather, studying and planning safe routes, cruising through difficult passages, finding provisions, preparing meals in a 4’x4′ galley, cleaning the boat, fixing the boat, finding laundromats, sleeping soundly in remote locations and finding ways to stay in touch with family and friends.

We have had some sad days as we have learned of tragic events with friends back at home. Some good church friends lost their 18 year old daughter and my parents lost one of their closest friends. With very limited phone signals and wifi, we have been very frustrated that we have not been able to have regular contact with our family and friends over the last few days. We are trying to make good time as we head back toward the U.S. border, where communication will be easier. We have discovered how dependent we are on our electronic devices during our time in these remote places. Please know that we continue to think deeply and pray for family and friends back home, especially those who are hurting. We love you and miss you.

1108, 2014

Pure Michigan!

August 11th, 2014|

A few years ago, there were regular tv commercials about “Pure Michigan”, encouraging everyone to visit this state on vacation. I always wondered….what’s the big deal about Michigan?? Why would I ever want to go there on vacation? Well, now I know why. It is spectacular, especially during this time of the year. The weather, the water, the landscape, the beautiful towns and villages, the family friendly parks, the hiking & biking trailways, and most importantly, the friendly people are making our time in Michigan one of the highlights of our trip.

Stel and I cruised across the US border into Michigan and checked into customs on Drummond Island. Knowing the requirements for re-entry, we had dumped our fruit, vegetables and plants before checking in. Customs came onto the boat, looked at our passports, asked a few questions and welcomed us back into the States with a smile. They didn’t even peek into the refrigerator! I was suddenly hungry for an apple or orange, as I pictured fruit needlessly floating around somewhere in Canadian waters. We spent a few nights on Drummond where we enjoyed great bike riding and even went bowling with friends one night. Our excitement grew as we cast off for Mackinac Island, a historic horse and carriage kind of place that we had been looking forward to visiting ever since we left Charleston. We had not planned to be there on our 37th anniversary, but as it turned out, we were able to enjoy a very special place during a very special occasion. We have been blessed with an incredible marriage and our anniversary has always been a time for us to celebrate! Mackinac Island provided a perfect backdrop for a fun day and a romantic evening.

We anchored in picturesque Harbor Springs where our friends Meg and Jim from Sanctuary had just “crossed their wake”! (completed their loop). In spite of their busy “re-entry” time, they graciously invited the group of loopers there for dinner at their cottage. We enjoyed 3 nights at our beautiful anchorage there, enjoying the local shopping, farmers market and bike riding. Petoskey was our next port, where I needed to leave Stel on the boat for a while and fly back to Charleston to take care of some business. It was tough to leave her, but Petoskey is a very friendly and convenient town where many other loopers had stopped for sightseeing and provisioning. Stel was in good company while I was away for 5 days. All went well for me in Charleston but looked forward to getting back to the boat. My son Sam dropped me of at the airport and from that point, the joy of air travel deteriorated dramatically. As I was going through security, TSA discovered five 38 caliber bullets in the briefcase that I brought back from home. Not good! I guess I had carried a side arm and ammo in the briefcase in the past and just forgot to remove the ammo. Needless to say, they took it very seriously and pulled me aside for an interesting body search and line of questioning. I am not sure what I was concerned about the most, the possibility of being cuffed and carted off or missing my flight back to Stel. I was finally released, barely boarding on time and was then asked to deplane because of thunderstorms. That was a first! After 2 hours of waiting, we eventually flew through numerous thunderstorms before we landed in a gridlocked Atlanta airport. During my next six hours in the airport, I had never seen such a distressed mass of humanity. With thunderstorms everywhere, nobody was going anywhere. The only happy people in that airport were the owners of the restaurants and bars. As I am writing this, I am still sitting in an Atlanta hotel, waiting for a flight to take me back to “Pure Michigan”.

In the meantime, Stel discovered what a small world we live in. As she was doing some last minute shopping in Petoskey, she was unbelievably surprised to run into Dale and Faith Hostetler, some good friends from Johns Island. What are the chances of that happening? After settling down from sheer amazement, Dale offered to drive Stel to the airport, an hour and a half away, to bring me back to the boat. When it became obvious that I would not be flying back that night, Stel invited them to spend the night on the boat. They agreed and had a great time together. As a side note, Dale built the teak countertop, name boards and front refrigerator panels for the boat before departing Charleston. Dale and Faith, I’m sorry that I missed your visit, but thank you for taking good care of my wife during your stay! You are truly great friends!!

2708, 2014

Wild Water

August 27th, 2014|

I have been boating on an angry sea before, but I never imagined that a lake could behave as badly. We left the town of Petoskey one morning expecting 10-15 knot winds and a 1 to 2 foot chop as forecasted. Stel had an intuition about what the morning would be like, but I told her “heck, we’re only going 14 miles to Charlevoix…how bad can it be?” Within 45 minutes of leaving the marina, the lake went from a light chop to 4-6 foot swells at very tight intervals making for a very sloppy ride. Stel would occasionally give me that “what are we doing out here look”, but as usual, stayed calm and supportive. Turning around didn’t make sense at that point since we were almost half way to our destination, so I did my best to minimize the stress on the boat. I had to keep the bow into the waves, so we were not able to stay on the planned course, lengthening the bronco ride considerably. My plan was to tack up into a quartering sea for long enough to be able to practically reverse the course and ride the waves back to our final destination. Regardless, everything on the bridge was flying around, including our storage box, bikes, chairs, cushions and my mate. We wondered how things were holding together in the cabin down below. Have you ever lost control when shuffling a deck of cards? When we finally got into the protection of the Charlevoix Marina, we went below and were somewhat amazed and amused to find our furniture, books, tools and accessories shuffled beyond recognition. Half of our sofa even made its way down the stairs into our bedroom cabin. A number of other boats followed us into the marina after experiencing the same kind of mayhem, and all of us wondered how the forecast could have been so far off. After putting our house back in order, with no damage done, we critiqued our planning and agreed that this lake had earned our respect.

We enjoyed the rest of the day touring around Charlevoix, one of the favorite vacation destinations for the people of Michigan. We understood why….it was a beautiful little town with homes of extremely unique architecture, flowers everywhere and surrounded by pristine bodies of clear blue water. We arrived in time to catch a terrific farmers market where we found delicious fresh cherries, vegetables and some interesting mushrooms that Stel wanted to try. The entire main street was also having a sidewalk sale. It was a very busy and fun place that day. That evening we had an informal looper gathering where we exchanged weather information and cruising plans for the next couple of days. The forecast was better for the next day, so we pulled out the next morning along with our friends on Satisfaction to make an 8:00 bridge opening. Our plan was to head for the town of Northport, only 22 miles away. Again, the conditions were considerably worse that what were forecasted, but not nearly as bad as the day before. When we arrived at the marina in Northport, we found the docks full of local boaters that were some of the nicest people that we had met on our trip so far. They treated us like neighbors, offering the use of their cars and inviting us to a town barbeque and free jazz concert. We attended one of Northport’s churches on Sunday morning and were made to feel like long-time members. After returning from church, we threw on some shorts, cranked up the engines and pulled away from Northport toward Sutton’s Bay, only a couple of hours south. When we dropped the hook it was reminiscent of the Bahamas water where we could see the bottom clearly. We launched the dinghy and went ashore to check out the town and were surprised to see Wye Tug in the marina! We had a visit with our friends Dick and Phyllis and agreed to meet them in town later for a movie. The next morning we rented some bikes better suited for long distance and then rode the Leelanau Bike Trail to Traverse City, about 17 miles further south. We were quite impressed with Michigan’s commitment to provide such unique public resources for residents and tourists. We had a fantastic day on the trail and in Traverse City before we started our ride back. Little did we know that Traverse City was going to be more that just a biking destination for that day. More to come!

2908, 2014

Welcome to Sick Bay

August 29th, 2014|

As Stel and I completed our biking adventure to Traverse City and returned to Sutton’s Bay, it started to rain and continued to drizzle as we returned the bikes to the rental shop. We hiked back to the municipal marina where we had left our dinghy for the day and then took the wet ride back to the middle of the bay where we had anchored Estrellita. We were beat, but Stel dropped down into the galley and whipped up some fantastic pasta and scallops for dinner. We toasted our great day and the accomplishment of our 35 mile bike journey!

All was well until about 10pm, when I started to experience some abdominal cramping that came to me in waves of increasing intensity. Stretching myself out, I hoped for relief, but the pain continued to get worse through the evening. By one in the morning, I was sufficiently humbled and knew I needed help so Stel called 911 and gave them our location. It didn’t take 3 minutes before the nearby marina was covered with flashing and search lights trying to get a fix on our anchorage location in the bay. It was going to be faster for us to get to them rather than them coming to us, so Stel immediately stepped out onto the rainy deck to lower the dinghy back into the water and then let EMS know that we were on the way. I literally dropped myself into the dinghy and we slowly motored ourselves back to the marina as search lights kept an eye on our progress. There was an ambulance on the boat launch ramp and they were able to load me up and get me a temporary relief injection within 20 minutes. Back to Traverse City we went to the nearest hospital. But on the way I wondered….what would we have done if we had been anchored out in the remote wilderness of Canada’s North Channel?

To make a very long story shorter, I spent a week in Munson Medical Center where I received first class treatment while recovering from an acute small intestine blockage. As many of us at our age know, those kind of problems are not only painful, but are dangerous if not resolved quickly. After my second day in the hospital, my surgeon was preparing me for the likelihood of exploratory and corrective surgery. By Friday afternoon we were at a point where we had to make a decision to have the surgery that evening, or endure through the weekend until the surgeon and operating room were available again on Monday afternoon.

As Christians, Stel and I are confident in God’s power and His involvement in every detail of our lives. We know that we are the beneficiaries of a relationship with a loving heavenly Father who wants what’s best for us. We look to HIm as our source of strength, we seek His wisdom when making decisions and we trust in His sovereignty in all things. We asked the surgeon for a few minutes to pray about the surgery and then spent some time asking God for guidance and ultimately his healing hand. Within minutes we both felt confident in telling the surgeon that we wanted to wait until Monday, trusting that there was a strong possibility my body could be healed without surgery.

It was a very long weekend, especially after 6 days with that NG tube through my nose and nothing to eat but ice chips. Stel walked me up and down the halls continuously, saw to it that I was properly hydrated, and the nurses pumped me with a regular dose of good ol’ mineral oil to get things moving. End result….the doc was very surprised to find me clear of obstruction and pain free on Monday morning. Thank God for delivering us from the need for surgery!! It might have been a trip ender.

Stel and I were overwhelmed by the support we received over the last 10 days! We want to thank friends and family back home for their calls and prayers. We want to especially thank our fellow Loopers who went out of their way to help and encourage Stel and me with visits, transportation, calls and willingness to handle the logistics of moving the Estrellita from Sutton’s Bay to Traverse City. Special thanks to Captains John Locke and Dick Radlinski for moving the boat for us. Thanks to Jim Sprow (Sanctuary), Ken & Terry (Roundabout) and Dick & Phyllis (Wye Tug) for their special visits. Now 10 days following that eventful night, we are thankful to be currently back on the water and slowly making our way down the east side of Lake Michigan toward Chicago.

609, 2014

Chasing Summer on Lake Michigan

September 6th, 2014|

We have now been on our “Loop” adventure for exactly 5 months, traveled 2500 miles through 8 states and Canada, have had our engines running for 330 hours, burned 1600 gallons of diesel fuel, negotiated countless locks, bumped the bottom twice and went hard aground once (fortunately with no damage). These statistics are fun to record and to think about, but they are not nearly as significant as the number of great people we have met and enjoyed traveling with. It is overwhelming to consider how our lives have been impacted by the people we have met and spent time with during these past months.

Each day that we have spent on Lake Michigan has brought us a crazy variety of experiences and challenges, especially as we continue to linger on the lake into the month of September. We have been told and have learned from recent experiences that the weather, specifically the wind speed and direction, will clearly dictate our ability to safely move the boat from one location to another. There are safe harbors about every 30 miles as we travel down the east side of the lake and we have been thankful for every one of them. Over the last 2 weeks, we have been able to cruise some distance south only about one out of every 3 days. If the wind is blowing from any direction with a “W” in it, we have not ventured out on the lake, knowing that it would be a very uncomfortable ride. The safe haven harbors that we have ducked into have been some of the most interesting and enjoyable towns that we have ever visited. Small towns with names like Charlevoix, Leland, Manistee, Pentwater and Grand Haven are friendly villages that thrive on boating, fishing and summertime visitors. The Michigan locals in these places are glad to see us and always interested in ensuring that we have a pleasant and memorable stay.

Patience is the key to staying out of trouble on these waters, so we have waited until the weather predictions have been extremely favorable and then ventured out for 5 to 6 hours of cruising at a time as we head south toward our final Lake Michigan destination of Chicago. Waiting for the right days has resulted in some of our most spectacularly beautiful cruising. We have typically motored about a mile off the coast in clear emerald green water with stunning views of a shore lined with huge sand dunes and sparsely populated woodlands. During these carefully picked cruising days, it might have reached 75 degrees, which makes us feel like we’re chasing what is left of a summer that eluded us in a part of the country where the we can’t stick our big toe in the water. Stel and I have not experienced a day without wearing a sweatshirt or jacket, and our bathing suits are buried in a bottom drawer somewhere. No complaints….knowing that our friends and family back home are still sweltering in the heat. Hope to be in Chicago by September 12th, spend 5 days in the big city and then start making our way down the river systems toward the deep south. God is good!

1109, 2014

From Little Towns to The Big City

September 11th, 2014|

We were loving our time in the small towns along the east side of Lake Michigan, but we knew that the unpredictable weather of the approaching autumn months called for us to be off the lake and in Chicago by mid-September. We were fortunate to have 2 great weather days in a row with variable winds and sunny skies, so we made the best of them and cruised from Grand Haven to Chicago with overnight stops in Saugatuck and Michigan City. After about 6 hours at the helm on our way to Saugutuck, Stel and I looked over at the shoreline and saw some of the most beautiful sand dunes that we had ever seen. We both felt a strong pull to get a closer look, so we took a hard turn toward the beach and dropped the anchor in about 7 feet of water. We quickly dropped the dinghy in the water and pushed through the surf onto a beach full of weekend boaters. We looked up at the towering dune and then looked at each other with somewhat confident expressions. We can climb this thing….can’t we? Half way to the top our lungs were burning, so we took a water break, took some photos, and then continued to the top. Wow, what a view! It would be the only time we would see the expanse and beauty of Lake Michigan from this height, and with a bonus of seeing Estrellita anchored in the clear blue water below.

On the following Tuesday morning, we delayed our departure from Michigan City, Indiana knowing that the winds were predicted to die later in the morning. We finally pulled out of the marina and headed west across the bottom section of Lake Michigan. We were rocked and rolled for a few hours as the swells struck us on our beam, but then as we saw the Chicago skyline appear on the horizon, the waters calmed as we hoped that they would. It was a stunningly beautiful approach into Chicago, and to say the least, we were pretty excited about cruising into the big city after spending so many days in the small towns of Michigan. Neither Stel or I have ever spent any time in Chicago, so our plan is to spend at least 5 days in the windy city. We made reservations to stay in DuSable Marina, which is located in the heart of the city with a landscape of skyscrapers towering over our “little” Estrellita.

1809, 2014

Chicago Exceeds Our Expectations

September 18th, 2014|

We spent 5 short days in Chicago and we found that it was not nearly enough time to experience all that this great city has to offer. Unique among great American cities, Chicago has kept its waterfront as a public playground and there are not too many places in the world where you can float your boat within a few hundred feet of the tallest and most impressive skyline that you will ever see. There are numerous well-maintained harbors that are actually in park-like settings. We took full advantage of the miles of bike paths that provided easy and inexpensive transportation to visit museums, parks, the zoo, Navy Pier, the aquarium, restaurants and our favorite market – Mariano’s! We were quite impressed with the city’s dedication to providing scenic, safe and enjoyable walking, running and biking access to the downtown waterfront areas. (We also were introduced to the CURB and UBER “apps” for calling taxis!) We kept the boat at DuSable Marina, which is known for it’s proximity to the heart of the city. It was great to be able to sit on the bridge of the boat and just stare at the impressive site above us, but it was even greater to be within 5 minutes of the “Magnificent Mile”, Grant Park or Millennium Park. If you have not yet been to Chicago, then go…and go before the end of September, because as you can tell from the photos, it can get a bit chilly as fall approaches.

As Stel and I were looking at all of the things to do in Chicago, we discovered that the Zac Brown Band was performing at Wrigley Field on the last evening that we were going to be in town. We were fortunate to find some tickets and WOW, what a treat! It was great enough to be able to go to historic Wrigley Field (not originally on Stel’s bucket list), but Zac Brown and his unbelievably talented band played for 3 hours and it was probably the best concert that we have ever been to.

We were sad to leave, but due to incoming weather, we pulled out of the marina early the next morning and passed through the Chicago lock, which lowers you about 3 feet into the narrow river passage through the most impressive skyscrapers of the city and then on toward the Illinois River system. As soon as we got into the middle of Chicago, we were informed by a fellow looper that a railroad bridge was under repair and we would not be able to pass beyond the city for another 3 days. We immediately turned the boat around, went back through the lock and back into Lake Michigan toward Calumet Harbor, an alternative route located about 15 miles south of Chicago. We were fortunate to have friendly weather conditions for the rest of that day, but it made for a very long run before we reached a safe stopping place in Joliet, Illinois. It was quite a industrial environment on the Cal-Sag Channel and we quickly realized that the rivers leading us down south were going to be vastly different from our days on the “inland sea”, Lake Michigan.

2509, 2014

Illinois River Adventures

September 25th, 2014|

You would think that cruising on a trawler would involve easily made transitions as we move from one area to another, but the last 10 days have been rather dramatic. As you can see from the photos, we moved from the beautiful open waters of Lake Michigan to the very congested, muddy and industrial waterways of Illinois. Our autopilot has seldom been used as we keep our hand on the wheel to navigate around huge TOWS, debris in the water, sharp bends and low bridges. To give you an idea of the difference in the water in this area, Mark Twain said “it is too thick to drink and too thin to plow”.

As most of the LOOPERS have finished the Lake Michigan section of the trip and funneled into the narrow river headed south, we have once again enjoyed the opportunities of cruising with each other in groups of 2 or 3 boats. Some of the friendships that we have made started back on the east coast, but many of the cruisers that we are now meeting are couples who are just starting their Loop adventure from their home ports in Canada, Wisconsin and Michigan. Just when you think you have met most of the people on this wonderful journey, more of them jump into the mix with new excitement and energy. One of the few sad things that we have experienced is traveling with couples who eventually finish their loop (officially called “crossing your wake”) and then having to say goodbye as they head home and take a break from the cruising life for a while. We have seen many couples celebrate the end of a wonderful experience, but not without shedding a few tears as they leave a very simple and satisfying lifestyle behind….at least for a while. Most of these couples have cruising in their blood and will be seen back on the waterways soon enough.

Stel and I continue to enjoy the challenges of each and every VERY different day. The challenges of weather, navigation, safe anchoring, finding healthy food, finding a convenient laundromat, dodging logs and TOWS, conserving power and fuel, dealing with mechanical issues, helping others and being helped by others, and maintaining good communication with family and friends keeps us very busy. Our marriage has never been better as we continue to pray, work and play together along this journey of a lifetime.

510, 2014

The Lively Mississippi

October 5th, 2014|

Those that have taken on the challenge of cruising the Great American Loop have often been accused of developing a “pack mentality”, but Stel and I have come to fully understand why it is smarter, safer and a lot more fun to cruise along side other couples for periods of time. It has become obvious that we need each other, and not purely for social reasons. Although having fun together is a major part of the overall experience, we have also found that strength in numbers equates to successfully getting from point A to point B when facing the challenges of each day’s journey. “Loyal” and “self-sacrificing” are words that describe the loopers that we have met along the way. We have been overwhelmed by an atmosphere of caring and sharing among all the people who are committed to this wonderful journey.

After talking to experienced cruisers and reading much of the information that was available, Stel and I understood that the Mississippi River might be one of the more challenging legs of the trip. With the swift running currents, changing water levels, increasing amount of log debris, leaping Asian Carp, monster tow boats, unpredictable lock schedules and busy mining ports, our boating skills were tested in conditions that we had never experienced before. During our days and nights on the rivers, we thanked God for giving us 4 consistently beautiful weather days, but were also grateful that we had some very experienced couples cruising and anchoring alongside us. Over the 4 day period, we spent a long days at the helm as we made our way from Grafton, Illinois down the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. We ran with the fast current of the muddy Mississippi and reached speeds of 13 knots at very low engine rpm (pretty exciting when you are in a trawler!). It was favorable for our fuel consumption until we made a radical turn against the current into the clearer blue water of the Ohio River and immediately slowed to a crawl of 6.5 knots. We spent a memorable night at “Hoppie’s Marina”, an infamous barge-side tie-off where the owners, Charles and Fern Hopkins, give river condition briefings to each group of loopers passing through. We were fortunate enough to be there over a Sunday night when they cook and host a potluck supper for all loopers! After leaving there with our group of five boats, we spent 3 consecutive nights at recommended anchorages off the main stream of the Mississippi River. It was our longest period without stepping on land, so it was a great time to test our ability to live on the boat with a finite supply of food, water and power. The Estrellita proved once again to be a comfortable and reliable little “home” on the water!

After a long, but memorable journey down these two great rivers, we entered the winding Cumberland River for 31 miles to the Barkley Lock and Dam where we were quickly lifted 57 feet to the north end of Kentucky’s Barkley Lake. We exited the lock chamber and were immediately greeted by the beautiful Green Turtle Bay Marina where we joined about 20 other looper boats enjoying a respite from their great river adventure! We were excited to find out that the marina was hosting their annual Looper appreciation cookout that very night, so it was good to celebrate with couples that we had been traveling with, and also some couples that we had not yet met. There was no shortage of great stories to be told!

1410, 2014

Looping Back Toward the Deep South

October 14th, 2014|

As we continue to move further into the deep south, Stel and I find that we are no longer the minorities with southern accents. We can finally refer to our northern based friends as the ones that talk a little funny. I have enlightened many of the northern loopers with the definitions of “y’all” (2 to 4 people) and “all y’all” (5 or more) to get them ready for their entry into the wonderful southern legs of the trip. I have happily spent a great deal of time convincing them that “grits”, properly pronounced gri-yets, should become a regular part of their diet, whether ordering breakfast, lunch or dinner….and should never be ordered without a tall glass of sweeeeet ice tea. It will be a hard sell, but maybe by the time they pass the coast of South Carolina in the spring, they will have adapted to some of the ways of life unique to the deep south.

Stel and I have spent the last 10 days cruising down beautiful Kentucky Lake and into the Tennessee River. Kentucky Lake is one of the largest man-made bodies of water in the world. It covers 160,000 acres, has 2,380 miles of shoreline and even though the southern half looks more like a river, the lake is technically 240 miles long. On the east side of the lake is the “The Land Between the Lakes”, officially designated a National Recreation Area by John F. Kennedy is 1963. We discovered some beautiful bays in this wilderness area and enjoyed some quiet, moon-lit nights at anchor as we made our way south. This area is one of our country’s bass fishing hot spots, so there were high powered bass boats blowing past us all day long. Sharing the waterways with bass boat traffic was a pure pleasure compared to all the tow boats that we had been dealing with during the prior weeks. As a matter of information for my fishing buddies back home, I was no threat to the bass population in the area, but was able to catch a few lumbering catfish with a high degree of fishing finesse…hotdog on a bare hook!

We have decided to take a long side trip up the Tennessee River to one of our favorite cities, Chattanooga. Our daughter, Katie, went to college in that area and we fell in love with it. It will add another 500 miles to our trip, but we may never have another opportunity to see this part of the country by water. We will be meeting some friends there, and they will hopefully be enjoying the peak of the fall colors with us as we cruise through what is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Tennessee”.