Friday, November 23, 2012

A Diamond In Mississippi and Heading Towards Thanksgiving


More photos yet to come when we find adequate bandwidth. (I'm lucky to get this posted.)

Sunday, November 18th, 2012 - This is a bit of an odd entry as there is, as far as the actual cruising goes, not much to talk about. It was a short day, only 37 miles down mostly cut canals which were mostly straight and boring. Our final destination was a lovely anchorage called Jugfish Branch just two miles up from the first of three locks to be traversed on the next day.

So what is this diamond in Mississippi?

I have often said that on this Great Loop adventure even though there have been many exciting challenges, tests, locations and beautiful vistas the most wonderful part has been all of the great people we’ve met along the way: loopers and locals alike. On Sunday the 18th after we pulled out of Aqua Marina we cruised a short bit over to Grand Harbor Marina where we took on 400 gallons of diesel fuel. Their price was cheaper. As we came in we were helped by a young lady at the fuel dock. Her name is Kacie Sherman and she expertly tied us up and started our fueling. She had a very chipper personality and a broad smile. It takes about fourty-five minutes to put this much fuel into the tanks so as we always do with dockhands we struck up a conversation with her. Because of her obvious maturity I pegged her for a sophomore or junior in college. It turns out she is a seventeen year old high school senior.

Whenever I meet a young person in a small town one of my questions that I ask is what their plans are after high school or college. I’m particularly interested to find out if they are going to stay in their small town or blow the joint and head off to a bigger city, like around there, Pickwick MS/TN, it would be Memphis or Nashville. Turns out Kacie has some pretty ambitious plans. She would like to attend Vanderbilt University or another large university in the area and get into pre-med and become a doctor. Her particular interests are in infectious diseases and that she wants to return to the Pickwick, MS/TN area to work at the local hospital. As we politely asked more probing questions she briefly unwrapped her visions about where she is in her life, a few of her dreams, her faith, her love for her mother and a few of her concerns. (I think she slightly slowed down the fuel flow to perhaps prolong our conversation a bit. That was ok with us.)

As we cruised on down the route for the day Lisa and I conversed about our encounter with Kacie and we agreed that this young lady is someone to be reckoned with. She’s attractive, charming, mature beyond her years, ambitious, responsible, and intelligent; and just about as sweet a person as we’ve met. Lisa and I both have experience in running businesses and building successful teams. We think we have a pretty keen eye about people. We agreed that if we were still in those positions we would find a place for her. She’s that good.

So as you cruise your Great Loop adventure stop by Grand Harbor Marina in Pickwick, MS/TN for fuel or a few days mooring. Look for Kacie, sit down and talk with her and try to tell us that she’s not everything we say she is.

Diamonds are everywhere…even in Mississippi. You just have to see them.

And So On…

Down the Tombigbee we went. Mile after mile we headed south cruising past the wooded shores only occasionally dodging towboats and their barges. The days went like this…
cruise
cruise
wait
lock through
cruise
cruise
wait
lock through
…and wash, rinse, repeat.


We did have some very nice anchorages especially at a place called Jugfish Branch. It was isolated, serene and very anchorage friendly.

cruise
cruise
wait
lock through
cruise
cruise
wait
lock through


Do you get the pattern here?


I wish I could tell you about spectacular scenery along the way, or beautiful sport fish jumping out of the water in majestic arches splashing back down into the surface of the water with force and grandeur or even about beautiful homes lining the shore…but the truth is that the waterway has none of those things. This could be due to the time of year that we are here. Its November and the trees are in mid-loss of their leaves. The colors are not spectacular. Now, one of the fortunate aspects of my character is that I can usually find something positive in just about anything but even that has been somewhat hard to muster. Getting through the locks has not been all that bad, not really. There has been some waiting at a few of the locks but it has been tolerable. I would actually have to say that the majority of the time we would approach a lock and were ushered straight in and down.

In the end, and at the point of which this is being written, we have made our way down to just inside the border of the State of Alabama at a marina called Pirate’s Cover Marina. Arrrrr! This is where we will be spending Thanksgiving.

Many years ago I had a dream of being a river rat. I wanted a houseboat and I wanted to cruise the rivers: Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and all of the others. In the Mississippi River watershed there are thousands and thousands of miles of navigable waterways. So what do I think of that idea now? Actually I don’t think so much about it. My personality type is not right for it.  I know that there are people that are more experienced and capable than I that love cruising the rivers. And I like it too as part of the greater Great Loop as it adds immeasurably to the diversity of everything that the Great Loop has to offer, which is one of its greatest appeals of the Great Loop – Lots of different kinds of boating experiences. But as a sole and singular boating experience I can’t see myself only going up and down the rivers anymore. I’m glad I’ve done this but its time to move on. And that will happen in 307.4 miles when we reach Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Addendum: Thanksgiving at Pirates Cove Marina was a low key and relaxing day. The weather was unbelievably mild: sunny and seventy degrees. Perfect. For our Thanksgiving feast we had potato salad, corn and turkey Spam. Yep, that canned taste-treat sensation Spam – Turkey flavor. Lisa is a very good cook and her talents were put to the test in a big way. Could she transform canned meat into an all-American holiday feast? No problem! So what does Turkey Spam taste like? Turkey. As our friend Laura said in a text, "Spamilicious!" Plus eating rectangular shaped food was kind of cool. 

3 comments:

Sweet Pea said...

Happy Thanksgiving guys! You have summed up that portion of the loop correctly. the best is yet to come.

Bergs on Great Escape said...

Yep you're on the Tenn-Tom all right. The scenery will get better the further you go if you like swamps and alligors. LOL, but the time of year is also a factor. JoAnn and I have enjoyed the trip each time we've done it. When you're planning on living aboard for a long time though, you tend to anchor more than we did. We really enjoyed Aqua, Columbus, amd Demopolis marinas and the surrounding environs. But most of all the people. I made my first boat "house call" to stich up a toe at Demopolis. Try to visit Fairhope on east side of Mobile Bay if you can.Love your blog and hope to see you guys again next fall....Dave

Gaye Marie said...

I am so proud to say the "Diamond in Mississippi" you were so fortunate to meet in your travels is my lovely granddaughter Kasie Taylor whom as you found out is such a remarkable young lady with lots of dreams that I have no doubt will all be fulfilled.