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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tenn-Tom Trip, June 14, 2011

Last night was really cool after the storm. When I woke up it was about 65 degrees!
We got an early start today, leaving the Marina at 6:05, and the lockmaster at Stennis Lock had the doors open for us when we arrived. By 6:30 we had been lowered about 26' and were exiting the lock on the lower side.

Early morning fog made the river seem extreemly peaceful.

I don't think I've ever seen this many buzzards in one place. This is one of 6 towers they were covering.

Not the prettiest group of girls at the dance.
For the first few miles I was a little dissapointed in the scenery.Downstream of the lock, the scenery looked bland and artificial. We didn’t see anyone fishing, and the pelicans, herons and other birds we were so accustomed to seeing had vanished. Then after a few miles we began seeing hundreds of birds – buzzards! We passed under an electrical distribution line and there were literally several hundred buzzards perched on the electrical towers and along the river bank. Like some people, buzzards are more attractive if viewed from a distance. My new camera let me get way too close to their faces. I was beginning to think that buzzards was all we would see today.

Thankfully the scenery soon changed and we ended up seeing (and getting pictures) of 2 bald eagles, a raccoon, osprey, and several other birds. Glenda and I are both trying to get used to making the new camera work like we want it to, but sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own. We are getting pictures that we never could have made with the older cameras, but we need to work on using the features of the new camera to make the quality of pictures a little better. As we travelled farther downriver toward Belville Lock and Dam, we also passed more and more homes. Many were the kind of homes that made you wish you could just sit in the swing on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea and watch the river flow slowly by.
I never get tired of seeing the bald eagles.

Prettier than the buzzards.

We're not sure what he was looking for, but he was in a hurry!

We didn't seem to bother him as he walked along the bank.

I don't know what to say about this one - "Just in Case?"

Another unexpected structure!

These ladies were taking it easy under a "whole yard" fan.
At 11:20 we arrived at the Tom Beville Visitor Center and the historic snagboat “Montgomery”, which is dry docked on the riverbank. The Beville Lock and Dam is adjacent to the snagboat and visitor center.

The snagboat, (which I mistakenly thought dated back to the Civil War period), was commissioned in the 1920’s, and powered by coal-fueled steam boilers. It is a true piece of history, and they’ve done a great job of restoring it. It was easy to imagine what life would have been like for the workers onboard.

The Snagboat "Montgomery", circa 1926
The wheelhouse looked like it was still operational!

Glenda loved the rear lounging area. Through the window you can see the paddlewheel.

The view from the upper deck was great.
The visitor center is also impressive, but I failed to see any historic or cultural significance to it, since it was built in 1985. (That’s pure opinion on my part.)

Just before we left the site, a tug with (I think) 5 barges exited the upper end of the lock and passed by us headed upstream. We would see him again today at Stennis Lock as he was in the process of locking up when we arrived. The wait was short and we were soon in the lock for the second time today.

As soon as we came out of the lock on the upper side, the first thing I saw was our white pelicans! They are much prettier than the brown ones we see on the coast, but I do love to see the brown variety circle above the water at 40 or 50 feet and the fold their wings and plunge at what looks like 100 mph into the water. More often than not, when they surface they are swallowing a fish. I guess God made us all different.

We tied back up in our slip at the Marina and headed for town in the truck to sample some of Columbus’ fine dining. Then after we left Backyard Burgers, we stopped by Walmart to pick up a few things. Back at the marina, we showered and tried to post this entry to the blog, but the bugs overtook us at the office and we couldn’t get a strong enough signal to connect to the wi-fi from our slip at the far end of the marina. I’m writing this in MS-Word, and I’ll cut and paste it tomorrow when I can get closer to the wi-fi router.
Most of the turtles drop off into the water before we get close enough for a picture. These hung around a little longer.

I had almost given up on seeing an osprey on this trip. Then this guy and his mate flew by late in the afternoon.

Wondering what kind of creature might make this his home.

The tugboat's pilothouse stood above the lock gates as he waited to go upstream. As soon as he was out, the chamber was emptied and we got the OK to enter the lock.

They may not be as aerobatic as their brown cousins, but they are prettier.

Glenda Says:
Ladies never believe what men promise!  Tom said if I got up right away and got ready he would take me into town for a cup of coffee before we left.  Welllllll, I fulfilled my end of the bargain but by the time he finished his toiletries he said it was too late!  Oh well it is a bad habit anyway.  The morning was beautiful.  I even got a little chilly as we skimmed across the water at 5:50. A.M.  We got through the lock without any difficulties.  I am always scanning with the binoculars because, by golly, if I can see it with the binoculars Tom can take a picture of it with his super-duper new camera!  Early in the day was best.  We saw the bald eagles closer than I have ever seen them.  (my best God moment of the day)  "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles. "  Then we spied a easy going racoon walking along the bank looking for breakfast.  He did not seem to be particularly concerned with us so we were able to get some good pictures.  By the time we arrived at the "snag boat" it was getting hot.  We ate lunch before we toured the boat.  It was commissioned in 1926.  I told Tom if he built me one like that I would go anywhere he wanted to go.  (but I would probably need a wheelchair)  We walked through the vistors center, mostly for the air-conditioning, but the antiques were nice.  Then it was back on schedule if we were going to make it back to Columbus marina by 7:00.  I napped briefly on the way back but it seems that while was I trying to nap was when Tom decided to get all friendly and toot the horn at everybody he saw.  Can you tell that by the end of the day the heat had made me a little irritable.  At one point when I was tying up the boat Tom said, "I will tell you what you doing wrong there one day when you're not dehydrated" .  He is a smart man!

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