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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer 2014 Demopolis trip Sunday

Yesterday's rain shower cooled the air down, and I was able to sleep last night. This morning Abby continued her boating lessons by handling the wheel as we backed out of the slip, then maneuvering us gently up alongside the fuel dock. She really is doing well, and of course we are very proud of her!

On the other side of the fuel dock were two huge tug boats. They had disconnected thier barges and left them moored upriver, then pulled into the dock for fuel. The attendant told me that one was getting 2300 gallons of diesel and the other was getting 1800 gallons. I'm glad I don't have thier fuel bill - our tug only holds 18 gallons (smiley face icon). There were two other tugs waiting in line to get fuel too! I don't know if that is typical for a Sunday morning or not, but it was sure a busy place.

We travelled up the Back Warrior river about 12 miles to the electric plant and turned around. On the trip up we saw mostly fishermen (and ladies), but by the time we were returning, they had been replaced by ski boats and pontoon boats. The wildlife seemed to be hiding or sleeping for the most part today, but the cloud cover and cooler weather made for an enjoyable boat ride anyway.

Glenda says:
The sleeping was much more pleasant last night.  The air was noticeably cooler.  I had the first coffee of my trip this morning.  Tom went to mcdonalds and got us breakfast before we headed off for the day.  Abby backed us out of the slip and docked us at the office to pay for another night.  We were finally on our way up the black warrior around 9:30.  I finally sighted a little raccoon along the river bank but he was too quick to get a photo.  Tom took us into a little inlet and we watched some wood ducks and a loon.   Abby and I climbed up on the bow and from there I could see the gar swimming just below the surface.  We rode all the way up to the power plant and then headed back.  We got back just before the afternoon thunder showers hit.  We went back to Halls catfish and ate way too much again.  We went for an evening walk around the park and sat at the civic center and watched boats come down the river.  I always tell my students that I don't know how to have fun.  But that's wrong!  It just that THIS is my idea of fun!

Abby says;
I slept much better last night since the storm yesterday cooled things off. Today was much cooler than the past days, so I was much happier. I backed us out of the slip this morning and then I pulled us up to the fuel dock so papa could  pay for another night. I drove for 30-45 minutes after that. Then I crawled in the v-berth and slept for a good hour. (It was a VERY nice nap!) after my nap I got up on the bow with GG and we rode through a little inlet. When we came out of the inlet, I ate a tomato. On the way back I just played my iPad. When we got back around 2:00, we went to eat at hall's catfish for dinner/lunch. After that we took a pleasent walk to the park and the civic center and watched some professional wave runners do flips, and we watched a 100 foot boat pass by. I'm glad that I found time somewhere in my busy schedule to go on another boat trip with papa and GG.

Daisy says:
Today I went on a really fun walk! And even though today it wasn't as hot as it has been, Abby is still making sure that I have ice cubes in my water bowl.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer 2014 Demopolis trip

Last night was miserable. The heat was almost unbearable, and I slept very little, waking up every few minutes with sweat rolling down in my eyes!

We had a light breakfast and pulled out of the marina headed North on the Tenn-Tom. Rattlesnake Bend loops off to the West from the main waterway, making a ten mile loop before hooking back into the main river just a mile from where it left it. About 1/3 the way around the bend I caught a glimpse of a small doe deer running along the bank. She was too fast for Abby and Glenda to see her. My other "gift" today was the small kingfisher that sat for several minutes on a tree branch and let me get a decent picture of him. They look like cartoon characters, and although we see them a lot, they usually fly so fast and dart back and forth so quickly, I can never seem to get a good shot of them. 

I had heard about the hay art location, and I knew Abby would get a kick out of seeing it.

Glenda says:
We made it a more leisurely morning this morning.  I was still awake by 6:10 or so but we didn't rush to leave the marinia.  We decide to do "rattlesnake" bend and just look at the sights.  There were more boats on the water today.  I had decided today I wanted to see a snake.  You know there have to be thousands out there somewhere.  So I kept a close look at the banks studying every stick I saw.  Finally on the return trip, while I was out on the cockpit, Tom sighted one swimming briskly across the river.  We also collected a very large specimen of what Tom called a mock orange.  It was just strange to me to to see a tree on the river bank with large green balls hanging from it.  We came on in, showered and had a very nice buffet lunch at the Farm House restaurant.  Then we did some site seeing around Demopolis.  We drove out to see the "hay" art and visited Bluff Hall.   The beautiful antebellum home holds lots of history. p   After an afternoon shower the temps have cooled down a little.  We took a late afternoon cruise around close to the marina and Abby and I practiced pulling the boat up to the dock.  Tom didn't yell at me a single time.  I think with the temps down a little we will all sleep better tonight. 

^ I was still in my pjs but GG insisted I take a picture with the mock orange ~Abby 

Daisy says: today we went for a little drive. Don't I love car rides!! I can sleep cofortably in someone's lap and that's just what I did!! (I mean woof!)

Abby said; today we, well what stood out to me was when we saw the snake swimming in the water. Also today GG spotted an Osage orange tree so we got close and she picked one off. Most of the day though I slept because I have at least 40 mosquito bites and being sweaty and hot hasn't been helping them. So today we got some calamine plus itch cream (yay!) oh!! I forgot to mention the hay "art" that was out in the middle of the field. There's some pictures below:

^ I think I like my bathtub is better ;) ~ Abby 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer 2014 Trip to Demopolis

This morning we left the marina about 6:10 am and headed downstream on the Tombigbee River. At the Demopolis lock, we were taken as soon as we got there, and lowered 40 feet to the Coffeeville Lake Pool level. Our destination for the day was Moscow Landing, a well known fossil site that extends to the riverbank. Abby had wanted to go there ever since Glenda and I told her about it after our trip there in November of 2012.

About an hour south of the lock, Glenda spotted a large doe getting a drink from the river. We slowed the boat and watched her walk calmly up the bank until I yelled (too loudly) for Abby to get a picture. At that point she decided it was time leave, and scampered into the tree-line.

Just before we got to the US 80 bridge, Glenda yelled "eagle" and pointed just as a bald eagle landed in a tree on our left side. We made 3 wide circles in the boat trying to get a good picture, but he was mostly hidden behind the tree leaves. He finally tired of us being too close and he flew downstream past the bridge and out of sight! I did manage to get a slightly blurry shot of him in flight. We also saw a  large hawk and several kites on the trip to the landing.

Once at the landing, we found a soft spot and nosed up to the bank. I tied the anchor rope to a tree on shore and Abby, Glenda and Daisy joined me. We walked for about 45 minutes and found lots of interesting fossilized tree branches as well as fresh tracks from deer, raccoon, and coyote. We had seen fossilized sea shells imbedded in rock at the waterline in a couple of places, but there was no way to secure the boat there, since the bank was solid rock.

After being lifted back up the 40 feet to Lake Demopolis again, we returned to the marina and drove into  town for a BBQ and a trip to Walmart.

Abby says: today papa and GG woke me up a little before 6:00!! That's a little too early for me so I crawled in the V-berth and slept until we got to the demopolis lock and dam. Shortly after we went through the lock, we saw a deer (that I got a really good picture of), a bald eagle, a red-tailed hawk and a kite. Further down the Tombigbee river, we stopped and nosed up to a sand bank. There we picked up and brought with us some fossillized tree branches and quartz. When we got back, we went and ate at smoky joe's for dinner. After dinner we came back and swam in the pool again.

Daisy says: Today  we got out of the boat and went for a walk. It was soooooo hot!!!!! And when we got back I couldn't go inside because my paws were muddy. But my momma sat with me so it wasn't so bad. 

GG says:
We woke early this morning and got off for our adventure.  We were hoping to make it to the fossil site before it got too hot but we didn't make it.  It seems I never  tire of being outside and observing God's creation.  The heat is not really bad as long as we are moving but when we get back to the marina it gets intense.  The air conditioned washroom/shower/ lounge is very nice.  We have also enjoyed the pool area.  But evening get stressful in the heat trying to get everything ready for bed.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer 2014 Trip to Demopolis

Abby is 12 now, and her life is full of Church camp, cheerleading, gymnastics and such, which doesn't leave much time for taking boat trips with the old grandparents. So we were glad when she was able to take a few days and accompany us to Demopolis. Our other trips to this portion of the Tenn-Tom Waterway yielded sightings of tons of wildlife as well as dinosaur-age fossils at Moscow Landing. Abby has really wanted to see the fossil bed, which is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Today we trailered the tug to Kingfisher Marina, and after getting gas and ice and tying up the boat in our assigned slip, we dropped the trailer in the storage lot and drove to town for a catfish lunch.

When we started to leave the restaurant, I turned the key on the truck and heard that sickening "click click click" sound. Almost before I got the hood up there were 4 guys at the front bumper offering help. A loose battery terminal seemed to be the most likely offender, and by the time I got a pair of jumper cables from my toolbox, one of the men was pulling his truck alongside me. 10 seconds later my truck was cranked and the Good Samaritans were leaving. There is nothing like small town southern hospitality!!

We spent a couple of hours cruising the area on the Tenn-Tom and Warrior River, then cooled off in the marina's pool. On the way back from the pool, I stopped and retightened both battery terminals on the truck.

Glenda says:
I'm so glad to get back on the boat!  All day long and no acid reflux.  We ate an early lunch at Halls Catfish (used up all my calories for the entire week).  I had a brief sick feeling when the truck wouldn't crank after lunch but then I had the opportunity to give Abby a life lesson about men.  Before Tom got the hood latch pulled ( I promise it was less than 1 minute) there were men gathered around the truck.  Abby ask "what are they doing?"  I said " oh men live for this".  It improved our day and I think it made theirs that in less than 5 minutes we were on the road. After getting a few supplies at Walmart we went to the marina and got on the water.  We cruised up the Black Warrior and enjoyed the scenery.  Abby and I sat up on the bow when we went up one of those narrow inlets that opens up to a larger body of water.  The sights and the sounds were like Jurassic Park!  I did manage to get some exercise in the really nice pool here.  After a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a short evening walk we showered and settled in for the night.

Abby says: It has already been a fun trip! Before we even got on the boat we were already starting an adventure, because who knew that the truck wasn't going to crank when we were trying to come back from lunch?! It didn't take long though to get it started again. As I watched Papa try and crank the truck, I also watched a man and his two friends whispering and spying on us! Within thirty seconds there were three men and a truck all pitching in to start the jumper cables to get it started again! Right after we were moving I asked Papa,"so everybody just carries jumper cables with them...all the time?" He laughed and said,"yep, and never date anyone who doesn't have them or doesn't know how to use them!" After we got back, we hopped in the boat and enjoyed a pleasent ride through some shallow inlets. GG and I sat on the bow of the boat and watched the huge gar splashing in the water. After a few hours of that, we came back and enjoyed swimming in the marina's swimming pool. The pool was perfect! It was pretty big, but the deepest part was 4 feet. So it was just right. It had some fountains, and a ramp, and I could see under the water pretty good, but the best part was that there was nobody else there! We had the whole pool to ourselves. So today was only the first of 5 super fun days!

Daisy says: it's really hot!!!!! 95 degrees is just about to much for me! But I love spending time with my family and everybody I meet!!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Notes from our Delta Trip with Dani

We took the iPad on this trip, loaded with an app to write our blog posts. It worked pretty well, but would not allow us to add a caption to the pictures.

Tonight, back at home on my computer, I made a few additions and corrections to the posts we'd done on the iPad, and also added captions to the pictures.

If you looked at the blog posts for this trip prior to Wednesday night, March 26, please go back and look at the pictures again. They make a lot more sense with captions.

Also, I got some really good video of alligators and bald eagles on this trip. I can't get them to post directly to the blog, but over the next week or so I'll put them on youtube and put a link to them on the blog with a new post.

Our total trip distance for the four days was about 105 miles. The Knot-So-Fast ran perfectly during the whole time. I haven't filled the tank, but we ran pretty slow most of this trip, so I expect that we got over 12 miles to the gallon.

This is our fourth year of cruising with the Knot-So-Fast, and she is showing a little wear and tear on the topsides. After another trip or two this summer, I plan to rework the bulwark and cockpit, and add some storage in the cabin. Unfortunately, we can't magically make the boat bigger, which is what we really need. So....... sometime in the not-to-distant future, Glenda and I will have to make some decisions about buying or building a bigger boat.

Thanks for viewing our blog. We enjoy sharing our trips through it, and we REALLY love to hear your comments and feedback.


Tuesday March 25, 2014. Day 4 in the Delta

Last night we anchored out in Sardine Pass, just a short distance from Five Rivers' dock. The water was smooth and we watched mullet jump and the two osprey at the nest in front of us until dark. The wind shifted as some point and swung us toward the shore until the anchor alarm went off. I motored back to about our original spot, then set another anchor off the stern. That held us in place the rest of the night.
One of two bald eagles that showed us their flight skills along the Tensaw River

This morning we woke about 6:00 and the water and wind were calm, although the forecast is for the wind to pick up during the day, to about 20 knots. We made coffee and hot chocolate, then pulled up to the canoe dock and let Daisy have her morning walk before we idled out of the pass into the river. We were at low tide, and the water was a good 2' shallower than when we came in yesterday, but we didn't have any trouble getting out.

The first birds we saw today were the osprey at the Blakely - Apalachee river split, but as we approached Blakely State Park, the eagles put on a show for us! It's great to see them flying in the early morning sun, as the sun catches the white tail feathers and makes a "flash" every time they turn.

We continued up the Tensaw River and slipped under the railroad swing bridge, then turned West down a narrow pipeline canal which connected to Big Lizard Creek.  Big Lizard Creek winds its way back and forth and connects back to the Mobile River just South of the I-65 bridge (which is affectionately called the "Dolly Parton" bridge).
We saw dozens of herons, flying or standing motionless at the water's edge.

These ducks were so colorful they looked like they'd been painted.
When the ducks flew, you could see the blue of their wings!
Bald Eagle hunkered down in the wind.

Big Lizard Creek is narrow enough that you can watch for wildlife on both banks, and the wind was picking up as we started upstream. We were entertained by a red-tailed hawk, osprey, great blue heron, egrets, cormorants, a beautiful swallow-tailed kite, and eight ducks that looked like they were painted by an artist. (I guess they were!)

By the time we connected back to the Mobile River, the wind had really picked up and the weather forecast was calling for near freezing weather overnight, so we made the decision to load up the boat and head home. We had wanted to take Dani to see the Indian mounds on Mound Island, but that will have to wait until another trip.

Dani drove for awhile and the downstream ride to Dead Lake was fast (about 8 mph) as we were traveling with the wind and the current! When we turned North for our last ride up Dead Lake, I slowed down so we could get one last look at it. None of us wanted the trip to end, but we knew it was the best option. As a final surprise just before we got back to the marina, a flock of what I think were juvenile White Ibis's, gifted us with a few minutes of flying in front of us, perching in a tree till we caught up, then flying ahead again. They were so funny looking. It's like they were reminding us that there is more to see in the Delta!!! I can't wait to get back down here and explore more of one of Alabama's best secrets!

Our farewell committee. A whole flock of these (juvenile White Ibis's ?) made the final trip up Dead Lake with us.

Glenda says:
After our visit at 5 Rivers we anchored out or stayed out on " the hook".  It was a quiet night and I got up a couple of times and if it had not been so chilly I would have stayed up a while just to look at God's heaven.  The stars were twinkling in the black sky, there are no words to give it justice.  We were up and going by 7:00.  We stopped for a few minutes to let Daisy take care of her business.  We drank hot chocolate and instant coffee to warm up.  Then we were off.  We decided to take the more scenic route back to the marina.  We glided up Big Lizard creek, the narrowness of the creek made me feel like we could almost reach out and touch the trees.  It felt like we had gone back in time.  It was hard to believe the interstate was just a couple miles over.  We enjoyed the sights of more eagles, ospreys, herons and more.  Electronics, technology and other forms of entertainment are nothing compared to the sights and sounds out on the water.  But.....I think we need a bigger boat!

Dani says:
I slept good again. I like sleeping on the boat. We saw a swallow-tailed kite today. I kept a checklist of the birds I saw. I got the checklist at the Five Rivers Gift Shop. I had 16 birds checked off!
One of them was a great cormorant. Another was a great blue heron. But the kite was my favorite because of his tail. It was really cool!

This trip was better than Disney World !!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014, Day 3 of Dani's Delta Adventure

Last night the wind really picked up and the boat rocked back and forth, making the dock lines creak all night. We slept pretty good, though, and woke to cooler but less windy conditions.
We ate a quick breakfast and I showered while Glenda and Dani did some housekeeping and took Daisy for a walk.

About 8:40 we untied the lines and headed down Dead Lake again, this time with The Original Oyster House and Five Rivers as our destinations. On the 21mile trip down Dead Lake, the Mobile, Tensaw, and Apalatchee Rivers, and Pass Picado to the Oyster House, we saw Osprey, herons, egrets, cormorants, duck, and Dani's first ADULT bald eagle!

Going under the "14 mile" Railroad Bridge" was an adventure too. 2 years ago we had managed to squeeze under the bridge without the Tender having to raise it, but the bridge had been rebuilt, and I wasn't sure about the water levels. We needed about 8 and 1/2' of clearance, and it looked close. As we approached, I was talking with the Tender by radio, and I noticed the water gauge read 10', just as he said he had a train coming. Rather than try to pass under with a roaring train only a few feet overhead, I shifted into reverse and gunned the throttle to overcome the 2 mph current, and backed away until the train passed. Then we squeezed under with about 2' of clearance. 

After eating our fill of seafood ( Dani had chicken ), we pulled away from the Oyster House dock, and got another quick glimpse of the bald eagle before he flew away. As we rounded the point to turn South on Blakely River, we saw an osprey doing construction work on her nest. As we snapped pictures (not easy on a rocking boat), her mate arrived with a load of Spanish moss. Their nest hung out over the water on a tall tree limb, giving them and us a good view as we watched each other!

We had fun at Five Rivers at the Learning Center, Museum, gift shop and walking trails. We are tied up at their dock now, but we'll anchor out a few hundred yards away for the night. The last picture on this post is the two osprey we are sharing an anchorage with. I'm not sure if they like us being only 100 yards away, but we're enjoying watching them!

Glenda says:
The morning was beautiful!! The sun was shining right in the door of the boat and I had high hope of a warm sun shiny day.  But high clouds quickly covered the sun and we only had filtered sunshine throughout the day.  The 20 mile trip down to the Mobile causeway was nice however.  By the time we arrived at the Oyster House restaurant on the causeway it had warmed up nicely.  Just as we pulled up to the dock a young man unloading a truck yelled out "that's a nice ride you got".  It's always fun to talk to the different kinds of people that enjoy seeing our little tug.  We enjoyed our lunch and headed on to 5 rivers.  On the way we had an exciting sighting of our national bird, the majestic bald eagle.  Tom got great pictures again.  We feel right at home at 5 rivers.  Dani loved seeing the wildlife exhibits and climbing trees.  It is so quiet on the water.  The sounds of the birds and the water lapping against the boat are so soothing.  I may just let my husband talk me into doing more of this. 

Dani says:
The sleeping bag is warm, so I slept good.  I ate pecan spins  on the dock before we left.  I took Daisy on her morning walk.  I went with papa to dump the porta potty YUCK.  Today's topic is birds.  We started our trip and I saw a tow boat pushing 7 barges.  Then we saw a train go by on tracks that we went under!  It was awesome!  We saw lots of white egrets, some ospreys building their nest and the eagle.  We also saw ducks and lots of loons.  We got a salute from a man on the shore when he saw our boat.  G.G. said that meant he liked our boat. When we got to 5 rivers papa bought me a toy eastern bluebird that makes real tweets.  Tonight we are anchoring out.  We are right beside an osprey nest I can see the mother and father watching out.

Dani enjoys her breakfast on the pier at Mobile Delta Marina

There are lots of tow boats and barges on the Mobile River!

The Knot-So-Fast is about 8.5' tall in the water. After this train passed we slipped under the "14 mile Bridge" over the Mobile River

Dani, Daisy and Glenda were kind enough to let me drive most of the time!

One of the many osprey we saw on our trip

We spotted this bald eagle just before we arrived at the Oyster House. He was so far away, it pushed the limits on my camera to get a shot of him.

These Osprey built their nest overhanging the split between the Apalachee and Blakely Rivers.

The Knot-So-Fast tied up at Five Rivers dock. We anchored for the night about 100 yards to the left.

From our anchorage, we had a great view of this pair repairing their nest. It was better than TV!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014 -- Mobile river delta day 2

Glenda says:
Woke up a little grumpy this morning.  Didn't sleep too good.  Had a little instant decaf that didn't help a whole lot either :). We tried to get in a little cruise before the rain arrived but didn't make it far before the rain got heavy.  While the rain was light my mood lightened just watching the steady drops of rain fall in the water, it really is beautiful.  We were moving along very slowly just enjoying the morning.  That gave us the chance to notice a hornets nest hanging in a tree.  We got some good photos of the nest before we turned back to the marina. It only rained for about an hour and a half, but we decided to stay at marina and do laundry.   We took a nice walk while we waited on the clothes. We drove up to Bay Minette and ate lunch at the Shrimp Basket. Wouldn't you know, I walk in and there are Jake and Jennifer Parker.  They were enjoying some quiet time without children.  We returned to the marina and got back out on the water by 2:00.  It was noticeably cooler.  No more sitting on the back enjoying the sunshine .  We really are enjoying the wildlife (I'm not just talking about Tom and Dani).  We saw turtles and a very large water moccasin.  I don't think I would survive if I fell in this water.  We also saw another alligator laying in the same spot as the day before.  I think this one was a little smaller though.  I'm not looking forward to the shower tonight since the air is so much cooler.  But I can handle it. Dani and I have decided that it is special if you can be a girly girl and still be tough. 

Dani says:
Last night I slept good.  The weather was sleepy weather.  I took Daisy for a walk this morning.   I've never seen a hornets nest before and first thing this morning I saw one.  Then it started raining and we had to come back.  While we were doing laundry I went to the park and after that papa made me a clover necklace.  It smelled good!  Then we ate at the shrimp basket.  I ate grilled fish and French fries. We came back to the marina and took a boat ride.  Today's topic was turtles and we saw some turtles.   We also saw a big snake.  We rode to the I65 bridge and went under it.  It was soooo cool.  After a while we saw a tug called Father Pat pushing 5 barges.  I saw an osprey too. Now we are cooking dinner.  Papa is grilling pork chops and me and GG made baked beans.  I can't wait to eat!

Pork chops, baked beans and chips. It doesn't get much better than this.

Our homeport for this adventure was the Mobile Delta Marina on Dead Lake, near Creola, AL

This hornet's nest was about 50' up in the trees.

We wanted to see his head, but he never moved. He was huge!

Jewelry for little girls isn't as expensive as it is when they grow up. Dani is modeling her clover necklace and crown.

Access by boat only. Old fishing and hunting cabins are found all through the delta.

I-65 Bridge over the Mobile River

Another view from Little Lizard Creek. Glenda told Dani it was called the Dolly Parton bridge because of her "big hair".

Much of the delta is a wildlife management area or owned by the "Forever Wild" program.

I double dog dare you to stick your hand in there!