So here’s a map of our stops, right down to our actual slips. We’ll keep it pinned to the top and hopefully fairly current.
There’s a bunch of Loopers here at the Rendezvous in Rogersville, with all of us heading south to Mobile, then to Carabelle or someplace nearby, then across the Gulf. Except Michael has blown up marinas along the route. Diesel supply is interrupted. Chaos reigns. We’re thinking of staying in Rogersville awhile to let things settle. Fortunately all those years Dana spent honing her biscuit-making skills might finally pay off with a full-time gig. So we have that going for us. Which is nice.
Looperpalooza doesn’t start until tomorrow, so we took a trip up to Shiloh. On our way down the Tennessee River we had passed Pittsburg Landing, where General Buell landed the troops that reinforced General Grant and saved the day for the northern invaders. Shiloh saw more than 10,000 brave young men in gray—plus some damnyankees—become casualties. Very solemn grounds here. A must-see for any Civil War buffs.
The orange traffic cone probably is not a true period piece, but everything else is way cool.
The photo on the right is from the location of the camp commanded by then-Captain John Wesley Powell, before Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang failed to destroy the Glen Canyon Dam and the resulting most amazing lake in the world was named after him. We strongly recommend a trip to Lake Powell.
Surprisingly we didn’t find any references to Shine Marley, but Shiloh does trigger another Roger Alan Wade song.
Here’s a photo of kudzu, immediately recognizable to anyone from the South. Kudzu buries everything in its path. A Vietnam War’s worth of napalm couldn’t destroy this stuff. Kudzu is to these parts what Asian carp are to the Illinois River. Except you can’t shoot it with a bow. So Illinois wins that one.
The Fall Rendezvous starts tomorrow. Hopefully someone has updates on the storm damage so we can make some plans that don’t require Dana to work at Hardee’s.
We’re back tonight, reunited with Misty and Mini Pearl. Time to prep for the Rendezvous. Some old friends are coming in over the next couple of days so we’ll have some catching up to do. Also the rumor on the dock is that raccoons have been prowling around the boats at night. Not good. Our boys are lovers, not fighters.
Speaking of the boys, they spent some quality time in Chattanooga with their cousins. Jake and Lucy are from the fluffy side of the family, but they all share the I-refuse-to-pose-for-pictures gene.
We won’t bore anyone with stories or photos from Doug’s favorite childhood restaurants or the glorious sights of Chattanooga, but we hit them up and even worked in visits with some old friends over the past several days. Then off for the return to Joe Wheeler.
One stop along the way deserves not just a mention, but some degree of autopsy as well. That would be the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama.
First of all,, the name outrageously is fraudulent. The merchandise isn’t “unclaimed” at all. The deal is that when American Airlines, for example, loses a bag, it might end up here.
Here’s how it works. You pack your suitcase for a nice vacation in, say, Miami. Maybe watch a light comedy on the flight. They finally identify the baggage carousel and you push through the crowd, eyes focused like a hawk’s because someplace there’s a cocktail waiting. That fat dude in the Bama hat who snored so loud it pierced your noise-cancelling headphones gets his bag. Probably something in camouflage. The elderly lady who knitted in the center seat gets her red flowery thing. Even the kids who screamed for more skittles take off with their matching backpacks. Yours never shows up. So you go to the counter AND MAKE A CLAIM. “We’ll send it to you when it shows up,” says the mean woman behind the counter. “Leave us your address.” When it never shows up, you get a check for some pittance and figure you’re just out of luck.
But what happens when that bag shows up in the Detroit airport weeks later? You guessed it. The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. That’s where your underwear—hopefully not something in camouflage—goes on a rack. So do your reading glasses, iPad, shorts, shirts, razor, and everything else. And they have the temerity to call it “unclaimed.”
Second, the place smells of sadness and despair. They try to cover it up with bright signs and happy slogans, but the sadness and despair can’t be concealed. As Dana noted, this isn’t stuff that anybody wanted to lose. Nobody thinks to themselves, “We’ll be in Hawaii for a week so I’ll take along all the things I plan to donate to Goodwill when I get back.” Nope, this is the good stuff. That’s why it’s such a horrible place. When the bag resurfaces, how about you just call up the poor slob who “lost” it and offer to return it? Seems pretty reasonable to us.
Anyway, we don’t know any songs about how airlines sell—for money—the personal stuff that they lose and then falsely label “unclaimed,” but Canadian folk singer Dave Carroll did do a classic video after United Airlines broke his guitar. It’s sort of off topic, but either way it’s a good one.
Screw all of you Ms. Irlwegs and guitar-breaking bag-stealing airlines everywhere.
Ok, that’s out of our system. The good times at Joe Wheeler start soon.
So we had a great time at the Florence marina. Took some good pictures with the camera. Pulled out yesterday morning for Joe Wheeler State Park. Set the iPhone for a time-lapse of the Wilson Lock. This is the highest lock we’ll see on the Loop, so the video will be awesome. Easy cruise through the Wheeler Lock as well. Dana shot some cool pictures of a heron sitting on the lock door gobbling fish that were trapped when the water receded. Then into Joe Wheeler. Time to crank out the blog post.
Oh crap. Turns out if someone takes out the camera SD card and forgets to put it back, the photos aren’t really photos at all. They’re just distant memories of scenes that were supposed to be photos. Also turns out that if someone forgets to open the limit on the number of time-lapse frames, you get a worthless video of half a lock-through. Unbelievable. Somehow or another this must be payback for the Helen Keller jokes, since the same person seems to be the common denominator. Anyway, we have one picture of the Wilson lock and one picture of Lewis in the lock. That’s it. Double crap.
At Joe Wheeler they gave us a primo spot for the Looper Crawl. At least we got a picture of that.
From here we took off for Chattanooga for a couple of days. This isn’t a blog about a road trip across Alabama, but we’ll make note of the cotton fields and snake-handler churches we passed. No surprises there.
We stopped in for gas at a convenience store. Someone had vomited all over one of those souvenir display cases. They didn’t even bother cleaning it up. Gross. But that’s Alabama for you.*
We won’t be bothering with the details of Chattanooga, because it would just be an endless wave of superlatives. Back on the boat pretty soon. Since we’re short on photos right now, however, here’s one of the sign in front of the best pita joint in the world. RIP George.
*A clever Alabama fan might note that Tennessee has been vomiting on the football field for some 15 years. Or that it wasn’t an Alabama fan who forgot to install the camera card or set the time-lapse improperly. Fortunately, there aren’t clever Alabama fans, so we feel pretty safe.
Just like that, we’re through Tennessee. What the heck? We had to spend nearly a month in Michigan and then Tennessee gets less than a week? Anytime a plotted course requires almost a month in Michigan but less than a week in Tennessee, obviously something’s really wretched. We had planned to drag things out with a cruise up the Tennessee to Chattanooga, but the river conditions and Fall Rendezvous don’t allow it. So we’ll park at Joe Wheeler State Park until after the Rendezvous. But first we have to get to Joe Wheeler. But first we had to say our final goodbyes to Second Wave before they steamed off south.
Lewis and Terri of the Tennessee Belknaps arrived last night to cruise with us a couple of days and then shuttle us up to their house in Chattanooga. Actually Ooltewah. Silent L. That means Ankars. Yum yum.
Another perfect cruising day took us to Florence, Alabama.
Florence, Alabama, is in Alabama. Which opens the door to an endless stream of jokes about illiteracy, teabagging, tree-killing, and general deviancy. One of us has a bunch of ‘em. The other one of us thinks jokes involving mental illness aren’t funny and have no place in polite society, much less in a blog.
While in Florence we visited Helen Keller’s home—Ivy Green—in nearby Tuscumbia. Which opens the door to an endless stream of jokes about, well, Helen Keller. One of us has a bunch of ‘em. The other one of us thinks jokes about Helen Keller aren’t funny and have no place in polite society, much less in a blog.
So basically everyone loses.
We also stopped by a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence. It was pretty cool, but neither of us know any architect jokes. Probably because there isn’t much funny about architects.
Anyway, short post tonight. Rogersville tomorrow.
Today’s post should be titled with a cry-face emoji. Not because it rained yesterday. Not because the current still is strong. Not because it took Doug 8 hours to fix a problem that would’ve taken a monkey about 15 minutes. Not even because of Pickwick Lock, even though we were stuck in the auxiliary chamber for 3 hours.
While in Clifton we took a car to the Dollar General Store, which always is a treat. We had a great dockside meal last evening with a bunch of Loopers. The trip down to Grand Harbor in Counce, Tennessee was smooth and slow like the last few days. The lock delay gave us time to launch the drone AND process the video. We left at sunrise and docked just as the sunset hit Tennessee Orange.
All in all, pretty good stuff there.
But profound sadness still is the emotion of the day. For 4 months, we’ve had a cute little Mainship within about 1000 yards of us at virtually all times. Brent and Karen have become family. And we don’t mean the creepy-cousin-who-just-got-out-of-prison-after-serving-time-for-the-“incident”-nobody-talks-about kind of family. We mean the kind of family with whom we’re already planning a Lake Powell houseboat trip.
We’re headed to the AGLCA Fall Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park, because we still have half a Loop to go and need all the advice and help we can get. Brent and Karen have 8 more stops down the Tenn-Tom Waterway and then they’re done. (They may or may not share the same degree of giddiness over that fact, but it’s a fact nonetheless. Remember Karen, nobody dies on the Loop.) We’re all staying here until Friday morning, but then we continue up the Tennessee and Second Wave turns south.
In the past 4 months, we’ve battled big waves together, dodged a flying cleat together, worked through blinding fog together, and shared roughly a bazillion meals, and laughs, and worries together. Today was our last day of cruising with them. The rest of our Loop will be awesome we’re sure, but it won’t be the same. We’re sure of that as well.
Mr. Moseley once wisely advised Mrs. Hughes—long before they got married and had all that awkwardness over “wifely duties” and the reception location—that “The business of life is making memories.” We always will treasure our memories of traveling on America’s Great Loop with Brent and Karen Bazar.