Yup, still at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama. Two weeks is a long time to be stopped anywhere. The issue isn’t the park folks. They’re great. The Fall Rendezvous also was great. It’s just that we’re in Rogersville, Alabama. And apparently we can’t ever leave.
There’re very few reasons to stay in this part of this state for two weeks. A hostage situation comes to mind. Or jail on trumped up charges. We’re still here and have had to drive up and down to Chattanooga multiple times because Benny needs a specialist to figure out his issues. Despite all we’ve done for him, he has the temerity to get old on us. So basically we’ve been in an Enterprise rental car yo-yo on a 3-hour string.
Back to the reason we came in the first place. Last spring we hit up the Spring Rendezvous in Norfolk. That was some 3,000 miles and 200 locks and scores of adventures and blog posts ago. This one seems different, probably because we no longer are pie-eyed newbies.
Attendees are lumped into three basic categories. Those who are planning to Loop at some point cleverly are labeled “Planners.” Duh. On the other end of the spectrum are “Gold Loopers.” Those are people who’ve completed the Loop at least once. (Platinum Loopers are the subset who’ve completed it more than once. Perhaps they can’t think of anything else to do when they finish the first circuit. Or maybe they’re like kids on a merry-go-round who can’t get off and then they get dizzy and throw-up.) We’re in the “In Progress” group, which makes sense since we’re in progress. One thing we noted when everyone got up to say a few words about themselves: Loopers and wannabe Loopers generally are funny. And wordy. Very wordy. We’re all insufferably wordy. Some of the “brief comments” were longer than a Harry Chapin song.
During the Looper Crawl, folks open their boats for people to examine. Before exposing Misty Pearl, we hired some locals to buff and polish and loofah her stretch marks. That required a couple of spins in the fairway—with Dana flipping lines and fenders with ballet-esque synchronicity—captured by Debbie on Bucket List. Overall the maneuvers were flawless. Okay it really was nothing about which to brag, but to people who weren’t there it at least sounds tricky. We intended to take some pictures during the Crawl, but forgot.
Anyway, for us we wanted to get info regarding the upcoming scary passages. Like the dreaded Gulf of Mexico crossing. The Crossing is so daunting that some people skip it, which most everyone else believes invalidates any claim to a gold burgee.
By now it should be clear that Dana is the brains of the outfit. She decides where and when we go. Doug just steers. The point of that here is that one of us had to take Benny back up to Chattanooga for the Wednesday visit. Dana stayed at Joe Wheeler to soak up the informational pearls that will guide Misty Pearl along to the finish line. She was going to take some pictures at the seminars, but forgot. Fortunately someone took a shot of her organizing the Friday departure. We’re all heading in the same direction from here, and 40 boats hitting the locks at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
Doug got back Thursday in time for us to run Mini Pearl down the lake a bit for some close up scenery. We remembered at the last minute to take a picture or two.
After some dinghy time, it was drone time. Which brings us full circle to yet another reason—apart from Nick Saban—to dislike Alabama.** This is a gorgeous oak tree. Just look at the size of that trunk. The issue isn’t the tree, as such, it’s that these horrible people put it directly in our drone flight path. So basically they killed the drone. In fairness Mallory shares some of the blame, because she texted some silly comment about the dogs, and the text blocked Doug’s view of the drone camera. One might ask why Doug didn’t stop flying if he couldn’t see the screen. One also might ask why—after The St. Johnsville Incident—Doug still was flying sideways with the drone behind him out of sight. It goes without saying, of course, that anyone asking those types of questions lacks the knowledge and competence and perspective to be taken seriously.
So what happens when the drone hits a tree? Well obviously we call Brent. Based on our experience, 100% of the time Doug finds greenery with the drone, Brent can spot it through the leaves and branches. Crap, Second Wave literally will cross her wake in Mobile Bay tomorrow. Probably can’t get Brent back up here even if we offer a truckload of Shiner.
The thing about standing under a tree looking up is that pretty soon a bunch of people are standing under the tree looking up. Just as the crowd gathered a housekeeper for the lodge passed by and volunteered that a few short minutes earlier she’d heard something hit the trunk. And there, on the ground at our feet, we found the lifeless carcass with its guts off to the side and its only eye blown out of its socket. The video didn’t survive.
RIP little friend. We’ve shared some great times.
But wait. This is a story with a happy ending. Turns out DJI now offers a Mavic Pro 2 Zoom! This bad boy has enhanced obstacle recognition designed to thwart heartless Alabamans and texting daughters. It’s almost foolproof! Dana says maybe for Christmas (which means she’s already forgotten about the Solo Wheel Glide 3). With enough support from the 2 or 3 people who watch the videos, however, we may be able to speed up the replacement.
Last night the awards ceremony noticeably was lacking any recognition of Loopers who scored high marks in both the Miles-On-Rental-Car and the Smashed-Drone categories, so we left empty handed. Dana did get a framable thank you for organizing the departure, however, before anyone learned that she already had delegated the job to Barry on Crossroads so we could visit our new best friends at the Veterinary Care and Specialty Group in Chattanooga But we did enjoy table chatter with Bucket List, Texas Gold, Jubilant, and Tyro. Bert on Tyro is trying to convince everyone to anchor out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico during the crossing, with lights blazing all night. It sounds cool, but um, probably not, although we told him we’d do it if he could convince Kim Russo to join him.
Hopefully today’s round trip to Chattanooga was our last. At least until the test results come back next week. We have about 500 miles of rivers and canals to go before we reach Mobile, and we’re anxious to start exploring them.
* Attributed to Emil Faber, who founded the college that bears his name because “fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
** We of course are speaking of the state and not the boys from Fort Payne, who we love. Roll On. But don’t ever Roll Tide.