The realization that cruising in the Midwest in the fall means dealing with rain and chilly temperatures seemingly escaped me as I stood in my closet in Goshen wondering what to pack way back in August. We were thinking “south” and “warm” and “simplify.” A small boat does require making tough choices and economizing one’s space, but to have over-simplified was a miscalculation. Hence, we are woefully unprepared for fall: I with one pair of socks (now with a hole), one sweater, and no fleece, gloves, scarf…well, you get the picture. My foul weather gear is warm and dry, and, while not stylish, it is a godsend; and the quilt which I purchased for the boat and seemed like the silliest aesthetic of all during those 95-degree days in early October has made bedtime inviting and cozy.
And why are we NOT in Florida by now? Well, first of all, it’s not November yet. Most Loopers’ boat insurance requires that they wait until the end of hurricane season to be within 100 of the Gulf here on the rivers. Second, we attended the AGLCA (American Great Loop Cruising Association) Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park in Northern Alabama, a 4-day conference for gathering information about the Loop and for socializing with other loopers. (One of the important pieces of information we were seeking was the availability of marine services along the coastline that Hurricane Michael hit.) And third, we decided to avoid the crush of loopers heading south and to enjoy a scenic side trip up the Tennessee River to Chattanooga. Fall color is just beginning, but we hope to catch it full on next week on our return to the main route.
We are just now truly beginning the Looping lifestyle. Yesterday we and five other boats convoyed together from Joe Wheeler, enjoyed “docktails” and a pot luck on the dock of the marina at the end of our cruise, and departed this morning at “0 dark hundred” in order to lock through together at Guntersville. From there we scattered, as some have pressing time tables and we—finally and delightedly—do not. Up river another day’s journey we found dockage at Goose Pond Colony Marina in Scottsboro, Alabama. We spent a fun afternoon with new friends Mike and Brenda Finkenbinder from St. Paul, MN shopping at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where lost and unclaimed items from airline travel end up. The operation stocks 7000 new items each day, everything from high end jewelry and electronics to books and unopened toiletry items. I’m pretty sure I saw some of Julia’s things there. 😉
On the dog front….Oliver is compliant and flexible, and with healing of his spinal compression fracture and the return of cool weather, his trotting, top-o’-the-world gait has returned. That said, it seems, perhaps, that the trauma of the introduction of the “turf-on-a-tray” afflicted his constitution, and we dealt with 4 days of diarrhea. The plus side was that the urgency of the matter required that he find someplace to go while underway, and he finally acquiesced to our designated spot. Returning to land for a few days, socializing with other dogs and sightings of real live squirrels seem to have done the trick….that, and a few doses of Imodium.