We left the beautiful Tennessee River at Pickwick Lock where Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi meet, and entered the Tenn-Tom Waterway on which we continue retracing our path from September. We are Looping in the correct direction now, “chasing 80” [degrees], although we have a ways to go to catch that! Today our itinerary is interrupted again by weather. We had hoped to leave at dawn this morning, as we do have an ideal itinerary and an ideal spot to leave the boat on Saturday as we return home for Thanksgiving. Our hope was to beat the afternoon rain which is forecast, but after a restless night as the wind picked up, we discovered that wind gusts were topping 15 mph—and later heard on NOA weather that, in fact winds gusted to 35 mph. That makes for both unpleasant cruising and tense locking through, and there’s no need to push it. Red Pearl is on the “lay-along” at Bay Springs Marina, on the end and outside of the covered pier, from which the view is exquisite. The impressive 83-foot Jamie Whitten Lock looms in the distance to our south,
but in other directions the scene is restful and serene. We watched the wind whip up small white caps over a leisurely breakfast, read our books, and took advantage of the lack of agenda to give the boat a good inside cleaning. We sighted loons and heard coyotes, glimpsed a full rainbow, and enjoyed the daily eye-candy which the sunset nearly always provides. Today it was a wildly neon orange sherbet, layered with charcoal clouds and wide streaks of deep baby blue. Had I seen a photo of it, I would have thought it ruined by photo shopping.
Yesterday’s cruise was idyllic, marred only by the necessity
of scoping out a veterinarian before we left Aqua Yacht Harbor in Iuka, MS. Oliver has, for unknown reasons, experienced a sudden turn-for-the-worse, with reduced mobility and definite pain. The marina courtesy van and GPS enabled us to wind through the 20 miles of Mississippi back country to find the only vet in the area open on Saturday. The young vet examined Oliver and set us up with the anticipated 2-week dose of steroids and muscle relaxers.
Arriving at Bay Springs Lake, we followed Polly Roger into the harbor and right away hit it off with her owners, Bill and Paula Copeland from many places, all west of the Mississippi, and now residing on their boat full-time, their son’s home in Texas being their only land address. Technically, they are not looping yet; still, we enjoyed visiting and I invited them to join us for supper, having made a big Instant Pot of vegetable soup. We shared an enjoyable evening and have plans to go out together for dinner tonight.
We’re experiencing unsettled and unsettle-ING weather these days. After an easy cruise and 3 efficient locks, our next stop was Midway Marina in Fulton, Mississippi. Severe thunderstorm warnings morphed into tornado watches, further morphing to tornados aground, and relentless sirens at midnight awoke us and urged us to take cover. Fifteen cautious folks, 4 dogs, and 2 cats took shelter in the captains’ lounge—a small facility with a wall of windows built into a hillside—and tracked the tornado on our cellphones as the sirens continued for another hour-and-a-half. We were greeted in the morning with cloudless blue skies and promised warmth. I had scoped out a free dock near the Aberdeen Lock and Dam, and the lure of enjoying the afternoon ashore was too tempting to pass up. We parted ways with Polly Roger and pulled into a charming inlet, which we shared only with a few fisher-people. In shorts for the first time since leaving Green Turtle Bay, we took a long walk, grilled steaks and made a big salad, and by 6:00 it was DARK! The fisher woman on our pier assured me that the area was safe, with police frequenting the road above, but she looked at Oliver and cautioned us to keep our dog out of the water—alligators! The plan was to relax this morning, let the forecasted thunderstorms pass and then make the short cruise to Columbus, where we will leave the boat over Thanksgiving. However, the generator was leaking a bit a fuel, and running it seemed unwise. With temperatures in the low 50s and no way to make a hot breakfast or even coffee, the bucolic spot immediately lost its charm! The NOA forecast indicated that we could beat the worst of the storms; the problem, however, was that, forecasts change, and we anxiously watched as the innocuous prediction for 5-10mph winds grew to 17mph. We burned some fuel in “go fast” mode (a rip-snorting 12 knots) to get to safe harbor, and then watched from our covered slip the storm’s greatest fury.
Oliver’s set-back and clear displeasure at being on the boat has distracted my cruising mindset, allowing my attention to linger on activities at home. As I anticipate the crazy schedule with doctors and dental appointments, colonoscopies, hair appointments (oh, Lordy!), and our brood of 5 young adults and a 92-year-old dad all coming for the few days over Thanksgiving, I concede that things will need to be simpler this year. I’ve allowed myself only a few moments of visualizing the accommodating home that we left last spring, and have not been very motivated to make detailed plans for the inevitable crunch we will experience in tighter quarters. It’s not a phase unique to us, this wondering where “home” really is—young and old, alike, experience it. I can hope that the familiar and comfortable will be replaced with Joy at being together; Memories of Mom shared; Excitement bubbling over wedding plans, new business enterprises, house expansions, travels; and hopefully, lots of Laughter. And then, having welcomed such a gathering within its walls, perhaps our condo will begin to become “Home.” May it be so.