These pictures celebrate the beauty of autumn and of the rivers. Mornings are foggy and they make the hillsides look dusty and slightly mysterious. Dawn is a magical time.
The Tennessee River is wide and calm in the big lakes. At times we were the only boat in sight among hundreds of square miles of pristine water.
At Nickajack Lock we were not alone. It was fall-colors weekend, and on Saturday and Sunday we were joined by dozens of other pleasure boats soaking in the color and crisp fall air. We had four boats rafting off of us as we went down.
Speaking of locking, some of you have asked how we position our fenders for locking. These are very large (42") teardrop fenders which have done a fine job for us. We rely mostly on the two in the center, the ones on the end are there in case we swing against the concrete, something that rarely happens.
And the color was subtle but sublimely beautiful. Vista after vista were jigsaw puzzle quality views.
Another view. The colors aren't saturated like New England, but rather a study in pastels. Elegant!
Yet another view.
At Hales Bar we saw something new--a barge loaded with recreational vehicles heading south for the winter. This trip was headed toward New Orleans. Each unit is an RV, a car, and its occupants. The center barge has a party room, hot tubs, game rooms, etc. Pretty nifty.
Off they go on another adventure. Me, my RV, and a barge. Sounds like a song is coming on.
Bob and Faith Bedford joined us for a few days of river travel. Here we are at dinner with Fred Myers (see below).
Fred Myers, center, is one of the consummate authors of passagemaker travel. He specializes in the river system. His books have been a valuable part of our travel resources, and we can't recommend them enough. Fred has become a comrade in spirit, as we join his faithful river system passagemakers.
We charge into the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway which is mostly a series of rivers and lakes connected at times with canals. Here we are at a marina surrounded by swamp like atmosphere.
One of the beautiful vistas along the way.
We enter another marina, Aberdeen this time, and it is an adventure straight out of Pogo trying to get there. We weave among the cypress trees following a subtle channel that is just deep enough and nothing more.
Doesn't look like a place for a 70 foot power boat, does it!
Day after day we travel through perfectly calm water--thanks to a large high pressure system overhead. The vistas were frequently one of perfect reflections, like this one below.
Another study in reflections.
We encounter barges along the way. This one is filled with coal--tons and tons of it.
Then we pass an area of white cliffs--Selma Chalk, or Rotten Limestone. The cliffs are brilliantly white and very distinctive.
Here the cliffs pass under a railroad bridge.
And the river continues to take some tolls. Here is a small home seriously undermined by erosion. It can't last long.
This is the only picture of Demopolis we have. What an exciting place. We docked on one side of the pier, and on the other side, tugs stop for fuel (10-15,000 gallons of diesel at one time), as well as reprovisioning. This photo shows the last of about 20 large coolers loaded on this small garden tractor and trailer. The driver said the coolers contained about 500 pounds of meat--beef, ham, turkeys, bacon, steaks and hamburger. Working a tug must be hard work.
One of our last days on the Tenn-Tom started before dawn. As the sun came up, it revealed a misty river which was both hauntingly beautiful and very mysterious.
Billy (the goat) is a resident at Lady's Landing, on the lower Tombigbee River. He's curious about everything and will eat anything including boat lines. This photo is a little dark because it was taken just at dawn.
This is Lady's Landing. Nuf said.
The dock at Lady's Landing. Seldom if ever have we been so glad to see a "marina", as we were to find Lady's Landing in the dark. Looks aren't everything.
This photo is a little hard to understand without some explanation. We were held up at Coffeeville Lock for hours because this huge dredging rig was being locked down piece by piece. We passed the whole thing again the next morning. A tug is pulling the collection of equipment. It is so big it has a "tender" (small tug) in the middle and a tender at the end. These tenders cause the train to bend at turns in the river and give the driver some control over the whole thing. It's heading to Tampa.
The end of the river system--Mobile Bay in Mobile, Alabama. We logged nearly 2000 miles in the river system on our way south.