Compared to the beginning of the voyage, we have ground to a stop! Several reasons contribute to this slowing pace. First, the weather has been impeccable.
A run down of rain we’ve had:
· 1 Aug = night shower near Sheboygan, WI
· During our month in Milwaukee, WI, = 3 days of rain.
· 6 Sep = rain shower on a bike ride while near Chicago.
· 18 & 23 Sep = rain on days we traveled from port to port in Illinois.
· 11,12, &13 Oct = continuous storms – BUT we were with Karin’s friend near Nashville, and ASHORE!
· 24 Oct = 1 hour Thunder storm after we left Kentucky Lake
The next rainy day was the 24th of November while in Columbus! Two more rain days the next week kept the water level up and current flowing to get us out of the Tenn-Tom and into Demopolis.
Storms have blown north of us, tornadoes to the south. Cold front pushed snow over to the west, and a huge tropical storm ravaged states to the southeast.
We have savored every moment of this ‘bubble’ of fair weather that has followed Windigo for this entire voyage. Even here in Mississippi & Alabama locals tell us the ‘lows’ where we stay are higher than average ‘highs’. Temperature records have been set.
Another reason for taking our time is perfect accommodations. Private docks, within a wooded federal park, with hot showers a short walk from our deck – and FREE! Cities have been walking distance [we usually take our bikes] and have provided us with modern libraries with internet access, inexpensive groceries, diesel, and other shopping. Sometimes we found dozens of points-of-interest at a single location. Post offices that we’ve had our mail forwarded to have been very convenient.
We have not ever needed to run our engine to charge our batteries, the solar array & wind generator keep everything ‘juiced’ up. The alternator tops things off when we do move, and we are able to be self-sufficient at our next remote mooring.
Our moorings on the river section included:
· Aberdeen, MS – Blue Bluff Rec. Area, 10 – 17 November
· Columbus, MS East Bank Rec. Area, 18 – 26 November
· Pickensville, AL Rec. Area, 27 & 28 November
· Cochrane, AL Rec. Area, 29 November
· Warsaw, AL Fenache Creek, 30 November
Our activities at each place consisted of:
Aberdeen – we had a choice between a 2 mile bike ride or a 3 mile Pedigo ride to the hot showers @ the campground. We did both, often.
· We toured past dozens of “Antebellum” mansions in Amory & Aberdeen.
· Internet access at the Aberdeen library, which also houses one of the largest genealogical resources in the country.
Columbus – town was a good 4 miles away – further than we are used to, but allowed for some more bike miles.
· Very nice library for internet and general reading & newsgathering.
· The large bay we anchored in was so shallow, no waves built up, even during a very windy day. It provided some beautiful Pedigo exploring grounds.
· Several more boat projects completed, including the E-Z Dodger.
· Big Thanksgiving dinner aboard.
· We got a personal invitation to the Columbus downtown association Christmas celebration with live music, fireworks & decoration lighting – I was even offered the honor of throwing the switch! [Must be the electrical confidence I exude!]
· Montgomery ‘snagboat’, the last steam powered river maintenance boat displayed near the Bevill Lock & Visitor center.
· Pickensville Campground & hot showers, across the river and almost back in Mississippi.
· A nice nature walk around an adjacent swamp, looking for cottonmouth snakes.
Cochrane – just an overnight stay, but the closest spot we’ve ever had to hot showers.
· The campsite adjacent to our mooring was abandoned with a glowing ember in the pit & a pile of firewood in a bag. (We roasted supper in the rain on the campfire – what a treat!).
The exciting story of the month happened in Cochrane. The rains in the north were causing a good current, so tying up here was a trick. We chose a spot along a steel wall near a creek inlet that would usually be too shallow for Windigo. We were grounded several feet from the wall as it was, and required our trusty plank to get ashore. I monitored the river level throughout the night, and by morning we had to go up to shower separately as the water had risen 6’ and was tempting the top of the wall!
I returned from my shower, started the engine, and pulled away from the few inches of exposed steel wall.
And I was concerned as to how we would get unstuck from our grounded mooring the night before!
So now we have scooted through the last of the locks of the Tenn-Tom, and only the 2 locks & 200 river miles of the Lower TomBigbee River separate us from the deep blue sea, or at least Mobile Bay. (The darn river is so twisted, it’s only 100 miles to Mobile in a straight line!)
Kevin & Karin Hughes
I believe we are adjusting to “island time” . . .
p.s. those US Army Corps of Engineers internet addresses once again: