We spent a few days in Demopolis, AL waiting until our boat insurance policy permitted us to go further south (hurricanes) and then continued on down the river. We spent a lovely evening at anchorage called Bashi Creek. It was a little narrow and we needed to raft up to each other. We had five boats in this tiny spot.
One stop we made was a place called “Bobby’s Fish Camp”. It is a real “in the woods” place right on the river. There is not a lot of dock space so boats end up rafting off of one another. Luckily we got in there early and were able to be on the dock with power – aka “Air Conditioning!”. Some were not so lucky. There was a tiny rustic restaurant there that served, by far, the best catfish that we have had – at least to our taste. We met a very fun group of people who rafted up to us. We joined them for dinner at Bobby’s. They had just purchased a Grand Banks in Michigan and are in the process of taking it back to Texas.
Yea! We finished going through our last lock. From where we started in Norfolk, VA, through the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Trent Severn Waterway, Illinois River, Mississippi River, Ohio River, Cumberland River, Tennessee River and the Tombigbee Waterway, we went through a total of 99 locks! By far, the easiest were on the Tombigbee River. It is so nice to put all of the fenders away and not have them hanging over the sides. We look forward to getting the fenders cleaned at some point and purchasing new covers for them. I don’t think they’ll ever come clean with all of the muck, mud and slime imbedded in them!
Although the Tennessee and Tombigbee Rivers were gentle, safe and lovely, we are both glad to be off of them; if for no other reason than a change. When we entered Mobile we were lucky and did not encounter any large ship traffic (Mobile is one of the largest US ports), so we were able to continue through and into the bay. Here we ran down the large ship channel where we saw very large ocean freighters, towboats with barges and fishing boats. We also were lucky to get our first glimpse of a pod of dolphins in the water. They came over to our boat, but they didn’t follow us.
We stopped for a couple of days at a marina in Fairhope, AL. which is located on the east shore of Mobile Bay about halfway down. Neither of us had ever heard of the town, but we were delighted with what we found. It is a small, very pretty retirement/vacation community with great shopping, restaurants, upscale housing, art galleries and so on. It had drop dead views of the sunsets over the Mobile Bay. After a month of small river towns that were dying or already dead, it was a pleasant surprise.
From there we motored on down to the Gulf Coast Intercoastal Waterway which runs about 350 miles from Texas to the eastern end of the Florida panhandle. The GCICW is a series of canals, rivers and bays, all of which are for the most part protected from the waves and winds on the Gulf of Mexico. It passes Pensacola, Panama City, Destin and Appalachacola. Many sheltered anchorage and marinas along this resort lined coast.
The waterway is teeming with dolphins and other wild life. On the way here we had dolphins swimming/surfing our bow wave most of the way. Each night a pair of herons perch on the dock next to our boat and drive our cats crazy who watch out the boat windows. There are also two dolphins here popping up on the surface of the water from time to time.
We stopped for lunch at LuLu’s on the way to where we are currently docked, The Wharf, in Gulf Shores, AL. Lulu is Jimmy Buffet’s sister and has a very popular, fun bars/restaurant/sports,shopping complex on the waterway, with adequate docking for a dozen large cruisers. Lots of family photos and Jimmy Buffet music playing.
The Wharf is a interesting place. Part large upscale marina, part condo/hotel complex with convention center, theme park, etc. and part upscale shopping/restaurant mall. We originally planned to stay here for 3 days just resting/relaxing after being on the go for weeks, but a cold front is passing thru as we write this bringing temps in the low 50’s and very high winds, so we may be here for a week. Couldn’t have picked a better place to be stuck, if we tried. There is even a brand new West Marine store down the road (you boaters will understand.)
Last evening was Trick or Treat night, which is celebrated in a interesting way here. The two block long, main street of the mall is closed to traffic and locals with SUV, pickups and station wagons come in and park close together at right angles to the curb. Both back of the vehicles and their occupants are highly decorated/costumed for Halloween, and they have abundant treats with them. They form a very long “U” up and down the mall main street. At 6:30, literally hundreds of children, ranging from infants to age 12, all in elaborate costumes, begin to parade down and back up the street, collecting their treats. The entire mall complex is extensively decorated and attractively lighted. The local fire, police and military units are all present, in their gear and are also passing out treats. There are judges awarding prizes for the best costumes by age group. It is a very safe, fun way to celebrate the holiday. We thoroughly enjoyed watching both the kids and their costumed parents as they marched by. The highlight was a group of 20 something, pregnant nuns in full habits! After that, we had a wonderful fish dinner at a little restaurant here.
For some reason, all of the rental cars are taken. Not sure who is using them since it is off-season here right now. So, we are a bit stuck here other than the nearby restaurants and shops. Pauline’s in need of a few supplies, so if we are not able to rent a car tomorrow, then we will have to hire a taxi to take us to the nearby Publix grocery store.
Today is a day of doing inside projects and catching up. Pauline is baking Pumpkin Bread!