Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ohio River Upbound - Part II (Jun 23 to Jul 6)

A few hours after we passed the halfway point to mile zero of the Ohio River, we arrived in Cincinnati.  It was an impressive arrival: skyline, football stadium, baseball stadium, rainbow bridges, fancy waterfront.  But no visible place for us to spend some time.
 Joe eyed a nice wall that had no signs on it.  Of course, often we take "no sign" to mean "welcome!"  But this time we moved on to the Four Seasons Marina, upstream.  Four Seasons is well protected and pretty much packed into its little harbor.
We'd come without notice - because they wouldn't answer the phone or return Joe's calls - but they finally said they had one slip we could fit into.  It was actually leased to someone else, but their boat was out for major repairs.  The good thing about a packed marina is there are lots of people around, the good thing about our boat is it's unusual - especially there since Carolyn Ann is the first Great Harbour to come up the Ohio.  Anyway, Joe got to talk to lots of people and always asked about access to downtown.  Finally a retired prosecutor told him it should be okay to tie onto the wall.  So we'll visit Cincinnati on our way back down the river.
While at the marina we also had a visit from Ted Stehle who is involved in the publication and sales of guide books.  He had done a good bit of cruising on the Ohio and gave us some good information also.  Nice to be able to put a face to one of those names that you hear a lot too!
As we started up the river again, we wanted to stop at Augusta, KY.  We'd been told it was a great little town. We arrived around noon so we were debating about whether to stop for the day, but thought we'd at least check out the dock.  As Joe slowly slid the boat toward the dock, I tried to check the depth off the side with a long boat pole.  About the time I got the pole down - and hit bottom much sooner than expected - Carolyn Ann also hit ground.  Ooops!  Thank goodness for the bow thruster!  Joe was able to swing the bow around and move to deeper water.  Unless the water is higher on our return trip, Augusta is one cute town we'll have to skip.

Next stop - Maysville, KY.  This time the town dock had plenty of water so we tied up for the night.  It seems that our timing is bad - again we were trying to go out to dinner on the wrong day of the week.  Not much was open on Monday night - so we went to Domino's!
But first we had a good walk around town to see the sights.  As you walk through the opening in the flood wall, you see tiles of children's hand prints lining the walls.
Maysville has extensive historical murals on the land side of their flood wall - including a section in tribute to Rosemary Clooney who was from there.  They also have lots of historic buildings and homes.  Unfortunately, we arrived too late to pick up any tourist information, but we enjoyed looking at the town on our own.
 It's built on the side of a hill and the reward for a trek up is an expansive view of the town and the river.

When we got up the next morning it was chilly - 58 degrees!  This must mean we're in the north.
As we cruised along we went under the Sciotoville railroad bridge.  Built in 1916, it is the largest riveted truss bridge in the US.  Our guide assures us that it is still an "engineering marvel."  Not being an engineer, it just looked like a rusty railroad bridge to me.

Remember I mentioned that we saw the lock doors for Greenup Lock going down the river on a barge? Well, we arrived at Greenup Lock.  We were told to wait out of the way, and after about 3 hours we were allowed to lock up with a tow that had already sent his barges up.  By this time we'd put in a twelve hour day so we pulled into a marina near the top of the lock.  It had been a twelve hour day, but we were now through the two locks that were having major delays.

As we were cruising along the next day we saw a Coast Guard boat zipping towards us, slowing down, pulling along side.  Two of the Coast Guard's finest came aboard and did a safety inspection - only our second time.  The other time was three years ago in New York Harbor.  They filled out the paper work and had a nice chat with Joe about the different training facilities that they had attended and Joe had worked, and places they'd been stationed that we'd been to also.  It was an interesting break in the day.

Once underway again, we realized that Kentucky was no longer on our right - we'd made it to West Virginia!  Our stop that night, though was Gallipolis, OH.  As we approached the dock, a young woman there asked if she could help at all, admitting that she wouldn't have a clue as to what to do.  We thanked her for the thought and docked by ourselves with her curious son watching on.  The mother turned out to be very nice and quite funny.  She told us how to pronounce Gallipolis - leave out several syllables - and that they had lost town status and now were only a village, and where to go to eat - the local diner has burgers for 75 cents on Wednesdays.  So, after we tied up, we walked up to town, checked out the nearby grocery store and went to the diner for dinner.  There was our new friend with the rest of her family.  That's a bargain dinner when you've got four kids to feed.
The next morning I walked up to the visitor's center and met Karen.  She said that she and her husband had seen our boat the night before and had we been out on deck they'd have come to visit.  Her husband wants to do the loop and had happened onto our blog and seen that we were coming up the Ohio.  She said he was very excited to see the boat in person.
Armed with the walking tour brochure Karen gave me, I had a nice walk around town with interesting information about many of the homes and other buildings. The building in this photo is where the initial board of directors meeting for the Bob Evans Restaurant Company was held.  Every little town has something.
Our friend from the dock had also mentioned a building that had partially collapsed.  I asked what happened and she said she just figured it had gotten tired!

By this time, judging by the weather, we felt like we were back in Florida - except it was cooler in Florida.  We were hitting the high 90's or 100's every day.
Karen, at the visitor's center, had advised that we next stop at Pomeroy, because the town dock had power.
On our way there, we passed one of the most interesting cruising boats we've seen.  Joe hailed him on the radio and was told that the man had taken  10 years to build it somewhere on the Illinois.  It looks like it has lots of good living space and being able to deploy your car at a boat ramp certainly would have value on the Ohio.
We arrived at Pomeroy and first tied to a part of the wall that extends out into the river more than the long dock does.  As Joe walked the long dock with a long boat hook, testing the depths, it became apparent that we were docked in the only spot that was deep enough.  This is all a stationary dock wall - concrete - and is underwater during floods.  The power that Karen had mentioned was 110 outlets on the posts - the posts that are submerged in high water.  Joe didn't hold out much hope, but with a couple converter attachments we were able to plug in and even run one air conditioner to cool the boat down.  Take note of how far down from the road the river is.
As we walked through the town we met a man who is part of the Chamber of Commerce.  He made sure that we had found the power and offered to drive us to the grocery store about a mile away.  He also pointed out the marker for the 1937 flood level.  The marker is about halfway up the lowest red awning.  You can see the river in the background.  Hard to imagine the water rising to that level.
Pomeroy is two miles long and two blocks wide, built on the edge of the hill.  Because of that it is in Ripley's Believe It Or Not twice.  Once for its courthouse that has ground level entrances on three floors and once for being the only town with no four-way intersections.
The next day the heat was still oppressive.  We decided it was time for some real power and air conditioning.  It was also the Friday before the 4th of July.  We found a small marina on the Muskingum River in Marietta, OH and decided to stay three nights.  That would keep us off the river and cool for the weekend and there seemed to be plenty to see and do in town.
We had gotten settled in at the marina when the sky began to look ominous.  The marina workers started scurrying around securing things.  The wind really started blowing as the sky turned black.  Carolyn Ann was tucked in downwind of a large bridge abutment.  As we looked up the river, into the wind, it appeared that a squall line was moving down the river.  But there was no rain.  What looked like a squall line was actually the river water being lifted and blown.  Our wind gauge read  41mph - in our sheltered area.  The power went off.  The storm passed quickly and the clouds that remained provided quite a sunset.  As it got darker, we could tell there was no power on anywhere in sight.  The next morning the power was still off - everywhere.  Soon we learned that the storm had caused damage and deaths all the way to the east coast.  Since it seemed unlikely there would be power in Marietta any time soon, we decided to continue on our way.
We went through two locks that day.  Both were operating on generators.  We learned more about how widespread the damage was as the lock operators told us of their concerns about running out of fuel for the generators before the power came back on.  All along the river we saw large trees that had come down in the storm.
We put in a long day and made it to Wheeling, WV.  The power was on in town, but we docked at the town wall with no power.  The one good affect of the storm was that it had broken the heat somewhat.  We had just tied up when Sue and some of her family arrived.  Sue and her husband live on their Great Harbour Odyssey, which is currently in Brunswick, GA.  Sue was in Wheeling to visit her mother and other family members.  We had planned to stay a night or two and move on - but Sue and her family turned out to be such good hosts that we stayed through the 4th!
It was a short walk for Joe to attend mass at St. Joseph's Cathedral.  He's really enjoyed seeing so many different churches on our travels and this one was no disappointment.  Built in 1926 and renovated in 1973, it is impressive inside and out.
Later that day Sue picked us up for a great dinner at her brother's house with her sister Becky, brother-in-law John, daughter-in-law Kris and grandson John.
After lunch at Coleman's - famous in Wheeling for fish sandwiches - Sue showed us around the area enough for us to decide that we'd like to stay another day.
The following day we toured the mansion and glass museums at Oglebay and had lunch at the lodge there.  Next we drove to Moundsville to visit the mound museum.
The mound is the largest conical earth mound in the US.  Originally a burial mound, it has not always been as well respected as it is now.  In the mid-eighteen hundreds it failed as a tourist attraction and was subsequently sold several times.  Once there was a saloon on top, another time a dance floor, and one owner planned to destroy it to develop the land.  A fund raiser saved it.
By the time we'd finished at the mound it was too late to tour the penitentiary across the street.  The pen operated from 1876 to 1995, and, oddly, several years ago Sue attended an all-class high school reunion there.  Since we didn't make the tour, I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this quote:  Its Gothic Revival architecture "exhibit[ed], as much as possible, great strength and convey[ed] to the mind a cheerless blank indicative of the misery which awaits the unhappy being who enters within its walls."  

Since the next day was the 4th of July and Carolyn Ann would give us a front row seat for the fireworks, we stayed another day. Sue, Becky and John all came down to join us.  The heat had come back so we ate dinner inside with the generator and the air conditioners running.  When it was time, we set up chairs on the deck and watched the display.

The fireworks were great, but the finale was spectacular!
We finally left the next morning.  The heat was again intense and we really wanted to find a place with power to spend the night.  (We don't like to run the generator all night.)  After two locks, we stopped at Holiday Yacht Club.  First, the slip they had said to take was too narrow for Carolyn Ann.  Then we were directed to a wall which was fine.  Then the power wouldn't work.  Someone came to fix it but couldn't.  Don, whose house overlooks the marina, had invited us for dinner and since we couldn't find another place with power nearby anyway, we stayed.  Don's house is a beautiful stone A-frame with wood interior.  His son, Ty, his wife, Jodie, and their five kids were all there - including the youngest, 16 month old "Big."  Jodie cooked us a great dinner and we all chatted away for what turned out to be hours.  Even without power, it turned out to be a great stop.  (Unfortunately our minds had melted in the heat and we forgot to take any pictures.)
The next day, however, we were determined to find some power.  Up to this point all the locks we'd been through had floating bollards to tie the boat to.  The last three Ohio River locks are smaller and do not have floating bollards.  Joe had gotten some 100ft. lines.  We'd been told to attach one end to the stern, one to the bow, and give the middle to the lock tender by way of a hook he'd drop down to us.  That's what we did and it worked fairly well  for the first two locks, but it was definitely a lot more work than tying to a bollard.  When we'd hitched up to the third one, the lock tender said something to Joe about possibly using a different cleat on the bow.  Joe said we'd done fine in the other two this way.  The man said that this one wasn't like the other two.  Afterward, Joe said it was all he could do to control the line as the water bubbled up.  I couldn't see the turbulence from the stern, but later remembered reading an account of that lock calling it a tsunami.  We'll try using separate lines for the bow and the stern on the trip back - of course, going down is never as bad as going up.
Shortly after the third lock we forgot all the problems as we saw Pittsburgh come into view.  What a city!  So many interesting looking buildings.  There was lots of  construction going on at the Point - also no power there - so we'd planned to stop at Station Square Landing just up the Monongahela a bit.  We could see the boats there.  Then a small Coast Guard boat approached with lights flashing.  Boarding us again??  No, Mr. Obama happened to be in town and the river was in the security zone.  With no indication of how long we would have to wait, we decided to change the plan.  We headed up the Allegheny - which meant one more lock - to Fox Chapel Marina.  Joe called, yes they had room for us, yes they had 50 amp power!!  It's a real marina like we're used to - something not seen on most of the Ohio.  Tied up, plugged in, turned on the ac's - aaaah!

Family note:  Number two grandchild is on the way - Alex is going to be a big brother!

There are more pictures on the picasa site:

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