Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ohio River Down Bound Part III (Sept 25 to Oct 6)

Although our intention had been to leave Louisville on the 25th, we didn't - due to predictions (which proved accurate) of severe thunderstorms.  Instead, we'd planned on dinner at Tumbleweed, a marginally good restaurant right by the dock, but were dissuaded by an offer from our new friend, Eric.  Eric had seen the boats and asked to come visit for a tour.
When he discovered our dinner plans - which he disapproved of - he offered to drop us off at the historic Brown Hotel.  Since they originated the Hot Brown - a Louisville standard that consists of toast topped with turkey, cheese, bacon and mornay sauce - we decided to take him up on the offer.   So, with Barb and Randy along, we all ordered Hot Browns and thoroughly enjoyed them.
The next day thunderstorms were again predicted (accurately again) so we spent another day at the dock.  It's not that we're total wimps, but since we were planning to anchor on our first night out of Louisville, the idea of being out in the river and depending on the anchor in an unfamiliar area in high winds with lightning flashing around, complete with funnel clouds forming just did not seem appealing.
We finally did leave the following day and caught a glimpse of the much anticipated Queen of the  Mississippi as she cruised up the river.  She's a new diesel powered stern-wheeled cruise boat - just launched in August.  You can take a seven day cruise on her for just under $4000.
Since we'd been sitting at the dock so long, we ended up putting in a long day (about 10-1/2 hours) before stopping at Derby Landing.  We had thought there'd be room for both of us to dock, but there was a big tree in the water at the downriver portion of the dock, so Lazy Dolphin rafted to Carolyn Ann. People are always surprised to learn that CA and LD are built on identical hulls.  Joe took advantage of the setting to take a series of side by side comparison photos. I've put them all on picassa, if you're interested.
We didn't go exploring in Derby, but left the next morning under misty skies to get to Owensboro, KY by dinner time.  Norm and his wife, Vivian, were interested in seeing the boats and we'd been trying to set the meeting up for several weeks.  They were standing at the wall to catch our lines when we arrived.  After tours of both boats, Norm treated us to dinner at Moonlite Bar-B-Que.  The buffet includes two dishes that Owensboro is famous for - mutton bbq and burgoo - a mutton stew.  Check off another place in my 1,000 Places book!  The food was good and we really enjoyed meeting Norm and Vivian - thanks again, guys, and good luck on your search for the "perfect boat."
I actually got to check off two places in the book because Owensboro is also home to the International Bluegrass Music Museum.  Joe and I know little about Bluegrass, but the museum was interesting.  We could have spent many hours reading about all the performers, but we managed to get a good over view in the few hours that we had to spend there.  From there we walked along the newly renovated waterfront.  The only thing that seemed to be missing was a place to dock a boat.
Our next stop was just 40 miles away at Evansville, IN.  We were disappointed to learn that the LST 325, which participated in the landing at Omaha Beach in WWII, and is usually available for tours, was out doing tours itself.  But, the friendly folks at Nu-Plaza Yacht Club offered us free ham and beans (delicious!!) as a weekly Sunday event.  As we chatted, we decided to stay a few days so we could attend the 91st Annual West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.  This is part of their website's description of the event:  "It's all about the food. From deep-fried Oreos to chocolate-covered bacon, the smorgasboard of unhealthy eats — plus a few healthy ones — is like a national holiday for Evansvillians. Long live the deep fryer." Plus - it's another check mark in my book which claims it's the second largest street festival in the US.
As it turned out, we stayed in Evansville for four days and never made it to the festival - which lasts all week.  The weather was rainy most of the time and Joe had boat issues - that darn AIS acting up - to work on.  Bruce, who works at the marina kindly offered his Jeep to us, so we made a trip to a grocery store and picked up carry-out from Wolf's Bar-B-Q - another check mark in the book!  We liked Wolf's better than Moonlite (no mutton at Wolf's), but neither compare to Dinosaur in Rochester, NY.  On our drive we did pass by the street that was closed to traffic for the festival - several blocks of food trucks lined up and down  both sides.  We decided to pass up the "fried brain" sandwiches as well as the other delicacies and just ate our bbq on the boat.
The LST-325 was supposed to have returned to Evansville before we left, but it ran aground somewhere on the Cumberland River.  After an early start from Evansville, we got to The John T. Myers lock around noon.  We were told we'd have to wait for a ship locking up.  It was the LST - 325 unstuck and heading for home.  We missed out on the tour, but we got a close up view of her as she passed us on the way out of the lock.  
That night we stopped at the E-Town River Restaurant (Elizabethtown, Ill.) for all you can eat catfish.  People all along the Ohio had been recommending it.  As we were finishing up, the owner came out to chat.  He gave us permission to stay on his dock for the night and then handed Joe a couple pounds of fresh catfish fillets.  We sure meet a lot of friendly, generous people while cruising!
We arrived in Paducah, KY the next afternoon.  As we were tying up to the courtesy dock, we noticed two military boats fueling from a truck on the adjacent boat ramp.  After fueling, the boats moved to the courtesy dock next to us.  Turns out they were Navy SEALs on their way to New Orleans.  The boats did not look especially comfortable for long term cruising, so I asked how long it would take them to get there.  We figure on getting there in about a month.  They were expecting to be there in 36 hours, running day and night!  Of course they'll be sucking fuel down so fast  that the fuel truck will be meeting them about every 150 miles.
When we left Paducah in the morning, Joe could see tows lined up waiting for the next lock.  We moved down into position so they'd put us in the queue and were called pretty quickly to ride the lock down.  When the gates opened we were greeted by the front edge of a barge array waiting for us to vacate the lock.  Joe managed to steer Carolyn Ann through the small space they'd left for us to get out.  We thought that was our next to last lock, but it turned out to be the last one we had to go through.  The next lock has what they call a wicket dam and the wickets were down.  That means you go right over the area where the dam is when the wickets are up.  We actually could even feel a little bit of a rapid as we crossed over the dam - woohoo!  
A couple hours after that we came to the end of the Ohio River.  We'd started out with some concerns about how the cruise would be, but it has turned out to be a terrific summer.  Since that turned out so well, we decided to try another first - for us at least.  Coming to the end of the Ohio means we are now on the Mississippi.  We're speeding down at more than 11 mph - breakneck speed for us!  Randy and Barb left us in Evansville and later made the turn to take the Tenn-Tom Waterway - the same way we came up.  Fred and Linda left Young America in Louisville but will return soon and follow us to the Mississippi, planning to meet us in Memphis.  Stay tuned!

More pictures on picasa!

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