Traveling down the rivers, we had been getting up at “O dark thirty” every morning to get an early start into the locks. Arriving in Demopolis, AL for a few days, we could finally sleep past sunrise! It doesn’t seem that driving a boat for several hours should be tiring, but being on constant lookout for navigation aids (finding that some were no where to be found), watching for hazards in the water, and doing this in the glare of the sun can wear us out! It was nice to get some extra rest.
At the Kingfisher Bay Marina, Ann Marie – the dock master – met us at the dock to help get us into the slip. We had already been warned that some of the boaters called her “The Dock Nazi.” She runs the place with an iron hand, and as long as you do everything her way, all is well. I tossed her a line, and then because the wind was moving us, I tossed a second line to a friend who had come to assist. She very firmly and sternly told him to “drop the line.” Apparently only she wants to handle the lines for incoming boats. She said it repeatedly, so he finally did drop the line – fortunately, she had tied one side and was going to the other, so we didn’t have any problems. She hasn’t quite gotten the idea of Southern Hospitality!
We were glad to again see Chris and Lisa from BackAtcha as well as a couple of other familiar faces. The next day we decided to get the courtesy car and go to see one of the local historical homes. We learned another one of Ann Marie’s rules – time limit on the car is 2 hours. Before returning, you must stop at the gas station a few blocks from the marina, fill the tank, get a receipt, call her, then come back to the marina and give her the receipt and keys. It’s not like you can go too far in the 2 hours, and most people only travel 5-8 miles. The gas receipt is usually for about 75 cents! But Heaven help you if you don’t bring that receipt!
Chris and Lisa went with us and we went to Gaineswood. The beautiful home started as a dog-trot cabin in 1821, built by George Gaines. The cabin and almost 500 acres were sold in 1843 to Nathan Whitfield, a wealthy cotton planter from North Carolina. Over the next 18 years, the cabin was enlarged and refined into an elegant mansion in the style of Greek Revival. The house has two domed ceilings with cupola-style window lanterns for light and ventilation, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns, and many of the original furnishings which were donated by descendants.
The next day was Thanksgiving. We found a church in town for Mass. The priest there had his family visiting and his grandchildren were the altar servers for the Mass. I’ll let our non-Catholic friends try to figure that one out! We found that Ann Marie did have a little softer side. She arranged a Potluck Dinner and she provided the turkey and gravy. Other boaters brought side items and desserts. The food was great, and no one went away hungry! The most unusual thing we had for dinner was white sweet potatoes. We’d never seen those before, but will certainly try to find some in the grocery stores. They were delicious!
Our two days of rest were over – time to resume our river trek. We left with BackAtcha and Archimedes and headed to Bobby’s Fish Camp – one of those “must see” spots according to Looper lore. It was a long day of travel – 9+ hours and 88 miles. The route of the rivers are very curvy, which adds lots of extra miles. We finally arrived and what can we say? It was certainly picturesque – and rugged. We stayed 2 nights due to weather. Did a bit of hiking and enjoyed a good meal at the restaurant. The dock has electric power for the boats, but no water. So in an effort to conserve our tank water, we had a most memorable experience using the “shower.” It was in a plastic shed type structure. Ed had to get the frogs out before I would shower!
When we left, we were four boats traveling together – Dancing Bears had been added to our troupe. We had two nights at anchor – one night at Tensaw and the second at Big Briar Creek. Both places were lovely. Only BackAtcha was with us the second night. The other two boats had decided to move on – we weren’t too happy with the wind & wave predictions for Mobile Bay, so we waited it out for the second night.
On Dec 3, when we did enter the west side of Mobile Bay, it was a calm day and a pleasant ride. We headed to Grand Mariner Marina, which really wasn’t so grand, but we did get a free night’s stay with the fuel fill up! There were Loopers here as well as at close-by Dog River Marina. We got together for a Looper Dinner that evening – saw people we knew and met many more. The rivers were behind us – can’t say we’d miss them.