They’re ba-a-a-ck!

First let me happily announce that in our two nights at Columbus Marina I have had excellent WIFI that I am “borrowing” from some unknown source. It is superfast and I have corrected all those errors in the past three blogs and added pictures so you might want to go back and look. Just minutes ago I added even more pictures that fit the theme of “Fright Night on Cbay”. Oh, and by the way, all recent photos can be viewed in larger size by clicking on the picture. They are pop-ups. I am learning as I go. Who would think it?

Now to continue the saga I must go back two nights and fill in some history. As my faithful readers may remember we were docked at quaint Smithville Marina. We went to dinner with friends and returned after dark. The lighting was poor and we were greeted by a darkened walkway.

We carefully made our way down accompanied by the resident cat,

when we heard an all too familiar sound of an outboard motor followed by the splash of two anchors being tossed out. There was only one thing that would be slipping in so late on such a night. Yes, you guessed it, the Chicken Boat was back! Somehow they were alive and well and keeping up. We went to bed pondering if we would see them in the morning. Little did we know.

Wednesday morning I was eating my oatmeal when Ken from 20BUCK$ knocked and said the chicken boat was gone and the lockmaster said he was holding for only 15 minutes to take us down and then a tow would create a two hour delay! “Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead”, said Admiral Farragut as he entered Mobile Bay during the Civil War. And that is exactly what we did, untying, cranking engines, saying goodbye to the old man in the houseboat and casting off. It is amazing we did not leave something undone but we got away safely.

Pulling into the Wilkins Lock what greeted our sleepy eyes but, you guessed it, the Chicken Boat was tied to the wall and chiding us for holding up the process. My first thought was, given the rules, would we have to wait hours at the next lock for them? I think the lockmaster was thinking the same thing and asked over the radio if these people had a radio. They quickly answered affirmative and he inquired how long it would take them to get to the next lock. Upon hearing their answer he decided to notify the next lock not to wait for them. Halleluyah! Were we at last free of the Chicken Boat? I wonder.

We had a gorgeous day traveling to the Columbus Marina. In an area of tree stumps we even spotted a bald eagle perched on one. They are quite numerous in this area but still impressive every time you see them. I am not sure if you can spot him because he was a ways out of the channel.

He is on the first thicker tree trunk to the right of the tallest one in the middle. I can only see his white head but trust me he is there. I am sure we will get better shots later.

Commerce abounds on the Tenn-Tom. Here they are unloading barges laden with coal and dropping it in a huge hopper which carries it by conveyor inland to some business. 

My cousin Henry Moon has been following our trip and must zoom in on our route by satellite because he asked what those widened areas were on the canal. He guessed they might be turnouts to allow us to duck into them as barges needed to pass. A good guess but there are no turnouts. You just have to hug the bank sometimes. No, these are buffer dams needed where small tributaries flow into the Tenn-Tom because otherwise the sudden side current rushing into a narrow canal might throw even large barges across the waterway and into the opposite bank. Here is what they look like. They are really quite pretty.

It looks like a decorative water feature and sounds pleasant as you pass. There are dozens so far.

Once we settled into Columbus Marina, in a covered slip no less, we called Enterprise to come and get us. We needed to go to Walmart. There we bought a hygrometer. Then on to Advance Auto Parts for a car radio antenna. Why you say? Well remember that huge 8d house battery that set off the alarms? We needed to test every cell, and there are 8, to determine if a dead cell was the problem or if we were just draining it for too long. And the car antenna was for our car radio on the flybridge. We could not pick up AM stations and Jan was in Rush Limbaugh withdrawal so tomorrow we will see if she can get a fix.

We had dinner aboard and no cable TV was available on this dock. That is something I intend to remedy tonight on the internet. 

On Thursday we hit the tour circuit again. With Ken and Pat from 20BUCK$ we headed to Aberdeen in a driving rain in our Kia Sedona. First stop was the Aberdeen Marina which we had passed up. I wanted to see the tricky entrance we had read about which is covered in tree stumps.

And what to my wandering eyes should appear but the Chicken Boat! Yes there they were huddled in the rain. The lady who ran the store told me they had just arrived. Imagine that, we had last seen them yesterday morning at Wilkins Lock, and here Thursday morning and three locks later we drive by in a car and run into them in Aberdeen. The store lady said they looked bedraggled when they tied up. I snapped this photo and let them rest. Talk about persistance.

In Aberdeen we walked into the Visitors’ Center, the oldest family run business in the state,

which was this fantastic hardware store, and then we had a sweet snack with coffee at a local shop.

Aberdeen is famous for Mississippi Blues and antebellum homes.

Howlin’ Wolf Burnett was from Aberdeen and Elvis was down the road in Tupelo and patterned his early sound after him. The Wolf was the first one to record “Hound Dog”.

We went to the most famous old home in Aberdeen which is The Magnolias and received a delightful personal tour from Mrs. Wilde.

It was fascinating. Jan got to swing from a magnolia branch, Ken got to inspect the basement, where he discovered a hidden elevator and all of us were enchanted by Mrs. Wilde.

On to West Point. No, not the military academy; we will not pass that until we get to the Hudson River in NY next year. This is West Point, MS where the hidden treasure Waverly is located. 

They do not allow interior photos. It is the most architecturally unique residence I have ever seen. A soaring four story open foyer that substitutes as a ballroom, and balconies surrounding the central core on every floor. The Yankee calvary was ordered by General William Tecumsah Sherman to destroy it as he did in Georgia but a certain southern calvaryman named Nathan Bedford Forrest from Mississippi had other plans. They came within 8 miles of reaching it and the family was about to flee when word came of Confederate victory. This house sat vacant for over 60 years with little damage until an antique dealer named Snow bought it and began a 27 year attempt at restoration. He still lives here and is 85. He cuts his own grass and raises peacocks.

I bought a Christmas ornament made by Mr. Snow’s daughter and found a most interesting object in the front yard. Perhaps one day I can tell you about it but not just yet.

We went in search of lunch only to find the place closed but discovered an abandoned resort on a backwater.

Finally we found Hank’s BBQ. Fantastic! Hank took 3rd place in the World International Rib Cooking Contest in Memphis, TN and if you know ribs you know Memphis is famous for Rendezvous Ribs where Elvis used to call to have them delivered. We bought an extra slab to go and will eat them on the river tomorrow when we move on to another adventure which is just around the next bend. Come join us won’t you.