Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finally, St Petersburg, FL..............

Tide Hiker is now for sale by owner. For a full description and photo gallery, please go to http://tidehikerforsale.blogspot.com

Season's Greetings to our loyal blog readers.  Nice to be back with you.  Please forgive us in this holiday season.  We know that we've been amiss at keeping the blog up to date.  So here goes...

We had intended to be in St Pete before Thanksgiving to enjoy a holiday meal with our friends, the Cicconi's.  Bummer......that did not happen.  We arrived in Dog River Marina on time for some scheduled maintenance which we were told would be completed in 2 weeks.  Then the skies broke, rain fell and winds accelerated.  Our promised 2-weeks "on the hard" (this is when the boat is hauled out of the water and situated on ground to facilitate the work)   turned out to be 1 month. That set us back considerably, but we still thought we could wisk on over to St Pete in time.  Bummer......that did not happen. 

Maintenance included new cutless bearings, bottom paint and spider crack repair.

Here, Tide Hiker is drapped for painting the spider crack repairs.

We were most fortunate to have met up with Bill and Charolette Rudy.  They were also at Dog River for some maintenance.  We all took a break one night and splurged at a great seafood restaurant downtown Mobile.

Tradesmen doing their thing "prettying up" Tide Hiker.  Work's almost done here and wax is being applied.

We also rented a car and drove over to Pensacola Naval Air Station to see the Blue Angles' final 2011 show.  It was fantastic.  Here's Norm in front of one of the birds they use.  If you are interested in more pics, including some video, just let us know and we'll send separately.

Work's done, time to get underway.  The weather did not improve much and we had to pick out the very few good cruise days just to get to Carrabelle at the top of Florida's Panhandle. There we waited longer for the right crossing day. That day finally came and we got underway in forcasted 1-2 foot seas.  We did cross, but not in 1-2 footers.  They were more like 3-5's.  Arrived safely in Steinhatchee plus three additional days to Cedar Key, Tarpon Springs and finally into St Pete. Many folks cross directly from Panama City or Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs. We were tempted, but good thing we decided to take the safer route around the panhandle.  Coping with 3-5 footers for 24 hours in the pitch black of night would not have been fun.  Here's a look at what we saw from the pilothouse.

Shortly after arriving in St Pete, our friend John Van Vliet visited us from Phoenix.  We had a great time exploring St Pete (again, for Vicki and Norm; but, first time for John).  As usual, lots of laughs, looks and liquor for John and Norm.  Vicki was on her good behavior.

Norm, Vicki and John at Sandbar Bills Grille on St Pete Beach.  The hamburgers were awesome.

Vicki never passes on a Farmer's Market.  And, St Pete's is by far the best we've ever been to. Live music, food and, oh yes, farmer's produce.   You can see by her coat it was a bit chilly that day.

Vicki's mom arrives tomorrow for another visit.  She loves the boat!!
More later..........


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Socks? Jeans? Closed-toe shoes? Electric Blanket? Goin South!!

Tide Hiker is now for sale by owner. For a full description and photo gallery, please go to http://tidehikerforsale.blogspot.com

In this issue:
  • Brrrrrrrrr
  • Summer Cruising Statistics
Vicki put the electric blanket on the bed the other night because it was forecast to be in the 30's and we were not going to be in a marina for shore power.  This low-amp blanket works great on the inverter. Well, it never got below mid 40's and the blanket never got turned on.  The mornings are crisp however and we broke a panel in the bridge see-through curtains trying to roll it up.  Oh well, another task for the Dog River Boat Yard when we get there.  The point here is that it's time to push it a bit getting south.  It never got above 62 the other day.  Frigid!!  The good news is that the sunny cool days makes for great scenic cruising, lower engine room temps and hot soup/chili for lunch.

We happily caught up with Life's-2-Short in Demopolis, AL.  It just so happened that a dock party was scheduled that night.  Soooooo, yes, we had to partake and continue the festivities with Todd and Brenda at a local Mexican restaurant where the margarita's were again served by the pitcher.  Very important though, they delivered to us that magic elixir only known in these parts.  We ordered it a while back and they were glad to get it to us.

Todd and Brenda delivered this mystery drink we ordered.  The first person to e-mail his/her guess as to what it is, gets some for Christmas.

It was on to Bobby's Fish Camp.  We arrived early after a short day cruise from Demopolis.  Why would we run such a short day?  Why stay in the frigid 60-degree days instead of steaming south?  Well, if you have been one of our followers, you know that we missed Bobby's fried catfish on the upstream cruise.  They are only open Thursday-Saturday.  Unfortunately, this was Tuesday.  What's one to do?  We learned in the last 4 months that Laura will open the restaurant and cook if enough boats stop there.  So, we waited..................

As it turned out, the dock was full with three boats (small dock) and Laura opened the restaurant.  It was a fried catfish, hush puppies, fries party. Yummy!!  Norm took two of his cholesterol-lowering meds that night.

We all wanted to shove off early the next morning; but, FOG arrived as it had for the past 3-4 days and we were delayed a couple of hours.  We did make it through the last lock that morning and Oh, Oh.....we're back in salt water and tidal currents.  After a restful night at anchor in the Alabama River Cut-Off, we arrived Dog River Boat Yard, Mobile, AL.  We'll remain here for a couple of weeks for some cosmetic fixes, some scheduled preventative maintenance and of course, repair of the bridge curtain.

Lucky us, we found some friends here.  Pete and Linda on Carina, whom we have come to know as we cruised south; and, Bill and Charlotte on Omega, fellow DeFever friends.  Is another party brewing?

We are hoping to arrive St Pete mid-November.  Stay tuned!!

Here are some summer cruise statistics:
  • Number of TVA locks passed through from Gulf to Knoxville and return:  38
  • Number of miles from Gulf to Knoxville and return:  1700
  • Elevation change from sea level to Knoxville (made possible by TVA locks): 850 Ft.
  • Biggest lock up/down: 93 Ft
  • Best city visited:  Chattanooga, TN
  • Best memories: Discovering Chattanooga, Civil War history and the Trail of Tears; Underground Bluegrass in Cumberland Caverns; Hiking the Smokies with the Wilson's; Visitors aboard (Tierney's, Lanning's and Mom Cooper), Dancing Bear; 60,000 Bats! (If this sounds confusing, just go back and read the blog)
  • Want to see our route?  Click on this:  Knoxville, TN -to- Mobile, AL

Monday, October 17, 2011

60,000 gray bats. Music video shoot. The "Iceman", and more..........

Tide Hiker is now for sale by owner.  For a full description and photo gallery, please go to
 DeFever 49' Raised Pilothouse (Plan B) For Sale

In this issue....
  • Street dancing lessons in North Chattanooga,
  • Good bye Chattanooga and Tennessee River.  Hello, Tennessee-Tombigby Waterway
  • Sixty thousand gray bats,
  • Dancing Bear in a professional music video shoot, 
  • The "Iceman" cometh.
After three great cruise days, we arrived Pickwick Lake.    Pickwick is at the top of the Tennessee-Tombigby Waterway and the junction with the Tennessee River.  We'll be here in Aqua Yacht Harbor for a few days, then continue our route south to Mobile, AL and the Gulf of Mexico.  We've cruised downstream about 400 miles, through three states and decended about 400 ft in elevation since departing Ft Loudoun.  As you know, Vicki's mom, Avie, cruised with us from Chattanooga, TN to Guntersville, AL. Avie anchored with us in some beautiful coves, watched 60,000 gray bats emerging from their cave, and whipped us at canasta. But, all good things must come to an end and Avie had to go home.  After all, we needed some rest.  After dropping Avie off at the Huntsville, AL airport,  Vicki and I went on to Birmingham, AL to tour the Civil Rights Institute and Museum.  We also received word that Todd and Brenda aboard Life's 2 Short will be in town and another party was in the making, including participating in a professional music video shoot at their friends, "The Iceman's", palace on Pickwick Lake.   Here's the picture-story of these awesome events.

 Vicki and Avie always wanted to work in a "Gentleman's Club". So, in downtown Chattanooga, they put on a frustrated public display of...well........... 

 Vicki and Avie on the pedestrian bridge overlooking North Chattanooga and the moored Delta Queen river boat hotel and restaurant.

Imbedded in the sidewalks of North Chattanooga are metalic feet in the formation of dance steps.  There are several on both sides of the main street.  Here, Vicki and Avie demonstrate the tango to a couple of passers-by.

Just another photo opportunity of Vicki and her mom, Avie at the downtown Chattanooga Three Sister's Bluegrass Festival.  It was a bit chilly that day, with strong winds blowing off the river.

 We departed Chattanooga, TN and cruised to Guntersville, AL, with a stop in Goose Pond Colony Marina.  Avie treated us to a great meal at the restaurant on-site.  Avie ordered the crab leg special.  Those farm girls sure have a great appetite.

 We anchored in a beautiful cove not far from Guntersville and dinghy'd over to a well known endangered Gray Bat Cave.  Here, we're hustling to the cave to watch the bats emerge after sunset.

We got to the cave just before dark and anchored about 20-ft off the mouth of the cave and waited. 

Actually, we opened a bottle of wine and some snacks and giggly waited.  We told scary goulish stories and Vicki got scared.  Later, darkness fell upon the earth. We were nervously awaiting the emergence of VAMPIRES? BLOOD-SUCKING GOULS? We didn't know. The wine was working on us. Then, Then, they came!!!


We departed the next day and returned to Guntersville.  We drove Avie to the Huntsville, AL airport and after seeing that she was safely checked in and her luggage was secure, we drove to Birmingham, AL.  Vicki wanted to visit the Civil Rights Institute and Museum there. 

Vicki with MLK

We proceeded East on the Tennessee River to Pickwick Lake and the junction with the Tennessee-Tombigby Waterway, our route south to Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  But Mobile Bay is about 450 miles further so we'll be making many stops.  The first was Aqua Yacht Harbor where we plan to spend a couple of weeks.  Not long after arriving at Aqua Yacht Harbor, we got a call from Todd and Brenda, aboard Life's 2 Short.  They were driving up from Demopolis, AL and would  be in the Pickwick Lake area for a couple of days.  So, on Friday, they stopped by Tide Hiker for a few "pop's" and we got caught up.  Before departing, they asked us if we wanted to participate in a professional music video being shot at a friends home the next day.  We jumped at the chance and couldn't wait till Saturday. 

 Here's Todd (in the green apron) and a helper "pulling the pork" as it were.

After a couple of ice cold Miller Lite's, it got a little crazy. 

Todd and Brenda are selling their boat "Life's 2 Short" and moving ashore after 6 years.  We'll miss you guys and hope we always stay in touch.  Good luck and LOL.

The music video was performed by the country music singer Jay Stone and was shot at the home of Bud, alias "The Iceman".  The release we signed prevents us from displaying the shoot here.  The Iceman gets that name because he cruises on Pickwick Lake all summer on his Sea Doo with a cooler of beer.  The ice melts and the beer gets warm.  So, Bud accepts donations of ice from anyone and everyone to "save" the beer.    Hence, the "Iceman".   Actually, The Iceman is a legend on the lake.  Most important, Bud is a really nice guy, a generous spirit and a good friend to Todd and Brenda.  He welcomed us with open arms.  Thanks Bud for a great time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

40's At Night. Time to aim the pointy end south...

After a few restful nights anchoring in the scenic foothills of the Smokies, we rejoined the "father river"- and began our long trek back west and south.  We're currently back in Chattanooga.  Vicki's mom, Avie, is here with us.  She'll cruise with us to Guntersville, AL.  But first, let us catch you up on our whereabouts and activities since "Dancing Bear" melded with Tennessee's Native Americans.

First, knowing that Norm is a bluegrass music fan, Vicki set up a surprise.  She purchased tickets to a "Bluegrass Underground" concert 300' deep in the Cumberland Caverns.  We got into the car and drove 1.5 hours from Chattanooga to the Caverns.  Norm was ecstatic.

 Here's Vicki entering the caverns--an old illegal hiding place for a still
A huge screen behind the stage welcomes everyone to the caverns
This "room" is 300 feet below the surface inside the caverns

This is the "Spirit Family Reunion".  Guess where they are from---Brooklyn!!

A few days later, Avie arrive in Chattanooga.  We visited the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and Museum.  Here's Avie engineering the Choo Choo.
 Vicki and Avie at the Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival.  Sorry, our video's of this event on Norm's phone did not turn out well.  All in all, the festival was, well, super awesome!!
The Delta Queen paddleboat is moored in Chattagooga.  It's a hotel, a restaurant and a bar.  Lots of fun.
We also watched the hot air balloons on the north side of the river.  Awesome!!

We'll close off todays post with this pic of Vicki and Avie at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

See ya, next post.  Hope all is well.  We depart tomorrow from our summer home for our winter home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Little Tennessee River, Part II

As luck would have it, the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, located a short distance from Fort Loudoun, was holding its annual celebration.  Sequoyah, was a Cherokee who was pushed out of the tribe for being partially disabled and thought to be a bit "slow".  Well, it turned out that he was brilliant, and invented the Cherokee Nation's first alphabet.  His legacy is memorialized every year and it just so happened to be occuring when we were there.  In the video above, Vicki was invited to enjoy the Bear dance with local Native Americans.  Norm's ("One Who Shines On Top") little squaw ("Dancing Bear") did pretty good!!

We departed Fort Loudoun and continued upstream on Tellico Lake close to the last dam on the river.  We anchored in a great place with a great view of the smokies and "painted" (weathered) bluffs.  Up here on the Tellico, there is a volunteer boating assistance program.  We can call 911 and get help if needed.  Here's one of their signs.

Boaters answer to the 911 emergency call

There's a motorcycle route that only motorcyclists are aware of.  It's called the "Dragon" and we stumbled onto it while dinghy-ing up to the dam.  Yes, you see a Harley Davidson store right out here in the middle of nowhere. (Skimpy T-shirts are $30.  Vicki would not let Norm buy her a dozen.)  Actually, the river parallels U.S. Highway 129, which is were the Dragon runs.

Here's Tide Hiker anchored on the Little Tennessee River, with the Smokies in the background. 

And the painted bluffs on the other side.

Moonrise over our Little Tennessee River anchorage

Little Tennessee River

We said goodbye to our new friends at the Ft Loudoun Yacht Club and got underway for our next destination--The Little Tennessee River. After a short cruise retracing our track back to the Ft Loudon Marina and refueling, we headed over to the Little Tennessee River and to Tellico Lake. We have posted here that the Tennessee River has been some of the most awesome cruising we have ever done, the LTR is even better. The river is lined on both sides by carpets of trees up steep hills. The river winds through picturesque canyons and meanders around small islands.
Our first stop was at the actual Fort Loudoun-a restored British outpost in the mid 1700's. We were in settled weather, so we anchored just off the peninsula where the Fort stood. We were in luck. They were holding the annual Ft Loudoun Faire this weekend. So we were able to walk through the fort and settlement that was bustling with reenactors. Great fun, which included magicians, tumblers, minstrels and Red Coat and militia soldiers. 

The fort and settlement as seen from our anchorage

Vicki entering the "Sally Port" to the fort.  A sally port is a small entrance.

Life in the fort (or lifeless in the fort?)

Red Coats at morning muster (actually the Faire's opening ceremony)

The traveling fire-eating, needle-swallowing, singing magician.

The "Begger Boys" traveling musicians

Inside the fort looking out over the not-so-Little Tennessee River

The Red Coats and Militia in formation entering the fort's main gates.

Hiking the Smokies with Friends

We were treated by Mike and Peg Wilson our friends and neighbors from Wilmington, DE. They had a Wyndham time-share in Sevierville, TN, just a short distance from Gatlinburg and the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains. So, it was 3 days of hiking the Smokies with them. They also brought their daughter-in-law, Thum and grandson Jack. Son, Joel is deployed in Korea. Thum and Jack did not hike, but instead enjoyed the pool and amenities at the Wyndham. 
Vicki Boon, Peg Boon and Mike Boon ready to go hunt bear.
Actually, on one of the trails we ran into another couple heading back to the trail head.  They saw a bear and were frightened.  Vicki and Peg wanted to go back too, but Mike and Norm talked them into continuing.  Well, we never saw and BAR and the hike was great, trekking up to a great waterfall.  Of course Mike and Norm had to endure listening to songs and childhood fairy tales and whistling loud all along the way.  Peg and Vicki wanted to "scare" the bear.
Vicki just showing off on one of the creek crossings. Peg saying "get a move on Vicki--we have a long way to go". 

Norm and Vicki at the waterfall

Mike, Norm and Vicki at the waterfall

No bear, but we did see this deer at pretty close range.

An exhausted group of hikers back at the trail head
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Knoxville, TN--Our Northernmost 2011 Cruising Destination

Before departing for Knoxville, we rented a car and rushed to Columbus, Ohio.  Daughter, Colleen, who has had ongoing complications from a c-section in May required another emergency surgery at the Ohio State University Medical Center. This was the third one!!!  Our little Colleen has been through hell.  As we write this, she is improving and things are looking up.  Fortunately, baby Ella Grace, 9 lbs, 22 inches at birth is doing great.

Vicki feeding Ella, grandmiracle No 4, while visiting Colleen in hospital

Dad (Brian) and Ella visiting mom (Colleen) in the hospital

A more recent pic of Ella and PapPap


One of our stops on the way to Knoxville was at the Ft Loudoun Marina in Lenoir City, TN.  The marina just happened to be on the way home for one of Norm's army buddies.  Bob Rowan and his wife Julie, who Norm has not seen in 15 years, visited.  It's a small world, isn't it?

Bob and Julie Rowan visit us while docked at Ft Loudoun Marina (not to be confused with the Ft Loudoun Yacht Club)  We had a fantastic time getting caught up and promising to get together again, much sooner this time.


 So, We're now in Knoxville. Actually, about 2 weeks ago, we arrived at the Ft Loudoun Yacht Club--our most northern destination this summer. Here's our latest cruise route. Just click on the link below:

We have not been here much though.  We docked here on Sunday, July 24 and departed by rental car to Wilmington, DE for our annual medical checkups and to visit friends there.  We got passing medical grades and the doc's don't want to see us for another year.  While that is always good news, our real excitement was in reconnecting with old friends.  Vicki set up a nice lunch with a couple of her Chase Bank associates and a separate dinner with the ones that could not get away for lunch. We got caught up on the lives of our "still working" friends and the many changes going on in banking, and especially in the credit card sector.  Also, our neighbor friends hosted a wonderful dinner while we were there.  All-in-all, a fantastic visit in Wilmington, DE.  Sorry, we forgot to take pictures.
We stopped in Asheville, NC on the drive back to Knoxville.  They were having a downtown festival at the time.  So, of course, we had to partake.  We enjoyed Asheville very much but decided it's too far from anything to even consider living there.


Two days after returning to Tide Hiker, we were off again.  This time on a flight to Milwaukee, WI see two of our daughters and their families; and, to attend Vicki's family reunion.

Daughters Katie and Chris celebrated Norm's and Vicki's  birthdays by treating them to an awesome lobster dinner at the Golden Mast Restaurant on Okauchee Lake.  Grandmiracle No 3, Joyce, was with a babysitter.  We're told her table manners are not up to par yet.

Jake, grandmiracle No. 1 perusing the menu

Evan, grandmiracle No 2 with a fork at the ready
The Wisconsin State Fair was going on at the time of our visit.  So, it was a fantastic time to take the grandmiracles to the Fair.

Joyce, grandmiracle No 3 with PapPap on the merry-go-round

Evan, at mid-mountain and Jake at the summit

Evan and Jake, just foolin around

Vicki also had an opportunity to visit with her friend Cindy at the Fair

One of the many "fried" foods at the fair.  One could also have fried beer, fried cheese curds, etc.--a cardiologist's dream come true.

The Cal Cooper family at the Cooper reunion in Dodgevillee to, WI.  Here is niece Rachel, Norm, Vicki's mom Avie, Vicki and nephew Alex.  The next day we drove over to Richland Center, WI to visit with Vicki's uncle Bill and aunt Donna.  Not to be outdone by the Coopers, Bill and Donna arranged a fantastic Thompson family reunion. 


While in Milwaukee, we attended the annual Miller Brewing Human Resources Reunion.  We were most appreciative that they scheduled the reunion around our travel schedule so we could make it this year.  The reunion is always held at Miller Stadium, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Here, Vicki is hugging the hot dog, her favorite team mascot.  They also have a sausage, a kielbasa and a brat.  But, the hot dog ranks highest.


We're once again back at the Ft Loudoun Yacht Club.  And, another treat arrived the next day.  Friends Rick and Lynnie Tierney drove down from Raleigh, NC to spend a few days with us.  So, we ate, drank, and were merry for 4 days.  We spent a day at the pool here and also drove into Chattanooga for dinner and a Shakespeare play. 

Rick and Lynnie wanted to see Chattanooga, so a day trip was necessary.  Here's Vicki, Rick and Lynnie at the Riverfront

We then needed an afternoon at the pool at the Ft Loudoun Yacht Club.


We will be resting for a few days to get ready for a few days of hiking the Smoky Mountains next week with friends Mike and Peg Wilson.  More on that later. 

Hope everyone reading this is well and having an awesome summer.  And, we'll try to be more prompt with future blog updates.