Day 19 – Cruisin’ Down Kentucky Lake


After more than two solid weeks of paddling commercial traffic laden waterways, navigating Kentucky Lake is pure bliss, a real oasis in this inland waterway adventure. I did not lock through the big huge lock at Kentucky Dam, but took full advantage of the easy portage. Poco came out to greet me after my uphill slog at a very decent boat ramp on the Gilbertsville side. Her little happy rice hat makes her very easy to spot. She’s been sticking feathers in it so she is really quite the sight, with the bubbly enthusiastic personality to match.

In her land based outreach, Poco managed to talk to interested folks at the parks and so now we are guests of the state park at their resort, staying at an absolutely wonderful room at the hotel here. I LOVE Kentucky Lake and this amazing state park! Kentuckians are so lucky to have this special place. Last night we even managed to crash a blues festival. I’d been passed by pleasure craft all day going to this event, and it was something else to paddle into a mess of boats on the water as folks hung out and in the water on the steamy hot day enjoying the music. I even paddled by a boat with dueling tyrannosaurus rexes!

Yesterday was the most relaxing day yet on the water-20 casual relaxed ploppy paced miles. I stayed relatively close to shore and took my time, enjoying the scenery, watching the boats, admiring the homes along this stretch. I even took a beer break at a sailboat named “Lucy” being piloted by two guys, Bob and Kevin. A cold beer is better than warm water any day, and since that was what my drinking options were I happily accepted the beer. My insulated water bag is no match for the heat I’ve been paddling through. Despite that, I practically drain it dry every time I go out. Yesterday was the first day I didn’t touch it, jumping off instead to cool off in the water.

Between Paducah’s new marina and the Kentucky State Park resort here, I am so glad I’m paddling the Tenn-Tom. It’ll be worth the many many (think it’s 14? Could be 11) locks I still have yet to go through. I was very happy with the portage option at the top of the lake as well as the extremely accommodating lock operators at Olmstead and am hoping that the locks I’ve yet to go through have similar options and helpful lock operators. Paddlers and pleasure craft of course don’t have priority, so the waits can be very long at the locks. I’d rather stay out of everyone’s way and just portage, but that might not be an option. Capt. Hamm gave me a list of the locks and their respective VHF-marine channels, because there are a slew of them about five miles apart. But once I’m through I’m done with locks and well on my way to Mobile and New Orleans. I think these past two days will have made the inconvenience at the locks worth it. That’s my frame of mind right now, anyway.

Poco got a call while here that Capt. Hamm was right outside, with his tow and barges. He wanted us to come out and wave, he had binoculars so he could see us-so we happily obliged-what a great guy. He was the one who arranged for dockage for my canoe and for us to have showers in Paducah. What a welcome gift that was! We do have the best memories of Paducah and Kentucky because of the people and watery resources here. I am DEFINITELY gonna come back with my family.

While the miles add up time zips by. I can’t believe we are nearing the end of August and flying into September. As long as the days may sometimes seem we keep adding them up quickly. Is this day 18 or I today 19 days of paddling? After awhile they start to blur together. Poco and I keep forgetting what day it is, we’re so focused on the goal of trying to reach as many people as possible and keep on moving. We both do have families waiting for us, and who knows what the rest of hurricane season holds for us. If the weather is decent, we go as much as possible.

I am eager to see what Michael Duffy, the park manager here at the Kenlake State Resort Park, has cooking for future events here. He was talking about an adventure race involving the typical tri-sports, which would be amazing. I of course had to suggest SUP races, like on the lines of what Wrightsville Beach, NC, has with the amazing Carolina Cup and what even Detroit is starting to do. Make paddle races destination races! These cities and special spots have a lot to offer and race events can really bump things up a notch. Read about Detroit’s first race here-  Yeah, I suppose I look at everything through rose tinted persecution sun glasses, but I do think the economy and many depressed areas can experience a turn around if we get folks outside and into the paddling community. But who knows, maybe we can grow this $646 billion a year national industry, get folks out, improve their health, improve the health of our water and rivers and ocean, and be global leaders in water conservation and protection. Clean water is essential to the economy, for sure.

We figure, also, we might as well eat up while we can because food options look a little sparse the further down toward the Gulf we travel. We’ll adjust and figure it out as we go, Poco is aces at making campfire meals, so we certainly won’t be starving. For now, we’ll gladly scarf down the biscuits and gravy that apparently one can always order here at this resort even if they are not a buffet item!

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