Day 21 – Departing from Waverly, TN

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Poco has been knocking it out with the nightly hunt of where we will lay or heads. Whether at a state park where we pitch our tent and hammock in a gazebo, or find a quite spot by the river, or finding friendly campsite operators who comp us a stay for our cause, she’s been aces. We are currently housed at River Mountain Getaways, Waverly, TN. It’s 18 acres of bliss that Uncle Phil, a weathered older guy owns and maintains all by himself. He runs a tight ship here-the place is clean and the hot water reliable; a little oasis in a place where the Cuba Landing Marina, listed also in the waterways guide book we nabbed, is CLOSED Monday and Tuesday. This is a first. I’m used to water related businesses staying open seven days a week in the summer months to maximize business. Guess they don’t care too much for business, because I noticed a couple of people were hoping the place was open, not just us.
I don’t know what boaters doing the loop would do if they stopped here, but maybe they just keep going. Definitely need to make sure you got all your provisions in Paducah, that’s for sure-thank goodness that town is building a marina! Otherwise you’d hafta get it all in St.Louis.

Today will be my last paddle with no locks and dams. It’s been solid bliss to not hafta worry about going through a lock and what kind of hold up I’ll have. I’m seriously hoping that if there are long waits at the locks that there is a portage option. It just doesn’t seem right, that our tax payer dollars are being used to close off access to recreational paddlers or causing crazy long waits for motorized pleasure craft. I’m all for freedom to roam in this great country, so it sorta hurts my heart that our waterways are not so free as they once were.

Who knows, though, maybe I’ll get lucky and not have any issues and my worrying will be for naught. After all, the guys at Olmsted Lock were incredibly amazing and helpful. Total polar opposite of the guy at Lock 52. That lock, I found out, is due to be replaced with taxpayer funded monies footing 85% of the tab and industry the remaining 15%. I sure hope they have an easy portage in their plans, or some way to get paddlers from one side of the lock to the other.  It just doesn’t seem right that we’d be footing the bill for something that takes away or ability to navigate our country’s waterways in any manor we see fit.

Throughout this paddle, well, really starting on the Chicago River after the unSanitary Canal, I’ve been seeing tons of bald eagles, ospreys, blue herons, northern harriers (I think), and egrets. Just recently I’ve been seeing more turtles. I actually started seeing them on the lower reaches of the Illinois River and parts of the Mississippi. Lately I’ve even seen algae covered turtles swimming below me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen fresh water turtles covered in so much algae before. Yesterday I paddled into the playground of three curious, chattering river otters. They were very curious and made themselves as tall as they could in the water so they could make out what I was. I’m sure no outrigger canoe has ever paddled the length of Kentucky Lake before.

Also, a first for yesterday was a sure sign I was making my way into the real south– cypress trees! They now dot the banks, and there are sometimes whole strands of them. I do love the flora of the south-Spanish miss dripping from trees, cypress trees and their knotty knees, and I can’t wait to see the palmettos.  Heading south doesn’t mean it’ll be getting cooler anytime soon, that’s for sure. While the nights dip into the low 70’s and upper 60’s, the day’s heat blasts you and cooks you well done by two in the afternoon. I’m drinking hot water by then if I don’t cram my insulated water bag with ice. If my water gets warm I find myself hopping into the river every mile, which really kills my time but is so necessary to keep from overheating. Poco and I are getting into the swing of leaving earlier now, which we need to do to beat the heat and also to make better use of shorter days.

Time to get moving and make the coffee. We are so thankful for Uncle Phil for letting us crash this little oasis here in Tennessee by Cuba Landing.

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