Day 22 – Decaturville

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A blue heron squawks in its sleep, some sort of owl blasts out a hoot, not one I recognize, adding to the crickets and cicadas, which seem to be quieter now than they were around St. Louis. I’m a little chilly in my sheet, as the temp has dipped into the high 60’s, low 70’s from yesterday’s mid 90’s. We have our tent and hammock pitched at the Mermaid Marina in Decaturville, TN, where once again Poco whipped up an amazing dinner-this time red beans and rice and vegetables.
This part of the Tennessee River is gorgeous-different rock formations all along here for the funny stacks that make me think of the sides of part of Lake Erie and the upper Mississippi and then horizontal slabs of red rock. The rolling hills along the river frame the sides, and cypress trees make a regular appearance. I am really getting into the south now.

I never got to meet Uncle Phil, the owner of the last place, but I have been able to chat with Barry, the owner of this Mermaid Marina. He is a kind soul and I think most folks would do well to hang here a bit and chill. His store has the best marina swag yet and I grabbed myself a cute bucket hat-one can never have too many ways to keep the sun off you down here, and shorts and shirt for my daughter which I think we might actually be able to share plus a sundress to wear and sleep in.

Bear runs this marina, which is sort of a two part marina with big fancy homes and great lawns in the middle. It’s actually easier to paddle from one side of it to the other than to walk it. The restaurant and marina store are at the entrance way of the little creek off the Tennessee River and the covered docks are in the back. I saw a fair sized boat that must be cruising The Loop come in and turn around. They missed a unique experience.

This place perfectly suits the need-showers with good pressure and REAL hot water, a very clean port-o potty with toilet paper, a quiet spot to pitch a tent and a place to make a camp fire to cook on. Folks that are paddling the length of Tennessee River from the Kentucky Dam to Pickwick should really stop here. It might not be always quiet on the weekends, from what I understand folks enjoy a good time here and riding quads is a favorite sport, but during the week it sure is pleasant. The restaurant is closed Mon& Tues but there are things you can grab to eat at the store.

When I first paddled in, I went all the way to the back, where I met a guy name Rob and his son, Jessie, who came down from Peoria to stay with him. Rob, aka “Birdman,” so named because of his little green cheeked conure he keeps, lives in a house boat under the giant Bimini tops they build over the docks to keep everyone in the shade. The sun is fierce and the trees, now dripping few in the dark, are your friends. The Birdman told me how his little bird goes everywhere with him, how he now has to have an additional keyboard because his little pest, like our cinnamon green cheek conure, has ripped off most of the keys from his original laptop. His little bird talks tho, will cough when Rob smokes, going “hehehe ah shit” at the end of his little string of coughs. Rob claims he wants to teach his little friend to say “show me your boobies.” Such is the banter down here! I find it more amusing than offensive, just a bunch of boys and their boats.

A tow boat blasts in the distance now and the sky is lightening up. It really is peaceful here-now I hear a great horned owl hooting. Very distinctive “hoohoohoo hoo hooo” with the first three “ho’s” in rapid succession and the last two more drawn out. A killdeer alerts us the day has begun as she takes off and flits along the creek side.

It is time to pack up, even though I’d kind of rather stay and soak up the goodness of the characters here. It was nice that Jessie helped us gather firewood. There are good people here, living along the water, and while I’d love to stay I totally forgot about the upcoming holiday-Labor Day! And we better get to Pickwick Landing on Thursday early enough to grab a camping spot.

So actually I have two more days with no locks and then it’s about 11-14 in rapid succession, I forget, will have to count them when I have service.

This post is dedicated to Ben James, because I think he’d really like it here.

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