The Tenn-Tom and It's Ten Locks

The ten locks we will transit downstream to Demopolis, AL in 253 miles down the Tenn-Tom (Map and Information courtesy Skipper Bob Publications, ‘Chicago to Mobile’, 14th edition).

The ten locks we will transit downstream to Demopolis, AL in 253 miles down the Tenn-Tom (Map and Information courtesy Skipper Bob Publications, ‘Chicago to Mobile’, 14th edition).

The Tennessee - Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway broke ground in 1972 and opened in 1985. The waterway cost 2 billion dollars to build and amazingly enough was completed 6 months ahead of schedule. This project moved more earth than was moved building the Panama Canal and the waterway shortens the trip for vessels to various ports by as much as 720 miles. The Tenn-Tom starts at Pickwick Lake and begins the long downhill run to Mobile Bay. We will lock down (drop) 341 feet over the distance of 450 miles.

Off we go from Grand Harbor Marina, at Pickwick Lake, toward the Tenn-Tom at 8:00AM. Not too sure what to expect as the first lock we are headed to, the Jamie Whitten lock and dam, had a massive oil spill occur inside the lock 3 weeks ago. This unfortunate event has delayed commercial traffic (around 22 tug and tows) which are now waiting to clear the lock, leaving P.C.’s (pleasure crafts) to wait for a chance to jump in. We are pleasantly surprised when we arrive four hours downstream to find the lock doors open and the lock master welcoming us in. Our lock-luck sticks and we make it through the other two locks without delay to end our day at Midway Marina, Fulton, MS (47NM). Another similar day on the Tenn-Tom, with just a little side note at the Rankin Lock (4th lock) where a tug and tow, that had down-locked right before us, side-swiped the lock door ripping off two of the top fenders and the ladder. There was debris in the lock chamber and downstream as well, but no issue with the performance of the lock doors…thank goodness! We had just a minor (one hour) wait at the last lock of the day and then we anchor for the night in a little cove off the river called Blue Bluff, Aberdeen, MS (35NM). A sweaty night with out power but pretty and no wind to shift the boat around while on the hook. We take our 7th lock on the Tenn-Tom strait off the next morning and then cruise into a shallow slip at Columbus Marina, Columbus, MS (23NM). We stay in Columbus for two nights as Maggie disembarks and the remaining crew takes time to get a few chores done and take in a few sites in town. Columbus is a town of 24,000 and appears to be doing well or at least holding its own. We tour the childhood home of playwright Tennessee Williams and then walk around town to see the old buildings and homes and of course sample a few cold beverages. From Columbus we move downriver through the last remaining three locks without delay or drama. We anchor directly after the Heflin Lock and Dam up an Ox Bow off the Tombigbee, AL at MM265 (70NM). It is another hot and sweaty night on the river without power. In addition, the anchor alarm sounds a few times throughout the night when the river changes course (making the boat come about) due to the upstream lock letting out huge amounts of water in short periods of time. So we are happy to get going the next morning and make a somewhat anticlimactic arrival at Demopolis, AL (40NM). This stop marks over 4,700 NM in our trip. We are 90 percent done with the Great Loop and it seems surreal to be leaving the boat here for a few weeks to get her bottom painted and new zinks applied. We will restart the Loop after the end of ‘Hurricane Season’ (October 30th) and I will have new stories to tell. Until then, happy fall, happy Halloween and smooth sailing wherever the wind takes you.

This part of the Tenn-Tom is called the ‘Divide Cut’ and gets pretty skinny when you pass a tug and tows

This part of the Tenn-Tom is called the ‘Divide Cut’ and gets pretty skinny when you pass a tug and tows

It was hard to see the red light at the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam (which tells you not to enter) as the Osprey nest covered it…we loved seeing the green light!

It was hard to see the red light at the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam (which tells you not to enter) as the Osprey nest covered it…we loved seeing the green light!

Down locking the 84 feet at the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam. There is still oil on the side of the lock due to the spill that occurred three weeks ago but it is not too bad and the water in the lock is clear.

Down locking the 84 feet at the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam. There is still oil on the side of the lock due to the spill that occurred three weeks ago but it is not too bad and the water in the lock is clear.

Almost at the bottom of the Jamie Whitten Lock

Almost at the bottom of the Jamie Whitten Lock

The forth lock downstream on the Tenn-Tom is the Rankin Lock and as we enter we notice debris floating in the chamber. As it turns out, the barge that had just gone through the lock before us had scrapped the lock door ripping off the top two left fenders and part of the ladder. The lock master alerted us that there may be debris downstream

The forth lock downstream on the Tenn-Tom is the Rankin Lock and as we enter we notice debris floating in the chamber. As it turns out, the barge that had just gone through the lock before us had scrapped the lock door ripping off the top two left fenders and part of the ladder. The lock master alerted us that there may be debris downstream

Larry holds up just a small portion of the fender that had been ripped from the lock door (behind him in the background). Most pieces were five to ten feet long.

Larry holds up just a small portion of the fender that had been ripped from the lock door (behind him in the background). Most pieces were five to ten feet long.

The sunset at our anchorage at Blue Bluff, Aberdeen, MS

The sunset at our anchorage at Blue Bluff, Aberdeen, MS

The sunrise at Blue Bluff the next morning while anchored

The sunrise at Blue Bluff the next morning while anchored

Another little stow-away hitched a ride with us from Blue Bluff to Columbus, MS

Another little stow-away hitched a ride with us from Blue Bluff to Columbus, MS

Larry took this amazing photo today while cruising on the Tenn-Tom

Larry took this amazing photo today while cruising on the Tenn-Tom

The childhood home of playwright Tennessee Williams in Columbus, MS

The childhood home of playwright Tennessee Williams in Columbus, MS

A few old ‘Playbills’ from Tennessee Williams’ plays

A few old ‘Playbills’ from Tennessee Williams’ plays

Lillajo Ford is the fabulous tour guide at the Tennessee Williams house

Lillajo Ford is the fabulous tour guide at the Tennessee Williams house

Walking around Columbus, MS to take a peek at the old buildings

Walking around Columbus, MS to take a peek at the old buildings

A great 1924 movie theatre that a couple young entrepreneurs turned into a bar and nightclub

A great 1924 movie theatre that a couple young entrepreneurs turned into a bar and nightclub

The concession area is a bar and the movie theatre is the nightclub (still under renovation while open)

The concession area is a bar and the movie theatre is the nightclub (still under renovation while open)

A great, colorful old building

A great, colorful old building

Larry and Owen take a peek at the renovations going on inside the old Merchants and Farmers Bank

Larry and Owen take a peek at the renovations going on inside the old Merchants and Farmers Bank

There were so many amazing old homes scattered throughout Columbus, MS…but this home was particularly amazing

There were so many amazing old homes scattered throughout Columbus, MS…but this home was particularly amazing

The Tenn-Tom is a working river with tugs & tows and metal recycling plants along the way…

The Tenn-Tom is a working river with tugs & tows and metal recycling plants along the way…

However, there are gorgeous stretches of river with no traces of anything man made

However, there are gorgeous stretches of river with no traces of anything man made

These are the ‘White Cliffs at Epes’, I believe they are limestone

These are the ‘White Cliffs at Epes’, I believe they are limestone

4,757 nautical miles and here we are at Demopolis, AL…cheers to us!

4,757 nautical miles and here we are at Demopolis, AL…cheers to us!

Land Between The Lakes, Tennessee River and Pickwick Lake, TN

We depart Green Turtle Bay Marina on Lake Barkley and head through the canal to Kentucky Lake, so it makes sense that this area is called ‘The Land Between the Lakes’ (or The LBL). The lakes were created in 1959 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River (and later constructed the Kentucky Dam). These lakes are one of the world’s largest man-made bodies of water, thus creating the largest inland peninsula in the U.S., the LBL. We head south on Kentucky Lake to Paris Landing Marina, Buchanan, TN (42NM). It is such a nice day that we immediately put the tender in the water and run across the lake to check out a few of the local watering holes…it being a Saturday and the last day of summer. We get a ‘like home’ kind of feeling as the water is the same color as the San Francisco Bay and the hills look very similar to our Bay hills as well. We move on downriver to Pebble Isle Marina, New Johnsonville, TN (25NM) which has a shallow and narrow entrance of 16 to 9 feet and an even more shallow dockside depth of 5 and change (at least the bottom is mud). We move on toward Clifton Marina, Clifton, TN (62NM) officially leaving Kentucky Lake and now cruising on the Tennessee River. This is truly the prettiest scenery we have seen in a few weeks. It is still green and clean along the river banks with beautiful limestone cliffs and sandy beaches. The river is wide with just a little current, a few gentle turns and little to no traffic. The entrance to Clifton Marina is not for the faint of heart, however, as it is very narrow and Larry has to work the current and wind as he moves the boat through the skinny and shallow (7 ft.) entrance. We have a nice walk around this little town and then meet four other looper-couples for dinner at the marina. We get moving early the next day and get to Pickwick Lock and Dam in about six hours. We have a 40 minute wait to up-lock the 57 feet and then enter Pickwick Lake. Right before the marina there is a location on the lake where, geographically, you are in three states at once; Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. We spend three nights at the Grand Harbor Marina, Counce, TN (58NM) as the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam (downstream) is just clearing the backlog of commercial traffic due to an oil spill inside the lock 3 weeks ago. We take advantage of the time and the marina’s loaner car (thank you Neeley, you’re the best Harbor Master!) to visit the Shiloh National Military Park. If you are in the area and have the time it is well worth the visit. Start at the visitor’s center and watch the re-enactment film then drive the battlefield tour. The land is so beautiful and peaceful now that it is difficult to imagine the carnage of the two day battle resulting in 24,000 casualties. Tomorrow we hope to begin our travels on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (Tenn-Tom). The Tenn-Tom is a 234 mile man-made waterway that will take us from Pickwick Lake/Tennessee River to the junction of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River system near Demopolis, Alabama and through a series of 10 locks.

Eggners Ferry Highway Fixed Bridge on Kentucky Lake, TN - The Land Between The Lakes

Eggners Ferry Highway Fixed Bridge on Kentucky Lake, TN - The Land Between The Lakes

Skipper the African Grey Parrot at Green Turtle Bay Marina, Yes, a real parrot and no, the owners are not pirates.

Skipper the African Grey Parrot at Green Turtle Bay Marina, Yes, a real parrot and no, the owners are not pirates.

They don’t call it Green Turtle Bay for nothin’…

They don’t call it Green Turtle Bay for nothin’…

The Green Turtles are used to being fed

The Green Turtles are used to being fed

Fat Daddy’s Tiki Bar on Kentucky Lake, Dover, TN

Fat Daddy’s Tiki Bar on Kentucky Lake, Dover, TN

A nice jog through Paris Landing State Park on this last day of summer & the leaves are already falling

A nice jog through Paris Landing State Park on this last day of summer & the leaves are already falling

A Paris Landing State Park Beach

A Paris Landing State Park Beach

On my jog around the Paris Landing State Park I came across Bradford Cemetery with only a handful of old gravesites

On my jog around the Paris Landing State Park I came across Bradford Cemetery with only a handful of old gravesites

The Breakers Bar and Grill has great live music just up the lake from Paris Landing Marina

The Breakers Bar and Grill has great live music just up the lake from Paris Landing Marina

Leaving The Breakers in the tender on Kentucky Lake

Leaving The Breakers in the tender on Kentucky Lake

A decommissioned railroad bridge on Kentucky Lake

A decommissioned railroad bridge on Kentucky Lake

The shallow and narrow entry to Pebble Isle Marina off Kentucky Lake

The shallow and narrow entry to Pebble Isle Marina off Kentucky Lake

My first wild armadillo…a baby just roaming the marina looking for a snack

My first wild armadillo…a baby just roaming the marina looking for a snack

Sunset from Pebble Isle Marina, New Johnsonville, TN

Sunset from Pebble Isle Marina, New Johnsonville, TN

Not much traffic on this section of the pretty Tennessee River

Not much traffic on this section of the pretty Tennessee River

Pretty limestone cliffs along the Tennessee River

Pretty limestone cliffs along the Tennessee River

The narrow and shallow entrance to Clifton Marina in Clifton, TN

The narrow and shallow entrance to Clifton Marina in Clifton, TN

The town of Clifton is rich with Civil War history. This site on the Tennessee River is where General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry crossed the river to raid and sever General Ulysses S. Grant’s supply lines. Clifton is also the birth place of the first Pulitzer Prize winner T.S. Stribling for his novel ‘The Store’ published in 1933.

The town of Clifton is rich with Civil War history. This site on the Tennessee River is where General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry crossed the river to raid and sever General Ulysses S. Grant’s supply lines. Clifton is also the birth place of the first Pulitzer Prize winner T.S. Stribling for his novel ‘The Store’ published in 1933.

Main Street, Clifton, TN

Main Street, Clifton, TN

Independence tucked snuggly into her slip at Clifton Marina

Independence tucked snuggly into her slip at Clifton Marina

Dinner at the Clifton Marina with Loopers from boats; Paddy Wagon, The Answer, Bahama Voyager and Sea Cups

Dinner at the Clifton Marina with Loopers from boats; Paddy Wagon, The Answer, Bahama Voyager and Sea Cups

Leaving Clifton heading south on the Tennessee River toward Grand Harbor, TN

Leaving Clifton heading south on the Tennessee River toward Grand Harbor, TN

The Pickwick Lock and Dam is quite large with a 57 foot up-lock to Pickwick Lake

The Pickwick Lock and Dam is quite large with a 57 foot up-lock to Pickwick Lake

The gates are open and some loopers are at their bollards…Owen prepares to snag ours

The gates are open and some loopers are at their bollards…Owen prepares to snag ours

The Shiloh National Cemetery at Shiloh National Military Park. Twenty four thousand people were lost or wounded during this two day battle in 1862.

The Shiloh National Cemetery at Shiloh National Military Park. Twenty four thousand people were lost or wounded during this two day battle in 1862.

The site of the Shiloh Civil War battle took place right on the Tennessee River - you pass it if you are a Looper and hardly know it’s there.

The site of the Shiloh Civil War battle took place right on the Tennessee River - you pass it if you are a Looper and hardly know it’s there.

Iowa’s memorial to their fallen soldiers of Shiloh

Iowa’s memorial to their fallen soldiers of Shiloh

The Confederate Memorial honors the South’s ‘Lost Cause’ on Shiloh battlefield. The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the memorial in 1917

The Confederate Memorial honors the South’s ‘Lost Cause’ on Shiloh battlefield. The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the memorial in 1917

A replica (1999) of the Shiloh Meeting House, the log Methodist church were the battle started and thus gave the name.

A replica (1999) of the Shiloh Meeting House, the log Methodist church were the battle started and thus gave the name.

The Corinth, Mississippi courthouse built in 1880

The Corinth, Mississippi courthouse built in 1880

Somethings you only see in the south….Pickle-pops and…

Somethings you only see in the south….Pickle-pops and…

…an axe throwing gym.

…an axe throwing gym.

Running the Rivers - Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio to the Cumberland

At the Hardin Riverdock the tie-up is free if you dine at the restaurant. We obviously arrived too late the night before to be able to have dinner but not to worry, they serve a mean breakfast. Fueled-up with eggs and potatoes we cruise downstream toward the confluence of the Illinois River and the Mississippi River. We have traveled down the Illinois River for 303.4 miles and at Grafton, IL we meet the Mississippi River at mile 221.5. Just a few miles downriver is Alton, IL (40NM), where we dock for two evenings. On arrival we top-off the diesel, pump-out the head and give the boat a bath. It is amazing how filthy the boat gets, between the industrial areas, the mucky river-water and the bugs it is nice to see her clean (at least for a day!). Larry and I explore Alton which is the first town we have stopped at that actually has hills. But far beyond its’ hills, it is Alton’s history that is great to experience. We are lucky enough to meet Don Huber at the Catdaddy’s Tavern and low-and-behold he is the town historian. We learn that Lincoln almost fought a duel on an island near here until the challenger realized that Lincoln’s reach extended his own. Don also tells us about the assassination of journalist Elijah P. Lovejoy in 1837 (an ardent abolitionist), in addition to Alton being the site of the first State Prison in Illinois during civil war times. The next day we take the bikes out to explore many of the historic sites that Don has told us about and then end the day at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, a great place to people-watch, listen to live music and have a couple cold ones. Up early and feeling lucky to clear the Mel Price Lock and Dam 26 and the Chain of Rocks Lock and Dam 27 within an hour and half. We keep cruisin’ down the Mississippi River to St. Louis with its’ traffic jam of tugs and tows. Not to mention the river runs pretty fast at your stern here and controlling the boat in these busy channels with oncoming traffic is a herculean effort on Larry’s part. Further downriver we tie-up for the evening on the wall at Kaskaskia Lock at mile 117.5 on the Mississippi River (86NM). With the river running fast at our stern (4 knot push at times) we rack up the miles today with a long run down the Mississippi River to the Ohio River. There just are not many options for places to stop or safe places to anchor on the Mississippi so we keep cruising along and make it through the new Olmsted Lock to an anchorage called ‘Bean Branch Creek’ on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River (144NM). The next day we have a short run to Paducah, KY (20NM) where will spend two nights at the City Marina. We have a nice time in this ‘big - little town’ as the locals say and move on through the Cumberland River to the catch the Barkley Lock just as it is opening - what luck! We will spend two nights at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky (40NM).

Independence at her end-tie under the New Clark Highway Bridge, Alton, IL on the Mississippi River

Independence at her end-tie under the New Clark Highway Bridge, Alton, IL on the Mississippi River

Wandering the hills of Alton at sunset

Wandering the hills of Alton at sunset

Catdaddy’s is a great place for a cold one. We were so fortunate to meet Alton’s town historian Don Huber and get a list of ‘don’t miss’ sites to see.

Catdaddy’s is a great place for a cold one. We were so fortunate to meet Alton’s town historian Don Huber and get a list of ‘don’t miss’ sites to see.

Musician Miles Davis was born here in Alton, IL

Musician Miles Davis was born here in Alton, IL

The remains of the first state prison in Illinois dating back to 1830. Civil war confederate soldiers were held at this prison.

The remains of the first state prison in Illinois dating back to 1830. Civil war confederate soldiers were held at this prison.

Charming brick homes and brick lined streets still remain in Alton.

Charming brick homes and brick lined streets still remain in Alton.

We bike around town and visit the Alton Cemetery to see the Elijah P. Lovejoy memorial. Lovejoy was a journalist who wrote passionately about abolishing slavery in 1833. He was consequently murdered by a mob of pro slavery Missourians in 1837

We bike around town and visit the Alton Cemetery to see the Elijah P. Lovejoy memorial. Lovejoy was a journalist who wrote passionately about abolishing slavery in 1833. He was consequently murdered by a mob of pro slavery Missourians in 1837

The monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy, journalist & editor, social reformer & minister

The monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy, journalist & editor, social reformer & minister

We leave our ‘bikes’ with the other ‘bikes’ (Harley riders love Fast Eddie’s)

We leave our ‘bikes’ with the other ‘bikes’ (Harley riders love Fast Eddie’s)

The world renowned Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. In 1921 Anheuser Busch opened this bar at 4th, Pearl & Broadway. Ten years later they sold to Sam Balaco who gave it to his son and 50 years later it was sold to Eddie Sholar. Eddie has quadrupled the size of the establishment from 80 chairs to over 400. Over 2,000 barrels of beer and thousands of cases of cans & bottles, not to mention liquor, are served yearly.

The world renowned Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. In 1921 Anheuser Busch opened this bar at 4th, Pearl & Broadway. Ten years later they sold to Sam Balaco who gave it to his son and 50 years later it was sold to Eddie Sholar. Eddie has quadrupled the size of the establishment from 80 chairs to over 400. Over 2,000 barrels of beer and thousands of cases of cans & bottles, not to mention liquor, are served yearly.

Frosty beers served in big, ice cold, chunky glasses at just one of the many bars in this huge place

Frosty beers served in big, ice cold, chunky glasses at just one of the many bars in this huge place

The ‘Bon Air’ area of Fast Eddie’s where you can eat, drink and enjoy live music. Great people watching too.

The ‘Bon Air’ area of Fast Eddie’s where you can eat, drink and enjoy live music. Great people watching too.

Back on the Mississippi River we get up to a four knot push, making this 144 nautical mile day bearable…

Back on the Mississippi River we get up to a four knot push, making this 144 nautical mile day bearable…

Had to get a picture in front of the St. Louis Arch (thank you Maggie)

Had to get a picture in front of the St. Louis Arch (thank you Maggie)

We turn off the Mississippi River and on to the Ohio River toward Paducah

We turn off the Mississippi River and on to the Ohio River toward Paducah

Our little stowaway from the Kaskaskia lock & dam was onboard for 24 hours then disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared.

Our little stowaway from the Kaskaskia lock & dam was onboard for 24 hours then disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared.

The Olmsted Lock and Dam. This lock & dam took 25 years to build (opening in 2018) and cost 3 billion dollars. It replaces locks 52 and 53 along the Ohio river. We were immediately allowed through and the lift is only eight feet.

The Olmsted Lock and Dam. This lock & dam took 25 years to build (opening in 2018) and cost 3 billion dollars. It replaces locks 52 and 53 along the Ohio river. We were immediately allowed through and the lift is only eight feet.

The sunrise from our anchorage on the Ohio River

The sunrise from our anchorage on the Ohio River

The Paducah City Marina on the Ohio River was just completed a few years ago

The Paducah City Marina on the Ohio River was just completed a few years ago

Sweet old buildings of Paducah

Sweet old buildings of Paducah

The Queen of the Mississippi is an overnight cruise boat that runs the waters of the Ohio River

The Queen of the Mississippi is an overnight cruise boat that runs the waters of the Ohio River

Meriwether Lewis & Williams Clark came by these shores on their westward journey to the Pacific Ocean and were greeted by many of the native american people living on this land. Evidently, Meriwether Lewis bought his Newfoundland dog, Seaman, for $25 dollars in 1803, but in 1827, Williams Clark paid only a $5.00 transfer fee for the land where Paducah and McCracken County now stand.

Meriwether Lewis & Williams Clark came by these shores on their westward journey to the Pacific Ocean and were greeted by many of the native american people living on this land. Evidently, Meriwether Lewis bought his Newfoundland dog, Seaman, for $25 dollars in 1803, but in 1827, Williams Clark paid only a $5.00 transfer fee for the land where Paducah and McCracken County now stand.

Autumn is on it’s way to Paducah. This cute guy is in front of a great bar called Shandies, where a great bartender name John works

Autumn is on it’s way to Paducah. This cute guy is in front of a great bar called Shandies, where a great bartender name John works

Charming old buildings on Broadway in Paducah

Charming old buildings on Broadway in Paducah

The old Columbia theatre on Broadway was built in 1926 by W. Earl Gore and went dark in 1987. The Columbia Theatre Restoration Project is trying to save this great landmark

The old Columbia theatre on Broadway was built in 1926 by W. Earl Gore and went dark in 1987. The Columbia Theatre Restoration Project is trying to save this great landmark

The ‘Wall to Wall’ murals are painted on the floods walls that protect the town. They take you through Paducah’s history from the time of the Native Americans, fur trading & fishing, the importance of the river to the economy of the town, civil war and locomotive history. Paducah was also a major long distance telephone switching hub (until 1979) and at the dawn of the atomic age entered the uranium enrichment program. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant remains the nation’s only uranium enrichment facility and a global supplier of enriched uranium for electricity production.

The ‘Wall to Wall’ murals are painted on the floods walls that protect the town. They take you through Paducah’s history from the time of the Native Americans, fur trading & fishing, the importance of the river to the economy of the town, civil war and locomotive history. Paducah was also a major long distance telephone switching hub (until 1979) and at the dawn of the atomic age entered the uranium enrichment program. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant remains the nation’s only uranium enrichment facility and a global supplier of enriched uranium for electricity production.

I particularly like this wall scene of a tug captain in his Pilot House pushing his tows

I particularly like this wall scene of a tug captain in his Pilot House pushing his tows

This panel portrays the events of the 1937 flood that devastated 90 percent of a thriving Paducah. It is one of the many panels painted on the flood walls that protect Paducah from the Ohio River. The wall cost eight million dollars and is twelve miles long and three feet above the 1937 flood levels.

This panel portrays the events of the 1937 flood that devastated 90 percent of a thriving Paducah. It is one of the many panels painted on the flood walls that protect Paducah from the Ohio River. The wall cost eight million dollars and is twelve miles long and three feet above the 1937 flood levels.

This marker on Broadway shows the 60.8 foot height of the 1937 flood waters

This marker on Broadway shows the 60.8 foot height of the 1937 flood waters

This town has seen a lot…

This town has seen a lot…

We visit our good friend Buck Bradley and share a little bit of his favorite Maker’s Mark Whiskey with him…like old times. We love and miss you Buck!

We visit our good friend Buck Bradley and share a little bit of his favorite Maker’s Mark Whiskey with him…like old times. We love and miss you Buck!

Leaving Paducah on the Ohio River you transfer over to the Cumberland River and 40 miles later you enter the very impressive Barkley Lock and Dam. We were lucky and the doors to lock opened just as we arrived.

Leaving Paducah on the Ohio River you transfer over to the Cumberland River and 40 miles later you enter the very impressive Barkley Lock and Dam. We were lucky and the doors to lock opened just as we arrived.

The massive Barkley Lock doors close and you are lifted quickly but smoothly up 57 feet

The massive Barkley Lock doors close and you are lifted quickly but smoothly up 57 feet

Where else would we end up but at the ‘Thirsty Turtle’ at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY. I love the names of their craft beers

Where else would we end up but at the ‘Thirsty Turtle’ at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY. I love the names of their craft beers

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...Marseilles Lock, Starved Rock Lock and La Grange Lock, IL

We wake up to a rainy day at Joliet and depart the wall at 8:00AM with five other Loopers heading to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam and the Dresden Lock and Dam. We end-up being a bit early, by an hour or so, but we eventually lock through and actually raft a boat (tie a boat to our boat) in the lock for the first time. The push to get going early is stemmed by the fact that we need to make a lock time at Marseilles Lock 26 miles down river. This lock is under construction and has restricted hours when ‘pleasure crafts’ (P.C.’s) can lock through. We arrive early as the lock tender has instructed and then have to wait at one of the large bollards. Unfortunately, the wall near the lock is not available for P.C.’s as we had been led to believe. An hour and a half later we lock through and are on our way to Ottawa (37NM) Heritage Harbor for the night. Our second ‘problem lock’ is Starved Rock Lock. It has the same construction/restricted lock openings for P.C.’s. So, thinking strategically, we move a few miles downstream to a fuel dock at Starved Rock (7NM). This location is only two miles from the lock so we figure that this will be better for our 05:00 transit. By the way, this is our first, and as it turns out, very eventful, dark transit. We have a high-power spot mounted on the brow of the boat and a hand held spot as well. The captain has the radar and nav screens active, but let me tell you, nothing prepares you for the hundred plus foot tug and tow coming your way in the black of night. Larry, once again, cool as a cucumber, lets the tug ‘n tow slip smoothly by. Waiting for the tow to pass cost us time and we miss the early bird lock and have to tie up to another large bollard and wait until 06:30. We have the lock to ourselves and then a long but uneventful transit down the Illinois River to Peoria (59NM). We leave the municipal docks at Peoria and lock through the Peoria Lock and Dam without any issues. The lock is only an 8 foot drop, no bollards or lines, Larry holds us in the middle and we exit about 20 minutes later. A long day down the Illinois River checking depths, and double checking river markers as there are many that have been dragged out of position by the massive tug and tows or are missing all together. In addition there are plenty of snags (trees wedged into the bottom of the river) so we have to be diligent about looking for these, not to mention Larry having to maneuver around the goliath tugs and tows in these narrow channels. Eight hours later we arrive at Beardstown (61NM) where there are barges you can tie up to for the night and then climb up a steep stairway to get over their breakwater and into town. Rereading what I have just written, I am thinking how lucky we were to make all these locks with just an hour or two’s wait....our lock- luck is about to change. Out of Beardstown we head to the La Grange Lock, just an hour down river. Thinking that it is smooth sailing after our two problem locks we are absolutely gobsmacked to learn that they have started post-flood maintenance and there will be a three hour wait. Well, we use our time wisely, we ride the exercise bike, read, practice spanish and play cards. One o’clock rolls around and we find out that a tug with fifteen tows has to lock through...cut to the chase it is nearly a six hour wait to clear this lock. This was not good for so many reasons, but mainly because our tie-up this evening is six hours away and it is four o’clock. You do the math and yes, that means two hours of dark transit and arrival far after cocktail hour! I am sure by now, you all have guessed I have not grown accustomed to running at night. Well, practice makes perfect I guess and we will just chalk it up to experience. We have a great captain and a great crew. All hands were on deck to look for logs and snags and use the hand-held spot to shine on the reflective river markers. Learning how to effectively use the spot-light mounted on the boat increases my confidence in running the river at night, however, the car ferry zipping across the river every five minutes and the massive tug and tow (however nice on the VHF) rounding a blind corner was just unnerving. Ultimately, it comes down to the captain and his capabilities. I will shout from the mountaintop (if there were any in this flat land) my affirmations on how accomplished a captain Larry is at this time. He was calm and sure and got us to Hardin (67NM) safe and sound. Thank you Cap!

On the wall at Joliet with the bimini and arch back in place. Louis Joliet was an early French explorer and fur trader who first dreamed of the idea of connecting the Illinois River to Lake Michigan

On the wall at Joliet with the bimini and arch back in place. Louis Joliet was an early French explorer and fur trader who first dreamed of the idea of connecting the Illinois River to Lake Michigan

Rainy morning at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam

Rainy morning at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam

A little traffic on the river heading to the next lock

A little traffic on the river heading to the next lock

We raft sailboat Breathe (stepped down mast for bridge clearance) with us in the Dresden Lock and Dam

We raft sailboat Breathe (stepped down mast for bridge clearance) with us in the Dresden Lock and Dam

Owen takes watch on the bollard tie while we wait for our lock opening at the Marseilles Lock

Owen takes watch on the bollard tie while we wait for our lock opening at the Marseilles Lock

Ottawa’s Washington Square was the site of the first of seven debates between Lincoln and Douglas for U.S. Senator in 1858. It is estimated that 14,000 people showed up to hear the debate and, the then little know Abraham Lincoln (just a young lawyer) gained political traction as he spoke about abolishing slavery and state’s rights.

Ottawa’s Washington Square was the site of the first of seven debates between Lincoln and Douglas for U.S. Senator in 1858. It is estimated that 14,000 people showed up to hear the debate and, the then little know Abraham Lincoln (just a young lawyer) gained political traction as he spoke about abolishing slavery and state’s rights.

Waiting for the Starved Rock Lock at five o’clock in the morning

Waiting for the Starved Rock Lock at five o’clock in the morning

Happy to put Starved Rock in the ‘rear view mirror’

Happy to put Starved Rock in the ‘rear view mirror’

The Municipal Marina at Peoria

The Municipal Marina at Peoria

Abe came through Ottawa on the debate tour. The stature is dedicated to fallen soldiers and sailors built in 1899

Abe came through Ottawa on the debate tour. The stature is dedicated to fallen soldiers and sailors built in 1899

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The Ottawa courthouse

The Ottawa courthouse

The ‘8 Bit Arcade Bar’ has a fantastic Venice Carnival mural at the side of the building

The ‘8 Bit Arcade Bar’ has a fantastic Venice Carnival mural at the side of the building

At 8 Bit, buy a beer and play all your favorite games from decades past

At 8 Bit, buy a beer and play all your favorite games from decades past

Larry found his favorite - ‘Galaxian’!

Larry found his favorite - ‘Galaxian’!

Peoria Lock and Dam is a breeze

Peoria Lock and Dam is a breeze

Something is wrong with this picture….river markers are often scooped up by barges or moved by high water…keep sharp!

Something is wrong with this picture….river markers are often scooped up by barges or moved by high water…keep sharp!

The ‘Barge Dock’ at Beardstown, IL. The water crested this wall this past spring and did not recede until July

The ‘Barge Dock’ at Beardstown, IL. The water crested this wall this past spring and did not recede until July

Main Street Beardstown, IL

Main Street Beardstown, IL

Awesome bar ‘The Nook’ with a fantastic bartender ‘Brittany’ is conveniently located next to the recovery center…

Awesome bar ‘The Nook’ with a fantastic bartender ‘Brittany’ is conveniently located next to the recovery center…

Lincoln spent time in this town as well at the courthouse on the left

Lincoln spent time in this town as well at the courthouse on the left

The steep steps back to the Independence

The steep steps back to the Independence

Sunset on the Illinois River

Sunset on the Illinois River

Waiting for our opening at the La Grange Lock and Dam…this tug and his fifteen tows took almost two hours to lock up river

Waiting for our opening at the La Grange Lock and Dam…this tug and his fifteen tows took almost two hours to lock up river

This dredger is amazing but just one more obstacle between us and our destination

This dredger is amazing but just one more obstacle between us and our destination

Sunrise on the Illinois River at Hardin, IL

Sunrise on the Illinois River at Hardin, IL

The barge dock at Hardin, IL. You can dock for free if you have a meal at the Riverdock Restaurant. We intended to have dinner but did not arrive until 10:00PM, so we had breakfast and it was fantastic. You can see the high water mark from this last year’s’ flood on their sign at the word ‘Riverdock’.

The barge dock at Hardin, IL. You can dock for free if you have a meal at the Riverdock Restaurant. We intended to have dinner but did not arrive until 10:00PM, so we had breakfast and it was fantastic. You can see the high water mark from this last year’s’ flood on their sign at the word ‘Riverdock’.

The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Road Swing Bridge, IL

The afternoon before we leave Chicago the crew takes down the bimini (cover on the top of the fly bridge) and lowers the arch in preparation for the dreaded low clearance Santa Fe railroad (RR) bridge at mile 301.5 on the Calumet River/Illinois River. Independence is too tall, even with her arch down, to pass under the bridges on the Chicago River which have a 17 foot clearance (Independence needs 18 feet). So the less sexy, very industrial route of the Calumet is our path ahead. The, now fixed, Santa Fe RR swing bridge normally has a clearance of 19 feet, however with this years’ high water levels the actual height has varied and has caused quite the chatter on the ‘Looper’ websites (AGLCA forum). Larry and I check these sights every morning to get an idea if the water level is dropping and what others have experienced. After saying a sad goodbye to Chris Adams the morning of our departure, we leave the Chicago Yacht Club bright and early and head south 10 miles to the Calumet River opening. This is by far the most industrial and busiest river we have been on so far. In the harbor we scurry past a massive ship preparing to enter the river to load salt and we end-up behind a tug and tow (barge). Larry slowly maneuvers us behind the tug & tow and we patiently wait for bridge openings. At one bridge the tug is so slow as he carefully makes the twists and turns of the river (he is probably 170 feet long) that once through the bridge the bridge tender starts lowering the span while we are on approach. We are not sure if we should stick or pass under until the tender (on VHF) says ‘better hurry it up!’. Larry throttles up and we are fine but that certainly isn't how it’s done in Florida! One bridge after the next we draw closer to the Santa Fe. After approximately 39 bridges (and one lock - Thomas O’Brien) the Calumet River joins the sultry sounding Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal - don’t fall in the water here. This canal permits ship traffic to go south in addition to all of Chicago’s sanitary waste (treated we hope) keeping it out of Lake Michigan. Finally, after a year of sweating the idea of passing under the Sante Fe...getting the arch cut, painted, repainted, measuring and remeasuring, we pass under the bridge with room to spare and a huge sigh of relief. The long day ends with one more lock which we make by just minutes. As we approach the lock door is coming up the kind lock tender at Lockport Lock lowers it for us. It would be a four hour wait if we had not caught that lock. We arrive at the Joliet wall, tie up and raise the arch and replace the bimini putting another hurdle behind us.

Leaving Chicago for the Calumet River on a bluebird morning

Leaving Chicago for the Calumet River on a bluebird morning

Our last moments on Lake Michigan and Great Lakes - entering Calumet River Harbor

Our last moments on Lake Michigan and Great Lakes - entering Calumet River Harbor

The busy harbor

The busy harbor

The tug and tow ahead of us navigates the narrow river…

The tug and tow ahead of us navigates the narrow river…

…and the narrow bridges

…and the narrow bridges

The 95th Street bridge barely stayed open for us to pass (stern view)

The 95th Street bridge barely stayed open for us to pass (stern view)

Bridge tender Janet made us wait for this opening.  Looking back at the busy river front

Bridge tender Janet made us wait for this opening. Looking back at the busy river front

A taste of things to come…the Torrence bridge (fixed) had about 21 feet of clearance but the bridge tender told us 28…NOT!

A taste of things to come…the Torrence bridge (fixed) had about 21 feet of clearance but the bridge tender told us 28…NOT!

More bridges

More bridges

A nice park here and there

A nice park here and there

The confluence of the Calumet River and the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal

The confluence of the Calumet River and the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal

The approach to the Santa Fe Rail Road Swing Bridge that no longer swings

The approach to the Santa Fe Rail Road Swing Bridge that no longer swings

Closer….

Closer….

Show time…here we go…

Show time…here we go…

This bridge is looking a little past her prime

This bridge is looking a little past her prime

Not much room between the highest point on the boat (arch down - 18 foot clearance) and the bridge clearance of 19 feet

Not much room between the highest point on the boat (arch down - 18 foot clearance) and the bridge clearance of 19 feet

Over and done…all in the past now

Over and done…all in the past now

The Asian Carp Electric Field

The Asian Carp Electric Field

They are serious about keeping these invasive fish out of the Great Lakes…this is the back up generator in case there is a power outage

They are serious about keeping these invasive fish out of the Great Lakes…this is the back up generator in case there is a power outage

The Lockport lock tender was kind enough to lower the wall/gate for us - Thank you!

The Lockport lock tender was kind enough to lower the wall/gate for us - Thank you!

The gate is up and we drop 40 feet

The gate is up and we drop 40 feet

Our first ‘floating bollard’. They are very nice

Our first ‘floating bollard’. They are very nice

Out we go toward Joliet, IL

Out we go toward Joliet, IL

Grand Haven to St. Joseph, MI to Hammond, IN

We ended-up spending three nights in Ludington due to high winds of 20 knots and waves reaching over 9 feet in height on Lake Michigan.  Larry was very productive with the down time, as he was able to identify the problem with the windshield wiper, order a replacement and install the new wiper motor.  Finally, we get to move on to Grand Haven (61NM) but sadly had to forego the port of Pentwater due to the weather hold and lost days. The trip southward to Grand Haven was a little rolly at first with four foot waves and good size swells coming in sets. We enter Grand Haven harbor and proceed toward Grand Isle Marina, where, FYI if you cannot clear a 25-foot vertical clearance you must contact the bridge tender of the U.S. HWY 31 bascule bridge for an opening. Openings are once an hour on the half-hour and you can reach the bridge tender by VHF channel 16. After clearing the bridge we try to hail the marina but frustratingly, we get no response.  We need to pump the head and so we move toward the fuel dock and pump station. The station slips are narrow looking and as the dock hand finally emerges we ask her if she knows the width...sadly she does not, nor does she know anything about our reservation or what our slip assignment is. I will just cut to the chase and say that the dock help at this marina is very unreliable, unknowledgeable and unapologetic about it. If you can reserve a slip at the Grand Haven Municipal Marina or secure a space on the city wall you will be better served. The town of Grand Haven is a sweet town with a great Main Street, microbreweries, and some lovely beaches.

After two nights at Grand Haven we push on to St. Joseph (67NM) in smooth water. There is bad weather coming so we had to sadly pass by Saugatuck and South Haven in order to make our reservations in Chicago. But we are so happy we stopped in St. Joseph as it is such a cute little town bustling with Labor Day weekend activity. The beaches and boardwalks are packed and the main street is jammed with people. I still can’t believe how many ice cream stores there are in Michigan. The salmon run has just started in the waters outside the ‘St. Jo’ channel and fishing boats are criss-crossing as they trawl, often with no attention given to where they are going or to whom is coming toward them. The channel and harbor were dredged from the original St. Joseph River first by private investors in the 1860’s and later by the U.S. Corps of Engineers who removed a large sandbar and placed protective piers on either side of the channel in the 1930's. St. Joseph was a shipbuilding town from the 1830’s until the late 1900’s as lumber was in great supply. Sailing and steam-powered vessels were built here for lake and river navigation. The shipbuilding and commercial fishing economies soon gave way to tourism, as is the norm for these small coastal towns.

A nice day trip to Hammond (50NM) that started a bit choppy with 2 footers and then flattened out to just a ripple. Hammond is only 14 nautical miles from Chicago so we will, hopefully, be able to get in tomorrow well before any of the big forecasted winds are set to hit. We feel so sad for the people in the beautiful Abacos Islands who have been hit so hard by hurricane Dorian and hope our Jupiter friends will be safe over the next few days to come.

Grand Haven channel with its charming lighthouse and breakwater

Grand Haven channel with its charming lighthouse and breakwater

U.S. Hwy 31 bascule bridge heading to Grand Isle Marina…don’t forget to call for an opening or you will sit there all day!

U.S. Hwy 31 bascule bridge heading to Grand Isle Marina…don’t forget to call for an opening or you will sit there all day!

A great day for a bike ride to the breakwater and out to the Grand Haven lighthouse

A great day for a bike ride to the breakwater and out to the Grand Haven lighthouse

Time for mini golf…this hazard was a challenge for me but not for Larry as he won again!

Time for mini golf…this hazard was a challenge for me but not for Larry as he won again!

Have to have a brew at Oddside Brewery which is in a great old brick building that used to be a piano factory

Have to have a brew at Oddside Brewery which is in a great old brick building that used to be a piano factory

The Oddside beer menu…I would like to be a ‘fly on the wall’ when they come up with some of these names

The Oddside beer menu…I would like to be a ‘fly on the wall’ when they come up with some of these names

The old news stand is still in business

The old news stand is still in business

Religion and art…The First Reformed Church has quite the history, as seen below…

Religion and art…The First Reformed Church has quite the history, as seen below…

Tenacious!

Tenacious!

Entering St. Joseph channel this trawler cuts right across our bow with four trawling lines out at his stern

Entering St. Joseph channel this trawler cuts right across our bow with four trawling lines out at his stern

The St. Joseph River Yacht Club at the entrance to West Basin Marina

The St. Joseph River Yacht Club at the entrance to West Basin Marina

Upstream from the channel on the St. Joseph River with the swing bridge in the distance

Upstream from the channel on the St. Joseph River with the swing bridge in the distance

We stop and listen to the St. Joseph Municipal Band (conducted by Dr. Donald Moely) performing at the John Howard Bandshell.

We stop and listen to the St. Joseph Municipal Band (conducted by Dr. Donald Moely) performing at the John Howard Bandshell.

A fireman’s memorial from 1898

A fireman’s memorial from 1898

This is the third St. Joseph swing bridge. This bridge was built in 1904 & is owned & maintained by the CSX (Chessie & Seaboard Expanded) Transportation. The Independence is in the marina across the river.

This is the third St. Joseph swing bridge. This bridge was built in 1904 & is owned & maintained by the CSX (Chessie & Seaboard Expanded) Transportation. The Independence is in the marina across the river.

More great beer names at the Silver Harbor Brewery in St. Joseph

More great beer names at the Silver Harbor Brewery in St. Joseph

Sweet mural down the alley

Sweet mural down the alley

The old Silver Beach Amusement Park at St. Joseph, built in 1891, had a carousel, roller rink, indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, beer garden, penny arcade, ballroom and a wooden roller coaster

The old Silver Beach Amusement Park at St. Joseph, built in 1891, had a carousel, roller rink, indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, beer garden, penny arcade, ballroom and a wooden roller coaster

A newer carousel now sits at the site of the old amusement park

A newer carousel now sits at the site of the old amusement park

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Later in the evening this little swing bridge gets quite busy

Later in the evening this little swing bridge gets quite busy

Departing ‘St. Jo’ on a nice calm morning

Departing ‘St. Jo’ on a nice calm morning

A smooth crossing on Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Hammond as we weave between sailboats in a regatta to Chicago

A smooth crossing on Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Hammond as we weave between sailboats in a regatta to Chicago

Goodnight Hammond, IN

Goodnight Hammond, IN

Frankfort to Ludington, MI - Weather Hold!

A damp and rolling ride to Frankfort (35NM) with 3-foot swells quite close together. As we clear the channel and enter the turning basin in Betsie Bay we begin to see fish jumping from the water. Actually, not just jumping but literally breeching and slamming themselves onto the waters’ surface. After we tie-up I ask the dock managers what kind of fish they are. Kim and Corey (Frankfort Municipal Marina) tell us they are salmon. Most likely females on their way up to the Betsie River to spawn. These females are laden with eggs and they body-slam themselves against the water to loosen the eggs in preparation to lay them. If this is factual or not, I am not sure but it was an amazing sight to see these huge fish popping out of the water as we came into port. I later read that this county has a very modern fish rearing facility ‘The Michigan Platte River Fish Hatchery’ which produces Coho, Chinook and Steelhead. Frankfort became a township in 1859 and the early economy was based on the lumber industry, commercial fishing and fruit farming. Fruit farming (cherries) remains an industry but primarily, tourism now provides the main economy in Frankfort. We walk out to the beach and around town and of course have to sample the local ales at the Stormcloud Brewing Company.

So our trip to Ludington (56NM) was quite intense. The winds were up and the waves were reported to be 4 feet. We were trying to decide if we should stay or go when we hear that the following day is reported to be even worse, so we decide to make a run for it. It turns out to be a bit more hairy then what was reported. The waves were at least 7 feet, one coming after another crashing over the bow…for five hours. Larry did a great job grinding away without a break until right before we enter the harbor. He would vary the throttle speed to keep the boat from crashing down off the peaks of the bigger waves, however he had to do this visually impaired as the windshield wiper in front of the captain’s helm station quit less than an hour into the trip. So, needless to say, we were all very happy to see the multi-colored waters of Ludington Harbor. The tannin-filled river water mixes with beach sand and blue lake water and looks quite strange as you approach. The Pere Marquette Lake is blissfully smooth with only a light breeze. We fill up on diesel, as Owen has done his research of this area and found fuel here is 10 cents less than any other marina. That makes a bit of difference when you are purchasing 1,000 gallons. Finally, we are safely in our slip where it looks like we will be for an additional day (or two) until the winds and water calm.

Entering the channel to Frankfort and Betsie Bay

Entering the channel to Frankfort and Betsie Bay

The First Congregational Church built in 1868. The message board reads ‘Souler Powered By The Son’

The First Congregational Church built in 1868. The message board reads ‘Souler Powered By The Son’

There are some very sweet homes in Frankfort

There are some very sweet homes in Frankfort

Older brick buildings stand alongside their newer neighbors

Older brick buildings stand alongside their newer neighbors

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Not necessarily a beach day, but still very pretty at the breakwater

Not necessarily a beach day, but still very pretty at the breakwater

Too bad the old Hotel Frontenac burned down…what an amazing building it must have been

Too bad the old Hotel Frontenac burned down…what an amazing building it must have been

This home sits right on the beach and every window had a sailboat model. The copper downspout is fabulous

This home sits right on the beach and every window had a sailboat model. The copper downspout is fabulous

These copper ship motif gates are perfect too

These copper ship motif gates are perfect too

The Stormcloud brewery sits right next to the movie theatre

The Stormcloud brewery sits right next to the movie theatre

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I recommend the ‘Rainmaker’ Ale

I recommend the ‘Rainmaker’ Ale

Heading into a big weather day, departing Frankfort

Heading into a big weather day, departing Frankfort

Five hours of this…

Five hours of this…

The pretty mixed-up waters are a sight to see as you enter Ludington Harbor

The pretty mixed-up waters are a sight to see as you enter Ludington Harbor

The tanin from the river, the kicked-up bottom sand and the blue lake water make quite a mix

The tanin from the river, the kicked-up bottom sand and the blue lake water make quite a mix

The Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse. Great Lakes lighthouses were evidently built during a short period of time in the mid to late 1800’s. Of the 247 lighthouses originally built about 124 remain. They are mostly constructed with brick or stone to withstand the brutal winter storms. The lighthouses are generally similar in construction and tend to be square shaped and functional in design.

The Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse. Great Lakes lighthouses were evidently built during a short period of time in the mid to late 1800’s. Of the 247 lighthouses originally built about 124 remain. They are mostly constructed with brick or stone to withstand the brutal winter storms. The lighthouses are generally similar in construction and tend to be square shaped and functional in design.

The SS Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry is the last coal-fired passaenger vessel operating on the Great Lakes. It has been in use since 1953 and runs the 62 miles between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It is 410 feet long, draws 24 feet and carries 620 passengers & 180 vehicles of all kinds. She may still burn coal, as the Steam Ship (SS) has been given historical status, but the coal ash is now off-loaded on shore (instead of dumped into the lake) and used to make cement.

The SS Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry is the last coal-fired passaenger vessel operating on the Great Lakes. It has been in use since 1953 and runs the 62 miles between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It is 410 feet long, draws 24 feet and carries 620 passengers & 180 vehicles of all kinds. She may still burn coal, as the Steam Ship (SS) has been given historical status, but the coal ash is now off-loaded on shore (instead of dumped into the lake) and used to make cement.

Charming ‘Maude’s Garage’ in Ludington…I bought a few things in this sweet vintage shop

Charming ‘Maude’s Garage’ in Ludington…I bought a few things in this sweet vintage shop

The Mason County Courthouse in Ludington was built in 1893

The Mason County Courthouse in Ludington was built in 1893

The Courthouse was designed by Grand Rapids architect Sidney J. Osgood and built in the ‘Richardsonian Romanesque’ style (said the info plaque). The rock is Jacobsville sandstone from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

The Courthouse was designed by Grand Rapids architect Sidney J. Osgood and built in the ‘Richardsonian Romanesque’ style (said the info plaque). The rock is Jacobsville sandstone from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

The Sand Bar is the locals bar owned and run by Dawn. She is awesome and a huge music lover who has brought big name rockers to Ludington.

The Sand Bar is the locals bar owned and run by Dawn. She is awesome and a huge music lover who has brought big name rockers to Ludington.

Happy hour at The Sand Bar…two dollar - twenty ounce draft PBR’s

Happy hour at The Sand Bar…two dollar - twenty ounce draft PBR’s

Dawn’s Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame at The Sand Bar…James Hetfield (lead singer of Metallica), Lynch Mob and many other notables have played in this little bar

Dawn’s Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame at The Sand Bar…James Hetfield (lead singer of Metallica), Lynch Mob and many other notables have played in this little bar

We shake things up a little & order a flight at the Jamesport Brewing Company. The IPA won the taste test

We shake things up a little & order a flight at the Jamesport Brewing Company. The IPA won the taste test

Having had a jeep we understand the statement

Having had a jeep we understand the statement

A jog North on MI 116 brings you out to Lakeview Cemetery. This is the Civil War monument belonging to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). ‘Membership was limited to veterans of the American Civil War who served as soldiers, sailors or marines during the period 1861 to 1865’ (info from ‘Ludington Michigan’ website.

A jog North on MI 116 brings you out to Lakeview Cemetery. This is the Civil War monument belonging to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). ‘Membership was limited to veterans of the American Civil War who served as soldiers, sailors or marines during the period 1861 to 1865’ (info from ‘Ludington Michigan’ website.

Below the GAR memorial are the markers from soldiers that fought in the First World War and the Second World War.

Below the GAR memorial are the markers from soldiers that fought in the First World War and the Second World War.

Back on MI 116 heading South…

Back on MI 116 heading South…

This Coast Guard Station at the entrance of the Ludington Harbor was built in 2003 when the 1932 Life-Saving Station became obsolete

This Coast Guard Station at the entrance of the Ludington Harbor was built in 2003 when the 1932 Life-Saving Station became obsolete

Always time for 18 holes!

Always time for 18 holes!

SS Badger sails into the sunset (photo courtesy of Maggie Doherty)

SS Badger sails into the sunset (photo courtesy of Maggie Doherty)

Northport to Leland Harbor, MI

You can see why they call this area ‘The Mitten’. Image courtesy of Google Maps

You can see why they call this area ‘The Mitten’. Image courtesy of Google Maps

Reluctantly, we leave Traverse City and head up the bay to Northport (21NM). It is a chilly ride and feels like fall is already trying to creep in the door. We have a warm welcome at the Northport Marina, as our friends from Marin County, Carol & Ken, are here in Northport (‘The Mitten’) visiting family. After tying-up we make the pilgrimage to the only brew pub in town to sample the local lager and IPA. The crew then moves across the street for music in the park and a picnic. The next day we take advantage of the good weather and wash and wax the boat. Chores done, we head out to go bowling at Tucker’s with the gang. After an ancestral tour from Ken the next morning we head off to Leland Harbor. The cruise is lovely and calm and we arrive in three or so hours at Leland Harbor (25NM). We walk around the sweet area of Fishtown and grab a few beers at ‘The Cove’. We say our goodbyes to Carol and Ken and promise to touch base when we are back in Marin in Fall.

The gang at the Northport Marina docks

The gang at the Northport Marina docks

The old train depot or what is left

The old train depot or what is left

Local trails of Northport

Local trails of Northport

The local brew pub ‘The Mitten’ gets a lot of action

The local brew pub ‘The Mitten’ gets a lot of action

Carol, Larry, Ken & Owen at ‘The Mitten’ brewery

Carol, Larry, Ken & Owen at ‘The Mitten’ brewery

Local boats of Northport, MI…what is in a name?

Local boats of Northport, MI…what is in a name?

Music in the park with family…Clockwise - Larry, Ken, Carol, Maggie, Owen, cousins Lynn & Bill

Music in the park with family…Clockwise - Larry, Ken, Carol, Maggie, Owen, cousins Lynn & Bill

Tucker’s for bowling and beers…nice shoes!

Tucker’s for bowling and beers…nice shoes!

Ken’s family has been in Northport since the mid 1800’s.  This is the Thomas’ family resting place…there are more family members on the other side of the grounds.

Ken’s family has been in Northport since the mid 1800’s. This is the Thomas’ family resting place…there are more family members on the other side of the grounds.

One of the old cherry orchards in the distance on the bluff above Northpoint

One of the old cherry orchards in the distance on the bluff above Northpoint

Gorgeous sunrise from our slip in the Northport Marina

Gorgeous sunrise from our slip in the Northport Marina

A great day for a cruise with Ken & Carol to Leland Harbor, MI

A great day for a cruise with Ken & Carol to Leland Harbor, MI

Entering Leland Harbor on a lovely, calm day

Entering Leland Harbor on a lovely, calm day

The Independence sitting pretty at her slip in Leland Harbor

The Independence sitting pretty at her slip in Leland Harbor

A nice cruise day with this crew…Maggie, Larry , Ken, Carol & Owen

A nice cruise day with this crew…Maggie, Larry , Ken, Carol & Owen

Just a little history…

Just a little history…

Old Fishtown is quite charming and they still bring in a fresh catch to this little port

Old Fishtown is quite charming and they still bring in a fresh catch to this little port

Schlitts Charters  at Fishtown docks hope to catch Salmon, Steelhead, Brown, Lake Trout & Coho. Does that reflection of the cloud resemble a skeleton or is it just me…?

Schlitts Charters at Fishtown docks hope to catch Salmon, Steelhead, Brown, Lake Trout & Coho. Does that reflection of the cloud resemble a skeleton or is it just me…?

Leland Lake narrows to a channel that runs into Fishtown as it flows out to Lake Michigan

Leland Lake narrows to a channel that runs into Fishtown as it flows out to Lake Michigan

The famous Chubby Mary of The Cove Restaurant, Leland, MI

The famous Chubby Mary of The Cove Restaurant, Leland, MI

The Chubby Mary has Vodka, Bloody Mary Mix, olives, a pickle spear and a whole smoked chub caught in Lake Michigan. Photo courtesy of justjodie13

The Chubby Mary has Vodka, Bloody Mary Mix, olives, a pickle spear and a whole smoked chub caught in Lake Michigan. Photo courtesy of justjodie13

Traverse City, MI

We make the 8:00AM opening of the bascule bridge leaving Lake Charlevoix and five smooth hours later we arrive at Traverse City (38NM). This a great town with a college feel to it. First inhabited by native populations and then French traders, who named it ‘La Grand Traverse’ due to the long crossing they had to make by canoe across the mouth of the bay. Eventually, it became a logging and railroad town, now the economy is primarily based on tourism. The area is the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S. and has a huge festival in July attracting 500,000 visitors. Front Street is the hot spot with something for everyone; shops, restaurants, bars and a movie theater. A bit further down from the marina is Old Town which has some great gathering places, as well. We do our standard walk, jog, bike about town and even a rideshare to play mini golf. Traverse City is an awesome town which looks like it is only getting better.

Yes, they have one of these too…

Yes, they have one of these too…

First-things-first, a cold one at The Parlor in Old Town

First-things-first, a cold one at The Parlor in Old Town

Food trucks, beer, kids and dogs…all at Little Fleet at the eastern end of Front Street

Food trucks, beer, kids and dogs…all at Little Fleet at the eastern end of Front Street

Hugo the Pug’s food truck is where we should have eaten…the Mexican food looked great

Hugo the Pug’s food truck is where we should have eaten…the Mexican food looked great

The Grand Traverse County Courthouse built in 1854

The Grand Traverse County Courthouse built in 1854

The U & I Lounge on Front Street…Chelsea is a great bartender

The U & I Lounge on Front Street…Chelsea is a great bartender

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Sweet old Schwinns in front of the smoke shop on Front Street

Sweet old Schwinns in front of the smoke shop on Front Street

My favorite old city clocks on Front Street

My favorite old city clocks on Front Street

The Old City Opera House was built in 1892. Known today as ‘The Grand Old Lady’, it is still in use. In the 19th-20th centuries 48 Opera Houses were built in Michigan. Now only 7 of the historic Victorian structures remain open and in use today.

The Old City Opera House was built in 1892. Known today as ‘The Grand Old Lady’, it is still in use. In the 19th-20th centuries 48 Opera Houses were built in Michigan. Now only 7 of the historic Victorian structures remain open and in use today.

The grand Victorian homes of Sixth Street on an original brick lined road

The grand Victorian homes of Sixth Street on an original brick lined road

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This house is truly amazing….

This house is truly amazing….

…it is also the Funeral Parlor…

…it is also the Funeral Parlor…

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The Traverse City State Hospital built in 1895 is a decommissioned psychiatric hospital built on 135 acres. It is now one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country. Currently, it offers housing, shopping and dining in the old underground tunnels in addition to a summer farmers’ market

The Traverse City State Hospital built in 1895 is a decommissioned psychiatric hospital built on 135 acres. It is now one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country. Currently, it offers housing, shopping and dining in the old underground tunnels in addition to a summer farmers’ market

Mini golf & Owen won again…

Mini golf & Owen won again…

Nice sunset clouds at the Duncan Clinch Marina. The tents are for this weekends Ironman competition

Nice sunset clouds at the Duncan Clinch Marina. The tents are for this weekends Ironman competition

A bike ride around Boardman Lake…

A bike ride around Boardman Lake…

…followed by a craft beer (and dog-hug) at The Filling Station Brewery. By the way, Traverse City has 12 craft breweries…I love this town!

…followed by a craft beer (and dog-hug) at The Filling Station Brewery. By the way, Traverse City has 12 craft breweries…I love this town!

Lake Charlevoix, MI

In the foreground is Lake Michigan. The little lake is Round Lake where we are docked. The large lake is Lake Charlevoix with its South Arm.

In the foreground is Lake Michigan. The little lake is Round Lake where we are docked. The large lake is Lake Charlevoix with its South Arm.

Lake Charlevoix (18NM) A short trip to Lake Charlevoix, so fast in fact, that we had to wait for the bascule bridge to open. While we wait several big boats do what I really don’t like to see, pass without any VHF announcement in a skinny channel with a wind and current...very rude and very impolite. We clear the bridge with oncoming traffic and hail the marina for our slip assignment. The wind has now built and is gusting to 12 knots as Larry expertly maneuvers us into the slip. We are also very appreciative of Charlevoix City Marina’s tight docking crew. Charlevoix is named for the French explorer, Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix who explored this region in the 1850’s. The Homestead Act of 1862 brought Civil War veterans and land speculators to Northern Michigan. This act made 160-acre tracts of land available for $1.25 an acre. Eventually, with the augmentation of Round Lake (located before Lake Charlevoix) to connect to Lake Michigan combined with rail operations, this area became one of the busiest ports on the Great Lakes shipping out more than 40 million board feet of lumber. Now the area is a summer retreat for many local Michiganians and tourists alike. We jog and bike all about town and then take a tender ride out to the huge body of water that is Lake Charlevoix. We ride down to the South Arm and look at all the pretty houses and then head back to Round Lake as the afternoon winds pick-up.

Welcome to Lake Charlevoix

Welcome to Lake Charlevoix

The evolution of a bascule bridge

The evolution of a bascule bridge

Bridge Street Tap Room is a great place to have a local craft beer

Bridge Street Tap Room is a great place to have a local craft beer

So many choices of local craft beers at the Bridge Street Tap Room

So many choices of local craft beers at the Bridge Street Tap Room

Don’t miss the great fish tacos at the Cantina and a nice selection of tequila & mexican beer

Don’t miss the great fish tacos at the Cantina and a nice selection of tequila & mexican beer

Independence at her slip at the Charlevoix City Marina in Round Lake

Independence at her slip at the Charlevoix City Marina in Round Lake

The famous ‘Thatch House’ built in 1919 by Earl Young and remodeled in 2013 by Michael Seitz.

The famous ‘Thatch House’ built in 1919 by Earl Young and remodeled in 2013 by Michael Seitz.

The Thatch House is now a vacation rental

The Thatch House is now a vacation rental

This is the little cottage next to The Thatch House. This is what Earl Young’s original architectural design looked like for both houses. Over 52 years Young designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix. He worked with limestone, fieldstone and boulders he found throughout Northern Michigan. His houses are often referred to as ‘mushroom ‘ houses.

This is the little cottage next to The Thatch House. This is what Earl Young’s original architectural design looked like for both houses. Over 52 years Young designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix. He worked with limestone, fieldstone and boulders he found throughout Northern Michigan. His houses are often referred to as ‘mushroom ‘ houses.

Another Earl Young building is The Weathervane Lodge, a landmark along the channel at the bascule bridge (built in 1958). It was almost lost in 1971 during very high water and winds reaching hurricane force. The original pilings & sections of foundation were washed out from underneath the structure. The Army Corp of Engineers came in and saved the property by placing metal sheet pilings from the bridge all the way to Lake Michigan.

Another Earl Young building is The Weathervane Lodge, a landmark along the channel at the bascule bridge (built in 1958). It was almost lost in 1971 during very high water and winds reaching hurricane force. The original pilings & sections of foundation were washed out from underneath the structure. The Army Corp of Engineers came in and saved the property by placing metal sheet pilings from the bridge all the way to Lake Michigan.

A pretty victorian era house on the bluff above channel

A pretty victorian era house on the bluff above channel

The floating homes of the South Arm. The wet bar ‘Shaken Knot Stern’ is the made out of the stern portion of an old wooden boat.

The floating homes of the South Arm. The wet bar ‘Shaken Knot Stern’ is the made out of the stern portion of an old wooden boat.

A huge home on the South Arm

A huge home on the South Arm

It is always nice to have a boat garage for your sailboat

It is always nice to have a boat garage for your sailboat

Built in 1892 the Charlevoix Train Depot has been renovated and turned into a park called Depot Beach Park

Built in 1892 the Charlevoix Train Depot has been renovated and turned into a park called Depot Beach Park

Fisherman’s Island State Park along Lake Michigan

Fisherman’s Island State Park along Lake Michigan

Larry & I ride the bikes to the beach and go for a swim in Lake Michigan

Larry & I ride the bikes to the beach and go for a swim in Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan - Beaver Island (St. James), Petoskey, Harbor Springs, MI

We have now transited all of the Great Lakes; Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. So perhaps a couple of jaw-dropping quick facts would be appropriate at this point. These 10,000 year old lakes were formed at the end of the last ice age and as the glaciers melted approximately 14,000 years ago they retreated north and left deep depressions in the ground, which over time then filled with water. The Great Lakes contain 6,000,000,000,000,000 (six quadrillion) gallons of water. Enough to cover the contiguous U.S. in almost 10 feet of water. They supply 20 percent of the world’s fresh water and 84 percent of North America’s. The total surface area is almost 95,000 square miles, bigger than the combined area of the U.K. These huge lakes have tides, however small, measuring less than five centimeters twice a day. Alright, I will stop there…

We have a nice cruise with a little rain and chop as we enter Lake Michigan and dock at Beaver Island (40NM) Municipal Marina and have a pleasant time in this little town. Historically, the town was a fishing village that ran out of fish and fast forward to today, their livelihood comes from tourism. If you are looking for a busy port this is not the place to stop but it does have a nice pub called the ‘Shamrock’ with a great bartender ‘Erica’. The town even has a brewery ‘Whiskey Point Brewing Company LLC’ along with a nice bike trail with lovely scenery. We move on to Petoskey (31NM) named after a prominent merchant and landowner, Chief Ignatius Petosgay. What a sweet, tourist friendly town with a great Bayfront Park. The history of this town is similar to those mentioned recently but by 1874 Petoskey had trains arriving three times a week, bringing thousands of people from cities like Indianapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Detroit. Visitors built summer cottages or joined summer resorts. Ernest Hemingway (born in Oak Park, Illinois) began summering in Petoskey in 1900. The trains no longer run but summer tourists still flock here to enjoy the waterfront, restaurants, breweries and gas light district with shops and bars...we do the same. A quick jump across the bay the next day to Harbor Springs (3NM) a very picturesque town with beautiful homes and an amazing harbor. We cruise the town on bikes and foot and enjoy this lovely place.

‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge

‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge

Leaving Mackinac Island heading to Beaver Island. The main towers of the Mackinac Bridge rise more than 550 feet above the Straits of Mackinac. The cables, composed of thousands of strands of wire tightly wrapped together, are anchored in giant concrete blocks, which are 8,614 feet apart.

Leaving Mackinac Island heading to Beaver Island. The main towers of the Mackinac Bridge rise more than 550 feet above the Straits of Mackinac. The cables, composed of thousands of strands of wire tightly wrapped together, are anchored in giant concrete blocks, which are 8,614 feet apart.

Larry finds a friend outside the Shamrock. on Beaver Island. Peaches is in love with Larry…his parents (fellow Loopers - Sean & Natalie of M/V Alegria) are not so sure…

Larry finds a friend outside the Shamrock. on Beaver Island. Peaches is in love with Larry…his parents (fellow Loopers - Sean & Natalie of M/V Alegria) are not so sure…

Our lunch time stop on the bike ride on Beaver Island

Our lunch time stop on the bike ride on Beaver Island

Look closely and you will see the water snake warming himself on the rock. This snake is at least two feet in length and quite fat and happy at the Beaver Island Municipal Marina

Look closely and you will see the water snake warming himself on the rock. This snake is at least two feet in length and quite fat and happy at the Beaver Island Municipal Marina

The first time I have seen Monarch butterfly caterpillars in their natural habitat feeding on milkweed. There are three caterpillars in this image

The first time I have seen Monarch butterfly caterpillars in their natural habitat feeding on milkweed. There are three caterpillars in this image

First stop at Petoskey is the Beards brewery

First stop at Petoskey is the Beards brewery

Beards has a great Cream Ale called Wunderbrau. Nice and light at 4.4% ABV

Beards has a great Cream Ale called Wunderbrau. Nice and light at 4.4% ABV

This place is quite unexpected…

This place is quite unexpected…

Mitchell St. Pub has serious character…and peanuts

Mitchell St. Pub has serious character…and peanuts

and they serve food as well

and they serve food as well

The old railroad (non operational) still runs through this beautiful park in Petoskey

The old railroad (non operational) still runs through this beautiful park in Petoskey

This statue of Ernest Miller Hemingway is based on a 1920 photo near this spot that shows him ready to depart Petoskey for a job in Toronto. Prior to this he summered at a small cottage on Walloon Lake named ‘Windemere”.

This statue of Ernest Miller Hemingway is based on a 1920 photo near this spot that shows him ready to depart Petoskey for a job in Toronto. Prior to this he summered at a small cottage on Walloon Lake named ‘Windemere”.

The City Park Grill is one of Hemingway’s old haunts. So we must go in for a look and a beer

The City Park Grill is one of Hemingway’s old haunts. So we must go in for a look and a beer

The bar at The City Park Grill is classic and our bartender ,Kayla, was fantastic.

The bar at The City Park Grill is classic and our bartender ,Kayla, was fantastic.

Hemingway stayed at Stafford’s Perry Hotel quite often while visiting Petoskey. Built in 1899 the hotel boasted steam heat, electric service, a barber shop, a buffet restaurant and a newsstand. The Perry also advertised as the only fireproof hotel in town. Its brick construction, a novelty at the time, contributed to its survival.

Hemingway stayed at Stafford’s Perry Hotel quite often while visiting Petoskey. Built in 1899 the hotel boasted steam heat, electric service, a barber shop, a buffet restaurant and a newsstand. The Perry also advertised as the only fireproof hotel in town. Its brick construction, a novelty at the time, contributed to its survival.

The Arts Center is quite lovely

The Arts Center is quite lovely

The original library was built with Carnegie funds in 1905 and now is part of the Arts Center. When living in Petoskey in 1919, this library was a favorite place of Hemingway’s.

The original library was built with Carnegie funds in 1905 and now is part of the Arts Center. When living in Petoskey in 1919, this library was a favorite place of Hemingway’s.

The ‘new’ library built in the 1920’s

The ‘new’ library built in the 1920’s

I love these little ‘mini’ libraries, especially this one…

I love these little ‘mini’ libraries, especially this one…

The Catholic Church in Petoskey

The Catholic Church in Petoskey

The older wood buildings in Petoskey burned but the brick remains

The older wood buildings in Petoskey burned but the brick remains

Our end-tie at Harbor Springs Municipal Marina

Our end-tie at Harbor Springs Municipal Marina

The inner harbor is the epitome of the new vs. the old

The inner harbor is the epitome of the new vs. the old

Gorgeous homes with beautiful gardens

Gorgeous homes with beautiful gardens

Right along the harbor…properly themed with anchor motifs

Right along the harbor…properly themed with anchor motifs

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The Harbor Springs Yacht Club was holding a sailing school today

The Harbor Springs Yacht Club was holding a sailing school today

Excuse me for posting more beautiful homes

Excuse me for posting more beautiful homes

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The Independence from the Bluffs. A great view of the town, harbor and Petoskey in the distance

The Independence from the Bluffs. A great view of the town, harbor and Petoskey in the distance

Another gorgeous home on the Bluffs

Another gorgeous home on the Bluffs

Such a lovely plack, I had to include it

Such a lovely plack, I had to include it

Ephraim Shay’s home, steel plates and all

Ephraim Shay’s home, steel plates and all

Mackinac Island, MI

The winds are strong as we head toward Mackinac Island (38NM) blowing 15 to 20 knots with a 4 foot chop but we make the trip in about 5 hours and pull into the East Dock Marina. The marina here is tiny but sufficient and gives us access to this amazing state park. Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) was first used as a summer fishing spot by the Great Lakes American Indians. They called the island Michilimackinac which meant ‘place of the great turtle’ because of the hump-backed shape of the island. Later the name was shortened to Mackinac. Much like Sault Ste. Marie the island was then further established by European settlers creating missions followed by forts, war (site of the first battle of the War of 1812), fur trading, fishing and then tourism. The island was declared a U.S. national park from 1875 to 1895 (the second national park created after Yellowstone). In 1895 the park was then turned over to the State of Michigan, becoming Mackinac Island State Park, the first state park in Michigan. The majority of the buildings and homes on the island date to the mid 1800’s and are kept in near perfect condition with meticulously manicured gardens and flowers everywhere. Cars are not allowed on the island as when they first arrived in 1898 they startled the carriage horses and were banned by the Village Council. So without cars you then have horses doing all the work...and bicycles...thousands of bicycles. The main streets team with bike riders of all shapes and sizes, ages and capabilities. The bikes, combined with horse carriages and drayage, results in an overwhelming effect on the senses...especially your sense of smell! During our first foray into the town we have a beer at the renowned ‘Pink Pony’ bar and on our return to the boat Larry meets the owner of a bike shop (Jim Fisher of Mackinac Wheels) and they arrange to do a ride the next day. On his return Larry is ecstatic to have finally gotten out on the trails for a 13 mile ride. I jog around the island (8 miles), just me and hundreds of bike riders. Later we toured Fort Mackinac and then had a beer on the famous porch of the Grand Hotel. The following day we go for a 16 mile bike ride around and up and over the island to visit Fort Holmes, the airport, and the art museum. Dinner at the Grand Hotel that night was a fabulous end to this great day.

A ‘Looper’ must is to go by the ‘home’ of Mark & Jill VanderMeulen outside of Detour, MI. (on your way to Mackinac Island). The John W. Boardman was built in 1923 & sailed the Great Lakes until 1980. She was used to haul cement to construct the Poe Lock at Sault St.e Marie in 1968.

A ‘Looper’ must is to go by the ‘home’ of Mark & Jill VanderMeulen outside of Detour, MI. (on your way to Mackinac Island). The John W. Boardman was built in 1923 & sailed the Great Lakes until 1980. She was used to haul cement to construct the Poe Lock at Sault St.e Marie in 1968.

Entering Mackinac Island Harbor on a windy day

Entering Mackinac Island Harbor on a windy day

Love these old murals…

Love these old murals…

Horse drawn carriages for hire or you can rent one and drive yourself around the island

Horse drawn carriages for hire or you can rent one and drive yourself around the island

Gorgeous horses work long days here on the island but are treated very well, There are around 20 different breeds of horses on the island, including Percherons, Belgian Draft Horses, Welsh Cobs, and Haflinger Ponies.

Gorgeous horses work long days here on the island but are treated very well, There are around 20 different breeds of horses on the island, including Percherons, Belgian Draft Horses, Welsh Cobs, and Haflinger Ponies.

Getting the lay-of-the-land. Only 8.2 miles around the circumference of the island.

Getting the lay-of-the-land. Only 8.2 miles around the circumference of the island.

Fort Mackinac is at the top of the hill

Fort Mackinac is at the top of the hill

The Pink Pony is evidently quite famous

The Pink Pony is evidently quite famous

The famous mural at the Pink Pony’s inside bar/stage

The famous mural at the Pink Pony’s inside bar/stage

Having one at the Pink Pony’s outside bar

Having one at the Pink Pony’s outside bar

Thousands of bikes and bike riders

Thousands of bikes and bike riders

The public library is beautiful and has a lovely outside readers deck overlooking the lake

The public library is beautiful and has a lovely outside readers deck overlooking the lake

Charming houses along every street

Charming houses along every street

The gardens are spectacular (check out the sign)

The gardens are spectacular (check out the sign)

Another beautiful home in front of the harbor

Another beautiful home in front of the harbor

We popped into the Mackinac Island Yacht Club for a beer….

We popped into the Mackinac Island Yacht Club for a beer….

…only to find out that there is no bar, just lockers where the members keep their alcohol and then serve themselves cocktails

…only to find out that there is no bar, just lockers where the members keep their alcohol and then serve themselves cocktails

Jim Fisher (of Mackinac Wheels) and Larry enjoy an 13 mile mountain bike ride all over the island (photo by Larry)

Jim Fisher (of Mackinac Wheels) and Larry enjoy an 13 mile mountain bike ride all over the island (photo by Larry)

The south view of the harbor from Fort Mackinac

The south view of the harbor from Fort Mackinac

The north view of the town from Fort Mackinac

The north view of the town from Fort Mackinac

At the fort with the Independence behind us in the harbor

At the fort with the Independence behind us in the harbor

A model of the Mackinac sailboat

A model of the Mackinac sailboat

Biking is a way of life on the island and has been for years

Biking is a way of life on the island and has been for years

Horses do all the work from street cleaning…..

Horses do all the work from street cleaning…..

…to hauling lumber (photo by Larry)

…to hauling lumber (photo by Larry)

The Grand Hotel is just that…very grand. Built in 1887 by the Grand Rapids, Indiana, Michigan Central railroads and the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company. The world’s largest summer hotel was built by Charles Caskey and his crew of three hundred carpenters in less than four months. (photo by Larry)

The Grand Hotel is just that…very grand. Built in 1887 by the Grand Rapids, Indiana, Michigan Central railroads and the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company. The world’s largest summer hotel was built by Charles Caskey and his crew of three hundred carpenters in less than four months. (photo by Larry)

In 1976, the owner of The Grand Hotel, Dan Musser, chose Carleton Varney president of the Dorothy Draper & Co. to redesign the hotel. He and his staff have designed all of the main rooms, plus the 397 guest rooms, where no two are alike. This is the main salon as you enter the hotel

In 1976, the owner of The Grand Hotel, Dan Musser, chose Carleton Varney president of the Dorothy Draper & Co. to redesign the hotel. He and his staff have designed all of the main rooms, plus the 397 guest rooms, where no two are alike. This is the main salon as you enter the hotel

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The Geranium Bar

The Geranium Bar

The view from The Gand’s famous wrap-around porch and their horse drawn carriage

The view from The Gand’s famous wrap-around porch and their horse drawn carriage

Larry and I enjoy a ‘Big Porch’ beer on the the big porch of The Grand Hotel. The longest porch in the world at 660 feet long bordered by their signature red geraniums . These flowers are deadheaded every two days and grown in a greenhouse on the hotel property.

Larry and I enjoy a ‘Big Porch’ beer on the the big porch of The Grand Hotel. The longest porch in the world at 660 feet long bordered by their signature red geraniums . These flowers are deadheaded every two days and grown in a greenhouse on the hotel property.

The lower gardens of the hotel were setting up for a celebration

The lower gardens of the hotel were setting up for a celebration

We assisted Dan Musser (the owner of The Grand Hotel) in securing his boat at the East Dock. She is 1953 Chris Craft called Marion Leigh. Tied up in front of the Independence

We assisted Dan Musser (the owner of The Grand Hotel) in securing his boat at the East Dock. She is 1953 Chris Craft called Marion Leigh. Tied up in front of the Independence

First stop on the bike ride around the island is at Arch Rock

First stop on the bike ride around the island is at Arch Rock

Fort Holmes is at the top of the island. This is a restoration. The original was built in 1812

Fort Holmes is at the top of the island. This is a restoration. The original was built in 1812

The Mackinac Island airport

The Mackinac Island airport

Stunning houses and gardens abound, like this one on the East Bluff

Stunning houses and gardens abound, like this one on the East Bluff

We stop to take a picture of ‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge. Built in 1957 it is the longest single-unit suspension bridge in the western hemisphere

We stop to take a picture of ‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge. Built in 1957 it is the longest single-unit suspension bridge in the western hemisphere

These grand houses on the West Bluff have water views of the Mackinac Bridge. The yellow home is called the Cairngrom. It is a Victorian Cottage built in 1888 up for sale for $6 Million

These grand houses on the West Bluff have water views of the Mackinac Bridge. The yellow home is called the Cairngrom. It is a Victorian Cottage built in 1888 up for sale for $6 Million

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Another West Bluff beautiful home

Another West Bluff beautiful home

Date night (photo by Owen)

Date night (photo by Owen)

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The dining room at The Grand Hotel can seat 1,000 for dinner. Men are required to wear a jacket and tie and women are required to wear a dress.

The dining room at The Grand Hotel can seat 1,000 for dinner. Men are required to wear a jacket and tie and women are required to wear a dress.

Larry looking sharp

Larry looking sharp

We round-out our island experience with a 18 hole putting course at MIssion Point. Owen won…sorry Larry!

We round-out our island experience with a 18 hole putting course at MIssion Point. Owen won…sorry Larry!