Time to play and enjoy some Honky Tonks in Nashville and BBQ in Kentucky! We are half way down to the Gulf and these two states have a lot to offer for boaters. Their inland lakes and rivers make for pleasant cruising, such a nice surprise.
When we arrived in Paducah, KY it was during their annual BBQ on the River festival. This is a large BBQ competition with vendors from all over. We really got some great BBQ. The hardest part was deciding on which one to pick. During the event there were good southern rock bands which made this stop very special. I was also surprised at the docks by a friend of mine who has been following on Facebook. He and I used to work together and came by the boat to say hello with his wife and friends, Of course, they came on board to enjoy some Gypsies Palace vibe.
Then, one of my best friends decided to join us on this part of the trip and travel with us to Nashville. We have found out how difficult it is to have guests on board with a trip that is always moving. On this part of the trip we had the added burden of closed locks that were backed up with commercial traffic. All Loopers have been warned never set a date AND place because we won’t make it. We can make a date or place, but meeting both is tough. She arrived early and had to spend a night in a hotel waiting for us. That being said, she and I had a great time catching up and just enjoying the river cruise.
Nashville is considered a “side trip” on the Loop. It is not part of the Loop itself, but Loopers take advantage of the proximity of different towns and venture off the path on a “side trip”. We realized that Tennessee and Kentucky offer many “side trips” in addition to Nashville one can travel to Knoxville, Chattanooga and Louisville by boat. Neither of us had been to Nashville and we both love country music so it was a given we were going to Nashville! It was a two day boat trip from our starting point at Green Turtle Bay to get there.
Boaters are allowed to dock downtown in Nashville, which made all of the Honky Tonks easy to walk to. The talent is SO good! While we were there we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. We caught a great show that featured Hunter Hayes, Vince Gill, Diamond Rio, The Oakridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs and Pam Tillis. I can highly recommend doing this side trip on the Great Loop.
One of the favorite Looper stops is Green Turtle Bay in Kentucky after Paducah. This is actually a resort with a spa and a full service marina. Most Loopers spend multiple days there to catch up on projects and just take a break from the locks and travel. We spent 9 days. While we were there we saw lots of friends that we had met along the way.
So, what do you do for 9 days in one place that is pretty much in the middle of nowhere?
- Steve replaced all the big batteries on the boat with golf cart batteries. He had been talking about this project for months. He installed a security light for the cockpit. We had someone put Freon in one of the a/c units. We had the boat washed. Sounds like typical “house stuff”, right?
- I went to the spa and did use the workout equipment
- Played ping pong
- Went biking
- Went kayaking where we saw green turtles and a bald eagle on the beach
- Ate the biggest pork chops ever!
While at the spa I had to provide some information. One of the questions on a form that I had to complete for my massage is to rate your stress from 0-5. It was eye opening to me that I put down a zero! I believe the reason for that is our lives are more simplified. We have no longer have a “dirt home” to worry about and have fewer “things” to complicate our lives. Even though we are on a year long adventure we are committed to full time cruising and are looking forward to it. We are able to continue this lifestyle that eliminates many of the stressful items that used to enter our lives.
Our long term plan after the Loop is to select areas of the country that we would like to spend a summer exploring. This trip made us realize that we could easily do an entire summer on Pickwick Lake, Tennessee. From there we would have places to travel to that would be interesting and fun. Our loose “plan” is to winter in Florida and the Bahamas and head north somewhere for the summer.
One stunning realization is that after traveling on the rivers that we “dreaded” we both have said that we would do the Loop again in 3 years. The rivers have been relaxing, beautiful and really enjoyable. Due to the remoteness we have anchored more and found some beautiful places to do it. We are only three days from reaching the Gulf and entering back into the Sunshine State. In the back of our minds we know that our Loop is on the downside, but we are going to squeak out of it as much Looper Fun as we can!
I am going to end this with some pictures along our trip down the Tenn Tom that I think that you will enjoy.