I have often mentioned that one of the great things about this trip is its diversity — no one week is really like any other week.

The Tennessee/Mississippi contrast really highlights that.  The Tennessee is wide, calm, marina-and-anchorage lined and with the leaves starting to turn, stunningly beautiful.  We have been in the Kentucky Lake region on the upper part of the river, which is  a big inland sea that was created by the huge dams of the Tennessee Valley Authority.  What were creekbeds are now beautiful anchorages.  What were hilltops are now islands.  What was a wild river is now a wide, almost barge-free channel made for recreation.

We spent four days at the swanky Green Turtle Bay Marina, comparing notes with other Loopers and visiting the town of Grand Rivers, home of a famous Patti’s restaurant. Patti’s feature attraction is a 2-inch thick porkchop, of which we consumed our share.  John got a deep tissue massage for a back strain he got pulling the old Captain out from under the engine when we were looking for the coolant leak.  Couldn’t seen to locate the spa at Hoppies.

The highlight of the trip was finally running into the Copes famil — Ralph, Sandy, and two 18-year-old twins, Marissa and Nathaniel.  They have so much in common with John that’s it really nice to have them all together.  They are all camp counselors, they all are expert video gamers, they are all nice kids.  After the Loop Marissa is bound for Gettysburg College, Nathaniel to Princeton.  Sandy is a chemist and Ralph an engineer and entrepreneur with vast boating experience, so they are great to be around.  More on Copesetic II’s voyage at www.copesafloat.wordpress.com.

Another thrill (for me) was running into Jim and Lisa Favors, who pulled in on Kismet.  They are among the very first Loop bloggers,  publish some very useful and influential websites and are columnists for Boat U.S.   As I explained to John, “In my world, these are the rockstars.”  He said that was a world he did not want to inhabit, but has 8 more months of it nevertheless.

Not much else to report, since cruising on Kentucky Lake is so effortless — anchored with the Copes in perfect Ginger Bay the first night out,  Harmon Creek night 2 (a maze of little islands that create perfect, protected coves,) at Cuba Landing Marina tonight so we can plug in the heaters against the effect of predicted frost.

One of our army of blog followers asked if water levels were as low on the Tennessee as the Mississippi.  They are down, but not much.  The Mississippi is barely controlled by a patchwork of Army Corps of Engineers dams that has been put together helter skelter over the past 200 years.  The Tennessee structures are big and much more modern.  Case in point — lock 52 on the Ohio was built in 1928.  The water levels behind the dam are controlled by an 80-year-old steamboat that goes out into the river and lifts wooden “wickets” from the bottom to stem the flow.  It’s replacement is 20 years behind schedule and billions over budget.  Barkley TVA dam, by contrast, is a huge 87 foot lift of push-button controlled super-machines.  You see no human, it just happens.

I want to look into it more, but I am really wondering if having the nation’s central artery controlled by a small branch of the military trying to ride herd on a vast bureaucracy of contractors is a good idea.

Green Turtle Bay Marina — never seen anything like it.

A two-inch pork chop at Patti’s. Dan Brand just got a chill.

Kentucky Lake.  Any tows trying to run us over here? No sir!!

Beautiful, wide Kentucky Lake.

Copes boat in the morning mist at Ginger Bay.

Leaves are starting to turn all along the Tennessee.

Harmon Creek islands make a perfect place to anchor.

We passed Aurora, a tiny 22-footer with a teensy engine. They’ve already made it from St. Paul, MN. And people think we’re roughing it on Memsahib!