We made our way down the river to Midway Marina. This turned out to be an excellent choice. The staff there is accommodating, friendly, and warm. Grumpy, the dock master, has a Yorksie that's almost as cute as Yorksie. Another wonderful gentlemen we encountered almost daily had three Yorkshires with him.
Satisfied with our choice we ordered StarLink and eagerly waited for it to arrive.
Midway had the best courtesy car yet, an early 90's Ford F-150 pickup with paint so faded it could only be from the South, a quarter million hard miles, a front end so loose you could turn the wheel from side to side with little to no effect, back doors that would not open at all, and a bed full of rusty junk. We absolutely loved it, and took it out almost every week day.
Next to the Marina was a lovely campground along the riverfront with numerous hiking trails. We hiked around the campground and down to the bike path along the river numerous times.
A huge lawn with rolling hills and a giant tire swing were right next to the marina. There was a good restaurant on site that we never quite managed to get to.
We fell into a daily routine. We'd get up around 4AM, work for four, five hours, then take Yorksie for a walk around the grassy area, change clothes, eat a leisurely brunch, and head into town.
The town of Fulton, near the Marina, was classic Small Town South with country music playing on speakers strategically placed all over downtown, a nice park with a gazebo, and a lunch counter filled with all the town notables including the entire police force every day at noon.
The statues in the park piqued our interest - apparently these are tributes to capitalism based on what our friends told us when they saw the pictures.
We had a great lunch of chicken fried steak, sweet potato fries, salad, and grilled toast just down the road in Peppertown. We visited the thrift shop and bought second hand Mississippi State and Ole Miss sweatshirts. We love thrift stores. At the local antique and craft store we bought homemade scented candles.
We took Yorksie to all the kiddie parks and played on the slides.
We went for a nice walk every morning and cooked three small home made meals every day. Our love affair with ham, swiss cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, and thick bread sandwiches fried in butter served with pickles and salted caramel candy continued.
We made banana pancakes for breakfast, and salads for dinner. Being fall we went soup crazy, making pumpkin coconut milk curry soup and of course borsht. I introduced Darina to the joy of dough in a can. We enjoyed biscuits in a can and Pioneer Country gravy, and Reese's Peanut butter cookies in a tube.
It was a wonderful two weeks.
StarLink arrived and it was everything we had hoped for. Having been entertainment starved for three months, we spent the entire first weekend with Starlink curled up in the aft stateroom watching everything imaginable - with a lot of football thrown in - on TV. A new tradition was formed, watching Columbo re-runs on the iPad while eating dinner.
I finally figured out how to get the Lewmar 1000 out of "Free Fall" mode. This turned out to be ridiculously easy once I gave up on the manual and just futzed with it. Being able to control the dropping of the anchor made a huge difference in our anchoring confidence.
We departed Midway Marina early one morning, and to our amazement StarLink worked perfectly while underway, delivering between 100 mb and 30 mb bandwidth. It was a treat to navigate the twists and turns of the river and watch the dish repoint itself.
The section of the Tenn-Tomm between the south end of Kentucky Lake and the Tombigbee-Black Warrior is lock hell, there are no less than eight locks in this short stretch. Every day we were either waiting endlessly for a barge/tow to clear, or racing at near overheating speeds to get to the lock while all the fast boats waited for us.
We made our way to Columbus Marina, where we stayed for 2 nights, topped our our tanks, and made the 100+ mile trek to Demopolis, anchoring out at Weaver Creek Cutoff. This would turn out to be one the most spectacular anchorages on the entire river journey.
We pulled into Kingfisher Marina in Demopolis, the last stop before the long wilderness trek down the Tombigbee-Blackhawk. This 217 mile stretch has one small marina/gas dock at Bobby's Fish Camp and that's it. If you break down, or run aground, you are on your own.
After four months of running the boat I managed to completely misjudge the wind, and ended up having to put the boat in the slip twice. The learning never stops, and one never actually masters anything :)