When I sold my boat last year, I promised my wife we would do some travelling. So this summer we took a little road trip, 5,745 miles to be exact. We headed north to get out of the heat.
It started getting hotter the further north we drove and I began missing the water by the time I hit Orlando. When I reached Nashville my mind was diverted to my other love, country music. I had the chance to combine boating and country music by taking a trip on the General Jackson Paddlewheel on the Cumberland River. It seemed like a good idea until I discovered the dinner cruise would cost $90. Usually the food quality is just average on cruises like this so I passed, and opted for the Grand Ole Opry. I think I was the only person in the audience wearing boat shoes.
The following day we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where we almost met some celebrities. We had lunch in the lobby cafe and our waiter told us to stay around as Hank Williams Jr. was being interviewed and would pass by any moment. What he failed to tell us was Hank’s daughters, Holly and Hilary, were sitting at the table next to us. When I went into the gift shop and saw Holly’s CD and Hilary’s book. I ran out to get their autographs, but it was too late.
Our next Stop was Branson, Missouri. I was so unimpressed that we cut our two day stay to one. On the way out of town, yearning to be on the water, we took a Duck Boat tour. Duck boats date back to WWII. They were designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built by GMC. After a short bumpy ride through town we arrived at Table Rock Lake. Capt. Dan demonstrated how to put on a PFD and gave us duck quackers. We were instructed to quack when another duck boat passed by or Capt Dan told a tall tale, which was often. While cruising around the lake at 5 kts, we passed the Showboat Branson Belle, which is the largest boat on a land locked body of water.
Heading on to Colorado looking for that relief from the heat we stopped in Salina Kansas. Luckily for us it had cooled down to 105 degrees when we arrived at our hotel at 7 p.m. We finally found some cooler weather in Steamboat Springs. Boating in Steamboat consists of kayaking when the Yampa River is high enough or rafting. I considered rafting, but no one would disclose the water temperature. My guess would be in the 50s. I’m told that the water temperature increases as the beer supply decreases.
Remember the Alamo? I’ll never forget it. I had to take my hat off and I couldn’t take pictures. To cheer myself up afterwards we took a cruise along the San Antonio River Walk. I kept my hat on and took lots of pictures. The tour consisted mainly of the Captain pointing out all the restaurants.
From San Antonio it was on to New Orleans. The September issue of Power & Motoryacht’s article “After the Storm”, reports on the recovery of the gulf coast from Louisiana to Alabama since Hurricane Katrina. I concur with their assessment of New Orleans. I toured the Ninth Ward and to quote the Allman Brothers “it's a downright rotten lowdown dirty shame.” I couldn’t visit the Mississippi without taking a boat trip. We took the Gretna Ferry from Canal Street to Gretna, just across the river. “The Muddy Mississippi” is an understatement. I never saw so much mud. I can’t imagine what it does to the ship’s cooling system. Passengers ride for free and cars are only $1. If they charged a little more maybe they could do some maintenance; six months of chipping and a few drums of Rustoleum would do miracles. One of the things I love about living on the ocean is the smell of salt air. The Ferry ride was fun, but when I took a death breath, the smell of mud is not the same.