Saturday, December 4, 2010

Well Begun is Half Done

Dog River Marina on Mobile Bay.  Ho Ho Ho, transient slips for rent!
You know how it is: Thanksgiving rolls around, and next thing you know, Christmas decorations are everywhere.

We left Dragonfly tucked up in a side channel on the west of Mobile Bay last week while we flew home to snowy Upstate New York, to spend Thanksgiving with the Cap'n's family.

How amazing to travel 600 mph in a plane.  And . . . how quickly we burned through the "carbon footprint" savings we'd accumulated over the past 6 months by running with the sun.

After a wonderful week with family and friends, we are now back on the boat. And as of today, our SlowBoat is half-way through her grand adventure. She has travelled 3,000 miles in 6 months, with 3,000 more miles to go in the next six months.

Here's ANOTHER unusual boat (now docked in Mobile)
that travelled from Pennsylvania down the Mississippi
Even though our boat closely resembles a "giant floating box of animal crackers," she's proved herself seaworthy. She braved big waves and lightning storms, dodged floating tree trunks and  barges, generally proving that (despite their sedate reputation) canal boats can go anywhere the big boats go--as long as you proceed with a generous amount of caution. (Our motto:  When the going gets tough, the tough stay in port.)

And, for a slow boat, she's gone reasonably fast, keeping us on schedule--or ahead of schedule--all  the way.  It's like the fable of the tortoise and the hare: Slow and steady wins the race.

While we were home, we found much to interest us in the Syracuse newspaper relating to the themes of our trip, alternative energy technologies and sustainable agriculture.  Consider the lede to one story (and I quote): "Students at Morrisville State College may soon be eating local lettuce grown with fish poop during the dead of winter."

And, more good news: Though the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel aims to evoke simpler times with its rustic ambiance, eateries will soon feature ultramodern technology in their parking lots, charging stations for electric vehicles. Meanwhile a team of Syracuse University researchers is working on a design that will make wind turbines quieter--great news for the the people we saw in Wisconsin earlier this summer protesting against proposed turbine installations, not to mention some of our neighbors in Pennsylvania.

Entering the IntrarCoastal Waterway
The next leg of our trip will take us through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.  Over the next two weeks we'll stop in Pensacola, Panama City and Appalachicola.  Then, having skimmed the shore of the Florida Panhandle,  we'll skip around Florida's "Nature Coast," also called the "elbow" of the panhandle, or the "Big Bend."

It's an area that's still pretty wild, and our shallow-draft vessel will let poke into all kinds of interesting places.

Many Loopers who've already made this trip have told us, their favorite aspect of the voyage was seeing pods of sleek gray dolphins frolicking in the bow waves tossed up by their boats.

Privately, the Cap'n and I have been joking: "Dolphins? They'll ignore us. At our speed, we'll be lucky if we can attract manatees to our bow wake!"

But today, as we finished our traverse across Mobile Bay and pointed Dragonfly's nose into the narrow channel leading inland, we had a fast-swimming escort.

Check the photos on Facebook!

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