[Betsy] What a difference a day makes! Yesterday morning when we left Bobby’s Fish Camp it was cold, and we stayed cold all day. We have no heat on the boat unless we are in port hooked up to power (or unless we run the portable generator which we seldom do while underway), and we just never thawed out. We both had on our “hot socks” and I even put on my long johns. Today, it was a beautiful, sunny day and we were in shorts and short sleeves.
I’ve commented before that it is really friends we have and the special people we meet along the way that make this trip so wonderful. First there was my dear friend Bill who gave me all the charts and guide books I needed to do this trip, thus obligating us to follow through on the dream. There was Sid in Ludington who let us use his truck, and Glenn in Illinois who trailered us around the carp crap, and many others along the way that we will remember fondly as such an integral part of our trip. Today we were blessed to meet Bruce and Janice.
When we arrived in Fairhope yesterday, we had an e-mail from Bruce saying he had been reading our blog, saw that we were headed for Fairhope, and to call him if there was anything we needed while we were in this area. It being Saturday when we arrived we tried to make arrangements to take the courtesy car to church today, but someone had already spoken for it. We spoke to that person to see about going to church with them, and they said they would be glad for us to go with them, but they were going to the Unitarian Church. After chatting for a few minutes about just what a Unitarian was…the service is always led by lay persons rather than a minister and they don’t believe in the Trinity… we decided maybe that wasn’t quite where we wanted to go. So when we got back to our boat and read Bruce’s e-mail, I said let’s call him and see if he would mind taking us to church. We aren’t real picky about where we go, we just want to worship at a Christian church where people share our basic beliefs.
Bruce said he and his wife go to the Lutheran Church and would be glad for us to join them. So they picked us up this morning, gave us a brief overview of their beautiful town, and took us to their lovely church. It was a very traditional Lutheran service with lots of music and chanting. They have two regular pastors, but today was mission Sunday so they had a visiting pastor who is active with feeding the hungry.
Seeing their beautiful Advent Candles reminded us how quickly Christmas is coming!
After church, we went to dinner at a Chinese Buffet. Bruce and Janice had planned to do the loop themselves several years ago. They purchased a 44 foot houseboat in Iowa and motored it down the Missouri River to the Mississippi, then down to Fairhope. They liked this area so much that they decided to stay here and live on the boat while they refurbished it to prepare it to do the rest of the loop. Unfortunately, they were on vacation when Hurricane Ivan hit this area and sank the boat. They lost everything including their clothes. They have not purchased another boat, but did remain in Fairhope for good. We thoroughly enjoyed our brief time with Bruce and Janice, and were surprised by his gift of home grown grapefruit and Satsuma oranges when we departed ways.
I can certainly see why someone would want to stay here! The town is beautiful and has much to offer. Most impressive are the beautiful flowers everywhere. There are plenty of shops, and brand new super Wal-Mart and a brand new Publix grocery. The town seems to be really growing. The location on Mobile Bay is ideal. We’ve seen beautiful sunsets both evenings we’ve been here, and today the bay was full of sailboats.
Rick spent part of the afternoon deflating our exercise balls. You will recall that we blew these up just before entering the Erie Canal (with the help of my friend Louise, who visited us all the way from New Hampshire). The balls were covered with mesh laundry bags, and served us well as fenders to keep the sides of the boat off of lock walls. Each ball cost less than $20 at Wal-Mart, as opposed to the real large round boat fenders that cost upwards of $100 at West Marine. A friend that had done the loop last year told us about doing this, and I must say I had my doubts that these balls would make it through over 100 locks without bursting or losing their air, but I was wrong. We started with four balls (2 for each side of the boat) and ended up with three…the only one we lost was one that got caught on a large staple on a dock and was punctured.
Tomorrow we plan to leave here and head for Orange Beach, AL, on the Gulf Coast. We may be late getting this blog out because we have very limited and intermittent internet here, as well as terrible phone connections!