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Chicago, IL to Kentucky Lake, KY

Oct. 10th. Hammond, IN to Dolton, IL

Due to the lock closures south of Chicago, there was a backlog of 275 boats wanting to head south for the winter. The AGLCA (American Great Loop Cruisers Association) organized the boats into groups of 16. Our flotilla was number 6, due to leave on October 6th, but the Army Corps of Engineers was not quite finished with the second of the three rebuilt locks and asked all the flotillas to wait an additional 5 days. Joliet, IL was the town where we were staging for the day with the three locks, but it would have been a long day to get there with the two previous locks and 4 bridges, so we chose to stay at Marine Services marina which was a third of the way to Joliet, along with about 7 other members of the flotilla.

It was a nice marina and we got a pumpout since Hammond’s pumpout boat was broken. Some of the slower boats led the way, but they went so slow that the faster boats in the back had difficulty steering and had to repeatedly go to nuetral to create a gap and then back into gear. Somewhat of a frustrating day on the boat.

Rusty, who was volunteered by his wife to be the flotilla captain (without his knowledge) gathered us together by some picnic tables and we discussed departure time, who was going to be leading and how we were going to lock through. The lock master wanted the bigger boats first and we asked the boats who wanted to go slower than 6 knots to go to the rear. We got an email saying a boat that day had lost power and another had an issue with his steering as they went through the half mile of electric fish fence that keeps out invasive fish species. We had the same sort of fly by wire steering system as they did, so several of us were concerned about that passage the next day.

Bridgetender posted a shot of us on our way to Joliet.

Oct. 11, Dolton to Joliet, IL

Left at 6:30am, went through the lock with no problems, went under the lowest fixed bridge during our entire Great Loop 6,000 mile voyage at 19’6. We even had the boat manufacturer triple check that we would fit and they replaced their standard radar mast with a hydraulic one that lowered to get us under the bridge. However, when we got there, the river level was low and there was 20’6 of room there, leaving us with a weird, anticlimactic feeling. We almost made it through the fish fence fine, but an alarm on our steering station went off, scaring us, but we never lost steerage.

Got to Joliet wall in the afternoon. It was a rough wall with bent pieces of rebar sticking out, but we had enough large fenders to deal with it. Nancy took Radar into town, which had long surpassed its glory days and had more than one urban renewal effort over the years. Lots of construction downtown.

One of the bridge tenders who took the below pic of us, swung by on his way home to talk with us. Super nice guy. I asked him if anyone ever hit the bridge and he said no as long as you don’t count barges, they “bump” the bridge on a regular basis. Earlier that day we passed under the bridge with the 2nd most collisions in the US (we did not add to the statistics).

We had a flotilla meeting that evening to discuss departure times and locking details. The first lockmaster (of three) wanted us to go in largest to smallest, which gave us the distinction of going first (by 3 feet). The first boat is responsible for contacting bridges and barges and setting the pace.

Oct 12 Joliet, IL to Heritage Harbor, IL

Even though we had called at 6am to check that we were still on schedule for a 7:30 lock through, we ended up having to maintain station and for some boats circle for over an hour in the fog. We caught up with Jeremy, who is the manager of Heritage Harbour but also the local Boat US person. He was towing one of the boats that had lost steering two days before. The weather was wet and cold with rain on and off throughout the day.

As we entered the lock, the lockmaster asked us to go to the most forward floating ballard or pin. However, that meant our bow was in the way of the massive lock doors opening. When I asked the lockmaster about it, he said no worries, before he opened the doors, he would let the first row of rafted boats to move away from the wall and back up. When I asked him if he was joking, he said no and that the previous 7 groups of boats had all managed to do it.

We had 5 boats rafted up to us with just our one spring line holding us to the bollard. As the lock lowered, us and the entire raft started pivot forward and back and our thrusters weren’t strong enough to compensate for so much mass. Jason had the boat on the end of the raft bump it in reverse every so often to keep the raft aligned. We got to the bottom and I released the line and Jason used both thrusters to push the raft sideways a few feet towards the middle of the lock. Then we and the end boat went into reverse and backed us up 15 feet without really any pivoting. They opened the door and we proceeded out.

We were the sixth boat to exit, but once again the next lock wanted us largest to smallest so we asked the smaller and/or slower boats to move to the right and let the flotilla sort itself. That went surprisingly smoothly (even though one of the boats that was super slow yesterday didn’t move over). Jason passed him anyway not to the liking of that captain. Several other boats then used the opportunity to pass him. A few thanked us at the end of the day. He also did not keep a very straight course causing concern for the boats immediately behind him.

We set a fast pace of just over 10 mph, so that the back of the line could go at least 5 mph. Every time we had to slow to pass a barge or go through a no wake zone, the boats in the back would go so slow that they lost steerage, so we tried to keep a fast enough pace to prevent that.

The next lock we also had to wait a couple hours to let a down bound barge lock through. Some boats elected to anchor, some to maintain station. There were some large cement “dolphins”, basically large cement posts for the tows to tie off to. However the lockmaster had asked us not to tie off on the channel side and the bank side was inside the restricted zone for the dam.

One of the larger boats passed us and went into the channel and tied off to an old lock wall. About 6 boats followed, including us, and we were rafted two wide. We figured we would see on AIS if there was another tow needing to get through with plenty of time to get out of the way. We found out later that several of the tow captains saw us doing that on AIS and were appalled that we were blocking the channel. Even though there was no tow behind us within miles. The tow/tug operators have no love for pleasure craft on their waterways.

Our trip from Chicago to Kentucky Lake

That lock, we only had 4 boats rafted to us and then there was one boat on the opposite wall. Once again, we needed to back away from the lock doors. A flurry of communication ended up having the single boat release and back up and then our raft released and backed up. This time, when we exited we sorted into a line more easily.

It was stressful being the first boat having to coordinate with the bridges, tows, and the flotilla lead and keep a close eye on navigation. At one point the flotilla ended up breaking into two segments, one who was able to pass a tow before a turn and the second part which had to wait 15 minutes to pass the tug on a straight away.

The final of the three locks we did not have to wait. However, the lockmaster was docking boats on the left and the right, leading to confusion on who was rafting to who. We were on the left with four boats rafted and then there were two boats rafted on the right with a single boat width of space between the two rafts. We waited a really long time before going locking down. You have no idea what is happening at the back of the lock and vice-versa. Turns out that we were waiting for Jeremy to catch up with the boat he was towing. They had been unable to pass the one slow barge.

The two boats on the right were not secured at their midpoint, instead only had a bow line. During the lock down, they kept swinging 30 to 40 degrees away from the wall. We could only see the tail end of them and didn’t understand why they were having trouble. Because they loaded us differently, there were several boats that had not been in the front row before. The guy at the end of our raft did not do a particularly good job reversing to keep the raft straight. Our bow was pinned against the corner of the lock where the door indented and was smooshing our front fender to an alarming degree. Jason was not happy.

We finally reached the bottom and there was a lot of confusion. Supposedly, people wanted to unraft before backing up, which would have been a disaster of boats bumping into each other. The two boats backed up first and then we did. We exited a little disordered. Turns out the lockmaster on the other side had asked the boats to untie first before reversing. Some boats started to untie and then had to retie, but it meant it wasn’t a precision departure. At the end of the day, all 17 boats got through all 3 locks without any harm.

Some waterfront cottages we passed

Heritage Harbour had a precision plan to docking all 17 of us. It was now 5 pm and raining. We each had been told our slip assignment the night before with exact directions on how to get there. They had 3 crews standing by to help dock people. We were put by ourselves at the floating pavilion. I think they got all 16 boats docked within 20 minutes. Very impressive.

They kept the restaurant open for us but asked us to tie up and immediately settle the bill and go to dinner. We quickly walked Radar in the rain and then headed over. We filled the entire restaurant and somehow they managed to get us all fed within an hour and a half.

Jeremy then gave a 2 and half hour power point presentation on all the available anchorages and river depths (each segment has its own water level, which can change daily and even hourly) below us to Paducah.

It was incredibly helpful but was way too much info to take in after an 11 hour day on the water. Nancy took notes frantically, not knowing what would be critical. We then had a 20 minute flotilla meeting for the next day. Deciding we would get going at sunrise since we had a 2 locks and a lot of miles to cover until Peoria.

Oct 13 Heritage Harbour to Peoria, IL

The flotilla leader called the lock a 6 am and they said it would be another 3 or 4 hours until they could get us through. That made it hard for us to get to our destination and we called the one marina in between and they were able to accommodate us, and we cancelled the other marina.

We finally got going and were able to go right into the lock. We asked to drop back to third row at the rear of the lock so we didn’t have to be in the front row. It was MUCH easier and less swirly on the third row. We had another cold drizzly day but the river was beautiful with bright pops of fall color and bald eagles every few miles.

We had to wait a couple hours at the next lock, forcing us to anchor. There was significant current. Nancy went to drop the anchor and nothing happened. Turns out the electrician had turned off the windlass at the breaker. Jason had to run downstairs and lift the front berth to switch it back on. Our flotilla leader, Bama Breeze, rafted to us. Once again locking was pretty easy in the back row. We kept a pretty evenly spaced line throughout the day. About 9 boats decided to stop at Henry’s (the first marina) and the rest kept going another couple hours to Peoria.

Henry’s asked all the Loopers to thank them for fitting us in on short notice by patronizing a town restaurant for dinner. We decided to go as a group. I think it was about 20 people. They said Grandma’s restaurant could accommodate us and they did! It was a really fun dinner with people sharing their experiences over the last couple days.

Turns out that we had kept slightly too fast a pace when we led, forcing the slow full displacement boats to go at a fuel inefficient speed, but nobody had been willing to admit that they didn’t want to go that fast and we were so busy, we forgot to ask if the pace was ok. We saw the end was keeping up on AIS so assumed it was fine. The people who stopped early were also the people who did not want to get up with the sun so we all decided to depart around 9 am.

Oct. 14th Peoria to Pekin Boat Club A cold, grey, rainy day, we took off hoping to spend the night at some floating docks Jeremy had mentioned below the Pekin bridge. I texted our friends that we had met at Beaver Island, who had a female dog Radar liked, to tell them that we would not be staying in Peoria and were sorry to miss them. They were in Peoria but about to fly back to Lake Michigan to bring their boat home for winter and were in flotilla 16. We were with two other boats, Into the Mystic and Mahalo. Due to commercial traffic delaying our ability to enter the next lock, we decided to stop at Kuchie's Restaurant for a warm lunch. After a couple of hours, the lock was ready for us and we proceeded with no issues. The trees on top of the bluffs were starting to turn colors.

When we got down to Pekin bridge, there were no floating docks below the bridge, only a boat ramp. They were shown on google maps, so they must have been removed for winter. Just as we were arriving, Jason received a NEBO message from some woman saying she was going to Pekin Boat Club to take pictures of us. Nancy told Jason not to respond to a female stalker.

However, above the bridge there was a 40 ft long floating pier with people standing on it. Turns out that was Pekin Boat Club and the woman was with some friends standing on the dock. We asked them for some local advice and they said, “Spend the night here, we would love to host Loopers”.

Into the Mystic and us tied to the dock. Mahola didn’t like the look of the dock and went down two bends of the river and anchored in a little nook in the river. One of the club members asked us to put out an anchor, since we were a lot of weight and drag for that little dock. We went upriver half a boat length and dropped anchor then re-rafted but the anchor had not caught.

We ended up just leaving the anchor down with extra chain as an emergency brake. The members asked us to come up to the club for drinks. Someone bought us our first round, and we got surrounded by people asking us about the Loop. It was our 15 seconds of fame. We ended up buying a bunch of raffle tickets and giving them to some of the members as a thank you.

It was actually a pretty narrow stretch of river and the barges were passing pretty close to us, so we made sure we were lit up and visible. Nancy caught this picture below while walking Radar. In the morning she spotted some giant trees were had some how managed to withstand 10-15 ft floods on semi-regular basis (see above).

Oct 15th Pekin Boat Club to Logsdon Tug, IL

Still cold and gray. There are no real marinas or anchorages on this stretch of the Mississippi, especially with the river being 6 ft lower than normal. We stopped at Logsdon Tow office which is basically three barges tied up on the river wall in front of a house on the bluff. Nancy walked into the town of Beardstown, because the courtroom Lincoln argued a murder case had a museum that was open. It had a nice green town square. It is the only still operating courtroom where Lincoln practiced law. He got a young man off of murder charges. It was neat to stand exactly where Lincoln stood. Lincoln used an almanac to prove the witness wrong, who claimed he could see his client by the light of the moon. Lincoln proved that the moon didn’t rise for another 3 hours that night.

It was actually a pleasant stop except that the steps up to the office were long, steep and made of metal grating so Radar had to be carried up and down. Going up was fine, coming down in the dark was another matter. Nancy put Radar in a recycle grocery bag so she had a hand free for the railing.

Oct. 16 Logsdon Tug to Mel’s Diner

Yet another cold, wet day on the way to Mel’s diner. While there were few houses along the banks, the ones that were there were on very tall pilings. Mel’s was a pretty large restaurant and about 80% of the clientele both genders were wearing camo somewhere on their body. A few boats ate a late lunch when we landed, Nancy arranged for the rest of the boats (about 14 people) to eat together for dinner. Fun night, our friends on Done Savin, towed another boat off a sand bar when it dragged overnight and ran aground themselves in the process and we got to hear the story over dinner.

The next morning, when Nancy was getting breakfast sandwiches, she spoke to a retired barge captain. She asked him what they do about the large metal buoys that are often dragged to the center of the channel. He said, we run over them. When asked if they hurt their props, he said, “oh yes” of course.

In fact, you have to get underwater welders to free the buoy from the prop. He said it happened 4 times to him over his career. When I asked what he did with the barges, he said you aim them for the bank and hope that there is a large enough tree to get a rope around. If your lucky, there is a free tug somewhere nearby who can lend their assistance. We had passed at least 4 that were well in the center of the channel. You would think the authorities would be quick to fix that instead of having 12 runaway barges careening out of control on the river!

See this video below of a tug pushing 28 full size barges! The captains instead of saying to go port or starboard, say to go one the 1 whistle or the 2 whistle, a holdover from the days before radios. Also, unlike the rest of the United States, the Inland waters use statute miles and miles per hour instead of nautical miles and knots...fortunately, we just needed to switch a setting in our chart plotter.

Oct. 17th Mel’s Diner to Alton Marina, MO

We finally had a beautiful sunny day and the fall colors along the banks was magnificent. Nancy and Radar did some sunbathing on the bow. The navy blue cushion covers heat up nicely. Passed by Grafton, where the Illinois flows into the Mississippi. Alton was a very nice marina. Because we came in as a group, almost everyone needed fuel, so we decided to dock and go back to the fuel dock the next day when it was less busy.

Because there were 3 sizable marinas in the area, this was the first place since Chicago where people felt they could stay for a few days without blocking the boats behind us. Nancy walked Radar into town and had a nice coffee overlooking the Mississippi at a Post office turned coffee shop. It was also the location of one of the famous Lincoln/Stephen Douglas presidential debates.

Alton is a good place to explore St. Louis. Jason had been there in 2008 and Nancy had driven through it in her 20’s. The next day, Jason and Nancy rented a car and drove in. We visited the Gateway Arch (what an engineering feat!) and went to the top (Nancy was not a fan of the small round elevator pods).

The view was very impressive. The design was a result of a national competition, and the museum showed the other finalists. All the other designs were very traditional and boring. As you stand there watching all the barges coming and going, you do feel how much St. Louis is a gateway to the West.

They then went to a cute neighborhood called Delmar Loop with a lot of fancy houses, and had lunch at a good BBQ joint that served huge pop-overs. The next day we spent cleaning, doing laundry, and boat chores.

Jason had a down day, while Nancy went back to St. Louis. She stopped at a sculpture park, but it was mostly under re-construction, which was disappointed. She went to a local diner, hoping to have a “slinger”, a local breakfast specialty, but they didn’t have it on the menu.

She then went to see the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Their website on plants and their origins has been a go-to site for Nancy for years. Spectacular gardens and the glass sculptor Chihuly had glass installations spread throughout the park. Nancy went to the grocery store and stocked up for the next more rural portion of the trip.

Sat 21. Alton, IL to Kimmswick, MO

We went past the Arch on the river, taking photos and having our photos taken by other members of our flotilla. It was another fine fall day. Spent the night at Hoppies (See below left), one of the few places to tie up on this portion of the river. Their barges had been there a long time and were very rusty.

We were told that there wasn’t much to the town above Hoppies, but Kimmswick was delightful with lots of log cabins from the 1800’s and fun little shops and restaurants. Nancy went and listened to music with some of the other loopers at an18th century log cabin restaurant called the Winery, a tavern where Ulysses S. Grant used to hang out! See below center. Nancy thought it was super cool to be in there but later found out that the cabin had been moved several miles in the 70’s, taking away some of the “here in history” aspect.

The lady who runs Hoppies, gave us a briefing on the river until Paducah. The news was not good. Several of the anchorages Jeremy had recommended where either now too shallow or had tug debris at the bottom. One of the large Flemmings got a tug hawser (a thick 3 inch wide rope) wrapped around their prop near the Arch. Hoppies had divers who were able to cut it free.

The rest of our pod wanted to leave first thing, but Nancy wanted to go to the infamous Blue Owl restaurant that opened at 10, so we hung back with the vessel Kris Sea. The Blue Owl are known for their levee high apple caramel pecan pie (9 inches tall consisting of 18 apples), which was on Oprah’s Favorite Things list. See above right. It was created in honor of the Army Corps of Engineers who built an earthen levee to protect the restaurant and the town from the 500 yr flood of 1993.

Sun Oct. 22 Kimmswick, MO to Kaskaskia River, IL

We turned off the Mississippi and went half a mile up the Kaskaskia River (which Nancy was unable to pronounce) and docked on the outside of a lock wall. We had been told they did not like people or dogs on the lock wall and to use our dinghy to relieve the dog.

However, the lockmaster said it was fine for us to be on the wall (Nancy took that to mean dogs too although she tried to keep Radar in the shadows, which he wasn’t so keen on). The floating dock was attached to very tall cement triangles. There were tracks on the pillars for the docks. Floods must be severe here.

An old houseboat, Sweet Magnolia, which had a lot of character, docked behind us. A couple in their twenties where on board and had journeyed down from St. Paul Minnesota, and were heading to Knoxville. They were very confused about these random flotillas, so we explained the situation and told them about the NEBO app so that they could see us and communicate with us.

Mon Oct 23 Kaskaskia River, IL to Little Diversion Channel, MS

The Army Corp of Engineers barges showed up around 7 to start work repairing the locks, so we quickly got out of their way and took off with Kris Sea in the light fog. This segment of the mighty Mississippi alternated between tall bluffs and large sandy beaches. Lots of large barges, some tugs had 27 barges! People had warned us that their prop wash had 3 ft waves and they were not joking. Because you have to wait for a straight away to pass these tugs, the flotilla ended up bunched back together by the early afternoon.

We were told that there wasn’t enough swinging room in Little Diversion Channel and to set rear anchors, which we would have to pull up by hand. Instead, we decided to raft bow to stern, each boat deploying the anchor on their bow where they could use their windlass. We rafted up with Kris Sea. After a couple hours, we find ourselves swinging sideways. Kris Sea had to untie from us, reset their anchor with much more chain and retie to us. It held for the rest of the night.

Nancy took Radar way up stream to where a dry streambed met the channel. Radar got many burrs. The boat behind us said that they just crossed the Mississippi to the very large beach, which for some reason had not occurred to Nancy to do in a dinghy.

So Kris and Nancy took Radar over to the beach later that afternoon. Nancy let him off the leash and he immediately went farther down the beach where there were feathers. The other boat with a dog joined us and Radar and Max happily ran up and down the beach together. Radar tripped in a sand puddle chasing max and went head over heels in the muddy puddle! Wish we had caught it on camera! Kris did get the start of a feather battle on video:

Tues. Oct 24 Little Diversion Channel, MS to Olmstead Lock, KY

Jason wanted to make it to Paducah the next day, 95 miles away, doable but it meant walking to dog at sunrise. Ouch. This portion of the river looked just like what Nancy imagined reading Huck Finn and she read passages out loud to Jason. One of the passages mentioned that the raft was going 4 miles per hour and I remember thinking Mark Twain exaggerated. However, we had 4 mph current pushing us and the river is at a very low level!

People had been having difficulty getting through the next lock (Olmstead) in a timely manner. We aimed to arrive at 1, which would give us 2 hours to get through the lock and still make it to Paducah before dark. At Cairo (pronounced carrow) we ended our stretch on the mighty Mississippi and turned up the Ohio River into a 2 mph current. We also were in three states at once, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky!

Over the radio, we heard the lockmaster telling a commercial barge to hurry up if he wanted to go through before the lock closed. We called and the lockmaster said he was shutting down the lock for 6 hours as part of ongoing intermittent repairs. There had been nothing posted about the closure that we could find. We passed back word, so that the boats behind us could slow down and conserve fuel.

While flotillas in front of us had anchored with no problem behind the dam, the 2 mph current concerned us especially if we were rafted. There was a small cove on the right that was out of the current. The flotilla head switched radio channels 5 times, attempting to avoid commercial channels (usually the commercial channels are low numbered and the conversational channels are higher numbered) until he finally gave up. We reverted to hand signals and cell calls to figure who was rafting to who. Once again we rafted with Kris Sea and tried to get as many boats our of the current as possible.

Around 4pm Max’s owners dinghied by and asked if Radar wanted to play again. Nancy and Radar joined them on their dinghy. They happily played on the beach for over 30 minutes. Radar then headed much farther down the beach, like a mile, and was completely ignoring Nancy’s command. We tried to send Max to get him but Radar ignored him as well (feathers again—nothing beats feathers for Radar). Max’s owners were nice enough to dinghy us down the mile.

However, Radar had chosen a particularly muddy and shallow spot. Nancy had to wade into the beach, then Radar played keep away from her before she was finally able to capture him. The dinghy had drifted some and now them mud was no longer supporting Nancy’s weight and she was sinking shin deep into the mud. A filthy Radar and Nancy climbed into their nice clean white dinghy. The owner chastised me about how dangerous it was that Radar would not return when called and said he needed intensive training. Although in complete agreement, Nancy did not appreciate the comment!

One of the other boats had gathered driftwood and set up a bonfire. We dinghied Kris and Don over with us so they didn’t need to lower their dinghy by crane. It was a wonderful evening, people joking about the last few days. We returned around 7:30, made dinner and Nancy went to sleep shortly after. She was woken up by Jason, saying that they were aground. There had been 2-3 feet under the boat that afternoon but by 11:30pm our depth finder was reading a negative number. Using a boat hook, he confirmed how shallow the water was at the swim platform. We don’t know whether the dam stopped letting out water or we pivoted onto a bar. Kris Sea was not aground. We woke them up and Jason proceeded to pull us forward a couple of feet with the anchor windlass, then started the engines, pulled the anchor and steered both vessels in the crowded anchorage in the dark and against the current and dropped anchor again. This time it held, but Jason got almost no sleep the rest of the night.

Our flotilla leader called the lockmaster a little after 6. Nancy once again took the dog at dawn to the beach (on a leash this time). The lock master then basically said soon for another 4 hours. He asked us to get in position below the lock and then made us wait for 40 minutes holding station in the current. He has definitely earned his reputation as being a jerk. Paducah was very nice and refunded everyone their reservations.

Wednesday, Oct 25th Olmstead Lock, KY to Paducah, KY

Nancy had a couple zoom calls while Jason was at the helm. Nancy went with Don and Kris to Paducah and visited the National Quilt Museum (Nancy understood Jason’s lack of interest). See quilt below top row left. However, Paducah was a cool town and had a really interesting mural wall depicting the town’s history See below, bottom row. There was also a unbelievable marker that showed the height of the flood water from the 1937 flood. The river rose 60ft! See below middle.

Thursday, Oct 26 Paducah, KY to Grand Rivers, KY

Had a pleasant winding ride a short distance up the Ohio River and then turned off on to the Cumberland River. There were beautiful falls colors, lots of cliffs and caves along the way. We got a little confused on up versus down. Because the river headed south, our general direction of travel, we felt as though we were heading downriver. However, after a tug boat captain said he was moving to the Left Descending Bank and went to the right we realized that we were heading upriver.

Barkley Lock, just prior to Grand Rivers, was huge! The lockmaster waited for all of us afternoon loopers to arrive and put 18 of us through at once. The lock was so big, that all of our boats, many 45ft or larger, looked liked toys in a bathtub. We rose almost 50ft and we went up surprisingly quickly. Still it was a very smooth ride. The lockmaster posted a pic on Facebook of us.

Pulled into Green Turtle Marina. We were assigned a slip on the other side of the marina from everyone else. It was 4 miles to walk around the shore to the dock office, but only a 3 minute dinghy ride. A couple other unlucky boats had been sent to 'Siberia' with us. They had a golf cart to take us to the marina or to town.

The town had about 4 businesses and Patties. Pattie’s was more than just a restaurant; they had created an entire settlement, with about six buildings and a stream and fun activities for kids like mining, where you bought a bag that was guaranteed to have “gems” in it and had the kids sift for them with water and screens. It was all decked out for Christmas because they were starting a festival of lights the following weekend even though it wasn’t Halloween yet. See below.

The restaurant was excellent. And as one of the other Loopers said, it looked like Christmas had exploded onto the ceilings. Someone else said it was a cross between Dollywood and Walt Disney. It rained for 3 days so we stayed and then the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped to below freezing, so we stayed another day.


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