22 October - 3 November 2014 Florence, AL - Columbus, MS

     Our week spent in Florence, AL, was a pleasure.  Eva, owner/dock master of Florence Harbor Marina, got our week of to a terrific start with her lively and animated personality. 

    The city of Florence is extremely fortunate to have one of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, of which they've adopted for its care and maintenance.   It has been called one of the purest examples of Wright's Usonian design. This 1500 square foot home was designed and built of cypress, glass, and brick for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum.    Interestingly enough, our docent was a student in Mr. Rosenbaum's English class at the University of North Alabama which also calls Florence, "home".

     Mr. Wright thought that if Pullman train cars were adequate size-wise, that a home could be just that compact.  Below is Mrs. Rosenbaum's minuscule kitchen.

     This design (?) is oft repeated throughout the home as window frames, room dividers, and other fascinating accents.

     The four Rosenbaum sons literally bunked in here. Below you can see the 4 bunks and to the left outside the photo is a very small closet and one toy chest.

     Mrs. Rosenbaum didn't appreciate the appearance of the FLW chairs below and found them uncomfortable.  They definitely don't look like a chair that you'd find relaxing for after-dinner conversation, do they?  www.wrightinalabama.com.  www.florenceal.org.

     The University of North Alabama was founded in 1838 so some of the old stately buildings still stand.  The campus is gorgeous and especially with the changing colors of fall.

     A UNA alum gave a pair of lions to the university and they reside in a beautiful park-like setting.  I've never been a proponent of caged animals, fish trapped in aquariums, horses pulling carriages through city streets but Leo and his wife have been long-time residents here and appear to have acclimated to their "tame" surroundings.

                       They are beautiful and immaculately groomed.

This is Mrs. Leo totally oblivious to all of her admirers.
                The Administration Building is one of the stately old buildings on campus

The day students walk past this appealing fountain daily enroute to their cars in the parking lot.

     Florence's annual Renaissance Festival took place the weekend we were there and it was an interesting local color event.
            Have you ever seen a belly dancer with a flat and toned tummy?  I think she looks about 5 minutes post partum to me! Kinda makes you not wanna pursue that are artful expression, doesnt it!
      Seems to me that if this is a person's art form, they wouldn't want so much adipose tissue hanging out for all to 
---and it wiggled when she did.  Her skirt was "plumber low" in the back. Not a purdy sight either.

         She was remarkably graceful and her movements were surprisingly fluid. 

     Eva, at the marina, should be lauded by the Chamber of Commerce because she directed us to some superb restaurants as well as places of historical interest.  Below is the 360 Restaurant, part of the Hyatt Resort on the Tennessee River.

     This is Alabama's only revolving restaurant.  At Eva's suggestion we made reservations for 30 minutes before sunset.  The view was magnificent and Chris, our server, what delightfully entertaining. The food was gourmet.

   In the background is the Tennessee River and the conference center is in the foreground
 The Wilson Dam and Lock was at the foot of the resort and it was fun to watch traffic through the locks since we've done umpteen of them--it was good to see it from an extraordinarily different perspective.

     "Once upon a time---a very long time ago" at Judson College, a small college for women, was a scared 17 year old college freshman from Pensacola.  Across the hall in the dorm lived Patty, a well-indoctrinated college sophomore from north Alabama.  She became close friends, she took me under her wing helping me navigate those first few weeks of college.  In 1961, she graduated and married Jim the next month.  I had the honor of being in their wedding.  They live in Huntsville, 30 miles from Guntersville where we spent 75 days, but in that length of time, we could never coordinate a time to get together.  Bless their hearts, they drove much farther than 30 miles to visit us in Florence, and we had a day of non-stop talking.  Jim and Bill didn't feel left out at all---both engineers so they had more than a gracious sufficiency to "man talk" about.

     We had hoped to get our boat in the background but alas....  We were lucky to get a photo at all.  I recruited a little old man who had no idea of how to take a picture with my phone.  He had it backward so had a few shots of his eyeball.

Jim, Patty, Laura, and Bill

             Bill, Laura, and Jim

Laura, Jim, and Patty

     Sadly our week here is over and it's time to continue south.  The river is too cold to get into now without a wet suit and that seemed like too much trouble---or that was my excuse anyway.  We anchored several nights between Florence and Columbus, MS.
The Bluest of Skies

Heading into our anchorage

     We tucked into Columbus, MS, marina because the wind was howling and temps have plummeted.  It would be far to cold to anchor out so we needed the benefit of Ben Franklin's discovery.  We've enjoyed meeting with new friends--2 of whom hail from my hometown.
     This entry cannot end without telling two stories.  A couple of days before arriving here, we went through several locks with a pontoon rigged for the couple to live aboard and naval architects they weren't.  Only wish I had a picture to show you.  The vertical pieces were configured with PVC pipe and 2X4's.  Toward the front of this vessel was a huge Rubbermaid chest and several tubs.  Separating this destined to jettison assortment of stuff from their living quarters is a sliding door.  Don't know if they've considered what might be the result of waves coming over the bow once they get into Mobile Bay and the Gulf.  The sides had 3 single-hung windows and crowning this masterpiece of ship building is a green tarp.  We had been secured for just a few minutes when in flew this green kite powered by an outboard.  The wind got beneath that sail and they were blowing sideways toward us at a scary speed.  I could hear him frantically throttling the outboard but to no avail.  He needed props and wings.  All that I could think of is that we're getting ready to see how good our insurance policy is.  It was a near miss and we were spared.  Can't imagine what would've happened to those 2 people and their little Huck Finn raft.  Most folks stayed the next night also because the prediction was temps in the 20's and high winds the next day.  Much to my surprise they left so am guessing they "sailed" down river from lock to lock.

     The second story is better than the Pontoon People.  This is about the Tent Twosome.  This couple and a big dog are doing the Great Loop from Canada, down the rivers, around the tip of FL and back up the east coast until they return to their starting place in a kayak!  See dog, tent, 2 chairs, assorted stuff and kayak?

     Their website is quite interesting.  They're survivalists for certain.  www.wildravenadventure.com.  A friend docked closer to shore than we watched them pack the kayak this morning and said the amount of equipment they have that fit in the canoe with two very skinny and fit people and a big furry dog.  It was extremely cold for two nights that they were here sleeping on the ground.  Inside we had the heat running full blast along with the warming blanket set to High.

     A couple here told us that she wanted to overtake them on the river so she slowed as not to wake them but they were paddling faster than her trawler was going.  She said they were paddling 8 MPH!

     There are quite a few tugs and long barges on this river so the kayakers were approaching a tow and called to him on the VHF asking which side the captain would prefer them to pass.  The tug captain laughed and said, "you aren't going to pass me."  Mr. Kayak said, "Oh, yes sir, we are."  And they did!!!  On the radio our friends hear other tug captains ragging the tow who was passed by a kayak.  His only response to the teasing was, "they were VERY strong."  I didn't see them up close but those who did said they're a very handsome couple and she's drop dead gorgeous with a flawless porcelain complexion.  They quite a ways ahead of us but we're leaving in the morning at first light so I hope we can witness this kayak passing a mighty tugboat!  The last photo is shared by a friend who was passed by the paddlers.

Warm hugs from the hinterlands,
Bill and Laura Bender
Kindred Spirit III
Departed Columbus, MS, 5:45 AM


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