On Wednesday Sept 4th we left the wonderful Green Turtle Bay in Grand Rivers Kentucky, for Pebble Isle Marina located in New Johnsonville Tennessee (about 2 hours east of Nashville).
The ride further south was on the Kentucky Lake & the Tennessee river. Unlike the past week, there was no commercial traffic. The only boats we had to deal with were other Loopers & about 50 high powered bass fishing boats (potentially a tournament).
The ride down the Kentucky Lake & the Tennessee river was very nice, calm, pretty. The ride was filled with nice homes, tree-lined/curved shores, an old rail road bridge and a strange building structure.
Discussions with Clay and Billy at Pebble Isle Marina, after we arrived, revealed that the old building structure above is known as the Old Danville Grain Elevator or Danville Transfer Station. It was built on the banks of the Tennessee River about 300 yards from the L&N Railroad in 1914. The purpose of the building was to transfer barges of grain and other goods from the river to rail cars.
It contained six levels with the bottom three being open for boats carrying cargo to unload their goods from the river. The lower levels accommodated the water level fluctuation of the river. Two twenty-horsepower elevators carried cargo from the lower levels to trains docked at the fourth level. Primary commodities were peanuts, grain, limestone, iron, and cotton.
It was in operation until the early 1940s when TVA began clearing out the area for the creation of Kentucky Lake. The lake would be created by building a large dam downstream at Grand Rivers, Kentucky. The waters would permanently rise 55 feet which would flood most of the building and the surrounding area.
Further down river, we arrived about 4:30pm at Pebble Isle Marina. Unlike Green Turtle Bay, there was no pool, spa, or yacht club. There was just a very nice marina with a bunch of good ole boys. We had several folks who came to help us tie up and say howdy; Mark from the marina, and locals Gene & Jim. The setting is beautiful. When you come off the Tennessee river, you enter a very narrow channel (don’t deviate from the marked channel, I never do), and when you round the corner of the narrow channel, it dumps into a secluded small bay which reminded me and Jonell of the movie “On Golden Pond”. The photos don’t due justice. The harbor is small, and the marina is known by Loopers as one of the friendliest on the Loop. We are having the same experiences. Mark, Clay, and Billy have treated us like royalty.
Shortly after arriving and tying up we got settled in and invited locals Gene & Kathy Spears up onto Gettin’ Looped for some welcome drinks. We were soon joined by new Looper friends Mark/Sandee from Holland Michigan and Larry/Betty Matlack from Kansas. The 6 of us and Larry/Betty’s kids all used the 2 courtesy vans at Pebble Isle to go to dinner at a Mexican restaurant about 30 minutes away.
On Thursday we began the day with the Pebble Isle famous ” Billy’s Cinnamon Rolls” and coffee. The cinnamon rolls are well-known on the Looper circuit. I met Billy in the morning before my shower when I returned the keys to the van from the night before. When I got back from the shower and picked up Nellie, Billy had to go on a Tow Boat US run. So we had the morning cinnamon rolls with owner/operator Clay. We were treated to the rolls and about 30 minutes of Clay’s stories about ; Bass Fishing, Cat Fish noodling, the local fungus in the water that looks like a sponge, and a story about a friend or relative who is now intimately involved with the Army Corps, because he has invented some chemical which kills the Asian carp but does not harm the local game fish. Clay told us that last year that when you drove in/out of the marina the Asian carp would be flying all over. This year after the chemical treatments you see the Asian carp only floating up dead.
After the morning cinnamon rolls, we again borrowed one of the courtesy vans to go to the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills Tennessee. The ranch consists of ; Loretta’s Plantation Home after she became rich/famous, a Replica of her Butcher Holler Home where she grew up, a replica of the Coal Mine #5 where her father worked, and The Coal Miners’ Daughter Museum. The grounds were very pretty with a waterfall on the creek which runs thru the property. Unfortunately photos were only allowed outside of the buildings.
The replica house of where Loretta grew up included many pieces from the real place in Butcher Holler Kentucky. Loretta grew up as 1 of a family of 10, with many members of the family being musically talented, but Loretta and her sister Crystal Gale became the most famous. Loretta Lynn, was originally Loretta Webb, but married Doolittle Lynn at a very young age and became known as Loretta Lynn Webb. Crystal Gale was originally Brenda Gail Webb, and assumed her stage name of Crystal Gale because there was already a singer named Brenda Lee with Decca Records, and she was asked to change her name. Loretta Lynn suggested the name “Crystal” after seeing a sign for the Krystal hamburger restaurant chain. Brenda Gail Webb thus became Crystal Gayle. Their childhood replica house was very rustic inside & out.
The plantation style home where Loretta lived in after becoming famous, is big/nice/etc, but is not as opulent as you would think. She lived here mainly in the 1970’s, and currently lives on the ranch property, but in a more modern single level ranch.
Many scenes from the “Coal’s Miners Daughter” movie were filmed in the plantation home. The home was originally built in the late 1800’s.
The coal mine was also interesting, attempting to re-create the feel of where/how Loretta’s father spent most of his life.
Finally, the museum was a wealth of Loretta memorabilia. It was filled with all her awards, show dresses/outfits, a tour bus motor home, Loretta owned cars, and gifts from other famous entertainers. Most of the memorabilia had hand written notes from Loretta on how she came to own the object, and what the particular piece meant to her.
Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside.
Thursday afternoon we re-met some ole friends/Loopers Bud & Sue Hansen, who we had originally met at the Rogersville Alabama Looper rendezvous that Jonell & I attended in 2014. They are a wonderful ole couple from Cedar Falls Iowa . Jonell & I attended the Looper rendezvous in 2014 when we were just Looper Dreamers. During that week long seminar, we met Bud & Sue during a looper crawl on their original boat an aluminum hull 32′ Marinette called “When I’m 64”. Their trip in 2014/2015 was cut short due to family issues with aging parents.
Bud & Sue are now completing the Loop in their new boat “Odyssey”, a ’38 Ocean Alexander. They are the sweetest couple ever.
On Friday, I went for cinnamon rolls with Clay, and then went in for a long over due haircut at Stewart’s Barber Shop.
Owner/Operator Jason Stewart did a fine job, but nothing to compare to “Pat’s Barber Shop” in Royal Oak Michigan (1632 E Lincoln Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067).
Tonight, Friday night, we will go for a farewell dinner at the Pebble Isle Marina Restaurant with Bud/Sue, Mark/Sandee, and Gene/Kathy, who are all now very good friends. We WILL see Bud/Sue at the next stop, and may see Mark/Sandee again, but may not see Gene/Kathy for a long time. It has been a wonderful stop.
Next Stop is Clifton Marina in Clifton Tennessee.
It should be another “laid-back” stop with good down home folks.