Sunday, November 20, 2011

Locks, Weather, and Wilma, oh my!

Goal to New Orleans: 1865 miles
Paddled since last blog: 167 miles
Total paddled: 325 miles
To go: 1540 miles
Current location: East of Chattanooga on the Tennessee River
Granola bars consumed since last blog: 22 
Total: 44 
Snicks: 9 bars
Total: 23
Days of paddling: 15 

It's been a week since our last bloggage. We are off the river for Thanksgiving Week with Team Shannon  and Grandma Hruby.  

Turns out, you can lock through in sea kayaks at dams with locks. DAM! That's easier than portaging. During our first lock at Fort Loudon, we called ahead and explained to the lock operator that we had never done this before and he took care of us. He coached us in proper lockage, told some good jokes, and set us up for locking success. We looked good and won through two more locks.... they're all the same. It's tradition that once one passes through a dam, there are big machines doing crazy things such as: a guy hanging onto a helicopter repairing electrical lines, 15 heavy machines dismantling a building by a nuclear powerplant (we're talking transformers here!), and a train elevator bridge with a boom crane-barge underneath it.

Kara in the lock chamber at Watts Bar Dam
We have had a broad spectrum of weather. Some days have been clear, calm, and sunny which are accompanied by cold nights. On these nights, it's a good idea to leave hatch covers off because they become frozen ice bricks that are difficult to remove with ice brick hands in the morning. 
Clear morning
We've had one day of hard rain that taught us our waterproof jackets aren't necessarily waterproof and helped us log our biggest mileage day due to the threat of mild hypothermia. Woo hot chocolate!

Rain on water
Wet Liddell

Thus far, the most significant factor determining our speed has been the wind. We think the maximum wind speed we've experienced is about 20 mph. These speeds force us to choose protected shoreline routes rather than open water crossings to cut corners. When we have a tailwind, we bust out our Fiberglass Shaft  umbrellas to sail. Liddell is a conservative umbrella sailor while Kara goes balls-to-the-wall and sometimes experiences umbrella blowout at great speeds. 
Kara's first umbrella blowout
For our avid blog followers, you'll be thrilled to know we finished reading The French Broad by Wilma Dykeman and are now taking donations (or suggestions) for the next read aloud.

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Thanks for the update! loving this blog

  2. Happy Thanksgiving Liddell and Kara. The Dockendorf's will be following your blog from Guatemala where we will be on our own adventure on our personal frontier. We love following your exploits. Paddle tough!

  3. Hell yeah team awsome! Looking good and winning as usual. Have a cup of whiskey slush for me...thinking of ya' both! :)

  4. Liddell, did Kara really let you believe that this was her first umbrella blow out? She was infamous for it back in high school, we all called her "Kara the blow-out-kid" and some people called her "Karas weeney," but that didn't really have anything to do with the umbrella.

    Hope you two are having a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't forget to water down the whiskey slush...

    Miss you Kara can't wait to meet you Liddell.