Welcome Aboard. I occasionally update this with future plans. Check at the bottom.
I’m a solo boater who completed The Great Loop in September, 2019. My boat is L.T. Looper, named for my kids Lize and Tommy, who mean everything to me. When I was in the Army as a wet behind the ear Second Lieutenant, my First Sergeant used to call me LT, which is better than what he likely wanted to call me. So L.T. doesn’t exactly inspire images of boating into the sunset, but Lize, being the older, probably would have balked if I turned it around to T.L.
L.T. is a 2018 23 foot C-Dory Venture powered by a 140 hp Suzuki outboard. 23 feet is smallish by Looper standards, but having camped and rafted throughout the mountain west, I'm comfortable without many creature comforts. Twenty plus days on my raft in the Grand Canyon doesn’t leave much room for anything except food, tents, water and a few stashed six packs.
No TV or air conditioning and the size of my refrigerator reminds of the ones we snuck into our dorms in college. But L.T. came with a very functional Wallis diesel stove/heater and I found places to mount my bike and kayak and I had a real, though not very private, head installed, so I have all the essentials. I call it my turn around boat because I don’t really go anywhere inside, I just turn around to get things done.
I can tow it reasonably well with my Toyota Tacoma and take full advantage of its ability to get into tight places and go fast if I need or want to get some quick miles behind me. It's safe in bigger water, but usually not much fun because the interior can get rearranged if everything is not stowed or tied down, sometimes even if it is. It planes at about 15 mph, can touch 30, maybe 32-33 with favorable current and wind, but has a sweet spot at 20-22. I often cruise at a traditional displacement hull speed of 6-8 mph to take in the scenery, especially in the canals, just like my friends on the trawlers. But my I have a lot more flexibility and seldom put in the long days at the helm that they do.
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I have lived in Breckenridge, Colorado for the last 40+ years but was born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay where my family usually had some type of boat and boating was as natural as skiing became in Breckenridge. As a kid, I dreamed of boating other parts of the Intra Coastal Waterway. As I moved west, I added the Mississippi to the list. When I stumbled across the concept of the Great Loop, I knew I had found my dream retirement adventure.
My wife is both smart and not a boating person, so she is doing her thing at the Horse Rescue and remodeling the old log cabin she bought. I miss her, sometimes, and I like to think that she would appreciate my help with the cabin, sometimes. That’s what happens with two strong personalities, sometimes. It’s better than the bickering I occasionally see among couples who really aren’t on the same page.
I remember years ago reading John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America and thinking that would be pretty fun. That’s how I view my trip around the Loop: not so much boating, but a road trip on water exploring America. Before railroads started taking over travel shortly before the Civil War, American history followed the same Atlantic coast, rivers and canals I hope to explore.
Getting Here from There
Rivers & Waterways of the Midwest
I enjoy both history and writing and have developed this website to share stories and pictures with my friends and family and anyone else who may be interested. But it’s dedicated to my yet to be conceived Grandchildren. I didn’t marry, much less think of kids until my mid-forties. Since my kids seem to be following a similar trajectory, my chances of knowing my Grandchildren is limited. I’d like them to know their Granddad as more than a tombstone or a slobbering old man wandering around in a nursing home.
I want them to enjoy life’s journey and to embrace wherever their interests and talents take them.
After the Loop
The Great Loop becomes more a lifestyle than a vacation. Completing it is an emotional high, similar to a graduation, which I recently felt again, this time as a parent (it doesn’t get old). But it does pose the same question as a graduation. What’s next?
That answer is maybe easier for me than other Gold Loopers. I knew that unless something went disastrously wrong, there were other boat journeys I wanted to do. Nothing went wrong. Quite the contrary, my Loop went so well that I’m somewhat paranoid about when the other shoe will finally kick me in the butt. But for now, Lake Powell, The Down East Loop and the Inside Passage to Alaska still beckon.
Well before I finished the Loop, I realized that there were numerous side trips that were also making their way onto my bucket list: up the Cumberland to Nashville, up the Tennessee to Chattanooga, the Florida Keys, St. John’s River, up the Potomac to Washington, DC, the western half of the Erie Canal.
The trip at the top of the list is the Mississippi from Minneapolis to New Orleans. I’d love to see the fall colors of the upper Mississippi and fantasize about playing Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn on the lower Mississippi. Or maybe I’ll simply do the Great Loop again, perhaps trailering from Buffalo to Pittsburg like my friends on Jill Kristy did. I'm intrigued by the idea of attending Rockies games in Pittsburg and Cincinnati by boat.
The only thing for sure is that I’m going to keep writing stories. I enjoy the writing even more than I thought I would, though I'm grateful I don’t depend on it for a living. Hopefully the stories will give the Grandkids something to chew on someday. Best of all, it gives me a great excuse to get back on L.T. Those who encouraged me might want to be more careful about what you ask for.