Above Guntersville Alabama on the Tennessee River is the Nickajack Lock and Dam. That section of river, called Nickajack Lake, to Chattanooga TN is also known as the Tennessee River Gorge. We began our run of thirty miles up river from Hales Bar just 8 miles up-stream from the lock. It was a great day with lots of sun. The trees in the gorge were starting to turn and we had plenty of color although they had not yet reached their peak color.
Along with the trees in color there are many rock formations and cliffs along the river. I was surprized at the homes and cottages located on the banks of the river. We were also amazed at some of the deep spots in the narrow river, at one point we measured a depth of over 100 feet deep. When the river became narrow we had to deal with some stronger currents. At times the force of the river dropped our speed from 9 mph down to 4 real fast then back up to our regular up river speed of 9 again all in about 500 yards.
The gorge gave us plenty to look at on our way to Chattanooga, plus we crossed paths with the Southern Belle, an excursion boat designed to look like the old river boats. We always wave at passing boats – especially the excursion boats – it’s just what we do. Later, in Chattanooga, Toots and I were walking and a couple stopped to say they had seen us on the river. They were on the Southern Belle and saw us waving and were genuinely pleased we waved as they passed by.
We arrived into Chattanooga and tied up to the stationary docks in front of the Aquarium. The local marina management call them the Aquarium docks but the locals all call it Ross landing for the original docks that were there since the 1830’s.
That Thursday we found ourselves the only boat at the stationary docks and for the first time we were a little unsettled. Here we were in the “Big City” and all alone. The next morning we were approached by a homeless person asking for a handout. His first request of a cigarette but we don’t smoke so Cynthia, always the giver, offered food. She noticed his lack of teeth and suggested a banana. He left with the banana, water and some chicken salad, plus a plastic spoon to eat with. Later in the day we informed a park official of the occurrence. He asked if he was the only one and would let other park employees know to keep an eye on our boat. That was our only encounter and later that afternoon more boats joined us at the Aquarium docks for the weekend.
We found that the water from the Chickamauga lock and dam is shut off during the night and the pool of water near the landing will drop almost 3 feet during the night-time. It took a couple of days to get the boat tied correctly to handle the movement. During the day the boat would be high off the wall and in the morning we would be level. Cynthia used the ladder off the back of the boat to get off. Toots and I would use the side and morning walks were aided by the boat being easier for both of us to move on and off.
Chattanooga has a lot to offer very close to the marina docks; museums, two aquariums, restaurants, and entertainment. After a walk on our first afternoon we met some people recording a video for their company. Soon we had them on the boat and were dancing to the Happy Song. They promised to forward the final print to us in an email.
Cynthia, Toots, and myself explored the “Art District” and had lunch at “Rembrandt’s” a bakery and sandwich shop with out-door seating and decent food. I had a sandwich called Ruben’s Brother, slaw instead of sauerkraut, Good. Will have to remember that one next time we get pumpernickel bread. After lunch Cynthia went on to the Hunter Museum of American Art while Toots and I headed back to the boat.
Cynthia was impressed by the Museum and it’s ability to incorporate an ultra modern building with a mansion built before the Civil War, or known here as “the Northern Aggression”.
We made great use of the restaurants with outdoor seating that allowed us to bring Toots along with us during our dinners. I have to say Toots behaved better than some of the children. She was a good dog at all the restauranst attracted many admirers.
The Chattanooga Aquarium has two buildings – a fresh water exhibit and a saltwater exhibit. Cynthia went first then I followed up after she returned. On the roof this past weekend tight rope walkers had stretched a line between the spires and put on a couple of exhibitions on Saturday. The weather was great – clear and not a lot of wind. It was a great day for watching the crowd and the exhibits.
Sunday had us relaxing and just walking across the foot bridge to an area of shops and parks. We had lunch in a German restaurant with pretzels, wiener schnitzel, and German potato salad all with a “thanks y’all” attitude.
It seems that Cynthia and Toots were getting tired of all the walking and needed a rest, so we spent the remaining evening watching people pass by with only a quick trip to Rita’s Italian ice shop which was a short distance from the marina.
Reluctantly we decided it was time to get back on the water. Chattanooga was a very enjoyable stop and worth the side trip of 500 miles. We hope that other side trips will be as enlightening and fun. We have many other pictures of our time spent here and hope that you were able to view some of the pictures shared on Facebook.
Monday, after a wait for the fog to lift, we began our trip back down the gorge and enjoyed a following current and the color change in the trees that took place in only the short time that had passed since we first came by.
Now we are traveling back down the Tennessee River toward the junction of the Tennessee and the Tombigbee River, where we begin moving more southward toward the Gulf of Mexico
We have promises of Southern hospitality we hope to enjoy, and also possibly tour some of the antebellum homes that still exist in Mississippi.
Until next time; here’s to river travel.