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Sunday, June 5, 2011

TN River Trip - June 4th, 2011 - Our Last Day of the Trip

We stayed tied up at the fuel dock pier at Hales Bar last night, and had a pretty consistent breeze through the windows. We got up early and pulled out at 6:01, with the "River Dawg" right behind us. River Dawg's owners were headed to their homeport in Guntersville, finishing a 500 mile river trip in the 60'+ houseboat. They told us about locking through at Chickamauga yesterday when, using the stern thruster to keep the big boat against the lock wall, they overloaded the thruster battery and it literally blew up!

We saw more tugs on the return trip from Chattanooga.

When we arrived at Nickajack Lock about 7:00, we were informed that we had about a 45 minute wait, since a towboat was just about to be locked down. About 7:20 the lockmaster radioed to inform us that the tow was almost down in the lock, and they would be locking up a pleasure craft, then we would lock down next. He also asked us to make way for another downstream tow, with 7 barges, that was going to tie up on the lock entrance wall and wait for his turn to lock down after us. We then heard "Mo Jac" a larger yacht that had passed us yesterday and also overnighted at Hales Bar, call to say he was approaching the lock and needed to lock down. It was clearly getting busy.

The small boat that had locked up exited the lock at about 8:00 and we were given the OK to enter the lock. The River Dawg entered first and tied to his starboard side, and we pulled in behind him and secured to a bollard. Although River Dawg's captain had expressed some worry about keeping the houseboat in line without the use of his stern thruster, he didn't seem to have any trouble keeping her firmly against the wall. Mo Jac was approaching the lock and after being warned by the lockmaster to "slow it down" he passed us and the River Dawg and tied up on the downstream end of the lock. This put us in the perfect order to leave, fastest boat first, then the River Dawg, and finally the Knot-So-Fast. The 40' drop to Lake Guntersville level was quick, and we were out of the lock and on our way to Goose Pond Colony by 8:30.

This dock section apparently got away from its owner. It was floating in the middle of the river.

Going upstream we navigated around islands using the normal navigation line on my GPS. Travelling back, we took the opposite side of the islands when the charts showed there was sufficient depth.

Herons were the most commont birds we saw, and one of Abby's favorites.

Thursday evening while we were docked at Chattanooga, a couple with 3 children walked by and the smallest child, a red-headed boy who looked to be about 4 years old, squealed when he saw our little red tug. He obviously recognized my boat as the one he'd seen in the children’s' books, and he was begging his Mom and Dad to let him climb in. His mother explained to him that it was not their boat and he couldn't get on someone else’s boat. I told them that if it was OK with them, he was welcome to climb on and look. He and Dad stepped into the cockpit while Mom took their picture. The little guy was grinning from ear to ear.

Back to Saturday, we were just South of the Willow Creek Steam Plant when we saw pontoon boat in the middle of the river with several people aboard. Several kids started making hand motions for us to blow our horn, and we obliged them with several toot-toots. I then noticed the young man aboard yelling, waving and pointing toward the front of the pontoon. I couldn't hear what he was saying, and had no idea what he was pointing at. I slowed to an idle and turned the tug toward them, pulling up on their starboard side. That's when I saw "Eli", the little red-headed guy that we'd met in Chattanooga! He had the same ear-to-ear grin on his face as we pulled up! We talked with them for a few minutes, said goodbye to our little friend and headed downriver again. Maybe we'll run into Eli again someday.

The Willow Creek Steam Plant.

About an hour away from Goose Pond, we started packing away all the accumulated "stuff" in the boat. When we arrived we found our truck and trailer just as we left it at the marina, and within about 20 minutes we were loaded and headed home. We'd promised Abby a catfish dinner on the way home, so we stopped at the Catfish Cabin in Guntersville. Abby was lured away from the catfish when she saw flounder on the menu. (She said she wanted "real" seafood, not catfish.) Both the flounder and the catfish were great, and the meal would have been perfect had it not been for the fact that our ticket showed that Glenda and I both got a "Senior Citizen Discount" on our sweet tea. (Glenda has a little bit of a denial problem.)

Bridge Construction

I have decided we need a bigger boat. These trips are just too much fun not to share with more of our grand-kids.

Glenda Says:

It was cooler last night! It was the only night we weren't under a covered slip, which may have been the key. We got an early start. Abby just stayed in her gown and slept some more until after went got through the lock. We stayed close to the "River Dawg" up to and through the lock. Even though the trip has been hot I still have mixed feelings about it being over. Being out on the river, even in the heat, makes me feel "real" if that sounds crazy so be it. I watched the river banks carefully hoping for more sightings of all the creatures you know are hiding there. I'm remembering not to take the beautiful herons, magnificent ospreys and charming dragon flies for granted. They are always free with their appearances. I really want the trip to go on but as they say "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". The heat as left me as limp as a dishrag, as my momma used to say. So it is time to go home and recover.
Abby enjoyed seeing the dragon flies in varying colors. (Look closely on her leg).

Abby Says:

I'm ready to go home too. It has been fun but it is hot. Today I mostly played with my DS but the best part was the dragonflies that kept flying in and landing on me. My favorite one was blue with a large green head. He kept moving his head around like he was looking at me. We stopped a couple of times and walked around some. I liked that too. I told Papa that the trip would be better if we could sleep in more and stop more.

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