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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chattanooga Trip with Abby and Dakota, May 2012

Wed., May 30th, 2012 - Nickajack Dam to Chattanooga.

We left home this morning about 5:15 am and trailered the boat to the TVA boat ramp at Nickajack Lock & Dam on the Tennessee River, about 40 river miles west of Chattanooga. Grand-daughters Abby and Dakota, ages 10 & 9, are accompanying Glenda and I, along with Daisy the dog, on this trip.
Launching at Nickajack Dam Boat Ramp
Glenda backed the boat in the water while I took the wheel and Abby, Dakota and Daisy watched from the pier. With the boat in the water and the engine warming up, the girls and Daisy made one last bathroom break before boarding the boat and heading toward Chattanooga. This section of the Tennessee River winds between Lookout, Raccoon, and Signal Mountains, and is commonly referred to as “the Gorge” or the “Grand Canyon of the East.”
Dakota handled the boat like a pro!

Five miles upstream from the launch we passed Hales Bar Marina, the site of the annual Glen-L builders “Gathering”, where boat builders from all over the country (and as far away as Canada) meet each year. Just past the marina, the river makes a sharp turn to the right and you enter the gorge, with mountains on the left, right and straight ahead. About midway through this turn, Glenda spotted a bald eagle as he landed in a tree about a half mile away where a small creek flows into the river. I turned the boat to get a closer look. About halfway to the tree I saw through the binoculars that there were actually two eagles sitting side by side. We all took turns with the two pair of binoculars on board, and when we were about 200 yards from them, one flew off. A few seconds later the other one followed, and they flew downstream and over the treetops out of sight. This sighting was special for Dakota, since it was the first eagles she’d ever seen in the wild!
Is it fog or clouds on the mountain tops?

The rest of the day we saw lots of fish, osprey (many on the nest with chicks), herons, ducks, geese, etc. We averaged a little under  6 mph for the day, and arrived at the Chattanooga Marine-Max marina about 5:30 pm ET and checked in. Since my last visit here, they have added a combination lock gate at the Bluff Dock to increase the security for boaters. After tying up the boat, we walked up past the aquarium to the Blue Plate restaurant where I had some of the best pork tenderloin I’ve ever eaten.
The rest of the night was uneventful. The fact that we were the only boat on Bluff dock, coupled with the new gates, left us feeling a little isolated, but safe. We all showered off under the solar shower and slept pretty well.

The whole crew, at Chattanooga !

Glenda Says:
I've worried that my observations may become repetitive, but I think I just need a better vocabulary to do justice to all God's wonders!  It was just after nine before we got the boat into the water.   Within moments I was stunned by the greatness of it all.  From a distance I could see the path the river takes as it meanders its way through the mountains.  The tops of the mountains were crowned with puffy white clounds slowly moving across.  For just a moment from my perspective it looked as if the mountains were moving and the clouds were sitting still.  The girls were in the V-berth playing with little plastic toys.  The thought came to me to admonish them to enjoy the beautiful scene before them.  But then I thought of all the time  and energy I have wasted worrying about the "plastic" stuff missing so much of the "abundant life" we are promised.  Oh the lessons to be learned on a tugboat trip! 

I did get the girls to pay attention long enough to see a pair of bald eages flying across the sky and into the trees at the side of the river.  After our arrival into Chattanooga, we at an early supper at the Blue Plate.  Then the girls put on their swim suits and I let them play on the water steps near the aquaium. 

Dakota says:
Today we started our first day at the Nicajack Dam.  Me and Abby were so excited we were off to Chattanooga!  We saw a bunch of herons.  G.G. was the first to spot the eagles.  To be honest it is the first eagle I have ever seen in person.  It was very cool.  G.G. told me that eagles mate for life.  Papa let me drive the boat under the first bridge we came to.  Abby kept telling me about the neat stairs that had water running down them so after we got to Chattanooga G.G. took us to playon them.  The boat was under a big bridge and when we yelled it made a great echo.  I liked playing in the water.  We also saw 3 big dead fish!

Abby says:
Theis morning we stared at Nicajack Dam.  I have been on the trip before and it was so fun I thought it would be even more fun with my cousin Dakota.  I've told her about th steps with water running down and the animal water spouts across the bridge.  This morning G.G. spote dthe first bald eagles of the trip.  SHe had told us that who ever spoted the4 first eagle got a dollar.  G.G> gets to keep her dollar.  Papa spoted the 2nd eagle (the first ones mate).  He claimed he gets a dollar too.  After that me and Dakota mostly played with our DS until we got to Chattanooga.  Onced we got there and settled in, tied up and paid for our stay we went to the Blue Plate for dinner.  It was recommended by my moms best friend Candi.  It was delicious!  Especially the moon pie cheese cake.  After we played on the water steps, we took a solar shower and got ready for bed.l