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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Nickajack Dam to Chattanooga with Nathan and Dallas - Day 1

April 8, 2013.
This morning we began a trip that I'd been looking forward to for months. My eight year old grandson, Dallas, was out of school for Spring Break, and my son, Nathan, had a few days off from work, so we were headed to Nickajack Dam where we'd start our three day trip through the "Gorge" to Chattanooga and back.

Nathan had not been on an extended trip on the boat, and Dallas had only been on a one-nighter, and I was a little worried that the 6 mph speed of the tug might lead to boredom for them. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about.

We launched the boat just above the dam about 9:00 am and headed upstream. Almost every navigational marker on the river had a nesting osprey and other water birds were abundant, too. About 2 hours into our trip, as we approached Oats Island, we spotted a bald eagle on a branch near its nest. The water near the island was shallow, so we couldn't get as close as we wanted, but Nathan and Dallas both got a good look at the adult eagle and at least one juvenile eagle in the nest. This was the first wild bald eagle sighting for Nathan and for Dallas.


This was the first wild bald eagle that Nathan or Dallas had seen. 
As we entered the Gorge, we all took turns at the wheel. The weather was cool and a little cloudy. Occasionally the breeze would require us to shut the windows, but for the most part the trip was comfortable as we wound through the valleys of Signal, Raccoon and Lookout Mountains toward Chattanooga.

We saw another adult eagle, flying alongside what we thought was large hawk. As we watched the two, though, they looked more like an adult and a juvenile eagle, but we couldn't get a good enough look to be sure about the juvenile.

We arrived at Chattanooga about 4:00 pm and checked in at the Marine Max office to pay for our slip at Bluff Dock for the night. We were the only boat at the dock and I wondered if any others would join us  there for the night. After securing the boat and cleaning up a little, we headed up the steps which lead from the river to downtown Chattanooga. Just about 4 blocks away was Sugar's BBQ, where we ate some of the best pork BBQ in the world!
We were all alone on Bluff Dock in Chattanooga.

The famous "back scratching" dog of Chattanooga. Notice the finish rubbed off his paw from scratching visitor's backs.

We explored the downtown area a little, then headed back down the bluff to the river and our boat. Dallas was excited to see the fountains, water steps, and pools at the riverfront. Even though it was a little chilly, Dallas did get a chance to play in the water before the sun started to go down.

Walking through downtown Chattanooga reveals surprises at every turn, like this couch made of brick.
Nathan and Dallas on the pedestrian bridge across the Tennessee River. In the background is the famous Delta Queen riverboat, which is now a stationary hotel.


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