Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chattanooga. What a cool name for a city.

Anna and I arrived in Chattanooga filled with excitement in anticipation of the arrival of my Mom and Dad.  It has been almost six months since we had last seen them, that is far to long if you ask me.  We had spent the past few day planning the visit and were excited to see just how much Chattanooga offers to it visitors.  Chattanooga is home to one of the best Aquariums I have ever seen. We spent a good day walking through their exhibits my favorite of which was the penguins, of course.  I could easily spend hours watching these little guys as they flop around and swim in circles. Some of the other attractions that played out to be quite humorous were the incline railway and the glass floor pedestrian bridge to the Hunter Museum of American Art.  Both my parents have a deep rooted fear of heights which made for some truly funny moments.  On the incline railway even I was shocked at the steepness of the track as we reached the top and were left with the sensation of hanging in mid air.  I had forgotten that my dad hates heights and as mean as it sounds was getting a good laugh as he gripped the side of his seat with white knuckles.  Once back on the ground we opted to spend most of our time on the boat and took them both on a great cruise up the Tennessee.  It was at this time that they did one of the best things any parent can do for a kid cruising the great loop.  They bought us a tank of gas.  I am not really sure they knew what they were getting into, and I can't be sure but I think I saw my old man break out into a cold sweat as he watched the meter roll on past 100 gallons.  I got to tell you I felt a bit bad but when I was done I don't think you could squeeze another drop in that tank.   Parents are great.  Having enjoyed four great days together filled with good laughs and good food we wished they well and saw them off to the airport.  It was a great visit, one that I will always remember.  With Chattanooga behind us we will head back down the Tennessee River to the American Great Loop Cruisers Association Rendezvous in Joe Wheeler State Park.  We hope to meet up with Bill and Carrol Yancey and Bill and Laura Peters.  Rumor has it Bill Yancey has a Combine on his farm and maybe just maybe he will let me drive it.  

The Bridges in Chattanooga are just wonderful.  Like Nashville it has a pedestrian bridge which spans the River.

From the bridge we could get a great shot of Blue tied up with all the big boats.

The Hunter Museum of American Art was a work of art in itself.

This old riverboat is now a hotel.  For a very reasonable price you can get a room on the ship looking out over the river.

The streets of Chattanooga have dance steps painted on the side walks.  My Mom insisted that we try them all.

This Carousel is one of the oldest in America and believe it or not was first located in New Bedford MA.

For some reason my Mom loved this Frog.

We couldn't resit having some of Chattanooga's famous hot dogs.  Anna got one with Cream Cheese, Pesto and fresh Tomatoes. 

All over Chattanooga you will see references to the Trail of Tears.  This waterfall runs from the base of downtown Chattanooga to the River and marks the spot where the Indians were forced to cross the river as they were marched west.

Just like the Hunter Museum the architecture of the aquarium was pretty cool to look at.

These huge Parakeets were so cool.  It reminded me of a friend that once had a talking one that when the phone rang would say "Hello uh huh uh huh uh huh uh huh goodbye" 

The Butterfly exhibit in the the solarium was totally cool.

My Favorite!

Everyone has got to take a picture in the shark cage with a giant shark in the background, right?

Up we go on the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain.

My Dad was starting to feel a bit uneasy.

Look at how much fun they are having.

Back safe and sound on the boat.  I noticed Dad was walking a bit faster after our ride, Might it be a lighter Wallet?  Thanks for the Gas Mom and Dad!

As you can see Mobey was just exhausted when Mom and Dad left.  To much excitement makes for a very tired Cat.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Space Shot

So far the Tennessee River has been out of this world.  As we make our way to Chattanooga the fall colors have started to appear on the mountain sides.  I must say, I was not expecting to see much in the way of leaves turning this far south, but much to our delight it is on every mountain side.  We have even had a touch of cold weather.  On a few mornings we have awoken to find a thin frost on the ground, and for the first time since we started the trip we have found ourselves looking for those sweatshirts we stowed months ago.  I have to tell you I am not upset with the drop in temperature, the 100 degree days were brutal on us.  This is the perfect temperature for a New Englander.  The good weather is not the only good news we have gotten in the past few days, it seems that my parents are going to fly into Chattanooga for a visit.  I must say it has been far too long since we have seen them.  So with a date set and reservations made Anna and I made our way up the Tennessee.  One of the stops I had been long looking forward to was a visit to the Huntsville U.S. Space and Rocket Center.  To those of you that have not heard of Huntsville, it is home to the largest military arsenal in the United States, and was also the testing ground for our Nations Space Program.  All of the Mercury, Gemini and Saturn Rockets were constructed and test fired in Alabama.  For that matter I would not hesitate to say that all of our country's cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and other things that go boom were built here as well.  Huntsville is also home to NASA's space camp.  When I was a kid I always dreamed of being an astronaut and thought that going to Space Camp would be just awesome.  Upon our arrive to the center, we were greeted by life size replicas of all of NASA's rockets.  On display inside the main hall was a real life Saturn Rocket displayed on its side.  It was amazing to walk alongside the rocket and marvel at its size.  Many of the exhibits at the museum were fascinating to look at, never before have I seen so much in one area.  I felt like a kid as a stared endlessly at the flight suits, helmets, and other equipment.  I was in heaven.  Anna was also in heaven in Huntsville but for an entirely different reason.  Huntsville had a Publix Supermarket and Anna went crazy over the fresh produce.  It seems that Walmart has taken over the world with regards to shopping in the south, and although they have lots of stuff, their produce and meats to put it softly, STINK.  I too have been craving a head of lettuce that is not stuffed in a pre-made bag and a cut of meat that was not packaged in a warehouse god knows where or how long ago.  It is funny the things you come to miss on the water.  I can't say I miss TV, but I do miss the farm and fresh tomatoes and corn.  I am sure there are places to get these things here, but they never seem to be within biking distance from the rivers.  With a fully stocked boat, we are pushing off for Chattanooga, it is going to be nice to see Mom and Dad, it has been too long.

We had to say goodbye to our good friends Jerry and Carolyn, they are on their way to Florida ahead of us.  Safe Travel Guys.

Watching the water be released from the locks can be a great show.

Mobey seemed to perk up a bit when we passed this stretch of river.


The Home of space camp.  Yes, there really were tons of kids walking around in blue flight suits working on all sorts of projects.  They even had a huge dive tank where the kids get to experience getting in a space suit and working underwater just like the real astronauts.

I had to laugh at this sign.  Talk about having two meanings. 

How fast do you think blue would go with one of these pushing her?

The fact that this was a real rocket was hard to believe.  We learned that the new Orion Rockets will be even bigger than this Saturn Rocket.

To think this capsule went all the way to the moon and back.

This space suit walked on the Moon.

Wow this is not a lot of room.

Look at the size of the Saturn Rocket compared to the smaller Mercury and Gemini rockets.

What a day, and what a great sunset.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What the heck was that Noise?

So far I have to tell you that the Tennessee River is pretty nice.  We left Green Turtle Bay a few days ago and pushed on down Kentucky Lake.  So far the scenery has been out of this world.  Having spent a little over a week in a marina, Anna and I have opted to anchor our way to the Pickwick Lock about 200 miles from leaving Green Turtle bay.  I am happy to report it was a great move.  So far we have had a number of wonderful night in little creaks and towheads along the way.  Two days ago we awoke to a beautiful sunrise with a mystical fog covered river.  It was quite a sight.  We have even had the chance to see quite a few Bald Eagles on the sides of the river.  With the scenery being as spectacular as it is and with the need to kill some time before we head down to the gulf of Mexico, we have decided to take a side trip up the Tennessee to Chattanooga.  My Mom and Dad have made plans to fly in to see us there.  It should be loads of fun. Anna and I did have an interesting thing happen to the boat the other day that gave us a good scare.  When we were leaving our first Anchorage we heard a load screeching noise coming from the drive shaft when you pulled the engine out of gear.  With a little more investigation we isolated it to be coming from the Cutlass Bearing.  It seemed that with the final two to three rotations of the prop shaft the screech would sound out and then stop with the rotation.  I was beside myself.  Here we had just had Blue hauled out and now it seemed we would have to have her hauled again.  My fear was the Cutlass had gone our even worse the transmission was about to let go.  Our friend Jerry on Sassy informed us that he new of a good yard about 30 miles up river, so with a few phone calls we made arrangements to have it checked out.  It was a stressful ride up river, having a major mechanical failure now was not what we needed.  Upon our arrival to Lee Spry Marine Services, Lee himself met us on the dock hoped on and gave her a look.  Twenty seconds on the boat and he popped up from the shaft and said in his deep southern draw "Yup they do that".  I was in shock, you mean to tell me that noise is normal?  Lee went on to explain that with all the nitrogen in the water from the farms on the banks of the river, the rubber in the Cutlass on occasion will get sticky.  As the prop shaft comes to a stop, the stickiness will cause a loud screeching noise like a screeching tire on the road.  I never would have believed it, but at this point Lee could have told me I needed a new cutlass and I would have believed why would he steer me wrong.  Lee was a real gentleman, I tried to pay him for his time but he would have nothing of it.  He said if I had talked to you on the phone I would have told you down river, this was a pretty common thing around here.  So feeling like we dodged a bullet Anna and I pushed off. You learn something every day I thought, once again this day was no different. 

We saw this beautiful 26 Nordic Tug on her way up river.  I spoke with the Captain on the radio and learned that they were out of Boothbay Maine and were doing the loop in reverse.  I had to hand it to him, fighting the current on the Mississippi was not what I would call a good time.  Good Luck Promises, we hope to see you on the other side.

What a sunrise!

The Fog is nice, not only does it make us think of home, it gives us an excuse to have one more cup of coffee.

The Fall colors are just starting to show as we make our way to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Anna got this great shot of a Bald Eagle looking for fish on the banks of the river.

One thing you see a lot of here is bass boats.  These guy know one speed.  W.T.F.O.  Wide The &^%$ Open.  They are a sight blasting buy us at 70 miles an hour with only a few inches of transom left in the water.