Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 1st -- December 1st, 2007 . . . Thanksgiving Time

THANKSGIVING! A very favorite, special, time of the year; SONATA in Knoxville, we traveled to Virginia Beach for Thanksgiving, then back to SONATA and down the Tennessee to Iuka, Mississippi.

The table which we all gather round to give thanks to God, to eachother, for all that has been given to us.

The abundant, delicious, home prepared, family prepared, friends prepared, food to be enjoyed by everyone.

Family, the most important part of the Thanksgiving gathering. (Bonnie her, daughters Brandi and Rhonda, granddaughter Taylor)

Charlie with Bonnie's mother and father, Leighton and Joyce Croom

Dinner is served and a great time of dining and fellowship is enjoyed by all.

Back to Knoxville and down the Tennessee from Knoxville to Iuka where Bonnie will again return to Virginia Beach. Back into the locks....

Down the River from Knoxville, to Fort Loudon Lock and Dam, to Euchee Marina in Ten Mill, Tennessee, then out of Chattanooga . . . this view of Lookout Mountain is spread before us.

Just around the bend placing Lookout Moutain behind us . . . we are engulfed in the fog. Speed is reduced to near zero, fog signals sounded, navigation lights on, radio calls made to announce our presence, radar is used to scan the river ahead.

The fog clears after just a few minutes and again we can see the beautiful countryside.

The River is powerful, the current pushes us down stream, supplies nourishment for the birds we pass . . . and then there is the nuclear power plants along the way.

As was just said, speed . . . 12.4 mph as shown on the GPS Plotter (I love my Garmin). Water depths from 4-6 feet below the keel to over 100 feet in some areas.

Science and man at work here . . . at the top of Racoon Mountain TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) created a lake, and, at slack times pumps water from the river into the lake; then, at time of high electric demand allows the water to return down the mountain to the river through turbines generating electricity....

Throughout this trip the vistas we enjoy, repeatedly, are awesome! Words cannot describe them. A sample of just one day. The view ahead in the mist.

The river bank.

The view ahead...

....the quiet trail we leave behind.

WHO IS A LOOPER??? This question was recently addressed in a Tennessee Valley magazine. The article describes a looper's personality traits: "They have a sense of adventure yet not necessarily to bungee jump off Lookout Mountain. They've proven themselves in their career but want one more hill to climb. They have an aura ... more than the rich tan and glistening hair that's proof of the sunshine's kiss on their trip. The aura to thse around them is having a sense of what's important ... an innate ability to be organized both in their thoughts and their life. To prioritize, appreciate, and respect the world around them. Most of all, they constantly grin and smile with their eyes."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

November 1-2, 2007 . . . A side trip to Nashville

A road trip to Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, in its original location.

This is who we saw along with the additional benefit of Linda Lovelace.

Linda Lovelace and Vince Gill.

Bill Joor, a cousin of Charlie's, met us for dinner one evening in Nashville. They had not seen eachother for almost 40 some years. Catching up was the order of the evening over a terrific indian dinner.

Part of an afternoon was spent at the Country Music Hall of Fame . . . a self guided tour.

Elvis' gold Cadillac.

Elivs' gold leaf piano as given him by his wife.

Walls and walls of record awards.

.............and Bonnie had a wonderful time..................

October 21-31, 2007 . . . Chattanooga and to Knoxville, Tennessee

Chattanooga, a time for Charlie to get some work done, Bonnie in Virginia Beach for six days then preparation for her return . . . :)

...Linda Moore, Taylor, Brandi...
Taylor and Bandi returned for the weekend and we were fortunate to meet Brandi's friend Linda Moore. She was kind to have all of us over to her home for dinner and then joined us the next day for a boat visit.

Sunday morning early departure and we made our spot along the wall, the marina, obvious by our absence.

Up the Tennessee River a short distance and then into the Chickamauga Lock, 360' x 60' with a 48' lift.

Bonnie at the helm for locking-up.

Up river at about mile 484 (mile zero is the meeting of the Tennessee with the Ohio) we come upon the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant cooling towers. Understand the plant is allowed to return water only five degrees above the river temperature . . . and uses the towers to bring the cooling water into that range.

At Garrison Bluff there is a "hacking-station". This term comes from the medeval art of falconry, training birds to hunt for us. Eaglets, about five weeks old are placed in the structure and fed without seeing the people that feed them and then released when old enough to fly. The boxes in the pictures are for the wood ducks that are encouraged in this same area.

The rear door to the Watts Bar lock . . . after it closed behind us to lift us some 59'. Have you seen enough locks...........???????

This little guy is called a floating bollard. It is recessed into the lock wall, you bring the boat up alongside this bollard, slip a line around it, and pull your vessel tight against the lock wall. Holding on to this bollard, which goes up as the water rises, you remain alongside the lock wall until it is time to exit.

Another view of the bollard, the line securing SONATA alongside and the wall we "slide" along on the way to the top (or bottom as the case may be).

At the top they open the gates and you are free to let go of the bollard and leave the lock. Now have you had enough on locks.......................???

Our first overnight after Chattanooga placed us at the Euchee Marina. A call on the radio finally connected us with the "marina-staff." We were, after a long discussion, to tie up at the fuel dock . . . the only place wide enough for our 15' beam boat. Inquiry was made of the young lady on the marina end whether or not if bow-in this would be a starboard or port side tie. She inquired as to what the meaning of "bow-in" was. She was advised that the bow was the "pointey" end of the vessel . . . she then wanted to know what port and/or starboard was . . . . she was then told what we would just manage as best we could and we wished her well ................ she went home before we arrived.

You never know what you will see, pass, on the river. Sometimes it just another "cow-pond."

At the Fort Loudon lock, 360' x 60' a 72'lift, we had to wait for some three hours to be locked-up. A fuel barge, three barges, had to be locked down, then the tow . . . before we could enter. We waited with LITTLE T, a boat that has already made the loop once and is now being selective. The boat is a 24' boat with two outboards. This year they trailer the boat to an area they wish to visit, visit, put the boat back on the trailer and go to the next selected spot.....

We finally got through the lock and into the Fort Loudon Dam Marina. The next morning we felt our way down to the fuel dock and took on some 300 gallons of diesel and then waited for the fog to lift some... it began to rise so we started on to Knoxville.

While sounding fog signals we proceeded up the river. Visiability was about one-half a mile or more and no one else was on the river. What a beautiful view.

By 1100 the fog had almost completely cleared . . . we had a beautiful day in store for our arrival in Knoxville.

Little houses along the river . . . the "Colonel" is in.

The other side of the river competes.....

At the Knoxville City Limits.

City limits by water.

The Knoxville skyline as we approach.

We are upstream from the Tennessee Volunteers . . . and we fly their flag from our mast.

Volunteer Landing Marina, Knoxville, our home for the next several weeks.