2006 Adventure UPDATES


UPDATE #29 11/01/06 thru 11/07/06

  Howdy Everybody,

    We are very interested in hearing from ya’all.  If you have missed out on any of the previous emails and would like us to re-send them, please let us know.

Please let me know if these emails containing pictures are too large and we will send you a version with text only.

The period 4/1 thru 10/31 has been covered in Updates 1 through 28.

 UPDATE #29   11/01/06 through 11/07/06.

     As you may remember, we have been traveling and exploring along the Tennessee River in Alabama.  At the last UPDATE, we had spent the night at Goose Pond Colony Marina in Scottsboro, AL.  We now continue our adventure up the Tennessee River.



     The forecast for today was “iffy”.  A quick glance out the windows was enough of an indicator to me that we would remain here in port for another day.  It was overcast and rainy.  We figured that there was no sense in traveling among this beautiful fall foliage if we couldn’t see it.  “Our Way” and “Janie O” echoed our sentiments.   Judy made French Toast for breakfast.

     At 9 am. Tim obtained the keys to the courtesy car.  Milton rode shotgun, the gals jumped into the back seat, and I was relegated to the hatchback.



    Our destination was Scottsboro, Alabama and the Unclaimed Baggage Store.  It is a huge warehouse style building full of “stuff”.  They want you to think that this stuff is from lost luggage at the airlines, however, I doubt much, if any, is from that source.  Most of it is just junk.  It is more like the Goodwill Store.  Jane found the perfect hat, however, that mean ol’ Tim wouldn’t let her have it.  Oh, well…..    



     Our lunch stop was at “Captain D’s”, a chain restaurant that serves pretty good seafood.  Wal-Mart and a grocery store trip helped to fill up the hatchback.  Milton seemed a little over-protective of his groceries and guarded them with his vigilant presence.



     Milton posed for a minute on the dock with “Janie O” in front of “Our Way”.





     At 6:45 am, we were off the dock and underway.  What a wonderful time we had with those wonderful folks, Milton and Jimmie.  We hated to leave them but we are confident that our paths will cross again soon. 

It was cold out (42 degrees), however, the sun was out and the fall colors were awesome. 

     Near Mile 391.6, the TVA project Bellefonte nuclear power plant stands with twin 587-foot towers.  It was hard to believe that construction began back in 1974 and that the plant never became operational and probably never will.  We wondered if there was any design problems in connection with the disaster at “3-Mile Island” in PA?



     Electrical power is one of the principal reasons that the lock and dam system was erected along the river.  Here at Mile 399.0, stands the 1000 foot tall stack of the TVA’s Widow’s Creek power plant, a coal-fired facility.



     In all quadrants, the magnificence of the changing foliage provides a feast for the eyes.  The colors are much more vivid than the camera records.



     I am fascinated by these railroad lift bridge designs.  As we approach, it is reassuring to see the clearance height clearly marked on the concrete pillars.  This one shows in excess of 30 feet and concurs with our charts.  About 2 miles later, we cross the border from Alabama back into Tennessee.



     The Nickajack Lock and Dam, completed in 1967, cross the river at Mile 424.7.



     Judy prepares the boat for locking by placing the protective fenders on the appropriate side and attaching the lines that will secure us to the bollards.  Notice that she is wearing her PFD (Personal Flotation Device).  This particular type is compact, lightweight, and doesn’t feel cumbersome.  It is fully automatic and will inflate immediately should she fall into the water.



      Shortly after departing the lock, we located the free dock at the Shellmound Recreational Area.  The breeze was a bit brisk and it took a couple attempts to get tied up to the very low dock.  Without anyone to help, it was in keeping with our Rule #1 that “nobody gets hurt” to not jump off onto the dock.  We snuggled up to the dock and used some of that Texas lasso stuff to catch the short posts.  It worked pretty well and we were very secure by 1:45 pm.  This was a very lovely and secluded place with rural beauty in all directions.  With temperatures in the mid 50’s and winds at 15 to 20 mph, it was still very pleasant as long as we stayed out of the wind.  Once again, the foliage colors were at peak.     




     With these cold conditions settling in, I made up another big pot of Chili to help warm the innards.  Once again, here’s my compliment to the chef.  Oh, wait a minute, that’s me!

POSITION:  N35 00.440 W085 36.324   MILE 425.5




     Temperatures plummeted down to 28 degrees during the overnight hours.  With the clear, calm conditions, a coating of frost and ice covered everything.  It was very beautiful to see the ducks paddling about in the thin layer of sea fog that was only inches thick.  We had kept warm enough even though the cabin got down to 47 degrees.  We had two super, Ralph Lauren blankets that we got at Sam’s Club and Judy added a fleece throw to her side.  I got up and started the generator along with the heaters and main heat pump.  I worked on the logs and that gave Judy a chance to sleep in.  She did make scrambled eggs and toasted bagels before we departed the dock at 8:15 am. 



     As we travel along the river, we continuously consult the Tennessee River CruiseGuide written by Fred Myers.  We always learn so much from his detailed commentary.  Today is no exception.  We found out that the abandoned buildings ahead were the remnants of the old Hales Bar hydroelectric plant.  A local congressman successfully introduced a bill, in 1904 that would improve navigation and generate large amounts of hydroelectric power.  Plagued with problems, it took eight years to complete the plant that was the second largest hydroelectric plant in the world. (Niagara Falls was largest).  Early on, problems became apparent with leakage beneath the dam and the projected repairs would be economically unfeasible.  The Nickajack Dam, completed in 1967, rendered this facility obsolete.



     From Mile 432.4 to the outskirts of Chattanooga is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Tennessee”.  The steeply rising cliffs and winding riverbed provided a panorama of awe-inspiring beauty that was unequaled in our travels.  Mile after mile, turn after turn, and peak after peak, the spectacle of dazzling color encompasses the entire horizon.  Perhaps what makes this area so colorful is that more than 300 kinds of trees and 900 varieties of wildflowers grow in this area.  In all the world, only central China exceeds this range of flora and fauna.  We could not have had a more perfect day to travel this marvelous region. 



     Vacationers aboard the “Southern Belle” could use this photo for their postcards.



     At 11:30 am Central Standard Time, we passed Mile 451.8.  This is the demarcation line for the Eastern Time zone so we switched our watches to 12:30 pm Eastern Standard Time.  Almost two hours later, we contacted Marine Max for our dock near the Olgiatti Bridge.  Looper friends, Jean Turnbull and Pricilla Myers, on “Ocean Flyer”, are docked here too.



     I am confident that most all of you have heard of “The Chattanooga Choo-Choo”.  You may also think that it was a specific train but that would be incorrect.  The term became well known from a song made popular by the famous Glenn Miller Big Band.  The lyrics of the song were about a fictitious train that leaves Pennsylvania Station in New York City bound for Chattanooga.  With the song’s popularity, any train arriving or departing Chattanooga took on the affectionate title.


Hey there Tex, what you say?
Step aside partner, it's my day
Lend an ear and listen to my version
(Of a really solid, Tennessee excursion)
Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
(Yes Yes) Track 29!
Boy you can give me a shine
(Can you afford to board, the Chattanooga Choo Choo?)
I've got my fare
And just a trifle to spare
You leave the Pennsylvania station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothin’ could be finer
(then to have your ham and eggs in Carolina)
When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in
Gotta keep it rollin'
(Whoo Whoo Chattanooga there you are)
There's gonna be, a certain party at the station
Satin and Lace
I used to call funny face
She's gonna cry
Until I tell her that I’ll never roam
(So Chattanooga Choo Choo)
Won't you choo choo me home.
Get aboard...
All aboard...
Chattanooga choo choo
Won’t you choo choo me home



     The Chattanooga Choo-Choo presently refers to the old railroad station that has been converted into a hotel and presently operated by Holiday Inn.  They have beautifully restored the station and the hotel provides guests with the unique opportunity to stay overnight in a converted railcar.  As well as regular hotel rooms, they offer stationary railcars with two rooms per car.

     An old electric trolley car, New Orleans style, is operated around the hotel property.  Although the ride does not cover much distance, it is a chance to step back in history.  The vehicle is operated by a 600-volt DC power source transmitted through an overhead cable and uses one of the rails as the ground connection.  As a kid in Boston, a similar type of streetcar operated right passed the front door of our flat.  I immediately recognized and remembered the unique sound of the air pump that powered the brake system.  These tracked vehicles were later replaced with electric, trackless vehicles that were more like buses but still relied on the overhead power cable.

     During the 45-minute ride, the conductor would travel a short distance and then stop to give his historical dissertation.  Unfortunately, he was slightly misinformed about some of the facts he gave.  I didn’t know it until later when I did some extra research on the internet.   




     Our evening included a dinner mystery theatre.  It was quite fun.  The plot revolves around Flight 138 and a murder that takes place prior to takeoff.  The actors move throughout the room and interact with the audience. We have become participants as passengers aboard the aircraft.  Some people from the audience are selected to play small roles up on stage.  In one scene, Fred was chosen to portray one of three passengers.  His role was to be romantically involved with a voluptuous, young lady.  I must say that I am a great actor for this role.  I immersed myself in the role.  I must have been a little too convincing as one person commented to Judy that she would have “scratched his eyes out” if she had been Judy.  Look, folks, I am a very serious actor that was just playing a part.  It all meant nothing to me, nothing I tell you, nothing at all, honestly, nothing.  I hardly noticed my acting partner, well, maybe just a little.  No photography was allowed in the theatre.  As I remember, there was an Italian buffet dinner.  At the conclusion of the play, the audience tries to guess who is guilty of the murder.  The plot is then revealed and the real culprit exposed.  All in all, it was a fun event unlike any that either of us had ever experienced.





     The morning was absolutely beautiful.  The morning temperature hovered around 40 degrees under cloudless skies and a still wind.  The river was full of sleek, racing shells zipping up and down alongside AMARSE.  This was the day of the second largest shell race in the world.  The “Head of the Hooch” has been a favorite event in Chattanooga since last year when it was relocated here from Atlanta and the Chattahoochee River.  The trademark name was retained.  There were many, many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of these incredible racing boats.  Over 5000 athletes would participate in the many classes of events.  Some of the long boats are powered by as many as eight oarsmen and a coxswain.  There are also teams of four, two, and singles.  These boats are no toys.  The larger boats cost over $30,000 and then must be equipped with oars and related equipment.  Participants come from large numbers of colleges, universities, prep schools, and high schools from across the nation.  We never realized the extent of this sport.  The next picture is of a four-man team from the University of Texas-Austin.  The teams are either women or men.  They are also ranked by their individual body weight. 



     The oarsmen leave their shoes attached in the boats.  One of the most popular brands of boat is the Vespoli.



     The shells and sculls are transported on these special trailers that can be loaded with numerous vessels.



     This is but one area where lots of oars were lined up awaiting their turn.  This picture was taken while many boats were already out on the course.



     The Chattanooga riverfront has been renovated and has become a showplace for the city.  Here is a photo of the largest, freshwater aquarium in the world.  In the building adjacent, an enormous saltwater aquarium resides.  We were very fortunate to be able to obtain dockage right here in the heart of all the activities.



     We took a city bus out to Lookout Mountain.  The world’s steepest incline railway carries visitors up to the top of the mountain.  At the steepest point, the incline reaches 72.7%. 



     At the top of the mountain, is the historic, Chickamauga-Chattanooga Military Park, site of the bloodiest, two-day battle of the Civil War.  Maintained by the US Parks Service, it was the nation’s first and is the nation’s largest military park.   Another attraction is a large, lighted diorama that depicts the major battles that occurred in this area from Lookout Mountain to Mission Ridge.  The 30-minute presentation chronicles the events of the area battles.



     For dinner, Judy schmoozed me to take her to “Sticky Fingers”.  This barbeque place specialized in Memphis style ribs.  Judy, the rib lover, chose the rack, of course.  I had the other specialty with the Pulled Pork Dinner.




     The Holiday Inn operates the historic, “Choo-Choo” station as a hotel now.  The all-brick structure is quite beautiful and nicely restored.  The hotel lobby is located in the former waiting room.




     The main reason for our stay in Chattanooga today was the special performance of Handel’s Messiah.  The stage of the magnificent Tivoli Theatre was filled with a huge choir of singers and a symphony orchestra.  The pillar of the music community, Glenn Draper, assembled this large group of people from the ranks of those former students and people that had performed with him in prior events.  The conductor has been involved with this famous work for over 53 years.  He is a Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and has conducted and directed throughout the world.  During his career, he directed singers’ performances before heads of state, including every U.S. President since Richard Nixon and British royalty. He has led 49 international concert tours and countless American tours.

     A number of distinguished soloists grasped the attentive listeners in this deeply moving event.  We had arrived early to get a pair of wonderful, center section, seats, with a perfect view. 



     The entire listening audience rose to their feet for the well-known “Hallelujah Chorus”. 

     At the conclusion, a standing ovation was well deserved and offered gratefully.  These talented folks put their hearts and souls into this work of love.



     For dinner, we selected the “Mellow Mushroom” restaurant for their gourmet pizza.  Along with some of our favorite beers, we had a very enjoyable meal.  We headed for bed early to be ready for an early departure in the morning.




     Under a full moon, AMARSE eased away from the downtown dock in the clear, darkness of early morning.  The upcoming forecast for a stretch of inclement weather convinced us that we should set course down river.  The dawn broke pleasant and we enjoyed the added benefit of a following current.  Our route traversed the “Grand Canyon of the Tennessee” for a re-run of the incredibly magnificent scenery.  In the few days since our upriver passage, the foliage has lost some of the vivid color.  Although still extremely gorgeous, many of the reds and yellows have taken on a rusty-colored hue.  We are constantly amazed with the natural beauty of these mountains and rivers.  We are both glad that we stayed here the extra time to explore the region.  Many of our friends have rushed on south and, consequently, have missed out on what may be the loveliest areas of the trip.

     Within an hour and a half, we would need to switch our watches from Eastern Standard Time to Central Standard Time.  This made our early 6:30 am EST departure the same as a 5:30 am CST departure.



     In a stroke of good fortune, the Nickajack Lock was standing ready with her gates open awaiting our entrance.  In less than 20 minutes, AMARSE was heading further downriver. 



     At Mile 416.3, we crossed the border from Tennessee into Alabama.  We looked carefully into the river water, however, neither of us could see that line of demarcation.

     Now, let me ask you a question.  Does it seem fair to you that one person can sumptuously dine on barbequed ribs and the other be relegated to only the sustenance rations of crackers and cheese?  Can you guess which of us had the ribs?  Does this look like the face of someone that would share?  I’ll let you be the judge.



At 2:07 pm, we turned from the main channel at Mile 378.0 into the creek that would take us to Goose Pond Colony Marina in Scottsboro, Alabama.  As you may remember, this is the same marina that we enjoyed on the way upriver.  Within 10 minutes, we had the assistance of two dockhands to take our lines in the breezy conditions.  The folks here are very accommodating to the transient boater.  The place is located in a lovely spot too.

     We visited with Louis Letson, a resident of these parts that often contributes information to the “Looper” on the AGLCA website.  I had wanted to visit with him last time but we didn’t get the opportunity.  We chatted for a couple hours aboard his Mainship “Sea Note”.

     Judy baked a tray of pre-packaged Lasagna for dinner.  We are much too spoiled by Maggiano’s Restaurant to fully enjoy this version.  We’ve decided to forego any Lasagna until we return to Maggiano’s Restaurant or some such time when I can prepare that special recipe for “Andy’s Lasagna” that Andy Misovec from “Frobenius” gave me way back in Canada.

     The smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies wafted through the cabin.  With a glass of cold milk, they tasted soooo good.





     During the night, it had rained heavily and continuously.  The wind was howling at times and the boat tugged and yanked on her dock lines.  We could hear the furniture on the aft sundeck sliding around in the gusty winds.  There was so much action that we could hear the water sloshing inside the aft, fresh water tank.

     In the morning, the winds had subsided, however, the rains continually poured down making this a very dismal day.  On the bright side, we got to sleep late and then Judy made delicious pancakes.  She used a special recipe that her Aunt gave her. You know her, don’t you?  Yes, of course. Aunt Jemima.

     Judy borrowed the courtesy car and we took the laundry to the Laundromat.  It was a nice place that offered Wash-Dry-Fold service.  This is great, when available, so you can use your own time for other things.  A visit Wal-Mart and lunch took all the time we needed before we picked up the clean laundry.

     The rain continued all day, however, it was much lighter during the afternoon.  Bruce and Jeannie Elder from “Inevitable Too” arrived from an anchorage upriver to spend the night.  Our courses have not crossed since the weekend in Little Current, Ontario, Canada.  We joined them for cocktails, snacks, and great conversation.  Our dinner of pasta in butter sauce and parmesan served with meatballs made the perfect evening meal aboard.  Hopefully, we will be able to travel further downriver in the morning.  Only time will tell.



       The next installment UPDATE will continue with our voyage downriver in Guntersville Lake, Wheeler Lake, Wilson Lake, and Pickwick Lake along the Tennessee River.  Thence, we will head south along the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

       We sincerely hope that you are enjoying these email UPDATES.  Tell us how you like the revised format enhanced with larger print size and the use of staggered photos.  We thank those of you who have contacted us recently and we are looking forward to hearing from each of you in the near future.



       My Verizon AirCard that operates my computer internet still operates slowly and sporadically.  The coverage areas are not as good as we had hoped.  Friends tell us that coverage will deteriorate significantly along the Tenn-Tom Waterway.  We will be sending out updates when we can.

     Judy has Cingular Wireless cell phone service.  So far, it seems to work even better than the Verizon Wireless (except Canada where Verizon’s North America Plan worked well).  Judy can be reached at 361-550-5353 and Fred can be reached at 210-296-4933.  We can be reached at either number.  Please call us if you like, we’d really like to hear from you.


"AMARSE".  is pronounced "AM-ARE-SAY".  Our website is:   www.amarse.net   .

Check it out while we will attempt to keep you informed via email

  We would like to hear more about what is happening in your lives.  Let us know as we very interested in what’s going on with our friends and family.  Please call or email us with your thoughts and comments and ideas too.  Thanks

Lot of Love,

Fred Reed and Judy Law