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Kentucky Lake to Chattanooga

Oct 31, 2023 Grand Rivers, Kentucky Lake to Paris Landing Marina

Had a nice but very cold run down Kentucky Lake, which has about 100 miles of undeveloped shorelines to anchor in. Did we? No. Stupid weather! We did poke into a few anchorages. Because the lake was man made, they flooded a whole portion of the county; roads, trees, bridges, buildings and all. They did not demolish the bridges, when they flooded the area, so they are still there but underwater and unseen and need to be avoided.

Paris Landing State Park was a great State Park. Maryland needs to up its game. They had a neat bird rescue facility and a massive lodge with a great restaurant, although the waitress kept joking about knowing where to hide the bodies, especially husbands, making Jason a little nervous. It was a great place to spend Halloween night.

Exploring Kentucky Lake is interesting. At this time of year, the lake water has been lowered 6 feet to it's winter level. This makes any remaining underwater obstructions that much closer to the bottom of our boat. Some obstructions are marked on the charts as yellow rectangles, but nevertheless nerve-wracking to be boating around. There is an old barge distribution center still sitting there, half flooded and looking like an adult jungle gym. There are also underwater ridges that you can tell are there because of the Bald Cypress Trees growing on them.

Evening and Morning at Paris Landing

Pretty run down to Pebble Island Marina, known for their fresh baked free cinnamon rolls. Because the docks were icy, they hand delivered the rolls to the Looper boats. Nancy's sister, Cathy, decided to join the trip for a few days, so Nancy borrowed the courtesy car, (with 200k miles, a check engine light on and when you accelerated it, sounds like squirrels or a raccoon was going to attack your feet!) to go to the grocery store for provisions in preparation for a guest.

Spent the night on Bird Song Creek. Had to anchor 2x. The first was anchoring was too close to what we thought was floating debris that upon closer inspection turned out to be a tree stump just below the surface of the water. Because the lake levels were 6 feet lower than normal, there was 6 feet of mud between the water and shoreline, making it virtually impossible to take Radar to shore. We may or may not have used a nearby community dock to solve the problem.

Spent the next night at Clifton Marina and picked up Cathy the next morning, who flew in from Nashville and got a 2 hour Uber.

Along the way, we saw a house whose cliff had fallen down into the river and we also passed through the Tristate border of AL, MS, and TN.

We got stuck waiting for 3 hours at Pickwick Lock. We ended up anchoring and rafting up with a nice couple on a ranger tug for "locktails". Unfortunately that put us leaving the lock and docking at nearby Grand Haven marina in the dark. Cathy crossed into Alabama, making the 50th state she has visited!

The next morning, we used the marina courtesy car to go to civil war battlefield, Shiloh. Listened to lectures first, although we really didn't understand the battle until we watched the excellent movie at the visitor center. None of the lectures mentioned that the Union goal was the nearby railroad lines and the Confederates stopped them short.

Headed up to Florence, AL along the scenic Tennessee River. Cathy brought warm weather, so we had a nice afternoon on the flybridge. Cathy walking Radar first thing in the morning was great!

Clearly, there is a lot of flooding on the Tennessee based on how tall the stilts on the waterfront houses were. There were also strange waterfront RV communities, where you bought a lot of land, but were only able to put up rv shelters, nothing enclosed. There were also mixed RV/home communities as well.

Left the dock at 5:30 am in the dark for Wilson Lock, the tallest east of the Mississippi, at 94 feet of lift (almost as tall as a 10 story building)! We went to Decatur and stayed at a weird, somewhat barren marina on an island in the middle of the river. Called an Uber (which actually showed up although turns out it is the local taxi company) and went to Big Bob’s BBQ for lunch. We found out that Alabama is known for its white bbq sauce, which was indeed tasty. Master shower drain was clogged. Jason mentioned he needed a plumbing supply store. Weirdly, there was one a block and half away from the restaurant. Nancy cooked pork tenderloin for dinner.

Wilson Lock on Tennessee River, largest lock east of the Mississippi.

Pretty stretch the next morning up on fly bridge. Dropped Cathy off at Ditto Landing Marina so she could Uber to the airport 20 minutes away in Huntsville, AL.

Kept going to Guntersville—turns out we went to wrong marina, but it was a free marina with other Loopers there. Nancy walked Radar through town. Went out to dinner with 3 other boats. Next, travelled to Goose Pond Marina, went out to dinner with 4 other boats.

Went through Nickajack Lock with little wait so continued on to Chattanooga, and cruised through the "Tennessee Grand Canyon". Very impressive. Crossing back into EST caught us by surprise as we suddenly lost an hour of travel time but arrived just as dark was falling.

As side trips go, this was a long one 428 miles to Chattanooga (the Noog) and back! Nancy went to bakery and explored the art walk. Many stairs. Chattanooga was also one of the major starting points of the Trail of Tears, the forced displacement of approximately 60,000 people of the "Five Civilized Tribes" (Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw), between 1830 and 1850 by the United States government. Some were forced over land and others were sent in boats down the Tennessee to the Mississippi.

Rented a car. Went to Intl. Towing and Recovery Museum where Jason found names of fallen operators he knew. Also the first patented tow truck. Afterwards we went to the Coker Museum, an impressive antique collection of motorcycles and cars. Went out to dinner at Hennins Steakhouse.

Nov. 15, 2023 Went to Chattanooga battlefield on Lookout Mt. which is a place that thousands of civil war soldiers got their photo taken both North and South (see photo of Genal Grant on right).

Afterwards, we drove to the Chickamauga battlefield, the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War after Gettysburg. It put today's political turmoil into perspective. Nancy went to grocery store. Then returned the rental car. Now, the 215 mile return trip to pick back up the Great Loop again in Mississippi.



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