Friday, September 18, 2009

Spring City Marina to Ditto Landing

We arrived at the Spring City Marina about noon on Thursday, September 10th. After a quick lunch, I took off to do laundry and the Captain spent the afternoon taking on 210 gallons of fuel ($2.39 per gallon), washing the sundeck ceiling and giving the outside of the boat a thorough cleaning. Ron & Tina aboard “Driftwood” were kind enough to let us use their car so I was able to go to the laundromat in Spring City and knock out several loads at once.

“Driftwood” was on Bay Springs Lake when we were there a few months ago and Todd has since talked to them on the VHF when we were in Chattanooga and again as we entered Watts Bar. They told us they were going to be wintering up Piney Creek at the Spring City Marina and to stop in on our way downriver after Labor Day. Unfortunately, Ron & Tina had to make a trip out of town the day we arrived so we never did get to meet them. But they told us they would leave their car key with Roy & Elvie (“Roy El”) so we could use it in their absence. Thanks, Ron & Tina, we really appreciate it!

After getting our chores done we walked over to “Roy El” to return Ron & Tina’s car key and spent some time visiting with Roy & Elvie and their friends, Richard & Sybil. While we were there, we sampled Roy’s boiled peanuts, which we don’t generally care for, but Roy did a nice job and they were really good! We then returned to “Life’s2Short” for a quiet evening after a busy and productive day.

We departed the Spring City Marina about 9:00 a.m. Friday and arrived at the Watts Bar lock by 9:45. The lockmaster was in the process of bringing a boat up so we had slowed down considerably, knowing we were going to have a bit of a wait. Feeling industrious, the Captain took advantage of our idle time and cleaned the vinyl windows on both the flybridge and the sundeck.


While we were waiting, we heard “Daphne” call the lockmaster so we waited a few extra minutes for Frank & Joyce so we could lock down together. We haven’t seen “Daphne” since Bay Springs Lake even though we’ve been travelling in basically the same areas over the past month or so. They are headed downriver to meet up with “That’s Me” and “Moonstruck,” two other boats we met as we were coming up the Tenn-Tom in July.

Todd had called the Blue Water Campground & Marina about a week ago to see if they had a place we could tie up while we were visiting Pete & Geneva. The owner, also named Todd, said he really wasn’t geared for transients (no water or power) but he agreed to let us tie up to his dock. Blue Water is less than half a mile up Richland Creek at Mile 504.4 and, as it turns out, is only a few blocks from Pete & Geneva’s house. So they met us at the dock to catch a line when we arrived, about 2:00 p.m.


We then went to Pete & Geneva’s house where we spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing on their deck, enjoying the beautiful setting and the company of good friends. For dinner Pete grilled some tasty brats and fresh corn on the cob, complemented by sauerkraut, baked beans and Geneva’s onion salad. And to top off the evening, we had ice cream with pound cake and Geneva’s homemade blueberry sauce. Yummy!


When we got up Saturday morning, we decided to stay at Blue Water another day to spend more time with Pete & Geneva. We had also been told about a local gathering Saturday evening with live music and a campfire that sounded like fun. So we made plans for Pete & Geneva to pick us up around noon but then Todd got a chance to go fishing (in a real bass boat) for a few hours so we pushed it back to 1:00 p.m.

Pete took us to Jacob’s Deli in downtown Dayton for a light lunch and then we drove to an area just outside of town that is part of the Cumberland Trail. The entire Cumberland Trail consists of 300-plus miles beginning in the Cumberland Gap National Park (KY) and stretching south to Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park and Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area just outside Chattanooga.

This segment of the trail is nine miles long and is called the Laurel-Snow Segment. Named after two scenic waterfalls, Laurel Falls (80 feet) and Snow Falls (35 feet), the Laurel-Snow Segment travels along the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau and features scenic creeks, steep gorges and interesting geologic features. We spent the next few hours walking a few miles of the trail and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way.

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Logging and deep mining took place in some portions of the area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Some remnants of mining activities can still be seen along the trail.


Geneva & Pete, formally of “Woodja.”

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil!

After leaving the trail, we made a quick stop at Pete & Geneva’s house before going over to a cookout at Bill & Sandy’s, friends and neighbors of Pete & Geneva. There were two other couples there (Scott & Kay and Jim & Andie) and we all had a good time getting to know each other. Bill & Sandy were full-time cruisers for a while so we already had something in common!



When we left Bill & Sandy’s, we made a brief stop at “Life’s2Short” before going to the campground gathering we had been told about. There were a couple of guitarists there and several people sitting around the campfire. A short time after we arrived, someone pulled a quart Mason jar of apple pie moonshine out of a cooler and started passing it around. As you might imagine, it was an interesting evening with some unique individuals, but we all had a good time and finally turned in around 11:00 p.m.

The Captain said his good-byes to Todd at Blue Water Sunday morning as he was having a cup of coffee on the store porch and we left for Chattanooga. Thanks for allowing us to stay at your dock, Todd; and thanks for keeping us entertained, Pete & Geneva! What a fun and eventful couple of days!!!

Todd on the left and Brad with his son on the right. Brad was the young man who took Todd fishing in a “real” bass boat!


Our plan was to anchor somewhere in the downtown Chattanooga area, but after a number of unsuccessful attempts we gave up and went to the Marine Max floating dock. While we were trying to anchor, we heard from John aboard “That’s Me.” He was coming upriver and hadn’t had any luck anchoring below Chattanooga either, so he ended up tying to the floating dock also.

We hadn’t seen John since we left Bay Springs Lake and he insisted on taking us out on the town. We toured the area for a little while and then went to the Big River Grill & Brewery for a few drinks and a bite to eat. After that we stumbled upon Taco Mac and proceeded to spend the next several hours sampling designer beer. They have a huge selection and John was determined to taste as many as possible. It was a very fun evening and, as always, we enjoyed John’s company tremendously!

Our collection for the evening, and to think we were going to take it easy this night because of the moonshine the night before!
View Taco Mac
This was one of the Captain’s choices, go figure, but the ale turned out to be pretty bad!

It was quite the trip back to the boats trying to negotiate all the stairs.

John came over for a late breakfast Monday morning and then we took off for Little Cedar Mountain, our anchorage for the evening. Frank & Joyce on “Daphne” arrived just as we were leaving and John was going to spend at least one more day in Chattanooga with them. Hopefully we’ll run across him again somewhere along the waterway.

We had an uneventful trip downriver but really enjoyed going with the current rather than against it! Along the way we re-entered the Central Time Zone and gained an hour, so we were anchored in a very pretty setting by 3:30 p.m. The bass were hitting all around us and the Captain was compelled to fish for a while. He managed to catch a few but decided the fish were too smart. In reality, the bass had so many shad to feed on, they just weren’t all that interested in what Todd had to offer!

We were underway by 9:30 Tuesday morning and the Nickajack lockmaster actually had the gates open and waiting for us when we arrived – a first for this trip! We had great current the entire 48 miles and were anchored just above Goose Pond shortly after 3:00 p.m. Once again the bass were busting the surface all around the cove and the Captain spent several hours trying his best to capture their attention with his lures - with some success, I might add!

As with most recent days, Wednesday dawned cloudy and gray. The Captain did some more fishing that morning and then made a quick run to Goose Pond Colony Marina to buy some ice. “That’s Me” and “Daphne” pulled in to the anchorage about 2:30 p.m. and by 3:00 a storm was moving through. It had more wind than rain in it, but it was blowing right into the cove from the main lake and all three boats were swinging first one direction, then another.

After the wind finally calmed down, both John and Todd went fishing. We were supposed to have dinner on “Daphne” at 6:00 but it was closer to 7:00 by the time we got there. Joyce had prepared a very nice meal of pasta with shrimp (courtesy of John who also gave us a box – thanks, John!), zucchini and corn casserole and garlic bread. Thanks for having us over, Joyce & Frank, it was great!

Our destination Thursday was Ditto Landing Marina, 46 miles and one lock downstream. “That’s Me” and “Daphne” were planning to go in to the marina at Goose Pond for a few days and possibly reconnect with David on “Moonstruck” who had left his boat at Goose Pond to make a trip back to the Gulf coast. It was another gloomy, gray, windy day but we were lucky enough to miss most of the storms that were hammering the area, although we caught the edge of a nasty one just before we reached Ditto Landing.

We arrived at the fuel dock at 3:00 p.m., pumped out the holding tanks and were tied up to our assigned dock a short time later. Pete & Geneva, who we visited this past weekend, had dropped off a car for us on Tuesday on their way to Kansas for Pete’s mother’s 90th birthday. Not only are they letting us use their extra car to drive back to Missouri, but Ditto Landing took them about 115 miles out of their way and they already had a very long trip ahead of them. We are incredibly fortunate to have such wonderful, generous friends. Thank you SO much, Pete & Geneva!

Today is Friday, September 18th, and we are getting things together for our trip to Missouri to visit family and friends. Todd will fly to Colorado on Tuesday for his annual fly fishing adventure with his father and will also spend time with family and friends while he is in Colorado. We plan to return to “Life’s2Short” in early October and will post our next blog update at that time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kelli Visits "Life's2Short"

Saturday, September 5th, Todd finally returned to “Life’s2Short” with Kelli about 4:30 p.m. They had quite a time trying to find a place to park Jerry & Lynn’s vehicle in downtown Knoxville. All the streets in the vicinity of Neyland Stadium (and the river) were blocked off because the game was almost over and all available lanes were being used for outbound traffic. But they eventually made it back to the riverfront, thanks to a Holiday Inn shuttle driver named Charles who befriended Kelli and offered to take them to Calhoun’s as soon as traffic died down a little. Unfortunately, Jerry & Lynn, along with his daughter and her two children, had to hike from the river up to the Holiday Inn to get to their vehicle. Sorry about that, guys!

Kelli waits for a ride to “Life’s2Short” and the start of her river trip.


George & Laura did a wonderful job decorating their sailboat, “Pyewacket,” for the Labor Day weekend festivities. We originally met George & Laura on Pickwick Lake in the fall of 2006 and ran across them again this past spring in the Exumas. They are a very nice couple and were kind enough to share with us some of the homegrown produce Laura’s parents had brought from Missouri. Thanks, guys! It was great seeing you again!!!

“Pyewacket” at anchor getting ready for “Boomsday.” She was the most decorated boat on the river!


Kelli was understandably tired after her long two-day journey, coupled with a sleepless night at the Super 8 in Sikeston, MO, so we chilled on the boat for a while and then dinghied over to Calhoun’s for a few drinks and appetizers. By the time we left Calhoun’s, she was getting her second wind so we decided to take a little river tour and dinghy down to where “Just Rosie” was anchored to introduce Kelli. After that it was back to “Life’s2Short” to get some rest.

Fun times at Calhoun’s!


Evening shot of Neyland Stadium.


We woke up Sunday to a gloomy sky full of rain. We had planned to walk up the hill to explore downtown Knoxville around 10:00 a.m. but weren’t terribly excited about walking around in the rain. So we decided to give it some time and while we were waiting, several boats from the free city dock a short distance downstream started moving up our way to find a spot to anchor for the fireworks show (called “Boomsday”) Sunday evening. The city dock is in the fireworks drop zone, so they were required to vacate by 10:00 a.m. Sunday.

We weren’t keen on having anyone raft to us since we knew our anchor hadn’t set well in the rocky bottom, but then Todd saw a 45-foot Wellcraft with a big plow anchor on the front looking for a place to drop the hook and invited them to raft to us. As it turned out, there were several other boats in the same group. We started with six, but before the day was over we had a string of ten boats rafted together.

By early afternoon, the rain had tapered off so we left to go walking around. We toured Market Square, browsed in some of the little shops, bought a few things at the Mast General Store (a very cool place with something for everyone!) and eventually stopped in at the Downtown Grill & Brewery to rest our feet and have a drink.



Rafted boats at the Calhoun’s dock, part of the Vol Navy.


Shots of downtown Knoxville.

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David & Goliath?


Downtown Grill & Brewery.



We strolled back toward the river and walked out on the Gay Street bridge to take an aerial photo of “Life’s2Short” with its entourage of six rafted boats, soon to be ten.


More shots of the rafting party at Calhoun’s.

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The barge that was set up for the VIP’s to view the fireworks show.


We then walked through the masses of vendors that had set up tents between Calhoun’s and Neyland Stadium for “Boomsday.” It was very much a carnival atmosphere, complete with fresh squeezed lemonade, corn dogs, cotton candy, inflatable rides for the kids, a petting zoo, and even a few carnival games where you could win stuffed animals.






Only in Tennessee would you find this, and no we didn’t try one!


Coast Guard Cutter Ouachita is in attendance for “Boomsday.”


By 5:30 our feet were tired so we returned to the boat to relax and kick back. As the evening wore on we got to know our neighbors better and ended up having a great time with them. Darren even fed us burgers for dinner and Veronica insisted we try some of her homemade white chicken chili, which was wonderful!

Before the big event started, the Captain was out in the dinghy taking pictures and shuttling people to and from shore. While he was motoring around, a young man actually jumped off the center span of the Gay Street bridge, which we figure is at least 80 feet high! Todd quickly picked him up since he landed in the boat traffic lane, but the Coast Guard was there within seconds and motioned for the young man to come over to their boat. So he jumped out of the dinghy and swam over to the Coast Guard boat and we never heard what happened to him after that. In any event, he’s lucky to have survived!

“Life’s2Short” now has 10 boats rafted together!


Joe uses black electrical tape for the dinghy registration to keep from getting a ticket.


Everyone getting ready for the BIG show.





“Pyewacket” is finally joined by another sailboat.


Jenny & Veronica show their support for the Vol’s.



Just another goofy hat for the Captain.


Over the course of several months, we have heard from scores of people how wonderful the Knoxville Labor Day fireworks show is. In fact, we first heard about it while we were in the Exumas this past spring, and our only real travel goal this summer was to be in Knoxville Labor Day weekend. Apparently, there is a big fireworks manufacturer about 40 miles from Knoxville and they use “Boomsday” as a testing ground for many of their new inventions. It is quite an event for the Knoxville area, attracting several hundred boats and hundreds of thousands of people.

The fireworks were scheduled to begin at 9:30 so we put our beach chairs up on top of the sundeck roof and settled in. The show began on time and the entire event was like a finale with nonstop action. Multiple streams of fireworks were being shot off simultaneously all the way across the Henley Street bridge and sometimes even from the buildings on either side of the bridge. There were so many different things going on at the same time, all the time, that you didn’t know where to look and you certainly didn’t want to miss anything!

Some of the displays were in the shapes of smiley faces and hearts when they exploded. At one point, the entire span of the Henley Street bridge, on both sides, became a waterfall of fireworks that was breathtaking! They also shot fireworks out of the water on both sides of the bridge. Our boat was literally vibrating from the force of the sound waves. It truly was the most spectacular show we are ever likely to witness. You had to be there to get the full effect, but the photos should give you some idea of how amazing it was. We borrowed a few of these from the Internet but most were taken by the Captain.

Let the show begin, and what a show it was!!!


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What Tennessee fireworks show would be complete without orange & white fireworks!


We ended up having a very late night with our boat neighbors so Monday didn’t begin until about 10:00 a.m. for most of us. Just as we were getting ready to leave Knoxville, Pat & Bill came by in their 34-foot Sea Ray to say good-bye and give us a Tennessee flag to fly on our boat (we didn’t have anything orange and felt out of place among all the diehard Tennessee fans!). Pat & Bill are part of the Coast Guard Auxiliary who were helping keep order on the water. We anchored next to them Friday afternoon and saw them off and on over the course of the weekend as they were patrolling among the boaters. Thanks for the souvenir, guys!

We finally untied from the rest of the group around noon and started downriver, arriving at our anchorage near Jerry & Lynn’s house between 5:00 and 5:30.

It’s time for the rafters to break up and start heading downriver. Thanks for the great time all, when can we do it again?


A very cute cabin built between the cliffs a few miles below Knoxville.


After waiting out a brief rain shower, we dinghied over to Calhoun’s for one more round of their mouthwatering ribs. “Just Rosie” was also anchored in the cove with us and joined us for dinner. As we were leaving Calhoun’s, we spotted George & Laura (“Pyewacket”) with their group. They had also eaten at Calhoun’s and were heading down to Blue Springs Marina, their home dock, the following day.

The crew from “Just Rosie” dinghy over to Calhoun’s.


We were underway by 10:00 a.m. Tuesday when the Fort Loudoun Lock opened for business. Most locks on the river system are open 24/7, but Fort Loudoun is only open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. “Pyewacket” locked down with us but we gradually pulled ahead and lost sight of them.

What a lucky guy the Captain is having two hot blondes helping him with lock duties…. Life is good on “Life’s2Short!”


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Unlike the trip downriver from Knoxville the previous day, boat traffic was minimal and Kelli was finally able to lay on the bow and soak up some rays.


You think maybe this person is a Tennessee Vol’s fan?


Are we having fun yet?


We were planning to anchor somewhere on Thief Neck Island but ended up anchoring in a cove on the opposite side of the lake from Blue Springs Marina. The cove branches in three directions and we tried anchoring in all three without much success. The bottom is undoubtedly the hardest clay we’ve ever seen. The anchor tried to dig in but it just wasn’t able to penetrate far enough for a good hold. When we brought the anchor back in on our second attempt, the clay that had stuck to the anchor was so hard we couldn’t even hose it off! We were finally able to scrape enough of it off to finish the job with the hose. The third branch was well protected so we just dropped some extra chain and called it good.

Our beautiful anchorage on Watts Bar.


Kelli feeding the turtles.


Wednesday was a beautiful, cool morning. The Captain took off to go fishing mid-morning and didn’t return until almost noon. After lunch we all hung out, read and relaxed and Kelli fed the turtles every chance she got, dubbing our anchorage “Turtle Bay.” About mid-afternoon we took a dinghy ride across the lake where we explored a few new coves before going in to Blue Springs Marina so Kelli could get a couple of souvenirs to take home.

The weather was starting to look a bit iffy with lightning and thunder in the distance, so we decided to return to “Life’s2Short.” Once again the bulk of the storms bypassed us and we only saw a small amount of light rain. Todd went fishing again early evening but returned in time to cook Bay Springs Lake catfish for Kelli for dinner.

Kelli checks out the Captain’s “holy place.”


Todd shuttled Kelli to Blue Springs Marina (where they had left her car on Saturday) shortly after 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning, September 10th, to begin the long journey home to Springfield, MO. We really enjoyed having her aboard “Life’s2Short” and hope she will be able to stay longer next time she visits.

The Captain shuttles Kelli back to her car at the marina. Bye, Kelli!


We are going to end this post with Kelli’s visit and update the blog as soon as we have Internet again, hopefully within the next few days. In the meantime, we are working our way downriver to see our good friends Pete & Geneva on Chickamauga Lake, after an overnight stop at the Spring City Marina to take on some fuel, pump out, give the boat a bath and catch up on several weeks of laundry. Thanks for coming to see us, Kelli!