Friday, September 30, 2016

9/30 Jack Daniel's, MIss Mary Bobo's and Moon Pies

John found a friend on the next dock over this morning.  Look at the close up he got of this heron.
We rented a car and headed across state lines to Lynchburg, TN.  The drive was very scenic at the foothills of Smokey Mountains.  There were ranches with cattle and horses and fields of cotton ready to harvest.  We arrived in downtown Lynchburg.  Like a John Grisham novel, the courthouse is in the center of town. 
We made our way to the Moon Pie store.  They didn't give out free samples but we did buy a box of a dozen. 

For lunch, we had reservations at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House.  Miss Mary ran the boarding house in town for many decades.  She died at over 100.  The Boarding House is owned by the Distillery now.  There are two lunch seatings.  The boarding rooms have each been set up with a family sized dining room table.  Each room has a hostess.  She welcomes you all to the table.  The food is served family style.  The servers are college students who have a scholarship from Jack Daniels.  Lunch was ice tea, pork tenderloin, cheese grits, potatoes, fried chicken, coleslaw, fried okra, green beans with bacon, apples with a Jack Daniels sauce, rolls, and custard pie for dessert.  It was very good.  Our hostess made the whole table feel welcome.

Then we headed over to the Jack Daniel's Distillery for our tour and tasting. 
The tour was very interesting.  On our way into Lynchburg, we saw many huge odd shaped buildings with moats around them.  As it turns out, there are so many barrels that these buildings are all filled with barrels aging the whiskey.
The tour took us through Jack Daniel's office.  We saw the cave where the water that makes all the whiskey comes from.  The surrounding limestone has no iron in it.  The water seems to make a big difference in the whiskey.
The whiskey is dripped through charcoal.  Jack Daniel's makes its own charcoal.  This is where they make the charcoal.  The wood to make the charcoal is locally sourced sugar maple.  It is stacked specially to allow for the correct temperature to make the charcoal.
The wood for the barrels is locally sourced oak staves.  The barrels are made and burnt onsite too.  The vats where they make the whiskey are huge but no photos are allowed in that area.  John and I did have our picture taken with Jack.
So much is flammable that they have their own fire department.  Here is one of the early 1900's vintage fire trucks.
At the end of the tour, we enjoyed the whiskey tasting.  It was a flight of 5 whiskeys. We bought a bottle of Gentleman Jack and had it etched to commemorate our trip.  
On the tour, we also saw some wild turkeys on the grounds.  No, they do not make Wild Turkey whiskey there.

Tomorrow, we tour the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

9/29 Fall has come

Finally, fall has come!  The temperature was 51 degrees and it was bright and sunny.  I put on jeans and a sweatshirt for the first time in months.  Although not as bad as our fuzzy bill experience, there were small bugs all over the boat.  They didn't bite but were making a mess.  John made sure the boat got a good wash down before we took off. 

The Tennessee was choppy with a strong breeze though.  As the sun rose, so did the temperature.  Eventually, it was in the 70's and with the sunshine the fly bridge was warm.  I changed into shorts.  We went through Decatur, Alabama.  It is home to much industry including the rocket building for United Launch Alliance.  One company, that was formerly Conagra,  proudly displayed that they make Meow Mix.
  The TVA has a nuclear power plant along the river too.

The Army's Redstone Arsenal lines the river.  There were a couple of signs we might be in an area that was restricted.  1) Helicopters circled over head.  2) Periodically, we heard extremely loud booms, so loud that we could feel the reverberations on the boat.  This is the arsenal's boat dock.

Off in the distance, we could see the foot hills of the Great Smokey Mountains.  What a fabulous site!

We pulled into Ditto Landing Marina in Huntsville, Alabama.  The replicas of the Columbus boats that we saw several weeks ago in Green Turtle Bay are here now.  Tomorrow morning we will get a rental car and go to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.  On Saturday, we will tour the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Lat 34 degrees 34.57 North
Long 86 degrees 33.58 West

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

9/28 To Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, AL

We were up and at 'em early this morning.  Because the Wilson Lock is just 3 miles up a canal from the Florence Marina, the dock master suggested that we call the lock in the morning and stay in our slip until the lock was ready for us.  When we called, the lock master, told us that there was some construction and to plan on coming about 10 am.  So I made muffins and we had a leisurely breakfast.

Shortly, before 9 the dock master in Florence came down to the boat.  The lock master had called him because he had restarted the lock and he has several large tows coming.   The lock master asked him to tell us to get to his lock quickly so he could lock us through before the traffic.  This was VERY nice of him to do.  Both men went above and beyond to make sure that we could lock through conveniently.   The dock master helped us pull in our electrical and cut the lines to get underway.  The lock master had the lock doors open and ready for us to enter when we got there.  The Wilson Lock and Dam is huge.  This is a picture of the lock doors closing behind us. 
These two pictures are looking forward in the lock.  Going up!  

When we got to the top, a tow was coming toward us ready to get in the lock. 

This portion of Tennessee River is called Wilson Lake.  It was very pretty and easy cruising.  The very hot weather is past us and it was in the low 80's and sunny.  Soon we came to Wheeler Lock and Dam.   This lock master took us through a smaller ancillary lock.  When we cleared the lock and called him to let him know we had cleared, he thanked us for coming to his lock.   Alabama might take the award for the nicest lock masters.

Shortly, after that we headed to the marina at Joe Wheeler State Park.  This is where we will be coming back after Chattanooga for the AGLCA Rendezvous.  To get here you take a turn off the Tennessee into a river that curves around into this beautiful marina.  Here are two pictures from the dock next to our boat.

  The state park is extremely large with a large marina, a conference center, a hotel, cabins, tents and camping areas.  Several other loopers are here now too.  We got together in the pool to cool off and have good conversation.

Tomorrow, we are headed to Ditto Landing.  We will stay there a few days to visit Huntsville, AL.  We will get a rental car to see the Marshall Space Flight Center and drive up to Lynchburg, TN to see the Jack Daniels Distillery.

Lat 34 degrees 48.71 North
Long 87 degrees 19.90 West

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

9/27 John's birthday and up the Tennessee to Florence, Alabama

Happy Birthday to John.  Happy Birthday to John.  We celebrated in 3 states.  We started our day at Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN at the end of the Tombigbee Waterway.   We turned back on to the Tennessee River.  At that point, Mississippi is on the starboard and Alabama is on port.  A little further up the river, Alabama is on both sides.

Finally, the oppressive heat dissipated.  It was bright and sunny but only in the low 80's.  It was a beautiful day to cruise up the river.  The Tennessee is very scenic on all sides.  It is a lot like the Cumberland River but much wider.

Florence, Alabama was our stop for the night.  What a lovely place this is.  It is the birthplace of Helen Keller and W. C. Haney.  The Florence Park surrounds the marina.  The entrance to the marina is marked on one side by this sculpture that they light at night.
On the other side, flags mark the channel. 
This heron was standing calmly by the water's edge.
  Everyone here is very nice.  Dragon boat races are being held this weekend.  The dragon boats were being delivered and put in the water.

The next lock which is only a few miles away was talking to a boat and said the Delta Mariner would be locking through.  It turns out that the Delta Mariner is a cargo ship that transports Atlas V and Delta rockets for United Launch Alliance from the manufacturer in Decatur, Alabama to either Cape Canaveral in FL or through the Panama Canal to Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA.  It can carry up to three 160 foot Delta Common Booster Rockets.  Interestingly, it is designed for open seas and the inland rivers. These pictures will give you an idea of how huge this boat is.

Tomorrow, we head up river with 2 locks and about 60 miles to Joe Wheeler State Park.

Lat 34 degrees 47.17 North
Long 87 degrees 40.42 West

Sunday, September 25, 2016

9/25 To Shiloh National Military Park

It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning.  This was our morning view from the dock.

The Grand Harbor Marina has a courtesy car that we drove to the Shiloh National Military Park.  The National Park Service made the battle come alive.  
The battle only lasted 2 days but 23,000 men were casualties of the battle.  Casualties were defined as killed, missing or injured.  Over 2000 died in the battle itself.  Many would die later from their injuries.  The tour starts at the visitor center, where they show an in depth film about the battle, the strategies of the Union and Confederate Armies, and the remembrances of some of the soldiers who survived.  It was very well done.

The tour is 13 miles long.  As you drive along, there are over 20 stops.  At each stop, there are tablets.  When stand at the tablet,  you have the view of the one of the soldiers during the battle.  If the marker is rimmed in red, it is the Confederate Army of the Mississippi; rimmed in blue is the Federal Army of the Tennessee; rimmed in yellow is the Federal Army of the Ohio.  The shape of the tablet lets you know which day of the battle it was, either April 6th or 7th.  The Union forces had set up headquarters at Shiloh Church. 

The Confederate Army on the first day had circles and captured 2100 Union soldiers on the first day.  The reinforcements for the Union Army arrived by boat on the Tennessee River to give a much needed assist that allowed the Union to claim victory the next day.  This statue commemorates that death was the winner of the laurel wreath.
Fraley Field is where the fighting commenced.  It was a farmer's field.  Today, it is kept as a field so as to prevent it from being taken over by trees.

This line of artillery demonstrates how close the soldiers were to each other.
Many died in hand to hand combat.  All could see the men that they were shooting.  It was a brutal war.  In one area after another, there were monuments to the dead on either side.

As I was walking to one of the monuments,  I saw this feather on the ground.

It was a somber visit but I am so glad we took the tour.  For lunch, we went to the Hagy Catfish Hotel.  It is right on the Tennessee River, a portion that we passed yesterday.  This was a busy down home restaurant with excellent catfish.

We headed back to the marina.  It was 94 degrees!!  That is just too hot.  A boat came in late in the day.  It was the Good Fortune from Pensacola FL.  The little cannons on the side shoot water. 

A new boat arrived with a looper flag on it.  We helped to catch their lines.  They bought their boat in FL and are taking it home to Huntsville, AL.  They will do the loop next year.  John and I brought our boat to Wilmington last year and then started the loop this year.  I am happy for their plan.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

9/24 Get out your maps

We left Clifton Harbor headed for Grand Harbor in Counce, TN.  We are heading upstream on the Tennessee River which is mostly in a south or east direction.  The fog on the water signaled another hot day coming.  It turned out to be 94 degrees.

There is a lot to see on the river.  Both of these pictures are good examples of the geology of the river. 

John spotted the wildlife first today.  The first thing he saw was these cattle coming into the river. 

Then we passed and saw the entire herd.
John watched this eagle soaring and then he landed near us on the shore. 

This is where you take out a map. We followed the Tennessee to the Pickwick Lock and Dam.  We had to wait about 1 1/2 hours to lock through while they locked through some tows.  On the other side of the lock and dam, the dam creates Pickwick Lake out of the Tennessee.  It is wide and people were taking advantage of the hot fall weather with sailing, jet skiing, riding on pontoon boats, fishing, etc.  

A few miles upstream, you can be on the Tennessee River and see Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi all at the same time.  The Tombigbee Waterway is to the right.  We took that right to stay at the Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN.  It is a grand place and we felt very welcome here the minute we docked. 

We will be here for 3 nights.  They gave us the courtesy car to go to church tonight and we went to dinner afterward.  The stars filled the clear night sky.  Tomorrow, we will take the car to the Shiloh Battlefield.   Monday it should cool off finally.  On Tuesday, we will head back on the Tennessee River toward Chattanooga.  Most of the way to Chattanooga. TN we will be in Alabama. 

Grand Harbor Marina
Lat 34 degrees 59.47 North
Long 88 degrees 12.95 West

Friday, September 23, 2016

9/23 Tennessee River to Clifton, Tennessee in 94 degree heat

Wow, it was a very warm fall day.  The high was 94 degrees!!  It was bright and sunny, too.  We are going upstream on the Tennessee River so we get no help from the current, although it wasn't too strong against us.  Because the river is wide and deep, the navigation is easy.  There is plenty of room to pass tows, too.

The river is so pretty.  Along the sides there were rolling hills and in some places rock cliffs. 
We passed this sailboat, Bar Hopping, that we have seen along the way and got this picture of them against the rocks. 

We passed this Dupont Plant.  John looked it up and one of the things they make there is titanium dioxide.  In the hot sun today, I was pretty sure that was the only thing that would not get a sunburn.

Just in case we were feeling homesick, we crossed under Interstate 40.  Interstate 40 goes from Barstow, California to Wilmington, NC.  We opted to keep going by boat.

Some things on the water are just fun.  We did not stay at the Mermaid Marina but had to get a picture of their sign for laughs.
There are some unusual homes along the river too.

Tonight, we are at the Clifton, Tennessee Marina.  Tomorrow, we will continue on the Tennessee for one lock and about 60 miles.  We are going to Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, Tennessee.  We will stay there a few days to see Shiloh.

Lat 35 degrees 23.16 North
Long 88 degrees 0.35 West