Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chattanooga & Visitors

Days on cruise:  197

We’re a little behind on blogging. As reported previously, we arrived at Hales Bar Marina in Tennessee, 30 river miles (20 road miles) southwest of Chattanooga, late Wednesday.  In addition to a standard marina, this place offers floating cabins, seen below. The big building in the background is the remnant of an old dam built in the early 1900s which is no longer in use, replaced by a newer dam a few miles downriver.


Wednesday night we found fellow Loopers Lane and Joyce on Memory Maker here, and had cocktails with them and another couple who plan to start their Loop shortly. Nice evening on their beautiful boat.

Thursday was chore day: cleaning the boat, food prep and  laundry in anticipation of guests arriving Friday.

Friday we picked up a rental car (Enterprise is almost always willing to pick people up at a marina and drive them to their office to rent a car), did some grocery shopping, then drove to the Chattanooga airport late afternoon where we picked up Lynn and David, Bob’s sister and her husband, who flew in from Seattle. We haven’t seen them since March, have traveled with them a lot over the years, and were delighted they made the trek out east to join us for a week. We had dinner on the boat and sat on the sundeck late into the evening talking and catching up on family news.


Saturday we used the rental car to visit scenic sites near Chattanooga. Ruby Falls is a mile-long walk inside a cave under Lookout Mountain. There are wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, streams and various geological formations.


The path is often narrow, and frequently Bob had to duck to avoid hitting his head on the low clearance.


At the end of the path is Ruby Falls, a 145-foot waterfall. Unfortunately it’s lit with bright rose-colored lights that make it look a bit garish. But it’s beautiful, and its’ source is unknown.


Next up was Rock City, a many-acres outdoor rock and garden park with walking paths throughout.


Much of the setting was natural, but there also were paths, walls, a suspension bridge, eating venues, and more.


Leaves were just starting to show their Fall colors.


In several places the path wandered through extremely narrow gaps between giant boulders, and sometimes sported silly labels like “Fat Man’s Squeeze” or “Weight Watchers Alley”, and in fact we had to turn sideways to squeeze through.


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Lover’s Leap (very original!) is in the background of the photo below. On a clear day, not yesterday, you can see seven states from there.

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A nice waterfall flows from the top too.


At the very end of the walk is a silly section called Fairyland  featuring gnomes and scenes from kids’ books and movies, apparently to give the children something to enjoy too.


Back at the marina late in the day, Craig and Barbara, Looper friends on Blue Heron, pulled into the marina, also headed for Chattanooga. We invited them, and Lane and Joyce from Memory Maker to join us on our boat for cocktails. A lively hour of conversation followed, introducing Lynn and David to another aspect of Looper life.

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