October 2-7, 2012
We spent three nights at the lovely Lake Guntersville Yacht Club. It was mid-week, so very quiet and peaceful. We enjoyed sitting on our flybridge and soaking up the beautiful view. There was a blue heron who was somewhere nearby almost the whole time we were there. He has obviously staked out the yacht club as his territory.
Guntersville was a great stop for us because it is very close to the Alabama Hyco plant where Craig spent so much time over the past several years. We were able to connect with several of his former colleagues, which was really fun. The first night, Robin and Marlena Helms and Al Bennett came on board to tour the boat and have a drink before going out to dinner.
The next day we did a lot of boat work (never ending!) and in the afternoon welcomed Jack and Jane Conway on board. Jack and Jane live in Guntersville and we met them two years ago at the Fall Looper Rendezvous and have kept in touch since. They are hoping to start the Loop next year. After a tour of our boat, they took us to their lovely home right on the lake where we had a delicious dinner and good conversation.
The next morning we borrowed the marina courtesy truck to go to the grocery store and hardware store. When we got back to the marina, we found Hyco friends Kevin and Sue Chambers, who had just arrived from Atlanta. That night we had a great steak dinner at the Rock House restaurant with Kevin, Sue and Art Zimmerman. We ate outside and enjoyed the warm fall evening – with no bugs, surprisingly.
In the morning, Art dropped off Kevin and Sue at the boat, and they joined us for the day’s cruise to Goose Pond marina in Scottsboro, Alabama. It was a cool but pleasant day, and Sue enjoyed sitting out on the bow for awhile. Kevin liked his Blue Heron shirt!
We pulled into pretty Goose Pond (where they had left their car), and after a quick lunch on board, we set off to run some errands at Looper favorites Home Depot and Walmart.
After getting our important shopping taken care of, we checked out the local hot tourist attraction, the huge Unclaimed Baggage store. I wasn’t expecting to love it, and my expectations were on target. Sorting through other people’s lost or forgotten items felt kind of creepy to me. I guess I’m just not a treasure hunter at heart. But we always make an effort to see the local sights along the Loop, whatever they may be, so here we were.
The most interesting things were the not-for-sale oddities, like Balinese tribal headdresses or these McDonald’s Golden Arches.
Sue bought a DVD, but that was the extent of our purchases. But I have to admit the place was packed and other people were loading up. Good for them, I guess!
We had dinner that night at the marina restaurant, The Docks, where we had a really good meal and enjoyed a beautiful sunset looking over the water. After dinner, Kevin and Sue headed back to Atlanta. It was great having them join us on board.
The next day we went through the Nickajack Lock and stayed at the very forgettable Hales Bar marina. After we pulled into the dock, we learned from concerned dock neighbors that the very vague approach instructions we got from the marina staff had led us over a rocky area, and we were lucky to get through there without incident. (Of course, if we had given a closer read to our cruising guide, we would have known that!) It would have been horrible to have come through the rock-filled Georgian Bay unscathed only to hit a rock on the Tennessee River! Add to that the pretty rustic facilities, and we were able to quickly conclude that we wouldn’t be stopping at Hales Bar on our return trip down the river.
Leaving Hales Bar, we entered the very scenic area called the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee. The term “Grand Canyon” suggests something more dramatic than it actually is, but it’s certainly very beautiful. The river winds through high hills and bluffs that rise along the shore. Unfortunately the day was gray so not as pretty as it might have been, but the good news was that we would be coming back this way after our visit in Chattanooga and we’d hope for a sunnier day then.
When we saw Lookout Mountain ahead of us, we knew we had just about arrived at our destination – Chattanooga. We would spend the next three days in this impressively revitalized waterfront city.
Next: Chattanooga, Tennesee
(Real-time update: On October 21, we are at Joe Wheeler State park in Alabama, where we will be for the next several days, attending the Fall Looper Rendezvous.)