With new passengers aboard, we spent the evening of the 14th walking in Chattanooga and visiting the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. It was all decked out for Christmas with lots of lights. Some of the “rooms” at the hotel are actually in some of the former rail cars.
Busy day on the 15th, we walked across the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge to North Shore on the other side of the river. No longer viable as a traffic bridge, it was closed in 1978. Lacking funds to demolish the bridge, it sat unused for several years. It was many years later that some community leaders saw it as an opportunity to make it a pedestrian bridge that could help revitalize the downtown area. Money was raised for its renovation and today it sees much use by walkers and bikers. It is the location of many festivities such as Wine over Water.
Later in the afternoon we headed to the Tennessee Aquarium. It has two buildings, one for freshwater marine life and another for saltwater marine life. It’s the kind of place you could spend hours and hours.
On the 16th, we started our return trip on the Tennessee River. Sharon and Rich got to experience a beautiful day on the water – even taking a turn at the wheel. Rich took lots of pictures along the way. We all watched him on the bow of the boat – mostly curious to see if his hat was going to stay on his head! We bypassed the rather decrepit Hales Bar Marina and headed to Goose Pond Marina.
The next day we were treated to more sunshine and headed into Ditto Landing Marina. As promised, Jeremy had left the car there in the parking lot. We needed to get some work out of these passengers, so it was time to wash down the boat. We failed to get any pictures, but Rich did an outstanding job of helping Ed to scrub the deck of the boat. Later, we did some walking around the marina area and were treated to a beautiful sunset. We went into Huntsville that evening and had a wonderful Italian dinner at a restaurant the marina staff had recommended. What a wonderful ending for our journey with Rich and Sharon.
Minus two passengers, we departed the next morning and went to Joe Wheeler State Park. It was here that we had attended the AGLCA’s Fall Rendezvous last year and found out that our offer to buy the boat had been accepted. It was much more quiet this year – no other boats there with us. We did some hiking in the woods and on the golf course and then spent the evening doing the mundane task of laundry. The laundry room was a quite a distance, so we made use of the marina’s cart.
Back to Florence Marina on the 19th. This time we made it early enough to go the short ride over to Muscle Shoals to tour the sound studio. It’s just a small building – Nothing to indicate the impact it has made on the music world. Preparations were being made for a recording session that afternoon, so some of the back up musicians were already there. The ceiling was draped with long strips of burlap – maybe that’s the special “sound” secret! We got a tour which included a lot of the history of the place and the session musicians called The Swampers – or more formally known as The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. One of The Swampers was there that day – David Hood. If you’re interested in knowing more about this piece of music history, you might want to find a DVD called “Muscle Shoals,” or see if you can still catch it on Netflix.
This was the conclusion of our side trip on the Tennessee River. Tomorrow we head back past Great Harbor Marina and onto the Tennessee-Tombigbee River.