Kayaking in the Tennessee River

We rented a tandem kayak last weekend and kayaked in the Tennessee River.

We rented from River Drifters, a combination restaurant and rental place, located on Suck Creek Road. The restaurant is just across the street from the river.

We rented for a half a day, or four hours. The person in charge of the rentals told us that we would have enough time to paddle around Williams Island.

We have kayaked before, but never in a river. We soon realized that the Tennessee River flows northward, and we were fighting the current, going south.

We tired easily from paddling, and we took short breaks often. It was also a good excuse to check out the many different small sandy beach areas. I was surprised with how many shells there were on the shore. We also found raccoon prints.

We tried to come ashore on Williams Island, but the land wasn’t sandy. Instead, it was dirt and clay, which was slippery, as I soon found out! I slipped and fell right into the river. I had to spend the rest of the morning with a wet butt. Oh well. I have learned my lesson, and that is to wear a bathing suit even if you don’t expect to go swimming.

The day started out sunny enough, but it soon grew cloudy (which is okay because Derek burns so easily.) However, at one point it started raining. We came ashore and took shelter under the tree cover. We were directly across from the River Drifters dock at that point.

The rain let up, so we set off across the river to go back. We got only maybe a few feet out, and it started raining again! We paddled quite fast after that!

After dropping off our paddles and life vests, we had lunch at the restaurant.

I recommend River Drifters, both for the rentals and the food. I had searched different rental companies, and River Drifters was the best price, with the most time options available.

River Drifters, the restaurant and rental place that we rented from.
I made a YouTube video with the video footage we took while kayaking. Check the video out, complete with me falling on my butt in the river!

Pot Point Trail

Last week we hiked the Pot Point Trail, which is a 4 mile trail located near the Pot Point Cabin.

We discovered this trail after hiking the Ritchie Hollow Trail, because the two trails have the same parking lot.

The first mile of the Pot Point Trail is an elevation gain, but there is a descent after that and the rest of the trail is flat. The second half of the trail follows the Tennessee River.

The first mile also features mile marker posts every .10 of a mile. We were so happy to see marker “10” and know that the hardest part of the trail was over!

I have seen reviews of this trail where people mentioned that the river section of the trail is often flooded during a heavy rainfall. So, if you want to hike this trail, go during a period of dry weather.

At one part during the first half of the hike, we passed an area covered with brush. We walked past it and scared two turkeys! They immediately flew away. One flew straight up, and another took off into the distance. Neither of us had ever seen turkeys fly! It all happened so quick that I could not get a picture.

We also came across an old, abandoned shed/barn structure just off the trail. It seems like there have been plenty of visitors, because unfortunately there was a lot of litter in the area.

The end of the hike has a detour because of a landslide. We knew it was coming, and yet we still got lost. According to trail reviews, we are not the only ones that this happened to. During the detour, you follow the road for a little bit. You’re supposed to enter back on the trail, which we did see, but it was not obvious that it was where the detour ended. The trail head actually points in the opposite direction, which threw us off, and that is why we didn’t enter. Later on, checking the map, I saw that the trail does veer off in the correct direction eventually. Lots of people said that the last part of the trail follows the road, which is true to an extent, but like us, they must have not seen, or were confused by the trail picking back up again, and followed the road all the way back.

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Edward’s Point

It seems like every new hike we do becomes my new favorite, and Edward’s Point is no exception.

Edward’s Point is an overlook that is directly across from Julia Falls Overlook, a place that we’ve hiked to multiple times this past fall. This vantage point allows you to see Signal Mountain directly across from you, as well as the meandering Tennessee River flowing southward.

Edward’s Point can be reached via a few different trails. We started our hike at Rainbow Lake Trailhead, and took that to the Rainbow Lake Damn and Middle Creek Suspension Bridge. This is also another hike that we have done before. Once we passed the bridge, it was all new from there. The total hike was four miles, with two miles there, two miles back.

It is a little difficult in the middle part of the hike since you are starting from the bottom of Middle Creek and making you way up to the top of the mountain, but then it levels out. The trail alternates from relatively flat paths to rocky areas.

Our favorite part of the hike was when we reached the top and the trail followed the ridge line for a while.

We left on our hike fairly early in the morning, and did not see that many people once we left the suspension bridge. We did see some people at Edward’s Point itself, but we were mostly by ourselves. If we do this hike again, we will try to leave even earlier, to beat the heat as well.

This hike was pleasantly surprising, because all though we were expecting the end to be the best part, we saw lots of interesting things along the way. We came across waterfalls that we were not expecting. We also saw different centipedes, and lots of wildflowers.

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Passing by Rainbow Lake Dam on our way to Edward’s Point.
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A fiddlehead fern.
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Two centipedes.
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Lockhart Arch.
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One of the little waterfalls we passed on the trail.
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Walking on the ridge line as we got closer to Edward’s Point.
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Edward’s Point.
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Panorama of Edward’s Point.

Southern Belle Riverboat

When my parents visited last weekend, we asked them what they wanted to do. The thing my mom wanted to do the most was ride on the Southern Belle riverboat.

There are a couple of different rides that you can take on the Southern Belle, which sails from downtown Chattanooga on the Tennessee River. The regular hour and a half sightseeing cruise is the most popular one and runs most frequently during the summer.

If you are looking for something a little more special, there are lunch and dinner cruises, sunset ones, fall foliage cruises and a cruise through the Chickamauga Dam locks. We picked the regular sightseeing one, mostly because that is what we were limited to, pandemic and all.

The sightseeing cruise comes with unlimited popcorn (not really unlimited, but you get a big bag that is plenty to go around) and souvenir plastic cups for unlimited soda. Honestly, we thought the popcorn was stale, and we didn’t get any soda, but we weren’t in it for the food. We did bring the cups home though!

The neat thing about the Southern Belle is that in order to dock, you have to first enter a larger dry docked riverboat. That’s where the gift shop is, where you buy tickets and there’s even the 3rd Deck Burger Bar.

The boat ride first takes you south about half way through Moccasin Bend, alongside Lookout Mountain. It was neat to be able to see the top of the New York Monument in Point Park, a place that Derek and I visited last fall. Then the boat turns back north and goes under all of the four main bridges near downtown. The trip is an hour and a half total.

The trip features narration, where you learn facts about the river, what you see on the shore and some of Chattanooga’s history. We were treated to music from the Southern Belle’s calliope, or steam organ.

We enjoyed our time on the cruise. This is something I would like doing again in the future.

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The Southern Belle getting ready to dock.
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The inside of the boat, where you would eat during lunch/dinner cruises.
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The third deck of the boat. Too crowded for us! We were lucky and found a table by itself on the front of the second deck.
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Lookout Mountain from the river.
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One of many groups of barges.
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The Market Street and Walnut Street bridges.
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An evening at Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park was the place to be on Saturday evening. It was a warm night, but cooling down. We got ice cream at Clumpies and then walked the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge. We made it back to Coolidge Park in time for the sun to set.

I expect that a lot of people were there to witness the “spectacular sunsets” that were predicted due to the Saharan dust. There were quite a few people with some impressive cameras and tripod equipment. We had some rain earlier in the afternoon which I think may have helped clear the skies. The sunset that night was, in fact, a dud. It was still a beautiful night though and I snapped a few shots myself.

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Holiday Cheer at the Pier

Holiday Cheer at the Pier is a Chattanooga riverfront event that signals the start of the Christmas season.

There were lots of food vendors and craft vendors (we did not check out the craft vendors though.) Derek had a hot apple cider and I had a hot chocolate. We enjoyed our drinks for a few minutes in front of a fire pit.

The two main parts of the event are a lighted boat parade and fireworks. Santa was also available to take photos with kids.

I was happy to be able to see the lighted boat parade. There was one on Galveston Bay, about a half hour from Houston, but we were never able to make it in the three years we lived there, due to the timing of Derek’s classwork. It is nice when things work out in a different way.

The highlight of the boat parade for me was seeing the Southern Belle riverboat in the lineup.

After the parade, we walked a few minutes towards the Bluff View Art District, where we had a nice view of the Walnut Street Bridge, and the fireworks.

Fireworks are one of my favorite things to photograph. I am always happy to be able to take photos of them in different spots with different backgrounds.

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Head of the Hooch

Derek and I surprisingly found ourselves to be a part of a large watch party this afternoon of the Head of the Hooch Regatta.

The Head of the Hooch is a two-day rowing regatta held the first weekend in November in Chattanooga. It was originally called the Head of the Chattahoochee, due to its location in Georgia on the Chattahoochee river. The event became so popular that it outgrew its spot, moving to Chattanooga in 2005.

I knew that the regatta was held today, but I had not looked into it enough, so I did not realize it was an all-day, two-day event. I thought it was only a morning race. I had said to Derek, “Maybe we could go watch it another year, it’s too cold to be there right now.” (We just had a strong cold front go through and its been in the 30s in the morning.)

In the early afternoon I suggested we go to Bluff View to get drinks from Rembrandt’s Coffee House, and then walk across the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge. We first walked to the Bluff View overlook, and we just so happened to watch the start of a women’s 8 person team race.

We started to walk across the bridge and watched some more races there, along with hundreds of other onlookers.

It was neat to stumble upon something extra like that during our afternoon outing.

Click to play video.
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The crowd up on the bridge watching the rowers.
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Walnut Street Bridge

The Walnut Street Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

It starts on one side at Coolidge Park, and ends on the other side near the Bluff View District and Aquarium.

Walking the bridge was one of the local activities I had wanted to do the most, but we waited a while until it got cooler out.

The bridge was completed in 1891 and it is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges. It initially was open to vehicle traffic, but then was discontinued in use in the 1970s. It was restored and reopened in 1993.

There is some dark history surrounding the bridge too. In the 1890s, two black men were lynched on the bridge.

When we were on the bridge on a Friday morning, there were lots of people out and about. There were families, couples, tourists and exercisers.

The bridge seems large when it’s looming overhead, but once you’re actually up there walking across, it doesn’t seem so long. Going one way took about maybe 15 minutes, and we stopped to take a bunch of photos.

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Moving in and an interview

I’m back tracking a bit with this post. I had originally wrote this entry in the beginning of August, and I wanted to wait to post this.

Derek moved to Chattanooga on Wednesday, July 31, and somehow, everything worked out in a way that I was able to go with him, and help him get settled in.

In the middle of July, I applied for a copywriting position. The position opened up on a Friday, and I applied for it on Saturday. They contacted me on Monday. I had an initial screening interview. Then I settled in for an unknown waiting period.

I was just starting to think that maybe they didn’t think I was good enough for an in-person interview, when they got back to me with hours to spare.

Derek and I were up early, out to breakfast at one of our favorite places. The time difference was on our side. It was 8 a.m. in Tennessee, and 7 a.m. in Houston.  I got an email saying they wanted to see me for an in-person interview.

We scheduled an interview for Friday afternoon. I called my boss in Houston at 7:30 a.m. to tell him that yes, I was going to Chattanooga that day. It’s okay, he knew it was a possibility, and he and my coworkers had planned for it.

So, to reiterate, I got the email at 7:15 a.m., and we left at 9:30 a.m. Derek loaded up the last few things into the truck and I quickly packed a duffle bag.

I drove our one car while Derek drove the truck and towed the second car on a trailer. It was a long 12 hour drive, made longer by having to tend to cats in the car, and Derek not being able to drive the speed limit with a large load.

We arrived in Chattanooga at 1:50 a.m., and I felt like I was arriving home. We crossed over the Tennessee River and we could see the other bridges all light up, with the lights reflecting in the water. It was beautiful. And we didn’t even get to see the mountains all around us yet because it was nighttime. 

Our apartment is nice, and an upgrade from what we have in Houston. It is bigger, and townhome style with two floors. It’s also cheaper too. That’s the nice perk of moving to a smaller city.

I was in Chattanooga for three full days, and we packed them in full (and unpacked as well, ha.)

We visited the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, and got to see where Derek’s office is and meet his colleagues. They were all nice and welcoming. The campus is beautiful too.

We also drove around a bit and got the lay of the land. We found the local grocery store, Walmart and tons of restaurants and coffee shops to check out in the future. We live north of the city proper, but Derek will still have an easy commute. Everything is a quick drive away. 

We found a coffee shop that we both liked, called Milk&Honey. After eating there, we checked out nearby Coolidge Park, which is is a large green area on the banks of the Tennessee River. There is also a carousel in the park! We also checked out a couple of stores and found an ice cream shop. This was all in a neighborhood called Northshore.

On our last night together, we were coming home from shopping and Derek took a back road the last few miles home. It was heavily wooded, and the homes back there were gorgeous. On one front lawn we saw a deer and two babies. I thought, “Welcome home.”  

By the time I left on Sunday morning, almost everything was in place, aside from things in the second bedroom, which is to be the office, and wall hangings, which Derek can get to in his own time.

As of today (August 21st) I am still waiting to hear if I got the job. I followed up earlier this week and they told me they are still in the process of interviewing candidates.

I am happy that it worked out this way though, even if the outcome ends up not being what I hoped for. It allowed me to come out and help with the moving process. While I am in Houston, I can picture where Derek is, both at home and at work. This also made the total separation only 38 days and not 42. And now we’re down to 22 days!

Derek at breakfast at our favorite place, before we left for the long 12 hour drive. He looks sleepy, he most definitely was; it was 6:30 in the morning!
Driving over the Mississippi River.
The before picture. I’ll post after pictures once I’m in Chattanooga for good!
Checking out the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s campus. This is the University Center building.
Checking out Milk&Honey, a cafe in the NorthShore.
The Walnut Street Bridge, a pedestrian bridge, spans the Tennessee River. This photo was taken at Coolidge Park.
The front of our new apartment.