I have gotten way behind on posting! I’m going to try to catch up tonight.
- Chattanooga was fabulous!
- I turned 40
- Lots of visitors
- I get eaten by mosquitoes every time I go outside after 5 pm
- I don’t like fishing and don’t think I ever will
- We still aren’t ready for family bike rides
- Fall in the south is beautiful, warm, and southern hospitality is amazing
I know Ben already posted about some of this and the girls wrote about a bunch of it in their blog (http://www.mandmsgreatloop.com) so I won’t repeat, but want to say quickly how great it was to have my mom and Jim come for a day and the Burnetts for a full week. Our visit to Chattanooga was wonderful….as everyone told us it would be. The leaves started to change, the southern charm is evident everywhere and we had dear friends with us the entire time! Kathy and the girls stayed with us for 8 nights and Jack was able to join for the weekend. We did a lot of exploring. We took the free Electric Shuttle through town and got off at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. We explored the grounds looked in the train cars, read about the history and checked out the hotel lobby.
Even though we’ve had guests, we’ve done our best with homeschooling. Thankfully this past week, the Burnett girls were homeschooling as well. We did more some days than others but did try to stay on task a bit.
We also studied up on Civil War history a bit. We spent Saturday at Lookout Mountain. We took the Incline Railway up the side of the mountain. I was terrified. I hate heights and this car literally goes up the side of the mountain at an incredible slant. One saving grace (since there were windows all the way around and in the entire ceiling) was a recording playing over a loudspeaker with facts and history about the railway the entire ride. I listened and took it all in….and don’t remember much of any of it because I was only paying attention so I wouldn’t freak out! I think climbing out of the car and over the threshold, and then back in the same way, were the worst parts. The top of the incline is a 72.7% grade – and the car stays at the grade as you climb in and out. Yikes.
Once on Lookout Mountain we took the girls to see a 3D movie/large diorama of the Battles of Chattanooga. My knowledge of history is terrible. But Molly’s school at home covers an IB unit on Civil War and Slavery and we are immersed in it here! Such great learning opportunities. The movie was great and taught us a lot about some of the most important battles during the war. Then we walked over to Point Park to see where the Battle in the Clouds took place. It’s a National Park. And this smart mom knew that 4th graders and their families get in for free…however I didn’t know that we had to print the pass ahead of time. Not a big deal, but we know for next time…Shiloh Military Park next week! Anyway, we got to see a reenactment of a cannon being fired, see the grounds where the battle took place and see the lookout down to the river. And no one fell over the edge despite my concerns. Friends of ours were on top of the mountain a few days earlier and got pictures of our boat on the Tennessee River in the gorge below. The river is so beautiful and to see a picture of our boat from above is pretty neat.
Sunday I turned 40! It’s the first birthday that has given me any pause, however what a great year I have ahead. Pretty good way to ring in 40. We had a very chill day. Kathy and I took a long walk along the Chattanooga riverfront and through the historic Bluff Arts district. Then we took the boat out on Lake Chickamauga to anchor and swim for the afternoon. Ron Durchin gave us a spectacular bottle of champagne as a Bon Voyage gift in August. We decided my bday was a good day to crack it open. Thanks Ron!
We managed to find a wonderful babysitter on Sittercity to watch the kids Sunday night. We went to a place right by the marina called Easy and had a pretty awesome meal. And Ben managed to get into my email, find the sitter’s phone number, text her and ask her to pick up a Dairy Queen cake for me. Fun surprise….it’s my favorite!!! All around fabulous day and such a fun night. And with Kathy’s birthday this Saturday and Jack’s 40th in November it was cause for celebration.
Monday we headed back west on the Tennessee River. We anchored Monday night after a very long wait for a lock. Making lemonade out of lemons, we spent the long wait anchored and swimming at Shell Mound and had a lovely time. Tuesday we made it back to Goose Pond and it was time to say goodbye. Kathy had a 10.5 hour drive without stops ahead of her and we somehow convinced her it would be best to start that early in the morning, not at 1 pm. So, they stayed! We spent the afternoon fishing and taking a dinghy ride…two things the girls had been wanting to do that we hadn’t found time for yet so it was perfect. I got a hook stuck in my finger. Awesome. Molly got a hook out of a fish’s mouth. I wouldn’t touch it! Fishing is not my thing. Walked across the parking lot to dinner and bam…6 new mosquito bites. None for anyone else. Just me!
But alas Wednesday morning came. Goodbyes and tears. So thankful to have such amazing friends (and family!) who came so far to see us. Kathy had a grueling 12.5 hour drive home through some torrential rain and traffic, solo with three kids in the car. Meanwhile the fall colors and blue skies and warm sun persisted here in Scottsboro, AL. We spent the day at the Unclaimed Baggage store in town and catching up on housekeeping here. After 4 girls sleeping in the bunk room for 8 nights we felt we needed to wash and air everything out a bit! They had so much fun. And a note on that southern hospitality – at Unclaimed Baggage the lady at the front desk approached me and asked if we are the family doing the boat trip. The wonderful folks at Goose Pond Marina called them and told them we were coming and told them about our trip. She said she’s so impressed at what we are doing with the kids and wanted to offer us complimentary lunch in their café. Just one example of the people here!
Family bike ride this morning. We’ve taken two of them. First in Alton it was too hot. Today in AL it was too hilly. Now….it was about a million degrees in Alton but Ben and I went anyway and didn’t complain. And today was really hilly…I had to get off and walk once and almost did a few other times. But the fall here is amazing. I’ve always loved fall. The trees are gorgeous, the weather changes a bit. This year I’ve discovered I LOVE the fall in the south! It’s cool in the 50s at night so open windows and no AC. But it’s 80 and sunny during the day. Shorts and flip flops still. Pine needles on the ground, beautiful scenery and warm sunshine.
Ben’s parents join us Sunday! We’ve been hanging out in Scottsboro cleaning, catching up on a lot we got behind on last week, boat work (oil changes etc.). We’ll leave tomorrow morning and go to an anchorage or a town wall and then make our way to Ditto Landing on Saturday. It’s near Huntsville and Ben’s parents will meet us there. We plan to go to the space center all day Monday. And then Tuesday we’ll make our way back to Pickwick Lake. Likely backtrack to Florence, AL or close to there and then the rest of the way back on Wednesday to Grand Harbor. Thursday we hope to spend a full day at Shiloh Military Park. We’ve read great things about it and plan to take in the history and continue learning. Ben’s parents will head home sometime on Friday and then Saturday we will turn south and start heading for Mobile!
If you’ve made it this far I thank you. It was a lot to catch up on.