Sunday, August 21, 2016

Down for the count

We are docked in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, on the commercial dock with the Tennessee Aquarium's River Gorge Explorer (map). We've been here just over a week, and we are really enjoying being right in the thick of things, on what the city calls its "21st Century Waterfront." That's a good thing, because we'll likely be here for a while.

J.J. Grey performs at Ross Landing Park last night. We had the "roadies" view of the show.

We arrived here last Friday after a stunningly beautiful cruise up the Tennessee River Gorge. My little camera could not really do it justice and I took just a single photo. The gorge is interesting enough in its own right that the aquarium here runs sightseeing cruises through it. The aforementioned River Gorge Explorer runs on a two-hour round trip itinerary, and they accomplish this with a wicked fast boat; she approached us at 45 mph as we were steaming upriver at one seventh that speed, and throttled way back for a slow pass. We've since become friendly with most of the crew, as we're sharing a dock.

Cruising the Tennessee River Gorge.

It's just as well that she was out on tour when we arrived, as I had to execute a missed approach to the dock. We really wanted to come in port-side-to, which meant facing downstream, but between the wind and the current both headed that way on arrival, I just could not do it safely. We tied up on the starboard side instead, and flipped around two days later in calmer conditions to offload the scooters.

The Chattanooga waterfront, at a calm moment, from the pier over our boat.

The waterfront here is quite busy. In addition to the Explorer, we share the dock with a pedal-driven paddlewheeler (really) that takes up to 16 people on river cruises fueled, it would appear, by copious amounts of alcohol. The boat has color-changing LED strip lights throughout and a small electric outboard for maneuvering; it looks a lot like a floating disco attraction. The skipper, amusingly, wears four-stripe epaulets just like the Explorer's does. A low floating dock connecting us to shore (in addition to the overhead pier) is used for kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, which are incredibly popular. And we're passed several times a day by tourists in WW-II vintage amphibious "ducks," sometimes close aboard.

One of the vintage DUKW's passing upriver of us. The next bridge is actually a bascule bridge, arch and all.

The day after we arrived we were treated to the Riverfront Nights summer music series right next to the pier. Fortunately this family-friendly event does not run late, and the music was fine. It's great to see the city really using and enjoying its riverfront park areas like this, a trend we hope continues across the country as cities convert disused commercial river frontage into parks and riverwalks.

The kayak/paddleboard operation in full swing, as seen from Vector.

That same day I went to plug my phone in to charge, and, whoops... the charging port is broken. I was able to jigger it back into service temporarily, but it was clear to me that it was just one plug-in away from irrecoverable failure. It's just shy of three years old now, and I cracked the screen in the Bahamas, so rather than spend good money on attempting to get it repaired, I just bit the bullet and shelled out for a "new" last-years-model phone on Amazon, with a Monday arrival. I figured to spend Sunday backing things up and getting ready to make the transfer.

The peddle-powered paddle boat (say that three times fast).

I no longer use Windows on my own computers, but the management software for Samsung phones is Windows-based. We have Windows 8.1 on the helm computer -- lots of navigation software won't work on anything else -- but I won't use that machine for other things. So I dragged out my old XP netbook that I keep around for just such purposes (and also because it's the emergency back-up for the helm computer). When it rains it pours -- the netbook has a disk problem and won't boot. I spent a good part of Sunday trying, without success, to resuscitate it. I found another machine to do my phone transfer, but I still need to get the netbook working at some point or we'll have no backup nav computer.

Monday was our original checkout day. When we arrived we did not know how long we'd stay or whether or not we'd continue any distance upriver before heading back the way we came. But by the time Monday rolled around, all bets were off, and we called the office and extended indefinitely. The possibility exists we might have to change docks at some point, but we'll be somewhere in the neighborhood for the foreseeable future.

I have not mentioned it here before, but Louise has been struggling for many weeks with pain in her right shoulder. Subjectively it feels like a rotator-cuff injury, and she's been doing all the things that normally go along with such injuries -- rest, ice, stretches, stimulation, etc.. Nevertheless, things have not improved and, in fact, her condition has steadily worsened over time. It had gotten to the point where the motions of docking the boat were very nearly impossible for her, and, more recently, she's been getting very little sleep because every position is painful.

The whole town is covered in art. Here Louise high-fives a bronze dog... with her good arm.

Throughout the month we spent in Decatur, she waffled on going to a doctor and perhaps getting an MRI. We've both had enough soft tissue injuries over the years to know that there's not a lot that can be done beyond rest, ice, stretches -- you get the point. But getting back under way pushed things to the point of crisis, and by the time we docked here in Chattanooga, we realized we needed to get professional help. It was too late Friday to make any calls, but online scheduling site ZocDoc was able to snag her an appointment for Monday with a physician nearby accepting new patients.

What came out of that visit was an order for physical therapy (PT), starting Wednesday, and an MRI on Thursday. We counted ourselves lucky to be in a major city with all of these services within a close scooter ride, and with plenty to see, eat, and do just a short walk from the boat, to boot.

We'd been catching bits and pieces of the town since our arrival, in between all the goings-on around us, the projects, and the doctor. We walked up to the Bluff View Arts District for dinner a couple of times, wandered around the downtown, and checked out our transportation options. Tuesday was our first free weekday, and we visited the very nice aquarium just a few steps from our dock. The aquarium comprises three buildings and a park, and is really an all-day affair. We ended with a light dinner near the boat.

The view from Bluff View. With art.

I had figured to spend Wednesday morning catching up the blog while Louise was out at her PT appointment, but neither happened. Something we ate between Monday night and Tuesday night was clearly bad, and we both had cases of food poisoning starting late Tuesday night. Neither of us slept well, and it had us flat on our backs most of Wednesday. Louise had to cancel her PT and reschedule to Friday. I recovered faster than she did, and was more or less myself by Wednesday night; Louise, fortunately, was mostly recovered by the time her MRI appointment rolled around on Thursday.

A rally of runabouts came to the upriver docks last weekend... all at once.

We're still waiting on the MRI results. In the meantime, her new therapist, whom she likes, thinks it is more likely a nerve impingement than a soft tissue injury, which I think is consistent with what we've observed. The bad news is that she thinks it could be six weeks of PT, and we might be here for the duration. It's too early to say until the doctor has had a chance to review all the results.

In any case, we are settling in. While the dock here is a bit pricey on a daily rate, Chattanooga is a wonderful place to be "stuck" for a while. We've only scratched the surface of the downtown environs, and we're already familiar with some of the outlying areas from previous visits in the bus. There is technically a ten-day limit here, but they are not enforcing it at this time of the year. If need be, we can move to a dock a bit downriver on a monthly rate, which would save us about half over the course of a month, but it's much further from everything and there's no place to park the scooters.

A downtown climbing gym has an outdoor wall attached to a parking structure.

They very nearly had us move Friday, as Saturday was the annual Southern Brewers Festival right here in the waterfront park. It's one of the busiest times for the marina, and we were surrounded by other boats. But ultimately they did not need this space and said we could stay put if the hubbub would not bother us. We actually enjoyed it -- ringside seats for the music entertainment, which was actually pretty good, without having to buy tickets to enter the park. Plus it was great people (and boat) watching.

Another duck passes us close aboard.

Speaking of musical entertainment, we had dinner (a couple of times now) at the local hip pizza joint, Lupi's, where they have a bulletin-board wall dedicated to announcements. We were pleased and surprised to see there a poster for the upcoming Halloween show at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, in Live Oak, Florida. Long-time readers will know we've spent some time there with our good friends who live at the park and help to keep it running. I'm guessing they know yesterday's Jacksonville-based headliner, JJ Grey, personally.

If you're near the big bend of FL, check out this event.

Now that we're committed to a stay of some length here, I've turned my attention to some projects. Chief among them is the new pilothouse air conditioner, which worked great on the trip up but appears to still be leaking. I've ordered a cylinder of "dye charge"; refrigerant with UV-reactive dye added. As this seeps out over time it will leave a residue detectable by black light, and I hope to nail down the leak a couple of weeks after adding the charge. I should have it in a week or so.

I also still have piles of items we brought back from Odyssey that I am sifting through and trying to square away. Today I listed the battery-powered chainsaw on the local Craigslist page, and I'm sure I will have a few more items shortly. And I came across my massive collection of casino loyalty cards, which are now in the trash.

Pile of cards.

You'd think we had a gambling problem, but, in reality, we spent many nights in casino parking lots, and we made it a point to always go in and get the loyalty card, which often came with free play, meal discounts, or other goodies (though sometimes they offered us nothing at all). I counted 36 cards in my pile, but that's not a complete count of the number of places we stayed, since some cards, such as Harrah's, covered multiple properties. I think if we counted it all up, our casino stays would add up to nearly three months.

36 in all. And we had two of each, one for each of us.

I'm not sure exactly what the delay here in Chattanooga will do to our overall travel plans. It's possible or maybe even likely that we'll have to forgo the other side trips such as Nashville. If we wait too late into the fall, we might have to go back to the gulf the way we came, although I think that is unlikely. For the time being we're still committed to continuing down the Tennessee all the way to the Ohio and thence the Mississippi, at least as far as New Orleans. It's possible, though, that we'll arrive there long after, rather than in time for, Thanksgiving.

Without plans to move the boat for a while, I will probably not be posting here very often. As we know more I will try to update our plans here, and there might be a project update or two as we go along.


  1. I hope Louise recovers quickly. I'm struggling with a similar injury to my left arm.

  2. I hope she gets better soon. However, I agree that if you have to be "stuck" somewhere, Chattanooga is not a bad place to be. We "discovered" Chattanooga a year ago while traveling around the South and loved it there. We are great aquarium fans and had to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. Check out the Ice Cream Show at 1st and Market Street Bridge.

  3. Sean have had this injury or actually pinch. A good Chiropractor can relieve it after a visit maybe 2. Just tell them you just need it relieved and not monthly follow ups etc. If it was like mine it is the nerve that goes throuh the shoulders tunnel right at the outside curve of it. Pain in shoulder and right side of lower neck. HTH

  4. Acupuncture has worked for me when I've had nerve issues.

    1. Price is right at community acpuncture clinics and there's one in Chattanooga:

    2. Price is right at community acpuncture clinics and there's one in Chattanooga:

  5. Welcome to the Tenn. River. I was able to pilot the Explorer when docked there aboard the Nina, Columbus ship. A wild ride. 0 Regrets will cruise up to Picwick late September then down ten tom to florida for the winter. I hope to meet you again. If docking at Green Turtle Bay on float downriver let me know. Clear sailing for you.


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