Friday, July 27, 2012

Fort Loudon Lake

  I didn't find out until last night, but had we ventured up the French Broad River about four miles, we would have found the Knoxville Sea Ray plant. From what I understand, it's the plant that made Swing Set. I knew Sea Ray had a plant in Knoxville, but really wasn't looking for it, more importantly, we didn't plan on traveling up either the Holston, or the French, and didn't have charts for them. Navionics doesn't offer much in the way of detail either of these rivers, plus honestly, I am a little gun shy from our encounter with the tree stumps on the upper reaches of the Tellico River. Too late now, we're 40 miles back down the Tennessee River and there is no turning back. I would have liked to show them our office on the boat and see what they thought of it.
  I admit that where we had anchored at the junction of the three rivers was a little tight, but I was as far over to the bank as I felt we could safely be, given the room we needed to pivot if we had to, and usually the boat changes direction when the sun goes down if the current is not too strong, due to the changes in the air temperatures over the water. I'm no meteorologist, and won't go into the explanation, but if you are hanging on one hook, give yourself enough room to swing around the anchor because it will happen.
  I thought we had given plenty of room for other boats to pass us in the small channel, but some local wake boarders thought otherwise. Plowing through the water to produce the biggest wake for surfing behind their boat, they passed us between our boat and the closest bank, not 100 feet away at most. Had we been at home, or not spending the night there, I would have given them a friendly wave with one of my fingers. Better yet, they came back by anyway at 10 P.M., still skiing in the dark with no lights, using the light from a nearby asphalt plant to see. They didn't ruin our night, we thought they were jerks, but they apparently thought we were too. Had I given them reason to, it could have been a long night, but they made that one late night pass to show us who was boss and that was the end of it.
  On Wednesday, we lingered around that area until mid-morning and then decided to head back down toward Knoxville and spend the day anchored nearer to the downtown area and then go to a place called Calhoun's right on the water.

  Just upstream from downtown Knoxville is Volunteer Landing Marina. There are lots of condos just up the hill and it looks like it would be a fun place to live and have your boat nearby.

  Here's another view. Calhoun's is just past the bridge on the right. We had figured on anchoring before we got to this part of the river, but we didn't like the view, plus a nice breeze was blowing and we were really enjoying the cruise. We never get to cruise, you see.
We motored by Calhoun's and they have a courtesy dock we could have tied up at, but it was too early for lunch, and in addition, I thought the dock was a little shaky. Now, our friends up on the Mississippi know that we've tied up at some rickety docks, so they know that when I think a dock is too risky to tie up to, it must be a doozy.
  There is a real nice municipal dock right there on the riverfront too, and people were setting up for an event that was probably going to take place on the weekend, but we again confirmed our desire to keep on keeping on, and glided on by.

  You didn't have to buy a travel brochure after all; here is a picture of Neyland Stadium behind "The Boathouse". When there is a UT football game in town, the whole area goes crazy, people hanging off the balcony type crazy. I bet it's a fun time.
  We were really happy that there was a good breeze blowing and we were sight seeing. We were marveling at all the homes along the river, wondering what people do in homes that big. By 2 P.M. we were back near where we had anchored on our way up the lake at the 623 mile marker. There is a cliff in that area and people like to jump and dive off of, and boats anchor out where people can watch. We decided to anchor there too and cool off in the water some.
  I don't know what it is about our boat, but Swing Set seems to attract PWCs and wakeboarders. Many of them come unbelievably close; it takes a big wake to tipple our boat, but we just wonder what is going through people's minds when they do this, especially when they think we are impressed when they show off on their PWCs. I'm mentioning this because a friend and her daughter were sitting on the back of their boat on the beach back on the Mississippi River last night when a person on a PWC lost control of it and ran over the both of them. Our friend is in the hospital with multiple fractures of her pelvis and tailbone. Her daughter was lucky to survive with bumps and bruises, but it could have been much, much worse. So it was while we were anchored near the cliff, having a cold one and watching the jumpers that we were buzzed by a fair number of boats. We were doing our best to ignore the pit racers and wake makers, not letting it bother us too much. A pontoon boat full of people came over and asked about "those big fans", and we talked to them for a while. They left and then a 40 footer came plowing up the lake and that was our queue to pull up the anchor and head on down the lake.
  One of the couples we met in Kentucky Lake are coming to this area tomorrow. Dina and Steve are going to visit Steve's brother who has a boat at Concord Marina and plan on anchoring out at a place called Praeter Flats, which is across the lake from Choto Marina where a nifty little spot called Willy's is located. It all made sense for us to check out Willy's, given the fact that we had to go so near it anyway, so at 4 P.M. or so, we pulled in and took a spot at the courtesy dock. Happy hour just so happened to start at 4 P.M. It's uncanny how we time these things.

  We had checked out their website and learned that they were a "dog friendly" restaurant because they have an item on the menu that is a hot dog and hamburger served for the four-legged crowd. Comes with dry dog food on the side. This being the case, we put some duds on and hitched Holly up to her collar and leash and made our way up to the top outside deck. The lower deck is shown in the picture, and they were setting up for karaoke. Before we got up to the restaurant, however, we stopped into the little store at the gas dock where they had t-shirts, and more importantly, cold beer. They were mighty proud of their Bud Light, wanting nine dollars for a six-pack of it, so we took a pass. I wasn't drunk enough to pay that much for it. Yet.
  When we were told to sit where we wanted, our waitress came over with a big water bowl for Holly, confirming the dog friendly atmosphere. She also pulled up another chair for Holly to sit on, so she was all set to take in the scene and bark and the other patrons. We can't take her anywhere. People still came over to pet her, not knowing what a vicious dog she is.
  Happy hour means 1/2 price on most appetizers and a dollar off all drinks from 4-7 at Willy's, a pretty good deal. It was hot, so we ordered a bucket of Bud Lights, making it six beers for twelve bucks. More than at the gas dock, but then again, we weren't at the gas dock. Sweet.

  While we were waiting for the first batch of our appetizers I posted a sticker on their bulletin board and asked one of the waitresses to take my picture. I look like a movie star in this picture, don't I?

  Our waitress, Amanda, was doing double duty at the bar inside and serving us outside. She learned of the RiverBills sticker and wanted in on the action. She was so nice, but was happy when after we finished our food and our first bucket of Bud Lights, we took Holly to the boat so we could go inside to her bar where the air conditioning was. We ordered another bucket at happy hour prices, so we coasted way past happy hour with the discounted beer price. We have to watch our budget, we're on a pension.
  We met lots of locals at the bar and were told by a few that we were living their dream, doing what we are doing. We are told this a lot, but can only wish that others will eventually live their dreams too. This is a lot of pressure, living other people's dreams.
  I checked outside and found that the karaoke deck was jam packed, so I went to the boat to collect a very grateful Holly and we joined Rosie at the outside bar on the lower deck. Amanda had finished her shift inside and she came down and hung out with her friends too, some of them we met. Another couple was there with their puppy of nine weeks old. The puppy was the size of a gnat and I bet it didn't weigh a pound. Holly gave it a sniff and a bark, leaving the "weinerschnitzel", a cross between a Dachsund and a Schnauzer, trembling even more than it was in the first place.

  Watching Rosie dance like a twenty year old is hard work, and after more than six hours of "happy hour", possibly seven, Holly and I were beat. We all retired to the boat and didn't even consider leaving the courtesy dock until we woke up at 7A.M. this morning.
  We moved over across the lake to Praeter Flat and we didn't do much today. I finished reading a book I was reading and Rosie worked on her book too. I managed to get in the water for a while, and Holly took a short swim. Today is a lazy day and we're saving ourselves for some fun tomorrow when Steve and Dina will be here.
  We have the generator going with the air on because we need it. Some giant pork chops that we bought at Sloan's are grilling in the convection oven because it's too hot to sit outside to use the propane grill today. Have a great weekend.


  1. Thanks for the mention Mike, if one accident is prevented by someone taking notice of your statement, then its all worthwhile. Glad you guys are enjoying retirement, cant wait to sit back and tilt a cold one with you.

  2. Enjoyed meeting you all at Willys!
    I wish I could have partied more with you all as you are living the dream! Hope to catch you on the flip side somewhere someday!I will be checking in to monitor your adventure in Happy Hourology. Party on and travel safe!
    Chuck Thompson