10-04-09 Chattanooga: Ruby Falls

Betsy speaks: Our plan was to leave sometime today and head upriver towards Knoxville. We have one lock to go through, and had really planned to go only about 20 miles today, to the town of Soddy Daisy. We were never positive we’d make it to Knoxville, about 150 from here, but hoped to make it eventually as far as the Tellico River and the Little Tennessee River. That would be about 100 miles farther upriver. But the plan was always flimsy, so the plan changed!

We called the lock, which is less than 10 miles away, and found out that there were five barges waiting to go through, so we probably wouldn’t be able to go through until very late this afternoon. We already knew that once we made it through this lock, we’d have a problem coming back as work is beginning tomorrow which will cause the lock to be closed Monday through Thursday until 5PM each day for the next several days, so our coming back would have be very dependent on timing the lock just right. So we decided to just stay in Chattanooga one more day, then head back downriver tomorrow morning rather than heading upriver against a very strong current.

My brother Steve, a great lover of waterfalls, had told me about an “underground” waterfall that he remembered visiting somewhere near here many years ago. So when I saw a brochure for Ruby Falls a few days ago I picked it up. This afternoon we called a cab and rode out to Ruby Falls and took the tour which was very enjoyable. Sure enough, it is a very high waterfall inside a mountain. After riding an elevator down 260 feet, you then walk 2/5 mile through a cave to the falls. Of course it is lit with ambient lighting and many interesting formations are pointed out.

Once you get there, the falls are magnificent…nothing like Niagara Falls, but beautiful nonetheless. They are very tall (145 feet), and are inside a huge chamber that you come to after ducking and holding your breath in to get through narrow passages to get there. You can walk behind them if you’re willing to get a little wet. Fortunately we went prepared with rain gear since it looked like it was going to rain anyway!

So that was about it for today. We arrived back at the boat late afternoon just as it started to rain, and now at 10:30PM it hasn’t let up. We expect rain all day tomorrow and the next day. Still, we hope to leave here tomorrow morning and head downriver about 80 miles to Scottsboro, Alabama. If its raining too hard we have several options for stopping sooner. We’ll be back in Central Time which we really like because we don’t have to stay up so late to watch Letterman!

Here’s one last picture of us at the marina in Chattanooga with several other loopers. Two of these have just started the loop in the last few days so we just met them here for the first time. Now that 24 foot Pookie II has finished her loop and we are so far ahead of 21 foot Quotidian, we’re by far the smallest boat in the bunch again. Yes, we're that tiny thing on the far right of the dock!

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