Get Off The Couch: River hosts caravels, rowers, RiverRocks

Get Off The Couch: River hosts caravels, rowers, RiverRocks

October 7th, 2013 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Competitors take off from Ross's Landing during the RiverRocks canoe and kayak races.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

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BARRY COURTER: Lisa, there will be a lot of watercraft on the Tennessee River this weekend at Ross's Landing, and when I say they represent a veritable history lesson in boating, I'm not speaking in any kind of hyperbole.

In addition to the Southern Belle, the Delta Queen, the River Gorge Explorer, the Blue Moon cruiser and all of the privately owned boats around there, we will also have 1,200 rowers on the river for the Chattanooga Head Race as part of RiverRocks.

And replicas of Christopher Columbus' Nina and Pinta will be docked at the Chattanooga Pier. I've been known to whine about a little cabin fever if it rains all weekend, so I can't imagine being on a ship that size for two months at a time, which was about the time it took Columbus and his crew to reach the New World on his first voyage west. I don't believe I'd be good company.

LISA DENTON: Neither would I. I get a little stir crazy in this cubicle every now and then.

When the replicas were here before in 2010, a lot of people were surprised by their small size. But if you remember their history, the originals were small trade ships built to sail the Mediterranean Sea, not the open Atlantic Ocean. Everybody gets a chance to climb aboard starting Friday. They'll be in Chattanooga through Oct. 20.

BARRY: Both the Nina and Pinta were a type of ship called caravels, and I've seen them described as the space shuttles of their day because of their value to mankind when it came to exploration and discovering new worlds.

LISA: Speaking of RiverRocks, one cool change this year is that the monthly Scenic City Roots concert, usually held at Track 29, will move outside for the RiverRocks finale. Radney Foster, Amber Fults & the Ambivalent Lovers, Space Capone and Booker T. (of the M.G.'s) will perform. It'll start at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Tennessee Aquarium plaza, and admission is free.

BARRY: Though he isn't touring with the M.G.'s, I hope Booker T. does "Green Onions" and "Mo Onions," which are a couple of my favorite song titles. Both are good songs, too.

Also as part of the finale, local artist Tim Hinck has created a multimedia production that will involve a sneak peek at The Block, the new 25,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor climbing wall of High Point Climbing & Fitness, located where the old Bijou movie theater was downtown.

LISA: Oh, and it's not just watercraft but a few aircraft, as in hot-air balloons, at the RiverRocks finale. You can take an adventure ride for $250 Friday through Sunday.

I rode in a hot-air balloon once from Camp Jordan to the Georgia Welcome Center just across the state line. My most vivid memory is of it hovering over Interstate 75, semi-trucks barreling beneath us, before we touched down.

The balloons will be tethered at Coolidge Park, which will make a beautiful backdrop for everything else going on at Ross's Landing.

Also, Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet will be here Saturday for the Banana Ball at Chattanooga Zoo. I know there'll be heavy hors d'oeuvres and an open bar that night, but I'd just as soon rustle up a kid and go for the ice cream at Banana Split, a separate event with Corwin for children ages 3 to 12 that afternoon.

BARRY: And the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will do its part to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War on Thursday by presenting "Lincoln Portrait" with Mayor Andy Berke narrating. He will read part of Honest Abe's "Gettysburg Address."

Get event details every Thursday in ChattanoogaNow or online anytime at

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354. Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.