I like to take pictures of sunrises, so I left for work a little early Thursday morning in case I found a nice one. As I crossed O’Neal Bridge going over the Tennessee River into Florence, Alabama there she was peaking out of the early twilight, this huge riverboat called the American Queen, a 436 passenger boat built in 1995. Since I already had pictures of the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen parked in the same spot from the high bluff across the river in Sheffield, I had to have one of this riverboat. As I turned around, I decided to get a few close up shots down in the park where she was parked. Then I jumped back into the truck and crossed back over the bridge and got several pictures from the bluff and also got several sunrise pictures over the river while I was there. After I got my pictures I headed back across the river to work and was a tad late. Oh course my boss caught me sneaking in. I took my camera in and showed him why I was late. I’m on salary, so I more than made up for being late at the end of the day.
Formerly owned by Majestic America Line, the American Queen sat in a government impound yard for four years before being sold to the Great American Steamboat Co. for $15 million. After six million dollars in improvements she is sailing the river again. A sad fate befell her sister ship, the Mississippi Queen, another fine large riverboat was sold as scrap to a company in China. Some of the cheap trinkets coming back may contain parts of her. I was really upset that one of the Belles of the Mississippi River was chopped up and melted down for cheap imports. The logo on the side and a few other items were saved and sent to a museum. Another sister riverboat the Delta Queen is a floating hotel in Chattanooga.
After work I went back down to McFarland, then back up to the bluff and back to the park to get some more pictures in better light. The American Queen had made stops in Chattanooga, Huntsville/Decatur area before puling into McFarland Park in Florence sometime during the night. Passengers had several options of trips to take around the Shoals among them the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence and the Helen Keller home in Tuscumbia among other trips. I counted four buses bringing passengers back to the boat while I was in the park. Professor Emeritus Kristina Rice Nugent from Mira Costa College in Carlsbad, CA decided to stay with the boat and was sitting on the bank painting a picture of the riverboat. She was just finishing up as the last of the passengers arrived.
The American Queen left Florence sharply at 5 PM and headed down river for a stop in Savannah Tennessee and a visit to Shiloh. I got some quick shots while she did a 360 in the river and then drove across the river to the Riverside Park in Sheffield as she paddled by. Soon my visit back to Mark Twain’s time was over. A visit by the new 150 passenger Queen of the Mississippi is being planned for my area in the future.
Hurricane Isaac has really been a disappointment. I was hoping that we would at least get a little rain from it. If you look at the maps, it was less than an inch away. How is it that I only got a couple of sprinkles in northwest Alabama? Hopefully the Midwest which is in worse shape than we are will get something out of the system.
I finally finished planting my zinnias and Canterbury bells that I started from seeds several months back. Since Isaac hasn’t obliged with rain, I’m watering each day. I have several shrubs that I purchased on sale that need to go into the ground, but it’s too hard to dig a hole.
I have a couple of more festivals to attend shortly and photograph, the Coondog Cemetery celebrates it’s 75th anniversary on Labor Day. The Oka kapassa Festival which commemorates the kindness of my home town of Tuscumbia which the Indians were being forced to relocate to Oklahoma will be September 7 and 8th.
The hooligans are still trying to catch the rabbit living in a flower bed near the underground fence. Silly Levi lost his collar a couple of months ago, so he could easily chase after it across the boundary, but he won’t go within twenty feet of the line. Instead he stays behind the girls barking and guarding the rear.