The Tennessee River is a beautiful waterway, complete with thick foliage, wooded islands and enchanting embayments. It varies in depth and width: sometimes branches dangling in the water and at other times grandiose sandstone bluffs stand sentinel with magnificent homes commanding spectacular views. The scenery is ever changing as we follow the gently snaking path of the buoys: a nuclear power plant; coal power plants; a built up industrial area; railway and vehicle bridges to sail under or asked to be raised; dodging catfish pots and logs and a couple of tires! We have conversed with tow barges; lock masters; and river boat people. All have been unfailingly courteous and welcoming.
The waterway is in almost pristine condition. Turtles are playful. The bird life is prolific, blue herons, ducks and Canadian Geese, and what look like little blue wrens, are in abundance. We’ve seen osprey and an unconfirmed bald eagle. The fish are plentiful and the Tennessee River is the playground for fishermen along its length. Today we saw a deer at the water’s edge.
Deep South language and culture are a delight. The graciousness of southerners is constant, even when you almost accidentally knock into them in Walmart, it is they who are first to apologize, even though it is not their fault.
“Y’all” means “you all” and “Y’all’all” equates to “yous” in Australian parlance (plural of you).
“Putzing” means “tinkering around” and we’ve done lots of it!
“Lockdown” means you enter the lock to be lowered down the river. “Lockup” means you enter the lock to be raised. So far we have gone up the Tennessee River to Chickamauga at elevation 682 ft above sea level. We have entered locks: Chickamauga 48 ft; Nickajack 39 ft; Guntersville 39 ft; Wheeler 48 ft; and the big one, Wilson 93 ft. Took us half an hour to descend in Wilson.
“Slip” means a berth, not to be confused with “on the hard” which means to be slipped in Australia. It’s a whole new language. And a smile is a smile in everyone’s language.
We had a lovely stopover in the picturesque port of Florence. We were able to use the courtesy car for sightseeing purposes and then again to take us into town for lunch and then dinner. A courtesy car is provided free of charge to Loopers and transients. Yep – I like this southern hospitality!
We were also serenaded all night long with the haunting sound of train horns and birds chirping. Back home, birds chirp an hour or so before dawn. Not here! We became confused, thinking it was time to get up, when it was only 2am. Birds don’t seem to sleep in Florence! Nor do fishermen who launch boats at 2 and 3am.
On this leg the pace is slow and leisurely. Almost Tom Sawyer-like. It is peaceful and unhurried. As we head to Aqua on Pickwick Lake, we head to the busyness end of our holiday – the winterisation of Bushranger. This solid and sturdy and oh, so pretty boat, will be put into hibernation until we next awaken her to continue Bushranger’s Legs.
On Sunday we start our road trip from Memphis to New Bern in North Carolina. Here we will attend the American Great Loop Cruising Association rendezvous, before heading back home.
Thanks for joining us on this first leg.
Such is life.