Sunday, September 23, 2007

More cruising the Tennessee River

Hello all:
Let's start with some more lovely scenery. It is amazing how beautiful this country is, and we never get tired of looking. This is Pilot Knob, the tallest hill along the immediate riverbank for many miles, and a landmark for Tennessee riverboat pilots since the 1840s.

You often hear people use the phrase "sharp dividing line." Cruising gives you a keen appreciation for just how sharp dividing lines can be, for example, the line between water that is deep enough for your boat, and water that is not.

On the Tennessee River there are several sharp dividing lines. Some are both geographical and philosophical, for example, the line between places with cell phone coverage and those without. Our first picture showed high banks of shale and limestone, while here the shoreline is clay and sand with farmland nearby.

Along with the scenery, we often get a look at wildlife. Here a family of raccoons are rummaging along the beach, probably getting mussels.

We've seen deer swimming in the waterways several times along this trip, seen turtles, and huge needlenose gar jumped in front of the Winnie W. ....wish we'd got a photo of that!

The Great Loop is a great trip for birdwatching. Here is a huge flock of birds that Doug swears looked & flew like pelicans.

There are also eagles along the Tennessee River, although we haven't seen any. Osprey are common along North Carolina coast, so we haven't found them remarkable here... but this species (also called fish hawks) were extinct in the region and re-introduced.

There are a lot of small marinas along Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River; boating is very popular.

This marina gets the prize for most interesting sign. It is mentioned in the cruising guides as an "interesting sign" but not what it looks like, so we thought we'd show you a picture.

A little further upriver (actually south, a bit hard to get used to) there is Lady Finger Bluff (link to topo map). Our Looper burgee has flown proudly with landmarks all along the way, some more famous... here you can see it in the breeze as we approach the bluff.

The legend is that in olden times, a pioneer cabin near this cliff was attacked by Indians. The woman of the pioneer family chose to leap from the bluff rather than surrender to the Indians.

Here is a better view of the same bluff. As the glaciers retreated, the area of central Tennessee rose in a sort of dome. This is the western edge of the "Highland Rim" around Nashville which was formed rising land & cut by the river during the Cenozoic era.

Kelley's Island (link to GoogleMap) is a cozy anchorage with very few mosquitos. The cruising guides recommended it. When we can, I like to anchor near islands and walk Hank on them, because that way we are less likely to trespass and Hank is less likely to disappear into the hills chasing a deer or something. When this photo was taken, Winnie W. had been underway for about 8 hours... a full day for a young dog... and he was eager to check out his new temporary territory.

This morning (Sunday) the Winnie W. continues to wend our way through the rocky hills of west Tennessee. A little bit of fog adds romance to the scene; you might have to click on the photo to see the big version but the river channel goes first to the right, then to the left.

The next set of bends in the channel present some cliffs, exposing more of the Highland Rim. This is another of those sharp dividing lines. At places along the lower Tennessee River, we see high cliffs of limestone on ones side, or the other. At other places, somewhat lower bluffs of clay & chalk. At no place along the lower river are there bluffs on both sides; so the river cut along the edge of two geologic formations.... no doubt this partially accounts for it's winding path.

Tonight the Winnie W. is anchored at Diamond Island (link to GoogleMap), just downstream from the 2nd lock & dam on the Tennessee River and not far from yet another dividing line, the border with Mississippi. We are also very close to the Shiloh battlefield.

Carrying the "dividing line" theme yet further, tomorrow morning we will (if all goes well) cross the latitude of our starting point at New Bern NC and will be on the southernmost part of our Great Loop cruise.

We hope that you are well and happy-
Doug and Kathie

1 comment:

Second Wind said...

Ahhhhh, we're loving your blog and are Looping vicariously through you. The amazing thing about the Tennessee River is that although it is gorgeous, very, very few people actually cruise it. Most boats -- even in the summer -- are fishermen or day boaters. That was US too, until we got hooked on the notion of doing the Great Loop. By the way, when you see an empty boat with a diver's flag, it is most likely a mussel diver. There is quite an industry selling mussels from the Tennessee River. Originally, the mussels were sold to Japan, where the shells were used to culture pears. Now, I think they are sold for other uses -- maybe for our dining pleasure? I'm not sure about that; maybe we'll ask Fred Myers, who knows EVERYTHING there is to know about this area.
Liz and Bob