We are officially back on the Tennessee River and on our last few days of travel before being home again. This is easy and nice cruising now. First of all, because it's our home territory and we know it well - no planning, we know the stops, mileages, and possibilities. Second, because it is simply beautiful and the water is clean again after the waters of the Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers. Third, just about all of the marinas have courtesy cars and that's helpful since most locations are somewhat remote and not close enough for a walk or bike ride to get to anything.
I'm going to do this post a little differently than previous ones - not many comments unless necessary, and I'd like to just plug in some scenery shots along the way so you can enjoy the ride with us. This will cover Kenlake, Pebble Isle, Clifton, Pickwick, and Florence locations.
We departed Green Turtle Bay with no plans whatsoever. We lasted 21 miles and decided to try a marina we have never visited before - Kenlake. Another Gold Looper couple helped us dock and invited us aboard for story-swapping time. That's always fun. Did you go here? Did you go there? What did you think about.......?
Houseboats are common and huge on the Tennessee.
We left Kenlake the next morning after waiting on some fog to clear out. It was pretty cool to cruise with the Nina and the Pinta for a long time.
And do you remember the duck blinds on the Illinois River? We go a little overboard with them here in Tennessee and Alabama! Well, that might be an exaggeration. This an old warehouse that was flooded when they dammed up the river many years ago and it's still standing.
Our next stop was Pebble Isle Marina in New Johnsonville, TN - it's a great and popular stop and has the cheapest fuel on the river - always. They make cinnamon buns and coffee for Loopers in the morning, but we refueled and were on our way before they had a chance to get them ready for us.
And it's clear that even when traveling in Tennessee, people from Alabama aren't afraid to display their team spirit. Roll Tide!
After Pebble Isle, we headed for Clifton, TN with the gold burgee leading the way.
There are a couple of river stone dredges in operation. We figure they are producing about a 20-pound bag of decorative pebbles every couple of seconds to sell at Wal-Mart and Lowes - there could be some profits there.
I was napping at the time so I appreciate Rhonda getting a shot of this really nice sign at Mermaid Marina. I sure don't want to miss anything!
Thunderstorms had been forecast for the afternoon, only a 30% chance so we took that chance. We barely skirted the edge of some pretty good ones but made it in to Clifton without any problems. Exactly 4000 miles on the new chartplotter since it was installed in Jacksonville, FL.
The city was almost the state capital of Tennessee but it didn't happen, and it is now a nice small town resting on the bluffs/cliffs of the river (cliffs, Clifton - get it?). We also appreciated the marina courtesy car since we were out of a boater staple - ice cream.
Yes, this caught us by surprise also, a couple of goats out along the river (one is down low behind a tree). OK Adam and Jen - grandkids picture.
Here's a good sign you are back in the south. Wanna build a new home? Just stack some truck containers on top of each other!
And if you need a small utility trailer for your personal use, just take the tail end of a wrecked car and weld a trailer hitch to it. Voila! And park it on your back porch of course.
We did not recall all of the cypress trees along the banks but there are quite a few.
There are lots more homes along the banks now than when we were last through here 5 years ago. Where there are no homes, there's farmland.
Kudzu is another sign you are in the South - great for preventing erosion as it grows very thick and quickly covers everything in its path.
This is a cool picture with the heron's wings barely touching the surface of the water.
There is some serious history in the area. 23,000 soldiers died in the Civil War battle at Shiloh. Grant was at this home when he heard the first shots of the battle.
And this may be one of the prettiest homes and landscaping of the trip. Beautiful.
You might want to have good brakes going down and four-wheel drive on the way up here.
When it gets too steep, just build your own rail lift/tram system - forget roads and steps!
This is inside Pickwick Landing Lock. It's huge, about 1200 feet long, and that's the smaller chamber of the two locks here!
There are three popular stops at Pickwick - Pickwick Landing State Park, Grand Harbor, and Aqua Yacht Harbor. They are all first class but we went with the State Park because we wanted some good ole southern home cooking - meats and veggies. Desserts like plum and peach cobbler and banana pudding don't hurt anything either.
Help Me Rhonda with all of the sailboats.
We only stayed one night at Pickwick Landing and headed out early the next morning for Florence, AL. You are in and out of TN, AL, and MS for lots of miles in this stretch as their state boundaries all meet in this area, but you eventually get to Sweet Home Alabama - I'm Coming Home To You! The scenery remains beautiful and you pass under the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge which runs from Jackson, MS to Nashville, TN.
Depending on the current water levels, you may see some sections of the earlier canals and locks before the newer and larger facilities were constructed.
Steep cliffs right before you reach the Florence Harbor Marina.
Here's the entrance to the marina and as you can see, the Nina and Pinta have arrived ahead of us.
And on an exciting but slightly sad note, THIS IS OUR LAST NIGHT OUT! We are only 30 miles and 2 locks from home and should be there tomorrow. Looking forward to being back at our marina and condo on the river at Bay Hill Village. "Help Me Rhonda" is probably looking forward to a little rest also - she has certainly served us well.