Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

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Monday, October 17  Chattanooga to Lowe Branch Anchorage (past Watts Bar Lock)
68.8 miles
We had a long cruise through gently rolling countryside today.  Once again the sun shone bright upon us and temperatures rose to the comfortable 70s. 
As we appraoached a railroad bridge, a train came into sight and passed over it.  The train was carrying at least 100 identical generic white mobile homes that we imagined were on their way to provide disaster relief.  As we passed under the bridge, more flatcars carrying mobile homes continued to pass over us, with no end in sight.
The leaves are slowly and subtly changing color, but remain mostly green.  Since we aren't distracted by the beauty of color fall foliage, we can direct our full attention to gaping at the outrageous excess of the mega-mansion homes being built along the shore.  As we get further from Chattanooga, we can see silos, barns and an occaisonal field of dry corn stalks.
We passed two nuclear power plants, and saw two bald eagles soaring above us, the sun shining through the white feathers on their tails.  Over 100 black vultures roosted in trees and scavenged along the shore near our final lock of the day.
When it came time to start our second engine leaving the Watts Bar Lock, our battery died.  We switched batteries, and got going, but when it came time to drop anchor, the battery didn't even have enough power to run the winch.  After months of trouble-free cruising, we had a mechanical problem.
Our anchorage was a secluded little finger cove pointing into wooded banks.  It was just wide enough for our three boats to tuck into rafted up to each other. 
We each brought a steak over to Geminelli, and Jim grilled them, Frank made a gourmet Caesar Salad, Ellie made a rich potato casserole, and I supplied apple crisp. 
Dick thinks I write too much about food, but food and the fellowship that happens around it are a huge part of our life afloat.  Breaking bread together; finding restaurants where the locals gather; sampling local specialties; sharing ingredients and recipes that work well for galley preparation; and the ubiqitous dockside cocktail hour where boaters gather as strangers and leave as allies are all food-centered experiences that enrich our journey and make memories.
After charging our battery for a couple hours while we were over on Geminelli eating dinner, we returned to the boat, had a moment of hope when we turned the cabin lights on and they worked, but then had our hopes dashed as the lights dimmed within three minutes.  We switched to our working battery and resolved to replace the batteries as soon as we could find a place to do it.

Misty morning at Lowe Branch

October 18  Lowe Branch to Euchee Marina on Watts Bar Lake (Ten Mile,TN)
9.8 miles
Watts Bar Lake is the prettiest lake we have cruised on the Tennessee River.  It is surrounded by a gently sloping wooded landscape that meets the water with brilliant yellow and rusty orange shores.  There are lots of little coves, inlets and  Islands.  Mountains rise in the background.

We stopped at Euchee Marina so Main Course and Geminellie could take on fuel, but ended up staying when the marina owner told us that within a couple hours he could get us two new batteries identical to our bad battery and its partner.  We ordered the batteries from the marine supply, and the marina owner drove into town, about 50 miles away, to pick them up for us.  He charged us $10 for the pick-up and delivery, and $10 for the hour his strong young staff person spent helping Dick wrestle the old batteries out and maneuvering the new ones in.  (The batteries weigh 140 pounds each, and are ticked away in tight quarters in the engine room.)  We were flabbergasted at both the service and the price.  Dick tipped his helper twice what the marina charged for his labor.
We all decided to have lunch on the terrace of the marina restaurant while we waited for the batteries.  The terrace overlooks Watts Bar Lake and rolling mountains stretching into the distance at the lake's far shore.  The weather was clear and warm, the view was spectacular, and the restaurant's soup and salad bar was well-stocked.  We were almost glad we had this little battery problem, or we surely would have missed the experience of lunch at Euchee Marina.
By the time we finished lunch and the battery arrived, we decided to just stay the night.  We asked about a courtesy car, so we could get to the laundramat, and the marina owner gave us the keys to his new Cadillac Escalade.  No question -- this was the most luxurious marina loaner car we have ever driven. 
When dinnertime rolled around, we were still pretty full from lunch, so we all just sat around on the dock enjoying cocktails and appetizers in lieu of dinner as the sun went down.


Tennessee's Symbols:
Tennessee has one of the best state flags of all the places we have been.  According to my criteria, good flags are  graphically simple, easy to identify/remember, have meaningful symbols, and are attractive.  Tennessee's flag has it all.
The flag features three stars that stand for the state's three different landforms -- mountains in the east, highlands in the middle and lowlands in the west.  The stars are on a blue background inside an unbroken white circle that unites them, and the flag background is crimson.  A blue and a white stripe along the edge make the flag attractive when it is just hanging limply from the flagpole.  (What other state flag designer thought about this frequent condition of the flag and included a design element to accomodate it?)
Tennessee has six official state songs!  They cover the gamut of musical styles from traditional to bluegrass. The most traditional song is "My Homeland, Tennessee," with words by Nell Grayson Taylor:
Oh Tennessee, that gave us birth,
To thee our hearts bow down.
For thee our love and loyalty
Shall weave a fadeless crown . . .
A more nostalgic tune is "When it's iris Time in Tennessee," by Willa Ward Newman (adopted  in 1935):
Sweetness of Spring memories bring
Of a place I long to be
Land of Sunshine call this old heart of mine
Come back to Tennessee.
Then there's the "Tennessee Waltz," with words by Redd Stewart that tell the story of a guy who is waltzing with his darling, introduces her to an old friend, and then finds himself alone on the dance floor as his darling runs off with his friend.  What kind of a state song is this?
The official state public school song, "My Tennessee," adopted in 1955, clearly states Tennessee's position on including creationism in the public school curriculum:
Beloved state, oh state of mine,
In all the world I could not find,
Where God has strewn with lavish hand,
More natural beauty o'er the land.
From ev'ry stream and valley green
His wondrous art is ever seen . . .
There is another song called "Tennessee," adopted in 1992, which doesn't really have any words worth noting.
Saving the best for last, Tennessee has one state song that I would bet is played more often than all its other state songs put together:  "Rocky Top."  Who among us has not sung this chorus?
Rocky Top, you'll always beeeeee
Home sweet home to meeeeee.
Good old Rocky Top,
Rocky Top, Tennessee.

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