Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grand Canyon of Tennessee

Days on cruise:  198

Distance traveled:  34.7 miles

Travel time:  4 hrs, 11 mins

Total trip odometer:  4,413 statute miles

It was 48 degrees when we got up this morning. Lynn and David think they might not wear the shorts, capris and sandals they brought along. We headed upriver toward Chattanooga and through a section called “The Grand Canyon of Tennessee”. The escarpments are high, hillsides are steep, and scenery is beautiful, but it doesn’t really look anything like the Grand Canyon. Too many trees, for example.


It was cloudy, gray and chilly, but Bob turned on the generator and ran the electric heater on the fly bridge while we were underway, so we were comfortable.


The current ran 1 – 1.5 mph against us, and we had no locks to transit.


Scenery varied from undeveloped shoreline to cabins to industrial sites to grand homes.


Riverboats, including paddle boats, occasionally dotted the shoreline.


Most homes were not on tall stilts like we’ve seen so much of the way down the Midwest and Southern rivers.


Kudzu, an invasive vine that’s eating up the entire countryside throughout the south, is prominent much of the way, enveloping trees and shrubs, and giving the landscape a uniformity that belies Nature.


We arrived at Chattanooga shortly after noon, tied up to a marina that’s really a town wall on the Tennessee River, ate lunch and hit the city to see the sights. Public bike racks are common around the downtown streets, with payment kiosks where you swipe your credit card, open the lock, and take a bike for a specified period of time. Bike lanes, sidewalks, and pedestrian corridors are everywhere in this well-planned, well-laid-out city of about 175,000 people.


We still had the rental car, so drove across the river to a charming part of town featuring art shops, restaurants, and the Kudzu Festival (!).  Really. One shop featured clever, ingenious cards and items, and a kudzu haiku contest with hilarious results posted in the window.


A Diversity street fair was underway on another corner at another park.


Sidewalks featured a series of inlaid brass footprints, numbered to designate the steps of various dances, and Cathryn convinced a young couple walking by to give us a demonstration.


Art vendors occupied another space, which also included a genuine Steinway piano on which a couple of different folks played, very well!


The sun came out  in the afternoon as we wandered the streets, and there were nice vistas in the distance.


We’re impressed with the city of Chattanooga, and they’ve done a lot to make it a friendly, accessible, attractive place to visit, including lots of public art, a River Walk and more.

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