November 4 – 8, 2019 The Tennessee River, Part 1

November 4 – 8, 2019       The Tennessee River, Part 1

We left Green Turtle Bay with beautiful skies, light winds and 50 degrees.  Great day for a boat ride!  Now we were on the Tennessee River.  Almost 5 hours later we arrived at Paris Landing State Park, after a bit of a navigation problem.  Electronic apps are great, except when they are not.  Even though we had programmed in our “draft” (the clearance we need for the boat UNDER the water line), the automatic program took us to shallow water to approach the marina.  Fortunately we were going slow and were able to back up and call for specific approach instructions.  We gave a warning to the other boats not to trust the route.  It was a nice marina and it had lots of places to walk and enjoy the beautiful day.  Saw lots of deer on the golf course.

The 5th was a LONG day – 91 miles.  Started early and watched the clouds disperse as the morning progressed. The sides of the river were so interesting to see.  One side would be a high hill, and directly across, the other side would be flat.  The stone walls of the river had horizontal striations that were beautiful.  We continued to meet and pass tows.  One captain was particularly helpful when he warned us of a big sandbar that extended farther than usual.  The green buoy was laying ON the sandbar!  Nice to be forewarned.  After nine hours we arrived at Clifton Marina.  It was a small marina tucked into a hillside.  The new owners were eager to please, and they had a small eating area and store next to the docks. From inside during happy hour, we could look directly at our boat outside the window!

The next morning we woke up to fog, which was so pretty, but not good traveling conditions.  We waited a short while and were able to leave a little after 8 AM.  We were traveling with Here’s to Us and Just Us. Saw some beautiful scenery and more hints of fall color.  The colors aren’t extraordinary this year; just have to find those pockets where the leaves have turned before falling off.  Turned out to be a lucky day at the lock.  Went thru Pickwick Lock – NO wait time —  and just a few miles south of that, we were on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  This waterway was cut by the Corps of Engineers to link the Tennessee River with Mobile Bay.  It is still a highly commercialized waterway, but not so much as the Mississippi River.   This is the main reason that most recreational boats use this waterway to reach the Gulf area.

We pulled into the Grand Harbor Marina, a pretty large marina with 300 berths.  We somehow rated a covered slip – sweet!  We checked in and were told that there was a boaters’ lounge on the first floor of the adjacent condo building.  We walked there and what did we find beside the lounge?  The Vitamin Sea Medical Clinic!  What a clever name! Turned out to be a good thing to find as Ed was having some bronchitis problems.

Visited with several other Loopers here.  Had docktails in the lounge on the 7thand met some new people.  The more the merrier.

Shiloh Military National Park was nearby, and we used the courtesy car to go see it.  We were shocked to see the condition.  In late October, a tornado had gone thru the area and there were SO many trees down.  The park had been closed for a short time.  We were told that a Parks crew came in for 2 days and was able to clear all of the Park roads.  That was some fast work.

As we have come to expect from National Parks, there was a great film and excellent exhibits at the Visitor’s Center.  This area, including Corinth, MS, was critical in the Civil War because there was a crossing of two vital rail lines at this point:  The north-south Mobile & Ohio Railroad and the east-west Memphis and Charleston Railroad.  These lines were critical for both armies to transport needed goods, and both the Union and Confederate armies wanted control. The east-west line was a lifeline for the Confederates, and the Union army knew if they could capture control, that the Confederates would be severely crippled.  There were actually three encounters – The Battle of Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, and the Battle of Corinth.  The Union troops were ultimately successful, but the casualties were greater than 33,000 – almost evenly divided between the two sides.   More casualties would result AFTER the battles, as the burial of so many soldiers resulted in contamination of the waters in the area that the Union troops occupied.

After the Visitor’s Center, we toured the battlefield by car and a phone app that gave us info at various designated stopping points.  Being ON the battlefield always gives a very different perspective of what the troops were facing as compared to a map of the field.  After leaving this area, we continued to Corinth to visit the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, another great resource of information regarding the battles in that area.

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