The month of October is usually a great weather month in our home state of South Carolina, and as we headed east on the Tennessee River, we found it to be much the same in Alabama. Mild sunny days and cool nights were the norm, and we were excited to see a preview of fall color as we made our way through the river gorge on the way to Chattanooga. We cruised in company of “Roundabout” (Ken and Terry Westby) for four days as we made our way across the state of Alabama and through the 30 mile long “Grand Canyon of Tennessee”.

The City of Chattanooga was as wonderful as we remembered when our daughter Katie went to college there in the late 90’s. We could see the Bell Tower of Covenant College on the backside of Lookout Mountain as we came up the river! Our slip at MarineMax was within walking and biking distance of all of the main attractions of one of the most family friendly towns in America (in our opinion). It is obvious that this city has spent a great deal of thought and money on the planning and construction of buildings and infrastructure that emphasize art, history, fitness, family fun and the conservation of natural areas, especially around the river front. As usual, we found it much easier to see the sights from the seat of our bikes. We have grown to really love our ability to secure the boat at the marina and immediately lift the bikes over the rail and onto the dock for a tour of the towns and parks that we visit. We have been able to see so much more on our bikes than if we were restricted to walking and the bikes were particularly great in a city like Chattanooga, where it seemed to be designed with biking in mind.

Our good friends, John and Lori Pitner, drove from Mount Pleasant, SC to Chattanooga to spend a few sightseeing and cruising days with us. After spending a little time in Chattanooga, we shared a bit of our looper life with them by cruising a couple of 6 hour days, spending a night at a pristine anchorage, visiting a couple of small town marinas, and of course, negotiating a couple of big locks. Our days together were filled with beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, delicious meals, great music, a few southern dance lessons and wonderful fellowship. We thank God for friends who are willing to move into our little home for a while and share a little piece of our cruising life, as well as bringing fun and interesting news from home.

Stel and I are now coming close to the end of our Tennessee River side trip. Our eastward trip to Chattanooga and back added about 500 miles to the loop, which took us a total of 17 days. During this time, we encountered a few stiff winds, swift currents, intense thunderstorms, thick fog and slow locks. But more memorably, we experienced beautiful blue skies, calm water, romantic sunsets, a unique southern city and great friendships.