” . . . in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)
Intution Diaries: Cumberland River
October 26, 2018
Shute’s Access anchorage
As I’ve mentioned before, while I’m preparing and dreaming about one of our boat adventures, I have lots of intentions and expectations. I learned recently that the degree of my disappointment can be proportionately measured by the difference between my understanding of reality and my expectations of a situation.
My disposition this trip seems to be tracking with the weather. The first few days were sunny and warm during the day, and even with chilly mornings and evenings, I was settling into a cozy mood. But then Gallatin happened. We arrived with the first rain of our trip. I was looking forward to a hot shower, and a break from making dinner. Both of which, I did get. We are traveling during off season, and we expect less people around, and we actually enjoy the solitude.
I guess after four days of quiet, and little more than friendly waves from the bass boaters, I was looking for a warm welcome. The dock staff weren’t there when we pulled up. That’s to be expected, it’s off season. We call, and they send some folks down. I expected them to say hello and ask about our trip, but mostly I had to ask them questions and start conversation. Ok, so their southern hospitality was kind of chilly. Maybe we’d meet some friendly folks at the restaurant.
Around 5pm, we walked over to Awedaddy’s restaurant, which is nestled right next to the marina. A chef looking person was outside talking on his cell phone, and we couldn’t really figure out the entrance. Some people were sitting in an outdoor bar area, but it was chilly and I wanted to eat indoors. A staff person inside saw us searching for the entrance and directed us to the bar area. No one at the bar area acknowledged us, and we didn’t see a hostess. So we went inside and let them know we still couldn’t figure out how to be served. We met the hostess finally, and I thought she said sit anywhere outside, so I grumpily picked a table by the outdoor heater. Les intervened, and told me they did say we could eat inside; so we moved. And we had a nice dinner, and I tried to be friendlier, but all said, I was a little disappointed.
We went back to the boat, and each of us got on our computers. Our reading together sidelined for the evening. We went to bed, dreaming of our next destination, an anchorage between Gallatin and Nashville.
Sleep was interrupted by a loud, pounding bass line from the neighboring dock. Apparently the owners of the boat, expecting it to be off-season, didn’t think they would be disturbing anyone else on the docks at two in the morning. The noise lasted an hour or so, and since no staff were around, we really didn’t have any recourse to ask them to tone it down. We did get back to sleep, and woke to a rainy day. I was getting ready to be REALLY grumpy, when I decided why not take a walk in the rain. Surprisngly, walking helped my expectations for the day. I decided that after lunch, when we left the marina, I would have a crafty day making collages and enjoying the quiet ride down the river.
We got to our anchorage and let the dog do her thing on shore, before anchoring out for the night. We grilled turkey burgers in the spitting rain and I fried some more apples. I’m glad to report, we escaped the noise and slept well. I was excited to head to Nashville the next day. My expectations were high.
October 27, 2018
We left our anchorage after breakfast, and one last shore break for Kokomo. It was a gray day, but I was on my way to Music City. I had booked a tour at the Hatch Show Print shop. I located a Jerry’s Artarama near where we planned to dock. Les and I planned to eat out and maybe catch a blues band in downtown.
Our morning went smoothly, as we headed down river toward the Old Hickory lock. We called in and the lock master told us it would be twenty minutes to fill the tank, and then he’d give us the green light to come in and be on our way. Les drove us in after the gates opened. On the gate a blue heron stood sentinel, welcoming us into the tank. We caught the floating bollard on our first try, and I took photos and video, while we floated down. We entered the section of the river called Cheatham Lake. We had 20 miles or so to go until Nashville.
Late morning, the clouds were breaking some, and my mood was lifting.
And then we encountered some barge traffic. The Cumberland is much narrower than the Mississippi, so navigating around barges takes more concentration. Thankfully Les can concentrate, even when his wife is unreasonably freaking out about the closeness of the barge, which happens to beep at us five times. (Or maybe the barge captain was letting the kayakers know that he was coming down, because he had already communicated with Les that he was going to pass us, and made all the arrangements to do so.) It just seemed too close for comfort, and then another barge was coming up river towards us at the same time. I was ramping up into hysteria, and Les remained calm and kept boating, while I gave unsolicited suggestions of where to drive the boat and how fast to go.
I just wanted to get to our reserved spot at the Nashville dock, which we did. And we didn’t even come close to being smooshed by a barge, just rocked.
Our reservation for the night was along a floating dock right below the pedestrian bridge that goes from the Titans stadium to downtown. The view was amazing! And once we got settled, even though the boated rocked quite a bit whenever a tow cruised past, it was shaping up to be a fun time exploring the city.
Except, I had some expectations tied to my intentions. And I still wasn’t quite relaxing like a person on a really nice, cool vacation. Reality is that at this point on a ten-day boat excursion, we start thinking about stuff we need to do when we get home. We think about where are we heading next, do we have enough food left and clean clothes? And I begin to grieve a little bit because I know the fun and adventure will come to an end.
That morning, a friend posted the prompt: “Note to self:”
I laugh now, but I wrote this in response: “Note to self: You’re on vacation! Relax, already!”
I had to return to that note off and on throughout our stay in Nashville. I was longing for crowds and finding new places to explore. Les was figuring out where we were, and how we were going to get to dinner and take care of the dog and pay our bills back home. (Just because we’re on the boat and on vacation doesn’t mean all responsibility falls to the side, no matter how much I’d like to make that my alternate reality.) So back to relaxing.
I walked over to the Hatch Print Show shop, and learn the history of this company that has been hand carving and setting letters and images, and then printing posters since 1879. (Until recently it was a family owned and run business, now they are partners with Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.) I was in my artsy happy zone.
I bought some mementos and headed back to the boat. After some adjusting of expectations, Les walked with me to the art store and a nice restaurant that he found on the east side of Nashville. We had decided we’d go over to downtown for music after dinner, and after checking on the dog.
It was the Saturday before Halloween, and everything just seemed a bit over the top for our tastes. We saw the neon lights, we crushed through the crowds, spotted the Ryman theater, the cowboy boot stores, heard the music blaring from the honky tonks. About two blocks in, we looked at each other and agreed let’s go back to the boat. I saw GooGoo’s ice cream place on our way back, but they had just closed. Les suggested we walk over to the convenience store on the other side of the river. I got ice cream. He bought a bar of soap. We stood in line with ghouls, ghosts and all kinds of other wayfarers in the land. As we strolled back to the boat, we just marveled at how out of our league we really were. No wonder they call this place “Crazy Town.” I snapped some awesome photos of the river lit up at night, and then we called it a night at 8pm. Just above the boat docks, a wedding party was celebrating with 80s music. Their tunes sang us to sleep far into the night.
Harpeth River anchorage
This morning we woke up to quiet. As we walked across the bridge back into downtown to have breakfast, we heard the birds singing, as the sun rose over the river tinting it pink. I had donned my new T-shirt that reads “Do Not Disturb” for the day. I had Les take my picture, pretending I was an up and coming C&W star. We ate at The Diner. People were dressed up like cats, security guards and chefs. After a while we realized they were the wait staff just getting off their evening shift. We enjoyed people watching, drinking our coffee and eating our hearty breakfasts. We took some of the breakfast back to the boat to save for lunch.
We both agreed we were done with Nashville, so before the barges started their shift. We backed off the dock and headed down river once again, with three full days of vacation still ahead.
Our intentions will most likely not meet all our expectations, but reality is that we are blessed beyond compare.
And our anchorage tonight is remote, beautiful and quiet.