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The riverboat ride is like life itself. It starts with uncertainty as we navigate the complexity of travel to and from. The American Splendor vessel itself is just wonderful. So many things made our journey so beautiful. Including a few exquisite sunsets.

As I sat in my comfy bed, one night, I watched the world go by. What an amazing feeling. As the day turns into night the view is so peaceful. Then, like life itself, the road can get bumpy. I wake to rain pounding the water and I hear the thunder and storm so vividly. My mind seems to feel the bumps in the road. Perhaps that happens with all of us, but how can I know?

The river is narrow. The river is wide. The endless trees and greenery make me believe I am in the Amazon. I see some homes whose owners have this view. Again, the lightning and thunder feel like my life is once in a while – exquisite moments mixed with turmoil. This experience is becoming so much more than I ever dreamed or expected.

I see someone in a small boat pulling someone on a tube of sorts. It brings back memories of life at Lake Lanier with the boys.

At night we keep our curtains pulled wide open over the patio door. I watch the outline of trees in the dark and an occasional light in a few homes. Fascinating. I see the world as it sleeps. Our boat continues in the dark. The light of the moon makes it a soft beauty to ponder.

Today is a full day in port, in Savannah, TN. We get off to explore a bit for a few hours. Most of the events to tour on this trip revolve around the Civil War or the Trail of Tears about Native Indians. Some family and friends are asking about fun and adventure. That is not what this cruise/journey is about. The staff and management onboard are very impressive. The food is superb and available in several locations on board. Wines, and a complete selection of more choices – are all included in the fare.

As we re-board, it is once again the magical cocktail hour. Music is played this evening, on the piano, which I love so much. Ken and I decided to dance. No one else was, but then when we sat down, had some beautiful comments made about us dancing. Perhaps many of the ladies were wishing…

The next day was a lazy day. Sweet little town, Florence, TN. So much history in these towns. Our boat has 6 levels. We mostly use 4. I made it a promise (to myself) to walk them up and down all of the time rather than use the elevators. We had a special viewing of the Captain’s navigation area. We learned there is no AUTO pilot on a paddlewheel boat. We also learned a great deal about the “locks” that we go through, often at night, but fascinating to watch in the daylight. Hard to imagine that the river would be at so many different levels.

On the last day or so, I began reflecting on what I might have expected of this cruise, versus what I may have hoped for. Having ample time to sit in the outside comfy areas with a total view of both sides of the river, many were also sitting quietly with pen and pad, reflecting on what was, what is, and what might be. 

Sitting under cover, as the rain fell softly on the water, I loved watching the world go by.

Beverly Kievman Copen 
Entrepreneur / author / photographer.

Tennessee River Cruise aboard American Splendor, 8/2/23