by Linda Donson-Shearer
Growing up in the innocent years of the 1950s and ‘60s and being one member of a family of educators and professional people, summertime was always great fun for us. We believed in gathering knowledge – we believed in traveling. So, we traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada to see and learn about the world – but we always included at least two weeks staying on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains. This repeated habit formed the basis for my recreational needs – the need for water – for relaxation and entertainment. Now, I can’t imagine vacationing, much less living, without being near water. This value is a constant in my life.
Three summers ago, my husband and I bought a speedboat to use on a vacation we were taking to the Adirondacks (good excuse). When we returned home to Ohio, we tried to use our boat on the lakes around Cincinnati and Indianapolis. It didn’t work for us. It seemed more trouble than it was worth and the lakes of the Midwest are disappointedly small and overcrowded. Selling the boat was out of the question, so the search was on to find an alternative lake for our boating pleasure.
Everyone talks about the “J” effect that is happening lately. This term refers to those snowbirds from the North who think they want to retire to Florida only to eventually backtrack to the Carolinas or Tennessee. My husband and I participated in the “B” effect. We skipped going to Florida altogether and made a beeline for Tennessee. For starters, we bought a lakefront lot on one of the Southern Great Lakes, as they are sometimes called.
The best-kept secret in Tennessee is Watts Bar Lake, the king of the Southern Great Lakes (and here I am, blabbing the news to everyone). I just can’t contain my excitement over finding such a wonderful place. Tennessee is there waiting for you, too, if you can bring yourself to get past your old false misconceptions. True, life seems somehow simpler, and some people and places are quaint because they can’t or don’t want to keep up with NYC. How refreshing! I’m personally fed up with crowds and traffic jams and rudeness and fearing for my safety.
On Watts Bar Lake, it’s never crowded because the lake is just too big. The majority of lakefront is owned and managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, so it still looks like wilderness. When you do pass someone in a boat, they actually wave at you. Isn’t that a hoot? Lakefront property values are still fairly reasonable, although that is changing quickly. Apparently, someone else besides me also blabbed.
Bottom-line, if you are a water lover and a crowd hater and enjoy rare birds like bald eagles and ospreys and nature and good fishing and water sports and friendly people, you need to check this area out. It’s not far from the Smokies, Knoxville and Chattanooga. There’s plenty to do, or you can just do nothing. I like that part the best!
My husband and I built a cedar home of our own design on the lake. We call it “Cheronac” in honor of his Cherokee heritage and my love of Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. For now, we are there every weekend, driving to and from Cincinnati. Someday, we hope to call it our only home.