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The Simple Life in Tennessee

August 29, 2014
Our second state to explore, was Tennessee with three stops on the agenda.  The first was Pikeville, Tennessee to visit Fall Creek Falls State Park.  The drive through north Georgia and into eastern Tennessee was spectacular.  On the drive you are given raging river views, mountain views at every turn and jagged cliffs line the edge of the road.  Such a serene drive before landing at our destination in the middle of nowhere.  We had booked a campground in the middle of Amish country.  This took us by surprise, but it was a nice surprise.  There were horse and buggies on the winding roads and Amish markets set up on the corners.  This was the land of the simple life.  It was like stepping back in time and soon our kids had lots of questions about their lifestyle, which later made for a fun research project.  Endless amounts of learning opportunities surface everywhere when travelling.  
Apparently, we also landed in the middle of the “longest yard sale” in the world on the 127 corridor. 
These yard sales stretch from Gadsden, Alabama all the way to Addison, Michigan.  How something like this gets started, I’m not real sure.  It goes on for an entire week and it was quite the site, let me tell you.  Vendors everywhere coming in and setting up in every parking lot.  In the small local towns, traffic comes to a crawl.  We spent a day checking this out, but soon realized it was best to avoid going into town which seemed to take hours round trip and this event was really the ONLY thing to see here as the towns didn’t have much more to offer.  We spent the last month before leaving selling almost all of our stuff, so that’s the last thing I want to see is more stuff!  
The pride of this part of Tennessee, and the reason we came, was definitely the Fall Creek Falls State Park.  This park is a nature lover’s dream from the moment you drive up.  Driving through you see deer frolicking under the trees and these winding roads take you over rushing mountain water.  What makes this place special are the many sparkling, majestic waterfalls waiting for you to step away from the busy world to come and play all day.  Fall Creek Falls is not only the main attraction here, but is also the tallest waterfall in the Eastern U.S.  There is a reason this is the main attraction.  This 256 foot tall waterfall is impressive to say the least and in the most picturesque setting imaginable.  After a mile hike to the viewing area, followed by a difficult hike down rocks the entire next half mile or more to the bottom of the falls, it is the small price you have to pay to view this beauty.  When you finally reach the bottom and round the last corner to view the falls it feels like stepping into a movie scene.  Time seems to slow down once you reach this escape from it all.  From below the falls, you have a crescent shaped 250 foot rock cliff towering over you, large boulders beneath, birds flying above, a cool continuous breeze and the gentle falls flowing into an emerald pool.  Although, you do lose something by visiting a place like this—all your worries in the world.
However, this wasn’t the only amazing place in this park.  There was also Cane Creek Cascade Falls. This little piece of paradise was better than any resort style swimming pool you could imagine.  A much smaller, wider waterfall trickling down the side of a mountain into a huge swimming area.  Kids, and every kid at heart (including Tom and I), sliding into the water off the rocks of the waterfall or jumping from the ledge into the deep pool beneath.  I’m not sure why anyone would ever visit the “real” pool, which they do have on site and it was empty by the way, for good reason.  Although, catch this same waterfall after a big downpour of rain and you are in for a very different scene, which we also witnessed.  One of white water terror, not ideal for swimming.  These are the types of places that make our journey memorable.  In these last three weeks every place so far has had something unique to offer us. 
The only thing that makes any place like this better is sharing it with others.  We were lucky enough to have Tom’s dad, Dan, and his wife, Donna, come to visit us and explore the park for the entire day.  We ended the day with s’mores by the fire and the appearance of the year’s best supermoons in the sky.
After a week in the Pikeville we were ready to move on to a new place and catch a different vibe of Tennessee.  Our sights were set on Nashville and the big city lights were calling our name.  We arrived to Cedar Creek campground outside of Nashville and found ourselves lucky enough to have a lakefront view right from our new home.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have but three days to explore Nashville. 
We took a stroll downtown to feel the city buzz, took Bless to the local dog park (which she enjoyed immensely) and visited the Parthenon which is the only full size replica in the world of the original one in Greece. 
We also had the privilege of working with Hands on Nashville at their urban farm for our “Not So” Random Acts of Kindness Project.  Adam, the director of the program, was extremely knowledgeable and we learned about this program’s past as well as agriculture.  He explained how this neighborhood was flooded by the 2010 flood and then deemed a flood zone where no other homes could be built.  The city allowed Hands on Nashville to turn the 58+ lots into an urban farm, to make something positive out of the devastation.  This farm assists with educating kids and teens in the area about nutrition, hosting camps, and feeding the less fortunate communities in Nashville with the healthy produce they grow.  This was somewhat a selfish pursuit of mine, I have to admit, because one thing I miss by being on the road is the ability to have a garden and grow my own food. 
So getting to enjoy this hobby of mine while knowing our family was doing something great for the community was definitely a win-win.
Before leaving Nashville I think we hit up Publix like every day, assuming we wouldn’t see one again (yes, we seriously have a problem), and then headed off to Land Between the Lakes. 
When we originally made this a stop, we had assumed this stop would land us in Kentucky, but soon found that Land Between the Lakes is split between both Tennessee and Kentucky and our campsite was on the south end, so we hadn’t left Tennessee.  Land Between the Lakes was beautiful and we had a great time, but towards the end of the week it was a very uncomfortable.  The last couple of days ended with an ugly thing called “chiggers” for all four of us which in turn led to no sleep, constant miserable itching and sucking down Benadryl for 4 straight days.  If you have never heard of these monsters, although so small you can barely see them with the naked eye, consider yourself lucky.  I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy.  Besides this, our family did attempt 10 miles of mountain biking and conquered the Devil’s Backbone trail.  We all made it out, minus some massive black and blue bruises on one of my legs from almost flipping my bike.  I will say it was absolutely  worth every bit of the bruise it left and having the opportunity to do this as a family, makes it that much sweeter.  The one thing that amazed all of us about this park was the wildlife.  We were lucky enough to live where we saw wildlife every single day.  We were living in their world, everything from deer, raccoons, foxes, chipmunks, woodpeckers, snakes, frogs, turtles and not to mention that Mr. Pepe Le Pew lived in the hole right next to our campsite.  We spotted him about five nights in and felt lucky that we had escaped the week without any special present from our newfound friend.  Thank goodness. 
We were happy for our time across Tennessee, but as always it is exciting hitting the road to what’s ahead–a new state, a new adventure, a new chance to explore this incredible planet.

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