Category Archives: Adventures

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Easter Sunrise

Saturday, 5 April, I finished my work at the factory early and, always being one to maximize an opportunity, decided to drive to the fabulous barrier islands of coastal Carolina known as the Outer Banks. The reason was simple, no need for fancy qualifications here, I wanted to take in a sunrise on the beach. So, hotel livin’ for the week, I borrowed the pullout bed covers and a pillow and took off for the coast!

I’ve heard that Wilson and the surrounding environs were at one point called the “Tobacco Capitol of the World,” and driving through the countryside, it was immediately apparent as to why. The land is vivid with color and the soil rich and dark. Things just grow here. I’ve included a picture below.

Coastal Carolina Farmland near Wilson, NC

Coastal Carolina farmland near Wilson, NC

Growing up in Indiana, surrounded by fields of corn and soybean for as far as the eye could see, I felt strangely at home while driving through this area. At once being reminded, based on local utilization of tree lines for wind breaks, of many a road trip north or south on I-65. Except for the hills (which reminded me of Wisconsin) and soil differences, I almost thought I was back home. It was interesting to say the least.

My intermediary destination was US-64 east which from Wilson gave me two options: Take the boring I-95 north and then east OR the more interesting, predominantly North Carolina backroad way to US-64. Choosing the latter, I profited immensely, as I’ve described above. No need to quote Frost but, when given a choice, take the more interesting if you have the time. Slow down. Be here now. Take it all in. Be part of something instead of just causally viewing the blur.

Headed to US64

Headed to US-64

After the back road experience, US-64 was almost a little bit too much civilization for me. It wasn’t the speed limit of 70, it wasn’t the nice roads, it was just the immediacy with which one could recognize the commercialism of the area. After driving for an hour and a half or so, I came upon an area of large, well-organized 60ft x 30ft buildings. I later found out that the buildings are for raising and then processing pigs. I also found out that the eastern region of North Carolina produces more pig products than anywhere else in the region. I used to be vegan. Well, I tried it for about six months. So, seeing the grand scale of this commercial processing operation was kind of disgusting. They just live their lives in these buildings and then eventually, they’re slaughtered. I doubt they ever really get to experience walking around in the pasture. It really makes you stop and think.

Not long after this US-64 went down to two lanes, letting me know that the ocean was less than an hour away. It was quite a scene really! As the sun was going down, everything gained a lovely shade of orange and red; the fiery orange glow of the western sky, coupled with great music, and the smell of Spring all around me, forever imprinted a memory into my brain. Not only that, the full moon coming up over the horizon, as large as I’ve ever seen it, let me know that I made a wise decision to drive out to the coast.

Sunset on 4 April

Sunset on 4 April

As the sun finally set, and twilight faded into darkness, I began to smell salinity in the air. A giddy air came over me. Ten years prior, several friends and I piled into my mother’s minivan and drove from Cookeville, TN, all the way to Nags Head, NC, for 1 week of fun on the beach. Ten years!. An entire decade had passed since I’d last seen the coast of North Carolina. That’s crazy! How much had I changed since then? A whole lot actually.

At 20 years old, life is pretty damn simple. Go to school, get good grades, and learn as much as possible so you can eventually get a coveted thing called a job to support yourself. Daily thoughts being occupied only really with school and what I wanted to do on the weekend. This, as most things in life I took for granted. Me being too absorbed in the day-to-day to really step back and give myself some perspective. That’s the beauty of aging, I had perspective now. Several things being obvious. At 20, besides being more physically fit and capable (read: less bio mechanical issues), able to eat anything I wanted without worry, I was still as headstrong as I am now, just more ignorant. Knowledge is power, and it’s most powerful when you know least. Certainly was easier too. I laughed a little bit at realizing that I still, at 29 years old don’t really have a clue what I want out of life…although I have several good ideas.

Perhaps this is why people go visit childhood places. Being able to touch the past helps us realize potential directions for the future. These tangible experiences ground us and allow ourselves to center. As if by going to these places we can correct any wrongs that may exist, or may have happened there. Although we know that’s not the case.

I thought of this and many other things as I searched within for some direction as the trees faded away and, while crossing a very long bridge to Roanoke Island, was left staring at a lovely moonlit setting. The light of the moonlight reflecting off the intertidal waters, glistened with every passing wave. I thought at once to DeBussey’s Claire de lune and how nice, although cliché, it would be to have that playing while driving over the causeway, looking out over this setting. Vast emptiness reminding me of several painted scenes from the Hudson River school.

Roanoke Island passed by relatively quickly since my thoughts at this point, given the relatively late hour of 9 PM, during a low season, we’re focused on where I could find dinner. Being near the coast, I naturally wanted seafood. The fresher the better. Crossing another smaller causeway I found myself in Nags Head where, driving north on NC-12, I located an open restaurant that, according to Urban Spoon, had decent fare.

Dinner was light, a dozen raw oysters, Carolina style clam chowder, a small seafood salad, washed down with some water. Not bad, but not really that good either. Moyenne. I built it up in my head too much so naturally, I was somewhat disappointed. Rookie move. After dinner, while sipping water, I gently prodded locals as to the best area for me to sleep in my car, with the least possible chance of getting robbed, or worse. They recommended some hotel parking lot, can’t remember which, and noting that, I left in search of beach access. Hunger satiated, I had to see the ocean before sleeping.

So I headed south on NC-12. Destination, unknown! Figured I’d find it when I found it, you know? Eventually off to my right I noticed the light of the Bodie Island Lighthouse. At which point I knew I had entered the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This was where I’d take in the ocean. And, what I scene it was!

Moonlight over Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Moonlight over Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Not too shabby, huh? Definitely a good end to the day.

Leaving the beach, I thought about sleeping in this access point. But it was a bit too dark, and frequented by too many potential problems for me to stay here. So, given the proximity, I went over to check out Bodie.

Man, the place was dead! Huge parking lot, and not a soul around! This is where I would sleep! Getting out to adjust the car for sleeping, I was met again by the brisk night air. I’d reason that it was 2°C. I was glad I decided to wear pants instead of shorts and had a hoodie, in addition to the bedspread. I knew immediately that I was in for a long night. This was reinforced by the height difference between the fold-down seats and the trunk floor of my Hyundai Sonata. Comfort was not going to be found tonight as I tried to get a bit of REM.

I was awake, but asleep, and much of the in-between, for almost the entire night. Readjusting as necessary to find some semblance of sleep-ability. Knowing then that the next time I rented a car from National, I’d fold down the seats first and check sleep-ability, to allow for the potential of more brilliant ideas like this one.

Just before dawn, and shivering, I glanced over at my phone. It confirmed my suspicions. It was 5 AM and dawn was not going to be here for an hour and a half. Being a practical person, I no longer tried my hand at this game called sleep and perused the Internet to pass the time. All the while being comforted by the gentle flash of light from Bodie.

Predawn came, and with it a very nice scene. The multi hued sky silhouetting the lighthouse and a few trees against it. I took in the scene for a few minutes before taking a photo. I used to love taking pictures, and I still do, but I hesitate nowadays because I don’t want the pursuit of a good photo distracting me from imprinting the setting. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised an iPhone could get this.

Bodie Island Lighthouse in pre-dawn light

Bodie Island Lighthouse in pre-dawn light

I crossed over NC-12 to the beach access point and did my best to stay warm for the 30 minutes or so before dawn. This, is why I was here! I definitely was not going to miss it. I snapped several pictures and played around with some of the iPhone filters, the results are below

Sunrise is almost here!

Sunrise is almost here!

Had to show a black & white. I'm quite impressed by my the abilities of my iPhone 5.

Had to show a black & white. I’m quite impressed by my the abilities of my iPhone 5.

And when dawn finally came I was ready! Although my iPhone did not do this scene justice.

Easter Sunrise!

Easter Sunrise!

After this a race began. I had one hour to drive nearly the length of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to catch the 8 AM ferry to Ocracoke. If I missed it, I’d have to kill an hour before catching the next one. This wouldn’t have been too big of an issue but I had another ferry to catch from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter later that day. This, was the all important ferry that would save me 2 hours of driving and ferry commuting back up the seashore and over to the mainland. I couldn’t be late!

Given the remoteness of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore it’s incredibly easy to speed. Going along and all of a sudden your at 80! Yeah, that easy. The time crunch didn’t help. Here’s a picture to show the remoteness.

Desolation and isolation.

Desolation and isolation.

And here’s another showing a crazy flock of birds going over a bridge. There must’ve been over 5,000!

Headed south on 12! Thousands of birds!

Headed south on NC-12! Thousands of birds!

I made the ferry with 10 minutes to spare and the 1 hour voyage went by pretty quickly. I took a much needed nap and woke up refreshed and delighted to explore Ocracoke. The island is 12 miles long and quite narrow in spots, with a small village at the south end. The village is usually swarming with tourists during the Summer high season but this being Easter Sunday, the town was quite dead. That, coupled with my 9:40 AM arrival served to my detriment. I had shivered all night and hadn’t any food since my small dinner the previous night and was starving. I didn’t find any place open but I did find a coffee shop. And hey, a decent espresso can take the edge off of a lot of things. Eventually I found a restaurant and had breakfast, and afterword took a walkabout the town.

I’m a fan of lighthouses so naturally I had to see the Ocracoke lighthouse (it’s the smallest of all those on the Outer Banks). See the picture below.

Ocracoke Lighthouse

Ocracoke Lighthouse

I really picked a bad time to visit the island since 80% of the stores/artisan places were closed. But on the bright side, it was really nice to take an hour walk in the Spring sunshine. After the walk I made my way to the ferry terminal only to find out that the ticket I purchased that morning over the Internet was actually for the next day’s ferry. So I had to put on the charm to get the officer to get me onto the last ferry to Swan Quarter. Actually, I got the last spot. Lucky day indeed!

I passed the 2 hour 40 minute ferry voyage by reading and figuring out where I wanted to eat dinner in Greenville, NC. I found a Bonefish Grill with decent reviews. I knew then that I had found the dinner spot. The drive from the ferry terminal to Greenville was uneventful. As before, speeding is incredibly easy on these remote backroads. And luckily I was with a fast group of cars!

Ferry nearing Swan Quarter, NC. Stay behind the nets!

Ferry nearing Swan Quarter, NC. Stay behind the nets!

Tree-lined road shortly after departing the ferry terminal. Almost reminds me of the sycamore-lined roads near Lyon, France.

Tree-lined road shortly after departing the ferry terminal. Almost reminds me of the sycamore-lined roads near Lyon, France.

Coastal Carolina is fertile!

Coastal Carolina is fertile!

Dinner was spot on and I endeared myself to the bartenders. I encouraged one to seriously consider home infusions of alcohol and the other, pretty cute actually, seemed to very much enjoy talking with me. I’ll definitely go back to Greenville for dinner!


Life is really what we make of it. You can choose to get out and live life, putting yourself into less-than-ideal situations for absolutely worth it moments OR you can do the opposite, staying in your comfortable bubble, forever maintaining the status quo.

Throw away your television, fears, and worries, and get out and live! Your life depends on it!

– Brett

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First-Time Discrimination

Today I was blatantly discriminated against by a lady in Wilson, NC (I’m here for work) because I was reading a book called “Beer School” (all about how brooklyn brewery started and lessons learned). This lady did not imbibe and thought it wrong that I was considering starting a liqueur company because “aren’t there enough drunk people? Why do you want to make more alcohol?” I would reason to bet her religious beliefs say alcohol is wrong and she felt the need to completely ignore me when I wished her a good day as I walked away.

I feel a bit sad for her since her world view only allows her to accept what is comfortable and label things that are outside of that as different, immoral, and wrong. Differences are what make us stronger and labeling, judging, and disrespecting me because of my interests is just sad. Why not ask me why I have these interests instead of just immediately writing me off as immoral or wrong.

Alcohol is neutral. It doesn’t pick a side and only harms people who make poor decisions after consuming it. People make choices and they have the right to do that. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it should be outrightly prohibited, hidden, and made a taboo.

Riding in a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor Airplane

Today was an incredible day! Not only did I find out I’ll be hired by a great company (too remain nameless for those who don’t know me) but I began the day with a morning flight in a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airplane! Check out the pictures below, its a real beauty; a flying piece of history!

Check out this 85 year old plane!

Check out this 85 year old plane!

As a mechanical engineer I found it quite interesting that the wing and tail aileron cables, controlled by foot pedals in the cabin, were exposed, running from the nose to the wing, and from the wing to the tail! Check out the below picture. A pilot of the era had to watch our for flying birds/geese with malicious intent who happened to carry knives! Otherwise the plane could go down in flames!!! Luckily on this morning’s flight malicious fowl weren’t in the area!

Orthogonal view of this plane! Check out the cabling from the nose, through the wing, all the way to the tail!

Orthogonal view of this plane! Check out the cabling from the nose, through the wing, all the way to the tail!

Close-up of the aileron cabling.

Close-up of the aileron cabling.

Once the plane was moved out of the hangar and onto the tarmac, me and other paying participants bordered the plane! I took a seat directly behind the pilot, right next to the left engine. I wish I’d brought earplugs as the engine was incredibly loud! The pilot fired up all three engines and we sat for a couple of minutes on the tarmac to let the engines warm up before he taxied the plane down the approach runway. Once we made the turn onto the north-south runway, he gave it full throttle, inducing quite a vibration into the cabin as the engines accelerated to full speed, and we took off!

Pre-takeoff photo

Pre-takeoff photo

In the air over Lebanon, TN!

In the air over Lebanon, TN, Interstate 40 below.

Flying over Lebanon, TN, US 231 below.

Flying over Lebanon, TN, US 231 below.

It was incredible to experience flight as it had been during the Golden Age! I met several wonderful people that helped make this event possible and also a gentleman gave me his card in case I ever wanted to go flying again. After jumping out a plane 3 weeks prior and now this, the flying bug has definitely bitten me! I’m going to take him up on his offer soon. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get a pilots license!

Percy Priest Lake Adventure (Hunting Old Roads)

Percy Priest Lake is the largest and closest lake to my house in Hermitage, TN and as such, makes for an excellent place to explore via canoe when the weather is perfect and the wind is just right. The lake provides us landlocked folks an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and the quiet solace of the tides lend themselves to leisure. Most people, myself included, likely take the lake for granted, simply enjoying the cool, inviting waters on a nice summer day without much thought, but just like Nashville Shores (I used to lifeguard there in 2003) it is a more recent phenomenon.

The lake was formed after the completion of J. Percy Priest Dam in 1967 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The name of the dam project and the reservoir was originally the “Stewarts Ferry Reservoir” but was later changed by an 1958 act of Congress to its current name. Nothing against Congressman Percy Priest (I never knew the guy) but I wish the lake had retained its original name since it payed homage to the regional history better than the current name. Stewarts Ferry, as I’ll show later in pictures was in most recent times (pre-1967) a cable ferry across the Stones River. Before the invention of a cable system, it was likely a boat ferry, although the latter is purely speculation on my part as it is rather difficult to find information on the subject.

Before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flooded the low lying farmland to create the lake, several of the present-day disconnected sections of roads, most notably: Old Hickory Blvd, Stewarts Ferry Pike, Smith Springs Rd, Lavergne-Couchville Pike, and Bakers Grove Rd, all ran through the network of farming communities. This is quite easy to see using the “Satellite” view on Google Maps.

Flash forward to the perfect day that was yesterday and bearing in mind the aforementioned information, I set out from the Nashville Shores Marina in the “Big Blue Beast,” aka my dad’s 17′ Blue Hole whitewater canoe, with the intent of finding the “lost” sections of Old Hickory Blvd (OHB) and Stewarts Ferry Pike (SFP). And for those who are wondering where the canoe’s name came from, if you’ve ever tried to tandemly maneuver a 17′ canoe in whitewater (that just so happens to be blue), its analogous to a semi-truck merging across 4 lanes of traffic: a beast of a thing to do! After 2 km of paddling around the Nashville Shores peninsula I arrived at the sunken section of OHB, which is quite easy to miss from a distance unless you know what to look for!

Photo Apr 02, 10 26 53

View of Old Hickory Blvd looking south from Percy Priest Lake. This worn piece of road is all that remains after 47 years of lake tidal action!

Photo Apr 02, 10 27 47

View looking north from above position with the submerged section of Old Hickory Blvd heading into the center of the picture. In the clearing in the center of picture is the present-day road.

Continuing south for 0.5 km around the shoreline I came upon another section of OHB, this one quite large and above the waterline! After landing the canoe on the shoreline, I got out to walk the old road and explore the area! From the beer bottles and other bits of trash it appears that those people with faster modes of nautical transportation have frequently been here. But no matter, it was still good fun exploring and shooting photos of the area! I even came across what appears to be a bald cypress tree! I was quite surprised to find one in the lake as they’re normally found in swamplands and other wetland areas.

Looking north of an exposed section of Old Hickory Blvd with the Big Blue Beast beached on the shoreline.

Looking north of an exposed section of Old Hickory Blvd with the Big Blue Beast beached on the shoreline.

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The most surprising find of the day: a bald cypress tree in the lake!

Bald Cyrpess Cones! I never thought I'd see these naturally in Middle Tennessee!

Bald Cyrpess Cones! I never thought I’d see these naturally in Middle Tennessee!

NOTE: From here OHB continues to the Cook Public Use Area, a local park and boat launch ramp. The area is quite lovely, especially now with the flowing trees, and has plenty of picnic areas and pavilions for outdoor entertaining.

After packing my things, the Big Blue Beast and I continued for another 8 km to what I’ve named “Stewarts Ferry Island” since this section of SFP is normally encircled with water during higher water levels. Upon arrival it is immediately apparent that this used to be the cable ferry crossing station. I’m glad that vandals or others interested in sign memorabilia haven’t torn down the signs and removed some of the last remaining historical elements of this pre-lake history! Although my pictures don’t show it, the area does have several places to camp. The cable crossing sign and some building foundations are all that remain of this once important river crossing point.

View looking east of Stewarts Ferry Island with old cable crossing sign and the Big Blue Beast on shore.

View looking east of Stewarts Ferry Island with old cable crossing sign and the Big Blue Beast on shore.

View looking west from the island of Stewarts Ferry Pike. This was once a cable crossing point of the Stones River. On the far shoreline you can see another blue sign and the old section of SFP.

View looking west from the island of Stewarts Ferry Pike. This was once a cable crossing point of the Stones River. On the far shoreline you can see another blue sign and the old section of SFP.

View looking east from Stewarts Ferry Island toward eastern shoreline. Only the island-section of the road remains. Note on far shoreline the old section SFP continuing through the woods.

View looking east from Stewarts Ferry Island toward eastern shoreline. Only the island-section of the road remains. Note on far shoreline the old section SFP continuing through the woods.

View looking south of the eastern side of Stewarts Ferry Island.

View looking south of the eastern side of Stewarts Ferry Island.

View looking west from Stewarts Ferry Island. Note the old building foundations. I looked around for clues of their purpose but was unable to find anything.

View looking west from Stewarts Ferry Island. Note the old building foundations. I looked around for clues of their purpose but was unable to find anything.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints (I had to make a birthday dinner) I wasn’t able to continue to the last remaining lake-section of SFP, which is another 20-30 minutes of paddling east. I will save that for another day. After taking the above photo, I returned to the canoe and the Big Blue Beast and I set off for the Nashville Shores Marina. All in all, I paddled 18.2 km and had plenty of adventure to show for it! Its amazing what can happen when a persons says “I wonder…..” and then follows it up with action!

Road Trip to Signal Mountain, TN

22 February 2014:

Today marked the warmest day of the new year, a whopping 66 degrees! And my father and I spent the day driving to Signal Mountain, TN and made a few detours along the way, one of which, afforded a spectacular roadway descent on TN 111 just west of Dunlap, TN. The descent has inspired me to in the future, bring my bicycle, “Icarus,” and make several exhilarating rides down and up the 4 mile descent.

TN 111 just west of Dunlap. Check out that descent! Imagine the speeds you'll reach on a road bike!

TN 111 just west of Dunlap. Check out that descent! Imagine the speeds you’ll reach on a road bike!

Also, on this route is a roadside pullout/picnic area with a spectacular waterfall!

One great spot for a picnic!

One great spot for a picnic!

After Dunlap, we continued onward on TN 111 to a beautiful roadside overlook affording incredible views of the Sequatchie Valley! As we neared Chattanooga we detoured to the small, cliffside community of Walden, TN to check out “Falling Water Falls.” This detour required navigating a series of switchbacks very similar to those found on the hairpin, mountain roads of Europe to reach East Brow Rd on top of Walden Ridge. This road is amazing! It literally rests upon the shear ridgeline and provides spectacular views of the Tennessee Valley. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pull over and take pictures due to the narrowness of the road, but you’ll just have to take my word for it, or better yet, see for yourself!

Sequatchie Valley as seen from roadside overlook. Dunlap, TN and previously mentioned descent in the center.

Sequatchie Valley as seen from roadside overlook. Dunlap, TN and previously mentioned descent in the center.

After Falling Water Falls, we made our way to Signal Mountain and the Cumberland Trail section near Signal Point, part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The trailhead begins just below Signal Point, so named due to its strategic importance to the Federals during the Confederate Siege of Chattanooga during the Civil War. The Federals set up a series of signal points on the tops or exposed ridges of the mountains surrounding Chattanooga in preparation for the Confederate destruction of their telegraph lines prior to their siege. Pretty neat actually and from the vantage of the point you can really see why the area was chosen and subsequently named. After gleaning a bit of history from the plaques, we began our hike on the Cumberland Trail. Eventually we arrived at an incredible overlook. The view was of the Tennessee River heading out of Chattanooga and onward to the “Narrows,” a difficult to navigate section of the river, as well as the spectacular Julia Falls plummeting into Middle Creek.

View of the Tennessee River and valley from Signal Point with Lookout Mountain in center-right background.

View of the Tennessee River and valley from Signal Point with Lookout Mountain in center-right background.

Julia Falls as seen from overlook. Off-picture-left is the Tennessee River heading towards the "Narrows."

Julia Falls as seen from overlook. Off-picture-left is the Tennessee River heading towards the “Narrows.”

The picture, due to my 50mm lens, does NOT due the scene justice and I would highly encourage the reader to experience this incredible view in person! After the overlook we made our way to the suspension bridge crossing Middle Creek where, with sunset upon us and light slowly fading, we decided to turnaround.

Our turnaround spot. I sincerely wish we could've stayed longer. Their is a spectacular series of camping locations just behind me to the left.

Our turnaround spot. I sincerely wish we could’ve stayed longer. Their is a spectacular series of camping locations just behind me to the left.

Afterword we made our way to the North Shore area of Chattanooga where I got to experience some of the tasty brews of Chattanooga Brewing Company, I highly recommend their Imperial Pilsner and their Chickbock! We spent the next hour or so wandering around Chattanooga, crossed the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge, and had a great time. Chattanooga is the coolest part of TN!

It was a very good day!

 

 

A Long Walk on the 1st of February

February 1, 2014 was one of the first warm days of the year, which was especially nice after the recent descent of the Polar Vortex. So, with a high of 63 degrees, and a desire for adventure I decided to walk the 11 miles from Hermitage to East Nashville along the Music City Greenway in the lovely “summery” weather. Please note that all photos are from my iPhone 5.

The walk began at the “Welcome to Donelson” sign on Lebanon Rd just after the old steel truss bridge that was the original gateway on the Donelson-Hermitage line. After crossing the bridge, the greenway heads uphill and continues along the bluffs next to the Stones River. Its quite scenic at all times of the year and during the spring and summer months, with everything in bloom, you forgot that you’re in the suburbs. One of the best parts of these fall/winter saunters are that without the foliage obscuring the woodland views, its quite easy to see the hidden gems along the path: such as old bridge abutments, an airfield, stonewalls, and more! During the warmer months, I like to take my bicycle ‘Icarus’ and ride the greenway to Nashville as it is definitely my preferred method for going downtown.Photo Feb 01, 12 24 13

 

View of the steel truss bridge from the greenway

View of the steel truss bridge from the greenway

One of my favorite parts of this walk, especially when riding Icarus, is the hills at the beginning. Once you climb them, they give you a great boost of speed during the descent, allowing me to reach speeds of nearly 30 mph! However, on this day, since I was walking, it was still nice as the light afforded me many spectacular scenes, especially as I approached the still active farmland, surrounded on half its perimeter by the greenway. Its funny in a way, with the propensity of Scottish heritage in this region, that the rich hues of yellows, browns, and orange, afforded by the dried/dead species of grass would replicate many a scene of the Scottish countryside. After the farmland, you come to a bend in the river, with a tree providing a smidgen of shade, as well as a bluff that provides quite a view of the mouth of the Stones River emptying into the mighty Cumberland River. This is my favorite part of the greenway, and a great spot for a picnic.

Walking the farmland perimeter

Walking along the Stones River bluffs.

Walking along the Stones River bluffs.

Photo Feb 01, 12 52 27

Photo Feb 01, 13 02 48

Once you pass the farmland and the low lying soccer fields, climb the big hill up to McGavock Pike, walk behind McGavock High School, you reach Two Rivers Park. On this day, as on many a sunny day, the skate park next to the Wave Pool was filled with aspiring skaters, BMXers, and skateboarders; although, my picture doesn’t show it!Photo Feb 01, 13 47 20

After Two Rivers is the descent towards the bridge crossing the Cumberland River, where, during the warmer months, its quite common to see the General Jackson Showboat heading towards Nashville, its topside decks filled with tourists in revelry. This is generally the halfway point in the hike as once you cross the bridge, you have 5 more miles until you reach the Shelby Street bridge, the official eastern gateway into the city. Once you cross the bridge and walk the spiral-descending path, you reach the Shelby Bottoms greenway path which parallels the Cumberland River into Nashville.

Western side of the Cumberland pedestrian bridge.

Western side of the Cumberland pedestrian bridge.

The Cumberland pedestrian bridge. As an engineer, I enjoy inspecting the cabling and trying to deduce the loading profiles of each member.

The Cumberland pedestrian bridge. As an engineer, I enjoy inspecting the cabling and trying to deduce the loading profiles of each member.

The Shelby Bottoms greenway tends to be a corridor of foliage, more so in the summer than winter, so I didn’t take a photo of the pathway as it really isn’t particularly interesting. From the bridge its around 3.5 miles before you reach the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and a spectacular railroad bridge! On the other side of the river is the famed Omohundro water treatment plant. Its notable for two reasons: 1) it was Nashville’s first treatment facility and (2) it was the ONLY treatment facility that wasn’t compromised during the 2010 flood! An interesting story really: local prison inmates were used to pile sandbags as the waters rose and word is, had the waters of the Cumberland rose one more inch, we’d have lost all three of our treatment facilities and the entire Davidson-Metropolitan region would’ve been under a “boil water” advisory for months. But I bet most of the non-local people reading this blog never would’ve known that, as the national media did a complete disservice to our city and barely covered the flooding “story.” Most of us haven’t forgotten this. Alright, off the soapbox now.

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center with the spectacular railroad bridge in the background.

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center with the spectacular railroad bridge in the background.

The spectacular railway bridge which crosses the Cumberland River and Shelby Bottoms area.

The spectacular railway bridge which crosses the Cumberland River and Shelby Bottoms area.

The railway bridge and the mighty Omohundro treatment facility. I love the brickwork!

The railway bridge and the mighty Omohundro treatment facility. I love the brickwork!

Checkout the length of the bridge!

Checkout the length of the bridge!

Once you cross underneath the railway bridge, you entire the Shelby Bottoms park with its many baseball diamonds, golf course, and lake! On this day since it was just after the descent of the Polar Vortex, the lake was still frozen, which the park conveniently mentions is “unsafe ice,” which, during all times but the winter, is a bit odd. Its a “Nashville thing” I guess. Anyways, be wary of unsafe ice in all your activities!

Better watch out for that unsafe ice!!!

Better watch out for that unsafe ice!!!

After narrowly avoiding the unsafe ice, I continued on my walk to East Nashville as my favorite wine store, Woodland Wine Merchant was having a tasting of some great Beaujolais and Bourgogne wine. After the tasting, and seeing my acquaintances there, I caught a ride back to Hermitage to prepare for an art crawl later that night.

Nature walks such as these are my inspiration as well as my “reset button.” Things just make sense during long walks among forests, deserts, or mountains. I highly encourage everyone to take some time for themselves and saunter about through the nearest forest, desert, or mountainous region. You’ll emerge a different person than when you started, I can promise you that!