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Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee’

Saturday night our family decided to check out Beale Street in Memphis, TN.   My younger daughter is entering a Memphis art contest and needed photographs of iconic Memphis images.  We thought, what a better place than Beale Street.  It has been years since we’ve been there, and it was fun to go now that our girls are teenagers as they are able to appreciate things better.

Beale Street is classic Memphis, the street blocked off, people casually walking around, talking, enjoying themselves.  Music playing all up and down the street, mostly blues and jazz.  We also saw a street performer doing back handsprings and back flips in the middle of the street!

We had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe and sat out on the patio.  It was unseasonably warm for early February.  It was also breezy and a little chilly, but comfortable enough.  The food was delicious and we enjoyed watching the horse-drawn carriages pass us on the street below.

My college-age daughter was able to come to Beale Street, but was meeting her friends for a movie at 7:15 so we had a time limit on Beale Street and had to leave  by 6:30.  However we had plenty of time for my younger daughter to get good pictures with the best evening light.

After dropping off my older daughter at the theater, the three of us decided to go to our brand new IKEA in Cordova and get frozen yogurt cones.  It was as busy on a Saturday night at the IKEA as it was on Beale Street.  IKEA is a “destination” in itself.  Once we were there, my husband suggested walking through the whole store  because my younger daughter had not been to IKEA yet.  So that was a lot of fun.   And then we got our frozen yogurt!

Click the link below to  watch my video, and if you get a chance to be in the area visit Beale Street and our new IKEA, the only one in Tennessee!

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Dave and I decided to hike recently at Meeman Shelby Forest State park in western Tennessee.  It was a chilly day, in the 40s, but sunny.  As long as long as I’m bundled up enough, I’m okay with the cold.  Its been a while since we’d been outside, in the woods and sunshine.  Sometimes in the winter, we spend too much time indoors missing out on vitamin D and the general feeling of  well-being that comes from sunshine and nature.

This particular park is a great one to visit, just a half hour from Memphis.  But when you’re there, you feel like you are in the wildernerness and that youve really left civilization.  Much of western Tennessee is pretty flat, and therefore not good practice for the Appalachian Trail hills in the Northeast (the yearly hike that we are trying to keep in shape for).  However this park has some pretty steep hills and beautiful scenery.

The trail we did at Meeman Shelby was the Woodland Trail loop.  It is about 5 miles if you go all the way to the Woodland Shelter and back to the parking lot.  This park also has an 8 mile one-way trail heading north and south (Chickasaw Bluff/Pioneer Springs Trail) if you really want some distance practice, though it doesn’t have as many steep hills as the Woodland Trail.

All in all a nice trip!  Watch our video, and plan to visit the park if you live in the area!

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We have been to Meeman Shelby State Park, which is North of Memphis, along the Mississippi River many times. We love hiking the 3 mile loop Woodland Trail which is one of the most beautiful trails in Western Tennessee. I’m always so surprised at how different it looks from the rest of this area. There are many steep climbs up and down hills and a beautiful stream which meanders throughout the hike.

But I was not aware that this State Park has scheduled boating trips throughout the summer. From Memorial Day to Labor day every weekend they have regular pontoon boat and canoe trips. The pontoon boat is only $1 per person and takes you around the Poplar Tree Lake. It was really a lot of fun. The ranger was very interesting, pointing out all sorts of wildlife and plants. We were able to see the lake and the park in a way we never had before. Though this park is only about 45 minutes from our house, we felt like we were on a real vacation far away!

This past Saturday at 8 am we did the canoe trip. You meet at the visitor’s center and then caravan to a swamp in a wildlife reserve area adjacent to the park. Most of the time you would not be able to access this area, so this is a unique opportunity to see this swamp. The cost is only $5 per person and they provide really nice, new, stable canoes.

The same ranger provided us with amazing information about the swamp and the animals and plants in it. There was no current and we proceeded at a leisurely pace so it was very relaxing. Instead of being dirty and “swampy”, this swamp was very beautiful, with tiny green leaves of duckweed covering some areas of the swamp. With the sun reflecting off  the leaves and the water, it made a beautiful, surreal, green sheen. The swamp was filled with beautiful, giant cypress trees with their buttressed bases and knees sticking above the water.

We saw hundreds of swallows that lived in the tops of the cypress trees like little island condos in the middle of the swamp. When we would canoe past, they would all take flight at once, making a beautiful sight. Later we saw the swallows dive bombing toward the surface of the water, looking for a dinner of bugs. We saw butterflies flitting around and flirting with us. Our ranger guide found a snake coiled and sunning on a beaver lodge. Thankfully he wasn’t poisonous, but amazingly big, beautiful and scary all at the same time!

Finally we had to come back to land, but were very pleased with our swamp canoe trip. It was very relaxing, enjoyable and beautiful. Unfortunately the boat trips end this weekend for Labor Day.   If you plan on going, call ahead to reserve your spot at 901-876-5215.  Also later on in the year, you can call and request a boat trip with a group of people. I think Fall would be an awesome time to go, not to mention much cooler! And again, I am pleasantly surprised by our local state park and all they have to offer, right in our backyard! Will definitely be back again soon!

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My husband was not able to get any more time off this summer, so my girls and I decided to go for one last vacation fling before summer’s end. We decided to camp at Rock Island State Park in Middle Tennessee. Like South Cumberland State Park, this park was also on the Cumberland Plateau, a plateau made of sandstone that is prone to eroding into waterfalls, boulders, rock ledges and cliffs. It is so much unlike any other part of Tennessee, especially the areas further west, which are basically flat with not a rock in sight. We felt like we had really been to a far away vacation spot even though it was only 4 1/2 hours from our home. I would say it was as interesting as our Vermont trip, with a much lower gas/time investment, so we will definitely be back! Hope you enjoy the pics of our adventures!

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Last weekend we finally got to go camping and practice hiking before our Vermont Appalachian Trail trip in a week and a half.  I had tried many times to work out a camping weekend, but with my husband’s busy schedule at work that was wearing him out, we did not have a chance to go until this past weekend. It’s really cool when we wait for God’s plan, and it finally becomes reality. All of my planning and trying to make things work did not make a difference until God had planned for us to go! And then everything worked out. For the first time in months, my husband got a couple of days off and a half day before we were to leave that allowed him to be rested and enjoy the trip. The weather was absolutely beautiful! Sunny and no rain. Lows around 50, highs up to 80. It was very comfortable to sleep and to hike in the shady woods. I don’t remember feeling uncomfortably hot or cold the entire time, which is quite amazing for camping! We got a wonderful site, and my parents were also able to come so that we could practice hiking together, break in our new boots, get a feel for how many miles we can do, what we need in our backpacks, etc.

We went to Big Hill Pond State Park in western Tennessee, at the southern end of the state. It is less than a two hours drive from Memphis, which is great on gas costs. And the camping is only $13, which is one of the cheapest in the state. I think many people, including myself, overlook this park. It seems like there is not much interesting to see, although they do have miles and miles of hiking trails and backcountry shelters for overnight backpackers. But I think part of the reason this park is overlooked is that the marketing on the state park website is not so great. They don’t tell you very much about all there is to see and do at this park. They also don’t show very many pictures to pique your interest. So I will tell you what we did, and the interesting little surprises we found at this park!

The website mentions the standard swamp boardwalk and fire tower, but there really is so much more than that on the 30 miles of trails. I was surprised to see that there is actually quite a bit of rock in this Western Tennessee park. When you hike up to the fire tower, you see many boulders and exposed rock on the layer of earth at the top of the hill. The park recently received funding so they have cut the tops off the trees surrounding the fire tower for a wonderful view. The hike up the hill to the tower and then up the many, many steps to the top of the tower was very tiring, but it was so much fun too!  It was such  a beautiful day, mid 70’s, sunny, with a wonderful cooling breeze at the top that made us not want to come back down!

There is over a half mile swamp boardwalk, which has also been nicely refurbished as well. But what they don’t tell you is that there are also numerous bridges all over the park. Some in great condition, sometimes you wonder if they will hold you! But I just think that adds to the adventure! There are four backcountry shelters where overnight backpackers can stay in the park. We had fun hiking and trying to find them. One shelter was right on the trail and could not be missed, but the other three were off a short spur trail. The problem was that the spur trail was often not marked or only marked with a post for which the sign had long ago eroded! So we had to do some detective work to figure it out, but it was still fun and satisfying when we finally found it!  Also, the website and brochures say very little about the history of homesteaders who must have lived in the area, leaving behind cemeteries, old wagon roads, and clearings from homesteads. I would love to hear these stories.

Over the whole weekend we were able to hike 16 miles and got some really good practice for our Vermont trip. This park is really great for long, adventurous hikes but also has many short hikes as well. The most popular short hike is the 2 mile loop to the swamp boardwalk and fire tower.  So we had a great weekend and were pleasantly surprised by this nearby park and were thankful that God led us to this park this weekend!

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My Dad preparing to climb down the hill

Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14 NIV

The first day of our camping trip last weekend, we hiked the Fiery Gizzard Trail, which is in the Grundy Forest State Natural area within the South Cumberland State Park in eastern Tennessee.  My parents were able to meet us for this hike, and since we are hiking with my Dad on the Vermont section of the Appalachian Trail this summer, this was good practice for us.

This area is so beautiful.  I had a really hard time picking only a few pictures! But I did finally figure out how to use the Gallery in WordPress, so insterting them is much easier and it displays much nicer.  On this hike we hiked the 2 mile loop, plus added a mile each way on the longer overnight trail because there were just so many amazing things to see.  This was another challenging trail, but it was so worth it.  We had really fun climbing all around.

And once again, I’m truly amazed by all of the awesome, varied, wild, unique and spectacular beauty of God’s creation.  My husband had such a good time that he can’t stop showing pictures to everyone who will stop for a minute and look! lol I’m glad he had a great time. He works so hard, he deserves it!

 

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