chasing waterfalls

IMG_2227One of my favorite things on a Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon, really) is to hit the road in search of adventure.  Specifically, since finding myself in Nashville, TN, I’ve been disobeying the words of TLC and chasing waterfalls.My roommate Alli isn’t the most outdoorsy girl, but I’m slowly changing that!  We went to Rock Island State Park a few weeks ago and it was a blast.  We hiked a few different trails, got caught in a storm (and, momentarily took shelter in a grotto before deciding to just go for it and stripping down to our bathing suits to play in the rain and river) and soaked in the beauty of Twin Falls.  Rock Island State Park is about an hour and forty-five minutes from Nashville, but the drive was a pleasant one through winding back roads and past simple country homes.

IMG_2354Two weekends ago, we ventured over to Burgess Falls (see picture above) near Cookeville, TN.  I was really excited about this one and met with disappointment when we arrived to learn that the path leading down to access the falls had been condemned just ten days earlier and deemed “unsafe” until renovated.  We were left taking in the view from a platform out away from the falls instead of down at their base, and I was pretty bummed out about it.  To make up for it, Alli and I decided to try nearby Cummins Falls.

IMG_2368I’d seen Cummins Falls on Instagram as a popular spot for swimming and heard warnings of how crowded it would be.  Man, were those warnings right!  While the hike itself was pleasant (through a river, it took me back to my days hiking the Narrows in Utah!), once we got to the awesome waterfalls, there were just people everywhere.

I’m not super big on crowds, especially when I’m doing outdoor activities like hiking and swimming.  Kind of hard to take in natural beauty when it’s covered up by pasty humans everywhere, haha.  However, Cummins Falls was still a good time – I swam all around (even up under the smaller falls) and jumped off the ledge.  I actually wished the ledge was higher!
IMG_2370All in all, there are still a ton of waterfalls I want to hike to around Tennessee, like Fall Creek Falls, Greeter Falls and O’zone Falls.  But these three were a great start, and a wonderful excuse to get out of the city and into the fresh air.  Of all three, Rock Island was definitely my favorite and the one I plan to take visitors to in the future!
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a weekend spent outdoors

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My blog just turned one year old!  I’m so happy I’ve stuck with this.  Now, back to this post’s real content:

I spent nearly my entire weekend outdoors and it was heavenly.

I try not to do recap-type posts on this blog too often, as I don’t want to bore you (my precious few loyal readers) with the mundane details of my day-to-day life. However, this blog is also a place for me to document memories to recall later, and this weekend falls perfectly into that category.

On Friday, our boss let us leave the office a couple of hours early. I spent that time at Target (my favorite store ever). I then went home and took an accidental (but wonderful) nap from about 7 pm to 9 pm. Right after I woke up, I went out to celebrate a work acquaintance’s birthday with some coworkers. We had a blast singing along to music and dancing, and I tried a delicious new-to-me cocktail (a Paloma).

On Saturday, I went to the Luke Bryan Farm Tour! I bought Maddie and myself tickets back a few months ago when the tour got announced, and the day finally arrived. We went with two friends and wound up seeing a few other friends there at the venue.

We tailgated a bit before the concert (listening to the Gator game on the radio which we somehow won, throwing the football and enjoying the beautiful weather). When we finally went into the actual performance area, we got fairly close to the stage. Chancie Neal, The Peach Pickers and Cole Swindell were all openers. Luke Bryan came out around 9 pm and he was even cuter than on television! He has this adorable southern accent which, combined with his goofy dance moves and powerhouse vocals, makes him utterly lovable.

The show went on for a solid two hours or so, and then it was a battle to leave the parking lot. Considering there were about 17,000 fans out on one farm, it was a bit of a traffic jam. It only took us about an hour to get out to the main road — and this was a product only of my aggressive driving. “I’m gonna kiss that Michigan bumper,” I said to Maddie over and over again, cracking up as I refused to allow others to push their way into line in front of me.

There was this epic moment when a huge, lifted truck full of guys zoomed up beside us out of nowhere, clearly believing they’d be able to cut me off. When I out-drove them, I exclaimed out the window, “You just got beat by a Honda Civic…COUPE!” The guys were beside themselves cracking up and the driver was clearly disappointed that I’d outmaneuvered him. It felt pretty sweet.

On Sunday, I slept in and awoke to more of the world’s most beautiful weather. I went to a late breakfast at my favorite spot (Billy Bobz, shout out to Geanine, the best waitress on the planet) and knew I needed to be outdoors for the afternoon. So, I split my time between Open Streets Gainesville (an event where they shut down a mile of University Ave. strictly for cyclists and pedestrians — lots of booths, live music, games, crafts and DOGS everywhere) and laying out in the sunshine to enjoy my book. This is really weird to admit, but I wound up laying out at a park adjacent to a dog park, so that I could see all the sweet pups coming and going. I have been wanting a dog for a while now but for now, this is as close as I can get. Also nearby were some people in medieval wear practicing jousting, but that’s just a strange little side note…

After all that time in the great outdoors, I went home and did some work, ate some pizza, watched The Voice with Maddie and had a lovely phone chat with my friend James, who always makes bad days sunny and sunny days sunnier. I then finished a book (that I had started that morning at breakfast…#bookworm) and took a bath before hitting the hay.

What a weekend it was! And next weekend is set to be even better — I’m going on vacation to North Carolina, where I’ll be checking off number 15 on my 101 in 1001 list. Can’t wait to see you, Sam!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables