• Russell Hill

Waverunners and Camp fires

Not every day is perfect weather during the early spring day in Upper Cumberland, but you could fool us. What gorgeous weather we had on the lake today! 80 degrees and sunny all day long.  While the temperature of the air was just right, the water in the lake was still only 50 degrees. Great for short dips, but not for too long swims.  So we split the difference and rode on top of the water: best of both worlds.  We took a wave runners tour of Center Hill Lake with JBeez Watercraft Rentals in Silver Point.

We loaded up three of us per wave runner and followed our amazing guide Nick around the lake to visit the bases of Burgess Falls and Fancher Falls.  Nick provided history lessons about the lake, the surrounding land, and previous attempts to harness hydroelectric power from the falls.  He was absolutely patient with our eager but novice crew.  Thanks, Nick.

After four hours on the lake, we all seemed to have just the right amount of fun: riding the wave runners, exploring hidden coves, discovering new waterfalls, catching snakes, finding rocks, and splashing each other while playing made up games.

After the lake, we drove to Pickett State Park. It's been on our “visit list” for years. We set up our tents for a night of outdoor camping and stargazing.  We were hoping to take part in the Dark Sky accredited stargazing program. Unfortunately,  the normal stargazing observation area was still closed based on temporary COVID restrictions.  Pickett was the first state park in the Southeast to be listed as a certified “dark sky” viewing location by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2015. We tried to see as much as we could from our campsite but clouds rolled in that night and spoiled our plans. But not our fun!

We had our own, amazing night of campfire program with smores, night games and ghost stories. But the night was still young and the kids wanted to play hide-and-seek. The three older kids convinced their Mom to let them hide together to see if she could find them. Off they went into the forest. Their Mom then crawled army style acrossed a field and circled back to the tent to change into darker clothes. Tired of waiting in their initial hiding spots and the long delay, they repositioned themselves and on the near side of the campfire. Not to be outdone, their Mom found them and chased them down amid surprised shrikes and lear-piercing laughter. Its hard to know who had the most fun: the kids or their Mom.

Camping at night, stagazing, playing games; these are the things our kids tell us over and over is what they remember most about family trips and family vacations. They don’t remember the carnival rides or state faris, they don’t remember the food or spectator sports; they remember being outdoors together. They remember the simple games and made-up stories. They remember the feeling of togetherness. We try to pack in these activities.

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