Whenever we make the 500+ mile trek to Tennessee, we always take advantage of opportunities to explore natural areas. On a previous trip we visited Percy Priest Lake, and this time we wanted to see Old Hickory Lake, which is northeast of Nashville.
We left home on Saturday, November 18th and started the long drive down I-81 South.
Near Knoxville, TN we turned west on I-40.
We knew the weather was going to take a turn for the worse (indeed–there were tornado warnings that night!), but aside from some rain and mist, we made it safely to our destination by late afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon, we made a quick return visit to Papa Turney’s BBQ at Nashville Shores on Percy Priest Lake. As “Papa” was telling Wayne about a guitar he’d had made, they were both surprised when Wayne told him that he knew the guy who’d made the pickups for it. Small (musical) world!
View of the marina from the restaurant:
On Monday, we took the “scenic” route (avoiding the interstate) towards Old Hickory Lake. Our first stop was at the visitor center at the Rockland Recreation Area on the northwest side of the lake, just west of the town of Hendersonville.
Continuing east, we next went to Henderson Memory Gardens cemetery.
Unlike other mini-vacations that involve cemetery visits, this time it wasn’t for the purpose of doing genealogy research. 🙂
Instead, Wayne left a guitar pick on the grave of John R. Cash, better known as Johnny Cash. He and June Carter Cash–as well as their other family members and friends–are buried in the Hendersonville Memory Gardens.
After paying our respects to “the man in black” and his family, we drove a little further east to the Avondale Recreation area. What a pretty place for a picnic lunch!
We’d seen several Great Blue Herons already, but this one was close enough to get better pictures.
After leaving Avondale, we went through the town of Gallatin toward Bledsoe Creek State Park. There are so many state parks in TN, but this was the first time we’d had a chance to go to one. We were very impressed with the campground, scenery, and wildlife!
Hundreds of birds were flying back and forth, back and forth across the water, from one group of trees to another. I’m not sure what the point was, but they seemed to be enjoying it!
As we drove back to our hotel on the south side of I-40, we again noticed mountains in the distance. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly where these are or what they’re called. They remind me of our Blue Ridge Mountains.
The map below shows the route we took and the stops we made around Old Hickory Lake. As you can tell, we really just saw a fraction of it! (To view an interactive map, click here.)
All too quickly, though, it was time to head back up the road to Virginia. We left early on Tuesday morning, hoping to get home before dark.
During the last 20 miles or so of the trip, the late afternoon sunlight set the hillsides ablaze with beautiful fall colors. I always think of my mother when the leaves turn orange, ochre, gold, and rust. Most of my mom’s clothing choices were similar in color to the mountain’s autumn palette, and these tones certainly complimented her dark auburn hair and green eyes….
Both of my parents loved fall–it was their favorite season–and they would have truly enjoyed the things we saw and the places we went on this trip. Most importantly, they would have loved seeing their absolutely adorable great-grandchild!
Having the opportunity to spend some time with this beautiful little boy, my oldest son, and my daughter-in-law was the real reason for our trek to Tennessee, and the very best part of the time we spent there!
While I certainly wish we lived closer and could visit more often, on this Thanksgiving Day I’m very thankful that we’ve been able to see them as often as we have over the last several months. And until our next long drive to and from Tennessee, I’ll remain thankful for pictures, videos, and FaceTime! 🙂