Venturing out close to home

By Joe Rector

Some family members describe Amy and me as miserly. We are thrifty, but on occasion, we splurge just a bit to enjoy a new experience. What we’ve discovered are plenty of places to go and things to do around Knoxville or within a few miles of home. We are enjoying retirement by doing more things and spending time together.

Amy and I had a pleasant trip the other Saturday. We boarded the Volunteer Princess for a short cruise down the river. Dinner was served, but drinks were extra, the one negative of the entire trip. We stepped outside on deck to take in the scenery. Alcoa Highway was on one side, but Sequoyah Hills was on the other. We watched walkers, bike riders and dog walkers there. In other places, folks had creatively set places to fish. One family had dad sitting on the rocky shoreline, while mom and two little ones sat in chairs and waited for him to bring in the big one. Personally, I’m not eating anything that comes out of the water there, but others might feel safe consuming their catches.

As much as possible, we like to take our dog Sadie with us on short jaunts. Trips take a bit longer because, on trails, the dog stops every few feet to sniff. Good trails are always available at Northshore, Sequoyah Hills and Stony Point in Hardin Valley.

Most native Knoxvillians of my generation remember “going to town” to shop. When the malls began to open, downtown seemed to have died. However, we humans changed our minds and longed for trips back to the city. The Saturday Farmers’ Market isn’t the gigantic event that it once was, but walking through the maze of booths and looking at the wares and foods available is nostalgic for some of us. Folks buy plenty and enjoy talking with farmers and craftsmen. It’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Knoxville residents are lucky to be so close to the Great Smoky Mountains. But just a short drive west takes adventurers to the likes of Cumberland Mountain State Park or Rock Island or Burgess Falls.  Amy and I like waterfalls and enjoy short walks from the car to see them. I’m a chowhound, and my favorite thing at Cumberland Mountain is the buffet that is served for breakfast and lunch. A walk or a nap is necessary after such a meal.

When it’s all said and done, home is the place I like best. We are blessed to have a huge front porch with an equally large screened porch on the side of the house. Cool weather is always a wonderful time to sit there, watch television, listen to music or read. Off the family room, we have a deck. I’ve worked to replace boards and rails, but my hope is to cover the deck with a composite material that is maintenance-free. We also have a pool, and just sitting by it is as pleasant as any vacation spot.

We are at that time in our lives when venturing out is exciting. I am learning to leave home more often, but that place we built in 1978 is still where I want to be at the end of the day. Traveling around the area is fun, but no bed sleeps as well as my own.