Sara McManamy-Johnson's Column: Outdoor fun abounds if only weather would cooperate

There’s nothing to get a person planning like a 5-minute reprieve from winter does. Don’t get me wrong; I love winter. When it snows. But temperatures were barely out of the 40s before I started planning my upcoming adventures in the great outdoors. And I have to ...
Mar 29, 2013

There’s nothing to get a person planning like a 5-minute reprieve from winter does.

Don’t get me wrong; I love winter.

When it snows.

But temperatures were barely out of the 40s before I started planning my upcoming adventures in the great outdoors. And I have to admit – there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures to be found in Tennessee.

As a product of suburbia, I was a late acquaintance of the glories of outdoor life. My husband, who was raised on 25 acres in rural Middle Tennessee, teases me incessantly about my citified ways.

Just because I like my campsites with shower stalls 25 feet away, apparently I’m citified.

Sheesh.

I can rough it with the best of ‘em – I’ve actually gone hiking without bug spray – and I can even bait a fishing hook. I draw the line at cleaning the fish, though.

OK, now that I think about it, I may not necessarily be the original pioneer woman.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my outdoor adventures.

To me there’s nothing like hiking through the woods, smelling the pungent yet musty fragrance of damp earth and foliage and listening to the rustle of an unseen squirrel bolting to its hidey hole or the snap of a dead limb finally breaking in the distance.

I have friends and family who live minutes from beaches, but they go years without ever visiting those beaches. When they tell me this, I’m dumbstruck – I think, If I lived there, I’d be at those beaches every day.

And then I stop to think about Tennessee’s state parks, and I realize that familiarity breeds complacency.

I live within an hour’s drive from at least three different parks, but I may visit any of them a half-dozen times in a year.

And I wonder how many people living in Middle Tennessee never visit any of those parks.

It wasn’t until I moved out of state for a couple years that I realized just how blessed Tennessee is.

It’s a veritable smorgasbord of outdoor activities.

When I moved back to Tennessee, I decided to start taking advantage of all the state has to offer, including its parks.

As a confirmed “water baby,” one of the first things I did was try out kayaking.

A lot of times, when people think of kayaking, they automatically think of whitewater kayaking.

Did I mention I might be slightly citified?

I decided to try recreational kayaking, also known as nice and easy jaunts on the lake.

While there was a slight learning curve, it was something that even I could pick up fairly quickly.

I was instantly hooked, and now I’m trying to figure out how to store a 10-foot kayak in my apartment.

Tennessee’s parks opened a world of possibilities for me.

I am not a classically “outdoorsy” person; I like the tamer side of nature.

OK, I am definitely citified.

But our parks let me appreciate the outdoors and learn new outdoor pursuits without adopting an entirely new personality.

Now when we have a 5-minute break from winter, I find myself planning which park to visit next and figuring out when I can reasonably get back out on the water – I’m not quite ready to make my foray into coldwater kayaking yet.

And this is how I know that Tennessee is utterly fanta-bulous: Even a citified product of suburbia like me is dreaming of the great outdoors when the mercury rises.

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