Tennessee Trip 2009

My daughter is quickly approaching her first birthday, and my wife and I are quickly approaching the end of our sanity. Well, it may not be the drastic, but we definitely needed a vacation. We were worried it might be an extra burden to take her on a trip, but I felt we needed to get away. So, we went to visit some friends down in Tennessee thinking that it was not too far to drive.

Our first stop along the way was at the Creation Museum. The museum is out near the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana border close to the Cincinnati Airport. The facility is amazing. They had a series of exhibits that were themed around topics about creation, but the overall theme was showing man’s sinful nature and how to reconcile with God. There was a life-size portion of Noah’s ark you could stand in, various movies, and a special speaker was presenting on the day we were there. I even got to feed a camel at the petting zoo on the grounds.
camel

We then traveled to the Montgomery Bell Inn in Tennessee. This is a state park, that is also a resort with a full hotel on site. While we did have a couple issues while staying here, overall it was a very nice place to stay. The workers were friendly, and you couldn’t ask for a better view. Every room in the hotel overlooks the lake, so no one has a bad view. I was able to catch a few blue gills right out side the hotel, which was fun on my 3 weight fly rod.

The next fishing adventure came when my friend Matt and I took his really nice canoe out on the Harpeth River. As we were putting in the canoe, there were fish rising everywhere. I was expecting a few small mouth, but it was pretty crazy. From what I could tell it looked like gar, but it was hard to tell.  Unfortunately it was the last fish we would see on that canoe trip.  The first big gravel bar we came to, we pulled over and started casting.
canoe

As we floated down the river, we actually passed a group of three fly fisherman armed with fishing kayaks.  You can see them off in the background of this picture:

canoeing

One common theme along the river was turtles.  Every 10 feet there were a half dozen of them, and they usually slid off their log as we came by.  Matt was able to steer us in close to this brave one for a picture:
turtle

One thing rhar stuck me about Tennessee was the amount of rock everywhere.  I am used to sand or clay, but there everything was rock.  The banks of the Harpeth either led out to some pasture, or were amazingly tall rock cliffs:

casting

The biggest town near the Montgeomery Bell Inn seems to be Dickson, but just to the east is the small city of White Bluff that had two really good places to eat.  First, there was a Mexican restaurant called El Monte that had amazing food. I got some tamales on our first visit, and we had to go back again.  The food joint was called Carl’s Perfect pig.  They had amazing BBQ, and I especially like the corn cakes (basically a cornmeal pancake).  This was also my daughter’s introduction to sweet tea – she loved it.  Click here for a blog post on this cool little restaurant.
perfectpig

Matt and I went out for one last fishing expedition in his trusty canoe the day before we headed home.  There are actually three lakes available at the Montgomery Bell State Park, and we ended up at Lake Woodhaven.  I was hoping to get into some bass, but instead we got into a handful of blue gill.  Here was the view as we paddled across the lake:

lakeview

While there were a ton of insects and a bunch of lizards, there really didn’t seem to be a bunch of critters running around.  However, we did bump into some newly hatched geese on the lake:
geese

The highlight of the day was when Matt switched over to a fly that he tied himself.  A few minutes later he caught his first fish his own fly; a decent little bluegill.
first_fly

And yes, I caught a few too:
bluegill_john

Before we left Tennessee, our last stop was at the Nashville.  We had fun looking at all the animals, and as we walked into the corner of the park it turned into a bamboo forest.  While I don’t know much about making bamboo rods, I thought it was cool to be standing in a bamboo forest, and it was ironic that I wore my fly fishing t-shirt that day as well:
bamboo

Upon arriving back in Michigan, I was met with a torrential downpour on the I-275 detour around I-75.  Every creek and drainage ditch we passed was overflowing.  I thought I might be able to hit my homewaters on my last vacation day, as it doesn’t always get blown out like everything else.  Upon arrival, the water was over the banks and moving to fast.  Almost every river and lake in the area has had too much rain, and it keeps raining.  Hopefully soon, the fishing will begin before the next season is already over.

Overall, this was a trip of many firsts.  My daugther’s first vacation, first stay at a hotel, first time out of state, and her first taste of sweet tea.  It was Matt’s first time taking his canoe out on a river and his first fish caught on his own fly.  It was my first time in Tennessee, my first time a the Creation Museum, and the first time I didn’t tip over on a canoe trip.   I’m glad we went.

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